Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Denmark: Top of Christiandom Tower

On the day our cruise left we didn't have a lot of free time, but we still wanted to do something with our day since we were not due on the ship until 3 PM. Tine, our AirBNB hostess let us leave our suitcases in her hallway. She also let us hang onto the key since we'd be returning after the cruise. That was kind of her. 

We had a leisurely breakfast. Felt good to just relax after a couple of really busy days and a lot of traveling. Don had oatmeal. Ashley ate a croissant. It was one of our few sit down meals on the trip that did not take place on the cruise ship.

We had learned from Luis, our tour guide, there are three really good places to get a birds' eye view of Copenhagen. The free one is the top of the Christiandom Tower. They really control how few people are allowed at the top, which is nice once you are up there, but a little annoying when you are waiting without information. Here are the images from our trek to the top. 

A rare family shot

The largest space I saw in Copenhagen without a single bicycle.
It is the parking lot for the ministers and other higher ups.

The building with the dragon spire (former stock exchange)

At least one of the other major view points allows you to truly take a panoramic shot.
This one is marred by smaller openings. You get what you paid for.

Very little motorized vehicle traffic in Copenhagen (compared with other major cities).
Lots of bicycles.

Our shadow

Tivoli Gardens

Another view of the dragon spire

Our cruise ship off in the distance

Some creepy sculptures in the level between the different elevators.
As if dumped there because someone didn't know where to store it.

Good old war memorial.

Back to the AirBNB to gather our luggage and make the trek via bus 26 to train to bus 27 (later we learned we could have taken bus 26 to bus 27 and saved the stairs). Waited nearly an hour for the bus 27, even though it should have run three times an hour at that time of day. We saw it drive past our bus stop. We were grateful when the bus driver shoehorned us into his bus rather than waiting for another one. Uber and Lyft were not options as they are banned in Denmark, and I believe most of Scandinavia.

Denmark: Tivoli Gardens: 175 Years of Magic

One of Tivoli Gardens' claims to fame is that this Copenhagen amusement park inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland. Another is that (according to the Tivoli Gardens' website) is that the "one and only Hans Christian Andersen" visited on opening day on August 15, 1843.

Walt visited Tivoli in 1951 (Disneyland opened in 1955). Unlike many other theme parks he visited over the years as he planned Disneyland, Tivoli was clean with lush gardens and family-friendly rides. Click over to the 2012 Business Insider article for the exact quote and other fun facts about Tivoli Gardens.
Reminded me of EPCOT.

Walking through Tivoli we kept pointing to places that reminded us of Disneyland (yes, it should be other way around, but we went to Disneyland first, and more often).

Park map for you theme park geeks

This building screamed Its a Small World with its glaringly white color.
Turns out it is based on the Taj Mahal and has 14 hotel rooms inside.
The mountain in the background reminded us of the Matterhorn.

Topiaries always remind me of Disney.

With the disappointing name "Roller Coaster," it is really an early Matterhorn. See below.

Must have a statue of the founder. Right, Walt?

Lush gardens and enterainment

I suspect a book could be written comparing the two parks. My analysis won't be that long. 

Both are near the people, though Copenhagen's is literally across the street from the central train station and wins the ease to get to award. Anaheim built up around Disneyland, not the other way around.

Once you enter, both have free entertainment, and access to buying food and souvenirs. 

Both transform you away from your surroundings.

The Chinese Pavilion was built as a way to educate locals about different parts of the world -- places most of them would never see. Sound familiar, EPCOT fans?

Both have an alpine-style ride with a Yeti or monster roaring at you.


Tivoli Gardens is a lot cheaper. On the surface it is a pay-as-you go plan, but they do offer an all-day ride pass for about an extra $40. You pay an entrance fee (around $20 per person), which gets you into the grounds, then purchase ride tickets as needed.

Tivoli Gardens is also a lot smaller with absolutely zero space for expansion, though we did see a new section going into the park. I wonder what had been there before?

Tivoli has three entrances. I don't remember a bag check, though we went through so many bag checks on vacation I could be mistaken on this point.

Tivoli is only open during the summer, Halloween, and Christmas. Disney found a much better year-round climate in Southern California.

A bit of history:
The wooden ride, Roller Coaster, was built in 1914 making it one of the oldest roller coasters. Leap-the-Dips, built in 1902, in Altoona, Pennsylvania is the oldest, but I seem to recall Leap-the-Dips has not been running continuously since 1902, which would make Roller Coaster the longest continuously running roller coaster. Always ways to parse statistics. I'll forgive the boring name since it was one of the first, before names had to become more exciting. Wish I had been faster on this one. They have a Yeti-like creature in the middle of the ride, similar to the one on the Matterhorn. I started laughing. Loved the coaster because I had so much air-time. Despite the signs (in two languages) telling me to stay seated, I couldn't.

Loved Tivoli! I'd recommend going around 8 PM in the summer and staying until after dark (9:30 PM in August). This way you can enjoy how it looks in daylight, during dusk, and at night when the many lanterns are illuminated. You can purchase a ticket to allow you to re-enter the park. Unlike Disney, this is an upgrade.

Denmark: Free Walking Tour of Christianshavn (Christiana)

On one of only two full days in Copenhagen (one at the beginning of the trip, and one at the end), I bit off more than we could chew by scheduling not one, but TWO free walking tours. As with the other free walking tour, it was run by the yellow umbrella people (not the red umbrella people) and our tour guide (Luis again) wanted a tip at the end for his time, knowledge, and charm.

After inhaling our Gasoline Alley burger, we found the starting point of the tour. It was the same place where we had our rest during the morning tour, by Absalom's statue (which was conveniently located near the Disney Store and TGI Fridays).

The focus of this tour was billed as the Christianshavn Tour. It is clearly identified as visiting the alternative community known as Christianshavn (Christiana in English). They do not, however, go into Christianshavn. The Christianshavn community offers their own tours of the area for 40DKK ($6.50) at 3 pm each day. As our tour started at 4 pm, it was too late to change course. We did think about going on it when we returned after the cruise, but by that point in the trip we were so tired of tours that even though we were walking by the tour as it was starting, we continued on to have amazing soup at a vegan restaurant instead.

According to the Visit Copenhagen website, Christianshavn was founded in 1971 when locals cut a hole in the fence surrounding the abandoned World War II military base and moved in. The area has a completely different vibe than the rest of Copenhagen. The vibe is similar to what I think of when I picture Woodstock in the 1969 -- peace and love.

Let me backtrack, our tour started by the statue of Absalom on a horse. The start of the tour was a reinforcement of what we learned on the earlier tour. Some of our fellow tourists were on the earlier tour. 

We walked along the canal past one of the coolest spires I have ever seen on the former stock exchange (not open to the public).

The architect was supposed to design alligators on the spire, but if you ask me, I think they look like they could be friends with Sandy Claws Dragon.

A little bit of Danish propaganda here: Danes use 70% clean energy. By 2025 the goal is 100% clean energy. They use more bikes than buses (more bikes than seems humanly possible). They tax new gas guzzling cars at 180% (lower for electric cars, but still high). The goal is within eight years they will be the first capital in the world to run on clean energy.

We learned it was to be the hottest day ever in Danish history on our one full down in town. The prediction was it would be about 95 degrees. Keep in mind, they do not have air conditioning because it never gets that hot, "summer" only tends to last a couple of days each year. This year summer-weather was hanging out for three months. The Danes were a bit confused about what to do about that.

Summer means hanging outside in bathing suits and going swimming.

30 degrees is really a pleasant 86

Back to the tour.

We went past the National Library. My inner librarian failed to go inside the building. It is called the Black Diamond. I believe Christian the IV had the idea, but it was not opened after his death by Frederick the III. Both are hugely important names in the history of Denmark. It is the largest library in Scandinavia and the largest collection of original books in Danish. At some point someone stole a bunch of books and sold about 100. 

In 1999 the Black Diamond Library was opened. The books are stored underground in this Zimbabwe black granite building, which is not a very good place to store books since it tends to be super humid. Behind the National Library is the Danish Jewish Museum, something I did not realize until the museum was about to close on our last day. Alas, something for a future trip.

This led to a discussion about Christian's Church, which was under Frederick the V's time. The German immigrants living in the area wanted a church where German was spoken. Being the magnanimous king he was, Frederick agreed -- with the stipulation that it be a Lutheran Church. Not sure if he realized the main religion in Germany in the time was also Lutheran, but that was an easy stipulation to agree to. It became the first non-Danish speaking church in Denmark.

Today 65% of Copenhageners are not Christian. They are Christian at birth (for tax purposes), but can petition to have that changed.

At this point on the tour it starts spritzing, and Luis smiles like a flower being watered. Fortunately the rain did not last long.

After we cross the river, Luis points out the buildings in this part of town are among the oldest in Copenhagen. They date back to the late 16th century. Many are crooked because they are built on man made land. 

This pretty much takes us to Christianhavn. The area was an abandoned World War II military base. In the 1960s Copenhagen was faced with a housing crisis (baby boom). In the 1970s the hippies found out about the abandoned military base, which had running water and electricity. Hundreds of them moved in. They tried to be independent of the Danish government. The council agreed to the "Social Experiment," thinking it would fail. Today they seem to have the best of both worlds -- they don't pay taxes to the Danish government, but reap the benefits of free education. It is the second largest tourist attraction in Denmark (behind the Little Mermaid statue).

Again according to the Visit Copenhagen website, 1,000 people live there, and 500,000 people visit each year. Over the years people built their own homes adding to the eclectic vibe. A word of caution, they do have rules pertaining to visitors. The area is known for selling soft drugs (hash and pot), which are illegal in Denmark, but not forcibly controlled. As a result on Pusher Street there are signs saying No Photography (yes, my least favorite phrase). They also frown on running and talking on cell phones in this zone. We were there in broad daylight and never felt threatened.

It is still a self-contained community. The members are Danish citizens. However there is a sign as you leave the community saying "You are Now Entering the EU."

I think this was the only sign we saw on the entire trip (8 countries, including layovers)
that did not offer a translation in at least one other language.

Vegetarian restaurant with many vegan options. Ashley does eat meat, but she cannot do dairy, including butter.
That is a hard one to avoid when eating out.

A Food Share Program

See what I mean? The area looks more like a generic hippie commune than a generic Scandinavian village. Maybe next time we'll take the official tour. This trip we were definitely hit our limit on guided tours.