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Friday, September 13, 2013

Copenhagen: Always Wanted to Go There

The Little Mermaid



Copenhagen has long simmered comfortably in my memory, but I’d never been there.  What’s the deal with that?

1953.  My maternal grandmother took me to see the musical Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye.  Great flick for a child.  I happily munched an Almond Joy and heard the star belt out these lyrics:

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
'Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I'm home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me

Every since, Copenhagen and the combination of almonds, coconut, and milk chocolate has happily lingered in my so-called mind.  Got there once, but it was such a brief in-and-out I barely remember, or maybe it was the beer and Aquavit.

What does the name Copenhagen mean?  Merchant’s Harbor.  At first it was just called Harbor, but then it got confusing, with some ships heading to Harbor and others to Port.  Not to mention those turning starboard.

“I’m going to Harbor.”

“No shit?  Me, too!  See ya there.”

Finally got my wish and spent one day in Copenhagen last summer.  What do you think of when you think of the Capital City of Denmark?  The Little Mermaid, in the harbor near Langelinja Pier.  Expensive beer.  Nyhavn’s quaint shops, ships, and restaurants.  Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. It opened in 1843 and had over 4 million visitors last year.  Then there’s Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets.  Perhaps a story or two from Hans Christian Andersen crosses your mind.  There’s a statue of him near Tivoli, usually decorated with a bevy of Asian tourists who seem to think it actually IS Hans Christian Andersen.

Ever think of Copenhagen as a city of canals?  It is. Clusters of shops and restaurants.  Walking bridges everywhere.

How about St Alban’s Anglican Church, or as it is known, The English Church?  What?  A Church of England church here?  Back in the old sailing days, when England ruled the seas, a lot of English merchant vessels came this way and soon an English community took root.  The Church dates to 1885 and still thrives, with congregants from more than twenty countries.  In one corner of the churchyard, you’ll find a bust of Winston Churchill.

The English influence was great and as everyone knows, while Danish is the official language, English is widely and fluently spoken.

The government is a parliamentary style constitutional monarchy and the reining Monarch is Queen Margrethe II.  Think of England and you’ve got it in a nutshell. The Royal’s summer home is Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen.  Changing of the guard takes place at noon, with replacements every two hours.

Enough walking and touring.  Let’s settle down in a pub in Nyhavn.  Make that an outdoor pub.  Checkout the colorful wildlife, the ships docked in the canal, and most of all, let’s talk about beer.  Carlsberg, which acquired Tuborg in 1970, is the gorilla of the Danish brewing industry, and pale lager is the favorite style.  But, as in every other part of the civilized world, and I include Tightwad, Missouri, No Name, Colorado, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, the micro brewery is having an impact, if not in sales, at least in tastes.  Stout, English Ale, seasonal brews and other formerly unknowns are now readily available.  However, bring your wife’s credit card.  Expect to pay about 8 bucks a bottle. 

Nice to remember that although Denmark is part of the European Union, it’s not in Euroland and the currency is Danish Krone.  Last count, there were 28 member states and 11 of them do not use the Euro.

Some reasons I’d go back to Copenhagen:  People.  Easy walking. Colorful city. Lots to do.  Great restaurants. Interesting cafes.  Good shopping. Jazz Festival.  Great mix of a classical city, with a modern feel. In one day, we didn’t even scratch the surface.

The Little Mermaid as she really is!

St Alban's Anglican Church

Frederik's Church - setting for royal weddings

Inside Frederik's Church

Local Wildlife



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