July 21 to 24 - Andrew Fernando
We were now coming to the last stages of our trip. There would be only two more entries before we take the flight back to Sydney. We had a fantastic time in Oslo. Grand hotel was one of the best hotels and we had good sunny weather during the two days we were in Oslo.
We knew that our trip would not be complete if we did not make a brief visit to Denmark. We have planned to spend two days in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. On our way, we would spend one night in Gothenberg. The road from Oslo to Gothenberg was very good. We could drive at speeds of 120 km per hour and cover the distance in a little over three hours. Near Svinesund, we crossed the border between Norway and Sweden and entered Sweden. There was no immigration office or customs office The only difference was that we had to use Swedish Kroner instead of Norwegian Kroner in our money dealings. We bought some small items when we were in Norway and we were advised by the shops that we could claim tax refunds when we cross over to Sweden. They gave us forms to fill and hand over at the border. We were looking for the tax office and found a small board on the freeway to an exit directing us to a place. It was just a tourist shop. They were the people who process tax refunds.
We came to Gothenberg a little earlier than expected and checked into Clarion Collection Hotel Odin.
Gothenberg or Goteborg in Swedish language is the second largest city in Sweden only second to Stockholm. Gothenberg was sizzling in summer and the temperature was around 28 C when we arrived in the hotel. The hotel was giving us free dinner. We decided to take a rest and stay in the hotel.
The next morning we had breakfast in the hotel and started early to drive towards Copenhagen. We were now going to Denmark for the first time. There were two routes to go to Copenhagen. One was to take a ferry. The other was to drive on the long bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark. We decided to drive on the long bridge. We expected some kind of Immigration check point before or after entering Denmark. There was nothing like that. The only thing was an automatic toll station where they charged a substantial amount as the toll to use the bridge.
The bridge was one of the longest bridges we have seen. At the end of the bridge, we entered a tunnel that came out in Copenhagen. Our hotel Crown Plaza was in a business park, outside the city. We selected this hotel for two reasons. It was one of the best hotels in Copenhagen according to Trip Advisor reviews. It was close to a Metro station from where you could take the Metro to the city centre.
That way, we could park our car in the hotel and use the Metro to see the city attractions.
When we came to the hotel, there was a huge crowd in the hotel attending a conference. We have asked for an executive room with club access. We wanted to spend the last few days in shear luxury. Club access meant unlimited drinks at any time of the day and free morning and evening meals. This was in addition to the extra large room with extra furniture.
There was a big shopping centre called Fields, only a few hundred metres from the hotel. We spent a few hours in the shopping centre. We also bought a few items though the prices were very high compared to the prices in Australia. We had the evening meal and a cool beer in the hotel club lounge. We checked with he hotel staff and decided to do a city tour which was the easiest way to see the city attractions in a short period of time.
Th next morning when we were getting ready to go down to the hotel restaurant fro breakfast, we heard a loud announcement. The hotel was experiencing a critical situation and all the customers should leave their rooms immediately and come down to the lobby. We left everything except our passports and the phone and came out of the room. The hotel has 25 floors and we were on the 20th floor. We could see the Copenhagen bridge far away from our room window. Any way, when we came out, there was a girl directing the people on our floor to go down. She said it was safe to use the lift, but we knew she was wrong. It is normally the last thing you should do when there is a fire. We found the emergency exit and walked down twenty floors to reach the ground level. The fire brigade was already there. They took over and checked all the floors. In the end, it was found to be a false alarm, but we got some exercise walking down the staircase.
We had breakfast in the hotel and walked out to catch the Metro to go to the city centre. The metro station Orestad was on the opposite side of the shopping mall. We had to take the M1 line and get down from Kongens Nytorv to buy tickets for city tours. It was another warm sunny day. The temperature was already over 25C. We bought tickets which were valid for both boat trips and hop on hop off buses. The boats had no roof. We knew it was going to be very hot and sunny. We had no protection against the strong sun. Before getting into the boat, we walked to a near by tourist shop and bought two hats. That way, we could at least protect our heads from the sun. The hotel staff advised us not to miss the boat trip. We got into the boat that was leaving in the next ten minutes. It was a great tour. The boat went through narrow canals and under some very low bridges. I understood the reason for not having a roof on the boat. The girl who acted as the tour guide kept on advising people to keep their heads low and sit when we arrive at bridges. At one place she had to shout at a person who was trying to get up and take a photo. He was a foolish tourist who would have lost his head. After passing the bridge, the girl calmed down and explained why it was important to sit down and wait when passing low bridges.
We passed some of the major attractions in Copenhagen. We got into the boat in an area called Nyhavn. Nyhavn is an important historical area with some historical buildings on either side of the canal. On the banks, you find a long line of restaurants with outdoor seating. We passed these restaurants and came to an open area to see two importan t buildings.
One was the Kronberg castle that became world famous due to Shakespere’s Hamlet. The other one was the Copenhagen Opera House. It is supposed to be one of the most modern opera houses in the world and also very expensive to build. Several people were responsible for its design. They were the architect Henning Larsen, engineers Ramboll and Buro Happold and theatre consultant Theatreplan . The Opera house is located on the Holmen island in central Copenhagen.
The next important attraction was the world famous Little Mermaid. It is the fictional character from Hans Christian Anderson and visited by millions of tourists. We could see the back of the small sculpture from the boat. It is just a bronze statue sitting on a small rock, but now has become a Copenhagen icon.
The statue itself has a fascinating history, many times becoming a victim of vandalism. It was defaced, head and arms cut, paint thrown at it etc. Each time the statue was restored and placed in the same place. There are many replicas of the statue in many countries. The original statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobson in 1909. He has asked the ballerina Ellen Price to model for the statue. The bronze statue was created by the sculptor Edvard Eriksen. The story is that Ellen Price refused to model in nude and only the head of the statue was modeled after her. The Sculptor’s wife Eline Erikson was used for the body.
Another important landmark in Copenhagen is the Church of Our Saviour and it’s Spire. The tall Spire consists of a spiral winding staircase right to the top. There are four hundred steps and it is open for the public to climb this staircase to get a view of the city. The church was built in 1696. At the very top, there is a golden globe and a flag bearing statue of Jesus Christ. We only had a look at it from the boat. I managed to take a picture of the Spire which is possible only at one place. The adjoining buildings block its view, but at one point in the canal, you get a view of the Spire of the church. You have to be quick enough to take a picture of the spire. If you look at the picture carefully you may see people climbing the staircase. You can also see a tree next to the Spire in the picture. People say that tree is the most photographed tree in Copenhagen because every time some one takes a picture of the spire from a boat, automatically the tree gets into the picture.
During our boat ride, we went under a bridge called the Circle Bridge. It is very different to other bridges. It consists of five circles of different sizes joined in a Zigzag manner. It was designed by Olafur Eliasson and built in 2015. They call it the bridge with no corners. It is a 50 metre long, cycle and pedestrian only bridge.
We saw a few other important buildings while doing the boat trip. One was the Royal palace. Another building was the Stock exchange building in Copenhagen.
Our boat drove under another important landmark in Copenhagen. That is the Marble Bridge. The Marble bridge was built from 1739 to 1745. It was very elegantly decorated and the top was paved with Norwegian marble which gave the name to the bridge.
We also moved under several other well known bridges. One was the Circle bridge. Another was the newest bridge in Copenhagen which was opened only a few weeks ago.
After the boat trip, we were not keen to go in the hop-on-hop-off bus. We have seen most of the attractions in our boat trip. We stopped at a restaurantr in Nyhavn area and had lunch. Eating a local dish and having a local beer sitting in a Nyhavn outdoor restaurant is the wish of every tourist who comes to Copenhagen.