16 Feb 19
The Scottish Sun
ONCE upon a time in Hans Christian Andersen land, a little Scottish couple went in search of adventure.
Suddenly before them, the city of Copenhagen opened up like a fairytale book — each chapter more magical than the next.
The city of Copenhagen will open up like a fairytale book
Lickety-split, the pair started exploring all the wondrous nooks and crannies of this special place . . . the land and the sea, harbours and coves, palaces, castles and churches, cafes and restaurants, museums and parks, the old and new, the modern and avante-garde.
Copenhagen is a place for dreamers and wanderers, where tourists can literally rub shoulders with royalty.
It’s a city to lose yourself in, immerse yourself like a local. They live good lives there, so why not sample a wee bit of it while you can?
First we have to answer some of the BIG questions about Denmark. Is their bacon and butter better? I think so, but am happy to concede I may have simply been in the holiday mood.
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How do you pronounce hygge (the Danish and Norwegian word for the art of coziness, comfort, wellness and contentment)? Is it like: let’s get jiggy with hygge? Nope, phonetically it’s hoo-ga (as in, do you take soo-ga in your tea?)
Just how small is The Little Mermaid? Yes, small. Not the Statue Of Liberty I was expecting. But this mermaid’s diminutive stature does not in any way diminish her siren call, luring you back time and again to her city.
And the biggie! How do you order a Danish pastry in Denmark? After all, you’re in Denmark asking for one in a Danish bakery or coffee shop. Isn’t it just simply a pastry over there? The very fact of the oven-baked patisserie’s geography makes it instantaneously Danish.
You’re surely bound to get a sigh, a look and a dismissive retort. A snort of ‘What else would it be, foreigner?’
The Admiral Hotel is the perfect base to explore the city
In the end, I just pointed at the cakes and simply said: ‘I’ll have that one.’
Warning: you’re going to do a lot of eating there. And walking. And gawping. The key to unlocking it all is a Copenhangen Card, with free entry to almost 80 attractions and free travel throughout the city.
My wife Shirley and I spent New Year week there, arriving on Hogmanay as the locals were buying up the last fireworks in the place to blast away 2018 (I’ll come back to that).
We stayed at the Admiral Hotel, courtesy of hotels.com who have all the information you need to pick the perfect holiday base. It was so easy to scroll through the multitude of options they had in the Danish capital and in comparison to other sites, we found they also had the best prices, despite it being New Year.
This mermaid’s diminutive stature does not in any way diminish her siren call
And The Admiral probably sums up the spirit of Copenhagen perfectly.
Dating back more than 200 years, this old royal granary is now firmly a part of the 21st century. It’s a blend of the past and the contemporary.
For example, our room still had the mighty beams and trusses criss-crossing it. I had to remember to duck in the night!
Yet, downstairs where once mountains of grain were stored, there is the Conran-designed SALT bar and restaurant. And, remember I said about being neighbours of royalty, Queen Margrethe II’s Amalienborg Palace is literally just across the road (remember to shut the curtains when you’re putting your pyjamas on!)
[quote]You’re going to do a lot of eating[/quote]
Of course, the name ‘Admiral’ is a clue to the city’s maritime heritage. Denmark’s capital and sits on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager. Just across the water (and connected by a bridge) is the Swedish city of Malmo.
Our hotel was right on the water’s edge and you can picture ghosts of old clippers sailing up to its doors with their cargoes. The sea still dominates. You could walk for miles from our hotel along the quayside in either direction. The city mothers and fathers have embarked on an incredible programme of regeneration to make it possible.
It’s a walk through the past, present and future. The buildings are ancient, new and cutting-edge futuristic — like the new opera house and theatre.
One of the world’s most beloved story-tellers, Hans Christian Andersen, obviously tapped into the spirit of Copenhagen. He lived and worked there — drawing his stories from the surroundings.
For some of the time, he lived in the district of Nyhavn (or New Harbour).
The waterfront dates back to the 17th century
This waterfront dates back to the 17th century and (no imagination required) the banks of this wide canal are lined with the magnificent, brightly-coloured townhouses. People do still live there although many of those old buildings now house cafes, bars and restaurants.
And it’s from there that you can book a boat ride along the city’s canals and seaways.
The twists and turns of this city are surprising.
One minute you could be shopping in the Stroget, one of the longest pedestrian street in Europe. The next you could be in the altogether more ancient surroundings of Gammel Strand, an old street with a special atmosphere — and where they say the sun shines longer.
The Amalienborg Palace is a must see in Copenhagen
Then you could be across the water in Christianshavn, very fashionable — top end BoHo. This district is also home to Freetown Christiania, a commune housing up to 1,000 people.
The community are visible opponents of hard drugs. But the cannabis trade is said to thrive here. It’s not legal. Perhaps tolerated. One of the main thoroughfares is called Pusher St.
The neighbourhood is an eye-opener — and a tourist attraction like no other. Back to the Hogmanay fireworks. The city was — literally — ablaze with gunpowder rainbows from 4pm. We heard the last volley of blasts at 2am on New Year’s Day. But, what a spectacle!
We chose to welcome 2019 at Tivoli Gardens, the strangest and most beautiful theme park you’ll ever visit. Slap, bang in the middle of the city. Step through its gates and step back in time to another world.
[boxout headline=”What costs what?”]A sandwich is around £5, bottle of house wine in a nice restaurant £25, coffee £4.
DO: explore Copenhagen by water with a tour of the canals.
DON’T: be shocked by size of the Little Mermaid (clue’s in the name).
First opened in 1843 (only the second theme park in the world at that point), Walt Disney even visited to help turn the spark of his Disneyland idea into a flame. There are modern rides in a very traditional setting, bars, restaurants and little boutiques. Everywhere was covered in snow, twinkling lights while the air was perfumed with heady scents of mulled wine and hot chocolate.
Tivoli also has an amazing food hall, like a giant restaurant with outlets to suits every taste.
We ate a lot here, not just because of the value . . . the atmosphere was vibrant and friendly, too. It’s the same across the city at another famous food hall Torvehallerne, great food, drink and chat — at reasonable prices.
We easily filled a week with adventures. But it’s also a great base for travelling.
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From Central Station you can straddle the country. We took the train to the nearby suburb of Hillerod to see the palatial extravaganza of Frederiksborg Castle. And, in the opposite direction, the pretty fishing village of Dragor — very East Neuky!
Hans Christian Andersen knew all about the magic of Copenhagen. But you can live a real-life fairytale there — and be happy ever after.
[boxout headline=”GO: COPENHAGEN”]GETTING THERE: easyJet fly from Edinburgh to Copenhagen from £43.42pp return (inc taxes and based on two people on the same booking) See easyjet.com.
STAYING THERE: Rooms at the Admiral start from £100 a night through hotels.com If you book ten nights to anywhere, you get one night free.
MORE INFO: The CopehagenCard gets you free admission to more than 80 attractions and free transport in Copenhagen region. A 24-hour card costs from £47 for adults and £24 for children (10-15 years). One adult can take two kids under the age of nine for free.
See copenhagencard.com and for more on Denmark, see visitdenmark.co.uk.
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