13. August 2016 - 19. August 2016
We left Berlin and arrived in Copenhagen expecting to be met. No one there. I suddenly thought did I tell Karis or exact details? No! This could be a problem - no phone as the top up has to be done in England or on-line on an English credit card. Oh I can use my Optus Sim. No charge on the phone. So I go into Burger king and steal some electricity. Ha, no phone number, no address, just email, so I send an email. I also tried to ring Howard and Judi (Ross’s cousin visiting from Australia) as they had arrived already (it is now 11:30 pm). OK what to do??? Book a hotel tonight and worry in the morning. Get out tablet - no charge, what is wrong with me………..do not answer that please!!! I get some charge and of course the web site I always use is down for maintenance….but an email arrives. “Stay there we will be 15 minutes”. It turns out that we were expected to arrive with Howard and Judi, when we did not, everyone came back at 6:30 pm and waited an hour!!! We have very kind relatives. Then they all gave up and went off for dinner, thinking (rightly so) that it was our problem which we would fix. All is forgiven and we are now at the home of Jorgen (Sjötz) and Karis.
No Driver on Copenhagen trains
Vor Frelsers Kirke - More later
The next day all the brothers, wives and Australians meet up at Christiania a hippy commune set up in the 70’s and still working well today. The area was a military housing area left empty in the 70’s so the hippies moved in having nowhere to live that they could afford. Today the commune is buying the property from the government and paying taxes etc. but they are allowed to run the area independently from the local Copenhagen government. To live here the community has to agree to you and the neighbours have final veto. A monthly payment is then made and you pay for your own electricity, you also have to take part in one of the commune’s groups, gardening, refuse, maintenance, economy etc. The commune costs 36 million kroner to run a year so the economic group have to be very savvy, they do not charge the 1 million visitors every year to enter as it is a public area. I think the visitors should pay to take photos or something as it can be very invasive, our guide Tania said she has had people walk into her house and take photos of her in her lounge room!! All decision in the community are made by the whole community and must be unanimous. Tania our guide and second generate community occupant says this is quite difficult sometime and she wishes in some instances she was the dictator (joking of course – I think). The houses are eclectic, one was a witches’ house, it was built be the builders when they came in to build some of the community housing. They built it for visitors to stay in, so often live in it themselves when the community brings in extra help. There are all sorts of shops and much recycling, this makes the placer kind of messy, as not everyone’s rubbish is someone’s else treasure. There is also graffiti everywhere some brilliant and political but some just rubbish that makes the place look scruffy. Pot Alley sells hashish and we could not take photo’s there some of the sellers wore masks and the police raid regularly. It is a fascinating place and while I am glad it exists and some of the houses were gorgeous and on a lake with fabulous views, but I could not live there.
Saturday night some more relatives turned up and we had a huge family dinner all sitting around the table, on chair’s that were now third generation – so sit carefully. Lots of jokes particularly about the chair that was broke the night before, thank goodness I was still at the airport! We had a fabulous time with great food and drink, thanks to our chef Sjötz and Karis our hostess with the mostess. I was very sad when people started going home especially as I took no photo’s being too busy having a good time.
Sunday saw everyone from the dinner party sitting down to brunch at Klaus and Bodil’s. We were late because Denmark won their first gold at the swimming at the Olympics since 1948, it was very moving Karis and I shed a few tears. We could not drag ourselves into the car. Most of the teasing at the wonderful brunch was then about people who are late (mostly me). The chairs we sat on for brunch were from 1700’s, I sat very, very carefully. Klaus told some great jokes and the story of when the Swiss ambassador came to dinner and the dog had eaten the ambassador’s wife’s handbag and Prada shoes. I guess there are worse things that could happen at a dinner party but I cannot think of many. After brunch we split up, so we said a very fond farewell to Klaus (my new boyfriend) and Bodil promising we would catch up a bit sooner as we had not seen them since 1995!
We went with Anders and Elke to Bakken a theme park it was great fun and a big tourist attraction in Copenhagen. It is themed around a very popular TV show about Copenhagen between the wars so has a few characters wandering around and lovely buildings. We were also lucky as about 100 old cars were on parade some real beauties’. Dinner was at the Tivoli Gardens. What a fairy tale place that is, lakes, lights, rides and all the fun of a fair but a sophisticated one. I could go there every night. Another farewell as Howard and Judi return to Australia the next day.
Tivoli Gardens - Fun
We decided the next day to go to Dragör the next day it is 3 kilometres up the road from Sjötz and Karis’s house and a nice walk along the sea. An old Dutch town set up when the Dutch came to help the Danes with water problems the old town is very pretty. After many generations citizens of Dragör still prefer to marry Dutch rather than those foreigners (the Danes, and vice a versa I think) we had a lovely time wandering around and then a bit tired thought we might take the bus back. Tiny problem we did not remember to ask for the address or the bus stop number or anything, so we had a very exhausting walk back.
Today (Tuesday) Ross is so happy we are off to Carlsberg Brewery! I actually had a good day too. The man who started the brewery was a very good citizen allowing all to share in the research done by his new laboratory, this had probably contributed greatly to the good beer we have today. Luis Pasteur worked with his chemists!! J.C. Jacobson also donated money for some important buildings to be saved and gave Copenhagen “The Little Mermaid” a slightly smaller version is in the statue garden at the brewery. The horses that pull the brewery truck are beautiful, one of them was being shod while we were there I found this fascinating as I had never seen it before. The horse is so patient. One of the brewery gates has pictures of important people at the time the brewery was opened, one of these people was a Beckman. I wondered if it was the Beckman who founded the Scientific instrument company my father worked for in Australia! We all had a good time not just Ross who enjoyed the beer.
Vor Felser Kerke
Big adventure the next day. Near Christiania we had seen the church, Vor Felser Kerke this church has the spiral stair case for the tower on the outside!! It is 90 meters high and I decided to climb to the top. Off I went (alone, Anders and Ross decided to watch from the ground). I was lucky and talked the two old people behind me in the queue into climbing too, they were slower than me and I could take my time!! I got to the top the tower, which sways slightly and the stairs seem to be slightly angled to allow you to fall off but the rail is high. The view is spectacular and I was very proud of myself to have made it to the top, well worth the effort. After lunch we climbed the round tower (is there no end to climbing) this tower does not have steps as the king built an observatory at the top (the oldest in Europe), so he came up in horse and carriage, He friend the Czar of Russia also used to come up with him. The observatory is small, a viewing can still be booked well ahead on the internet if you are visiting Copenhagen.
Copenhagen and Observatory
We seem to have done such a lot in Copenhagen and have seen such amazing things. Including this changuing of the guard at the palace. Our last day we went with Karis to the Amalienborg Palace, where we saw the changing of the guard. It is amazing the square is open apart from a few guards, no fence or gates or anything. The Queen sometimes walks across the square to visit the Crown Prince and Princess Mary who live in a palace across the square. The police hold everyone in line for the changing of the guard and just said “if you step over that paving stone the guards will walk right through you; they do not stop for tourists”. The Queen was in residence and two cars left while we were there I like to think it was her. Mary was also home at Fashion week but the Crown prince was at the Olympics so a flag did not fly above their home.
We left Copenhagen with heavy hearts promising to return (threatening to return, Sjötz and Karis said how cruel ). Off we went to the airport with plenty of time as Ross hates to be late at an airport, me I am happy to run as I hate airports. We got there and went through security into the food and duty free area, sat down and had lunch. A few minutes before boarding we got up to go to the gate only to find we had not passed passport control and the queue was horrendous. We asked security what to do and she said they would take us to the front in time for our flight. Lots of other people were in the same situation so there was lots of arguing, shouting, pushing in and general stress. Eventually we got moved further up the queue only to be held up again by pushers in and a lady with all the wrong paperwork. We eventually got through to an empty departure lounge. Nothing like waving your plane off!! So back out and to Customer service. I spoke to a lovely lady explaining what we had done and the predicament we were in. She could not find us another flight until Monday (this was Friday). Then she called a colleague over who she said was better at this than her. We had a few jokes and I moved to the new person, he asked if we knew Princess Mary and we all had a giggle and a chat about silly Australians missing their flight, after what seemed like an eternity he said he could get us to Birmingham that night not Newcastle. Well we would be in the right country so we said yes please. He then disappeared again, we were told he had gone to see if he could get the tickets on the internet as they would be expensive if purchase from the desk, how lovely. He came back and printed two boarding passes and ripped our old ones up. When I asked how much he said it was too expensive (4,000 Kroner each about $800) so he had done them for free. So glad I was nice about it all, you get more with honey than with vinegar is a great saying. He told us our gate and said we had plenty of time, I told him regardless we were going to sit at the departure gate from now and with more laughter all round and lots of thank you we left. We cancelled our hotel in Durham and they credited our money back even though it was hours after the official cancellation time. Booked a Hotel in Birmingham and checked on trains from Birmingham to Newcastle (which is the only part that cost us extra). Everyone is so nice we feel well looked after, especially after making such a daft mistake.
We got to Newcastle and collected the car, suitcases etc. and headed out to Durham.