07/01/2017 - 07/02/2017
Thanks to day trips and some rain, we didn't do our Copenhagen walkaround until our last full day. We had the additional advantage of Sunday being a free day for parking. Leaving the car for the entire day in the central Red Zone where our Airbnb was located would have cost us an arm and a leg any other day. We had another awesome breakfast near the Airbnb and walked a block to the botanical garden which had a large greenhouse and delightful paths to walk on.
Just southeast of the botanical garden are the 17th century castle Rosenborg Slot and Kongens Have, the King's Gardens. Having just visited the enormous Frederiksborg Slot a few days earlier, we decided to pass up the interior of the castle in favor of a longer walk through the lush, manicured gardens. Mei Ling, Cleo and Spenser used the extra time to participate in a tai chi class on one of the lawns. The Danes were disappointed to learn we wouldn't be able to come back the next Sunday.
A couple of blocks southeast of Kongens Have we found Frederiks Kirke, also known as the Marble Church, a beautiful 18th century rococo church with a distinctive green dome that is the largest in Scandinavia. We followed a small street to the octagonal courtyard of Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish royal family. We probably could have spent an entire day visiting and exploring all the churches and palaces, but in general we prefer to stick to the streets and markets.
Continuing southeast from Amalienborg we quickly found ourselves at the shoreline of Copenhagen Harbor. There was a small park here called Amaliehaven with a central fountain. Across the harbor we could see the Copenhagen Opera House. Not far from the Opera House I could see a large number of people milling around on a patio. I thought at first it might be an outdoor concert then realized with a shock that I was looking at Copenhagen Street Food from a whole different perspective. It had taken so long to drive there I assumed it was very far from where we were staying, but actually it was just a half hour's walk away.
Just a block south of Amaliehaven was Nyhavn, the center of tourist activity in Copenhagen. The short dead end canal off Copenhagen Harbor was built in the 17th century to facilitate unloading of fish and cargo at Kongens Nytorv, which is now a public square. Nyhavn is now mainly used as a port for tour boats, and is lined with chain restaurants and souvenir shops. The most distinctive feature of Nyhavn is the collection of brightly covered townhouses, some of which date back to the 17th century as well.
Because of the high concentration of tourists, it wasn't easy to find a place worth eating at. The canalside restaurants seemed to have the usual selections of bland international food. We employed TripAdvisor and were able to find a decent meal a couple of blocks away, even though our table was in an active roadway.
The kids were clamoring for a boat ride and the prices weren't unreasonable for a one hour tour, so we decided one touristy activity wouldn't kill our vibe too badly. In fact, the tour turned out to be quite worthwhile. As in Venice, seeing the city from the perspective of the water feels completely different from being on land. The boat took us around the narrow semicircular canal that forms the island of Slotsholmen, which is the site of the Danish Parliament. We also went to the north end of the harbor to see the Little Mermaid statue, which we never would have bothered with on our own. The most impressive thing wasn't the statue itself but the flock of tourists that were gathered around the unassuming little sculpture. It always amazes me how many travelers dedicate themselves to checking off every attraction listed in their guidebook at the expense of missing all kinds of amazing sights and experiences in the city streets.
From Nyhavn we walked southwest to Tivoli Gardens, crossing the bridges into and out of Slotsholmen and passing Parliament and many other stately paragons of classic architecture. The area was largely deserted on a Sunday afternoon, and the imposing buildings and cloudy skies gave the area a forsaken atmosphere.
The Tivoli Gardens was probably the most expensive amusement park I've ever visited, charging high prices both for admission and for the rides. However, we rarely pass something up that we want to do solely because of the cost, and the kids deserved some entertainment after a long day of walking. The park was beautiful in some areas, but the rides themselves were somewhat rudimentary and the place had the usual grit and smells common to amusement parks everywhere. Fortunately our kids are still young enough not to be too discriminating. They just love to be rewarded, and they know how to have fun.
We decided to return to Kødbyens for dinner. My map indicated the walk wasn't every long, but we exited on the wrong side of Tivoli and it ended up being close to a half hour. We had noticed Kødbyens Fiskebar when we were at Mad & Marked the previous day, and the proprietor of the fishmarket at Torvehallerne had recommended it to us as well. We hadn't made a reservation because we didn't want to be tied to a schedule, so we had to wait a while for a table and eventually had to sit outdoors. The sun was already going down and the chill was hardly offset by the blankets they provided to drape over ourselves. Fortunately, we had enough warm clothes and scarves to keep the kids warm without burying them in blankets. It was our first real restaurant meal in Copenhagen and our gamble paid off. The tapas style restaurant lived up to its reputation with delicious and beautiful presentations of fish and shellfish, as well as amazing cocktails.
Monday morning we had one last satisfying Copenhagen breakfast before heading back across the Øresund to Sweden.