Kronborg Castle to Nyhavn

Woke up this morning, way too early, in fact, early enough to see the early morning sunrise reflected off the building outside my hotel room window.  We had asked the Forum for ideas on what to do today, and the consensus had come back… go to Kronborg Castle and make sure we add in a stop in Nyhavn to eat local food and drink local beer and watch the people go by.  So that’s exactly what we had on our agenda for the day. We took the train to Helsingor, which took about 40 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station.  The Copenhagen Pass has been great – covered all public transport costs and nearly all our musuem and attraction entry costs.

Today we had simply stunning weather to go out and visit, Kronborg Castle, also known as Hamlet’s Castle.

Kronborg is both a castle and a major stronghold in the town of Helsingor, it is considered one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe and has been UNESCO World Heritage listed since 2000.  It was also immortalised as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s epic saga, Hamlet.

The castle is located at the north-easternmost tip of the island of Zealand, which is also the narrowest point of the Oresund Sound – the body of water between modern day Denmark and Sweden, just as it was at the time the castle was built.  Here, it is barely 4 kilometers to Sweden.  The coastal fortification was of major strategic importance as it commanded one of the few outlets to the Baltic Sea. The castle is surrounded by garrisons and barrack buildings. Main entrance to the castle keep. The central courtyard and the Canon Tower. Love the old Medieval spiral staircases with their worn stone staris. The King’s apartments. See that land over there?  That’s Sweden.  Much closer than you’d expect. We were headed into ‘the King’s Tapestry Rooms’, which I have to admit I was entering with some trepidation after seeing the very very frightening, Queen’s tapestries made for Queen Margarethe II on the occasion of her 50th birthday at Christiansborg Palace.  Thankfully these were not so scary.
Tapestires, late period, possibly 17th-18th century.  There was no information on these ones, they are not the “King’s Tapestries” that we were looking for. Small apartments with primarily 17th century furnishings. Another later period tapestry… …with a chick riding a goat.  Gotta love it. The King’s bedchamber… which seems very modest compared to some of the grand bedchambers we have seen for monarchs in the last couple of weeks.  Older tapestries in the Little Gallery, though these too, are still not the “King’s Tapestries” that we were looking for. Detail:  Pelican or Pheonix?

Finally, we found “The Kings Tapestries”  Teh walls of the Little Hall are furnished with seven tapestries that were originally from a series of some forty tapestries each depicting the one hundred Danish Kings.. The walls of the Little Hall are furnished with seven tapestries originally from a series of forty tapestries portraying one hundred Danish kings. These Medieval textile masterpieces include the Tapestry depicting Oluf (reigned 1376-1387 and Tapestry depicting King Knud VI (reigned 1182-1202) and they were all commissioned in 1580.  There are another seven tapestries from this Medieval series hanging at the National Museum of Denmark, which we visited the other day – but at the time, we could not find any information on the tapestries we viewed there because the Medieval galleries were not so well labelled.  So, mystery solved!  Unfortunately, other than these fourteen surviving tapestries, the remainder have been lost.

Tapestry depicting Erik VII and Erick VIII – Erick VII was brutally murdered in a regicide at a barn at Finnerup, but his fate is scarcely mentioned in the verses at the top of the tapestry.  His son, Erick VIII, is acknowledged for having avenged his father’s murder as is proper. Tapestry of Knud VI – the king wears richly ornamented body armour with sword and shield, emphasizing his royal regalia.  He bears a breastplate with the imperial eagle referring to his opposition to the then GeEmperorperor.   Tapestry depciting Abel – a quiet and pleasant scene with a group of hunters (both mounted and on foot).  The setting sharply contrasts wit hthe ferocious acts spelled out in the verses:  “For kingship I did crave, thus my brother I sent to the grave”.   The symbolism of the falcon with its claws on a smaller bird, while a poisonous snake slips through the shrubbery is a classical theme of good fighting evil.  In this case, the evil slips away leaving the brother in the grips of his king, err the smaller bird in the grips of the falcon.  Eventually Abel was killed himself in an uprising only two years after this ruthless assassination. Tapestry of Oluf – son of Norwegian King Haakon VI and Margrete (daughter of Danish King Valdemar II), Oluf was considered a king by name but not by deed.  Oluf died before he came of age and his mother Margrete was left to defend the kingdom from Sweden and eventually unite her three Kingdoms. Tapestry of Erick VI – wearing a crown and wearing an outlandish non-period costume, it is supposed to signify that he was king ‘in distant times’.  He draws the viewer’s attention to the animal life to the left of the king, a wolf lurks (the incarnation of evil) sneaking up on its unsuspecting prey.  All is reference to his ill-fated destiny, he was assassinated by the aforementioned Abel, who envied his crown.   The wolf preying on the bird that is preying on the eel. Tapestry of Christoffer II – surrounded by noblemen’s pursuits of the hunt and the tournament, Christoffer is being mocked for his lack of jousting and warfare abilities.. “For the Kingdom’s dignity little cared, much land gave away with others shared, against the subjects I was also tough, so from my throne they pushed me off!” Tapestry depicting Valdemar II “the Victorious” – clad in shining armour, the king caries his crown as the symbol of his royalty and brandishing a sword ready for combat.  The verses give a full account of his many successful war campaigns, and it seems at least one king has been remembered kindly by history! These tapestries are fascinating – I wish there had been decent information on the other seven that we saw at the National Museum.As I was saying earlier, Kronborg is also famous as “Elsinore,” the setting of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Hamlet (though how a guy born in Stratford upon Avon with no formal/noble education knew anything about Danish history which is effectively the middle of nowhere to an Englishman from Stratford, is beyond me!?!)   Anyway, Hamlet was performed to mark the 200th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1816, complete with a cast of soldiers from the castle garrison. The stage was in the telegraph tower in the southwest corner of the castle. The play has been repeatedly performed in the courtyard by such famous actors as Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Christopher Plummer, Derek Jacobi, David Tennant, Jude Law, and of course my own personal hero, Sir Kenneth Branagh.

 

We went back down to the courtyard to find the chapel which is located on the ground floor in the south wing, having been consecrated in 1582.  In 1785 the castle was fitted out as an army barracks, and the chapel was temporarily repurposed as a fencing hall and gymnasium with all the furniture thankfully stored away.  In the mid-1800s, the chapel was restored and reinaugurated in 1843. The nave of the Kronborg Chapel. Just gorgeous medieval timberwork, and gilded leather walls.

Next, we ventured below the castle to the veritable rabbit warren that is the storage cellars of Krongborg.  Here, according to Arthurian myth, a Danish King known as Holger the Dane was taken to Avalon by Morgan le Fay.  Holger is said to have returned to rescue France from danger before traveling to Kronborg, where now he sleeps until he is needed to save his homeland.

 

Worn steps leading down the the dark cold cellars.
A statue of the sleeping Danish King, Holger, has been placed here, deep in the cellars of the castle… ever vigilant for his homeland.  On a less lyrical note – this statue was the most difficult thing to photograph ever!  They have him displayed in a pitch black cavern with lighting from several sides that slowly oscillates in brightness from very dim to overly bright.  I can think of no other reason for doing so, other than to make him hard to photograph!  Anyway, about twelve pics later and job done. The cellars penetrated even further under the castle than the chambers containing Holger’s sleeping statue to large storage areas.

We eventually popped back out into the bright sunlight to the battlements… with cannon pointing out over the Sound to… Sweden!
Interestingly, every ship that sailed through the Sound had to pay a toll.  These tolls were effectively a tax paid to the King of Denmark, calculated based on the value of the ship’s cargo.  The captain of any ship passing the sound had to estimate the value of his cargo and pay the taxes accordingly – to prevent captains from understating the value of their cargo and thereby reduce the toll payable, the King had the right to buy any cargo for the price stated by a ship’s captain… thus very cleverly dissuading the captains from undervaluing their cargo.  The Sound toll was only abolished in 1857. ALL our canon are for you, Sweden! Back into the main courtyard to access the Cannon Tower for views over the castle.  Another winding Medieval staircase. The views are amazing, you can see for miles, well at least 2.3 of them – to Sweden! And back to the town of Helsingor.

A quick turn around the castle’s gift shops and we were off to find some lunch at the nearby Maritime Museum.  The Maritime Museum may be one of the most unique buildings that I have ever encountered – it is built underground in what was a disused dry dock.  You could easily walk past it and not notice it at all, were it not for the signage.

Cafe in the base of the dry dock.

Lunch of fish cakes, seaweed salad, home made tartare and pumpernickel bread. The museum has mostly late period maritime exhibits. Cafe courtyard. Auditorium in the Maritime Museum.   After a quick jaunt through the Maritime Musuem, we head back into the city to partake of some typical ‘postcard’ Copenhagen. The weather was so lovely I took several photos and could not pick my favourite – so I have included a bunch here. Ann Weiwei, famous Beijing artist who is usually heavily represented at the Asia Pacific Triennial, has done a large installation work at the moment consisting of 3,500 salvaged life jackets that were used by refugees.  They have been placed in the window frames of the famous art museum, the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, for World Refugee Day.

Just beautiful!  We stopped for a waffle, and then whiled away the afternoon over beers and ciders.

Roskilde Vikingskibs Museet and Roskilde Cathedral

This morning Copenhagen turned on another delightful summer’s day – overcast and dreary, with the promise of patchy light rain all day.  So we jumped on a train for about 30 minutes, and head out of the city center to Roskilde to see the Vikingskibsmuseet.

The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde is Denmarks’ national museum for ships, boat building and seafaring in the prehistoric and Medieval periods.  The museum centers around a permanent exhibition of five extant Viking ships that were excavated not far from the museum site in the 1960s, and they conduct research and education in the fields of maritime archaeology.

The Viking Ship Museum is an active experimental archaeology research centre, with over thirty years experience in building and sailing, reconstructions of archaeological ship finds. It is a multi-disciplinary working environment with a strong focus on research and education, where experts from many different fields collaborate in several different workshops towards reconstructions.

ROPE MAKING WORKSHOP
The first, most noticeable, aspect of the rope makers workshop is the smell – it has a distinctively strong woods/organic aroma from the various rope making materials.  Flax hanging to dry. FInished rope lengths that will be used in Viking ship reconstructions. Rope making equipment. Ropes were made of many differing materials, from bull rushes and flax to elk and seal hides.  Most ropes were tarred to retard fungus and bacteria and to protect from weather and deterioration. The elk and seal hide ropes had a natural waxy waterproof texture.

SHIPBUILDING WORKSHOP
A little further into the complex is a ship building workshop where the master ship builders are constantly working on recreating and perfecting another Viking ship.  Clamps to hold timbers during construction.
The workshop may look reasonably modern with modern lighting in a modern building, but all the tools used are replicas of period tools that would have been used during the Viking age to build ships. Larger reconstructions are done in the outside part of the shipyard. 

 

TIMBER YARD
Nearby is a timber yard, where timbers are being dried cut into planks using traditional wedging techniques.  Large sections of tree are laying about earmarked for particular use in upcoming reconstruction projects.

These diagrams demonstration how a single ship was often made using many differing timbers, each chosen for their particular characteristics, whether that is for strength, flexibility, durability or structure.

Different sections of these tree species have varying natural tensile properties, and the traditional Viking shipbuilders utilized these characteristics to good effect – choosing certain timber for certain ship parts, and certain sections from certain trees for their inherent natural properties that were most suitable for those parts.

BLACKSMITH WORKSHOP
Next, we saw the blacksmithy.  There was not supposed to be anyone working the smithy today, but happily, there was a guy there working the bellows and bashing away at some piece of iron while we were there, with a range of various period items made of iron in his forge.

Nails.  While it must be boring for the smith to make so many nails, they were integral to the ship building process.

SAILMAKING
Flax has been used to produce textiles in Scandinavia since the Iron Age.  Transforming the plant into fiber that can be spun, and then woven, is quite a long and complex process though.  Sails on the reproduction ships have so far been made of linen and wool, which archeological evidence also demonstrates were used for sailmaking, but no flax sails have been made at the Roskilde shipyard yet.  Sails are created of up to five long panels which are sewn together and then impregnated with fats, oils, tar or pitch to help prevent rot and to make them more windproof.

The Sea Stallion of Glendalough is the largest reconstruction ship made at the shipyard to date.  In the summer of 2007 and 2008, the Sea Stallion from Glendalough sailed from Roskilde to Dublin and back.  The Sea Stallion is a reconstruction of the 30 meter long warship, Skuldelev 2, which was originally built in Ireland in 1042 and which is on display in the Viking Ship Museum hall.   It traversed the North Sea, the Irish Sea, and the English Channel.  During the voyage, the ship passed through the very same landscapes which were part of Viking history 1000 years ago. (Photos by Werner Karrasch – photographer at the Viking Ship Museum). The summer 2007-2008 voyage:The Sea Stallion today.

There are plenty of other replica ships about based on the other Skuldelev ships that are in the museum.

Replica of a 3-sail smack 
This replica was built by Tom Nicolajsen and his students in 1995 as a practice vessel for the students.  The original smack was built of pin on oak in Assens for fishing in the southern Little Belt for eel, and cod and sometimes porpoises.  The smack is rigged with tow or three spritsails on removalbe masts and is typical of south and west Funen.
Oars: 4
Length:   6.3m  Breadth:  2.2m  Draught:  0.8m
Total sail area:  25 sq m
Crew: 2 men
Max speed:  at sail 6 knots, at oars, 3 knots.

Attamannafar from the Faroe Islands (centre in the picture)
Built by Niclas i Koltri of pine construction.  The turbulent and unforeseeable weather and strong currents between the islands required especially seaworthy boats that were also light enough to be hauled up onto the beach as required.  The Attammanafar carries a lug mainsail and a small mizzen mast, both of which are easy to rig down and store in the bottom of the boat.  The oars are the main source of propulsion in all kinds of weather.
Oars: 8
Length 7.8m   Breadth 1.9m   Draught:  0.3m
Sail area: 10sqm
Crew: 9 men
Max speed:  sail 6 knots, oars: 5 knots.  (pictured centre)

Oselver Faering, Norway, 1970.
Built of pine by Einar Killveit, at Hardanger in Norway.  The very broad planking, only three strakes in each side, distinguishes this type of boat.  Thanks to its particularly good rowing characteristics, it was used for traveling along the Norwegian skerries.  It was also used as a ‘trader’ for transporting light cargo of farm produce and made an ideal fishing boat.
Oars: 4
Length: 5.5m   Breadth:  1.55m  Draught:  0.2m
Crew: 2-3 men
Max speed:  5 knots.

There are many other replica boats around also, most of which are based on the Skuldelev finds in the museum proper.

On the lawn outside the Viking Ship Museum is a recreation of a 9th century labyrinth that was found close to the ruins of the monastic settlement of Glendalough in Ireland.  The site of Glendalough was an important place of pilgrimage for more than 1500 years.  The labyrinth and the movement through its paths are often used as a form of meditation – it is apparently considered very bad luck to step through and cheat your way out! Some other Viking games were also set out for visitors to try:

Thor’s Hammer Throw:
Thor, the God of War and Thunder, used his hammer Mjolner in the battle against the giants. The hammer was the perfect weapon; always returning to Thor’s hand once it hit its target.  Vikings didn’t actually use hammers as a combat weapon – they preferred swords, spears, axes and bows/arrows, but the myth about Thor and his hammer endures.

The aim of the Hammer Throw Game is to ‘hit a giant’.  The statues (giants) are positioned on the ground at different distances, each player gets only three throws of a hammer attached to a rope, with a view to knocking over the giants.  Whoever knocks over the most giants wins.  Can be played with many giants at different distances.
The ‘giants’ are around 45-60cm tall and have different weights and varying degrees of ugly.

Casting the Mooring Line
Ships and seamanship were important aspects of Viking life.  Good seamanship required robustness, nimble fingers and precision.  Ability to gauge distances and good throwing technique were essential for casting mooring lines for ships.

The aim of Casting the Mooring Line is to hit the targets with the stone.  Six stanchions (timber pegs) are sunk into the ground at varying distances apart, and mark the mooring posts you must hit.  The thrower stands behind a marked point and gets three throws with a stone attached to a rope.  Only the stone end should be thrown, while the other end of the rope (the ship end) must stay with the thrower (being held under the throwers foot, or pegged down).  The best throws hit the space in between the stanchions on the course.   Each thrower gets four throws for maximum points.

1pt         3pts       5pts      3pts        1pt
O————-O———O—–O———O————-O

The Troll’s Head
There are many different versions of tug-of-war.  In a saga from the Middle Ages, Hasti has a tug-of-war competition against Hord.  The contest takes place over a fire and the two contestants pull opposite ends of a skin.  In ‘The Troll’s Head’ game, the aim is to force your opponent to step into the troll’s ferocious mouth.

A circle of rope or painted cloth is laid on the ground and forms the ‘troll’s head’.  The players hold hands and form a circle around the troll’s head (remove any finger rings that might get in the way).  Now you must run, pull and push to try and get others into/onto the troll’s head without losing your grip on one another.  Those who step into the troll’s head are out of the game. The last man standing is the winner.

Also popular is a traditional coits game with a cross bar target and rope coits of varying ropes (which have different weights).
After playing around on the green for a while, it was time to go sailing on a historically accurate Viking ship that had been built by hand, using traditional techniques and tools, right here in the Roskilde Viking shipyard.

And we have perfect Viking weather for such things – grey, dismal, and constant light drizzly rain.
Getting instructions on the various oar commands we needed to use. Captain never said, “Row ya bastards!”… not even once!  🙂  He just encouraged people to listen for the slap of the oars in the water and to try and get them in time.  Have to admit we were pretty terrible rowers but we managed to manouevre our craft into the open harbour. From here the sail was hoisted and we moved along with relative ease. Ballast in the bottom of the boat. Nearly getting knocked in the head as we tacked.After our bracing sail around the Roskilde harbour, we went over the Vikingskib Museet to see the remnants of some extant Viking ships that had been found in the Roskilde Fjord, and to hopefully warm up!

The Viking Age (arguably) covers approximately from 750 to 1100AD and was characterized by large-scale trading and raiding expeditions, national unification, some urbanization and a wide scale conversion to Christianity.  Around the year 1000, the power of the Danish realm was concentrated in Roskilde, as the new monarchical and ecclesiastical capital.  The town was unfortified but naturally protected at the base of Roskilde Fjord.  The town center was situated on a hilltop overlooking a wide landing place where ships could lay at anchor.

The towns primary protection from invaders relied on a system of signal fires (beacons) placed strategically down the fjord from the mouth of the fjord at Kattegat into Isefjord.  Beacons would have been set on high ground with good visibility to the next beacon.  The town’s secondary defense consisted of unseen sunken ships, piles of stone, driven posts and floating palisades near the island of Kolholm which allowed the three sailing channels to be blocked off when under attack.  Five sunk ships have been recovered from the Peberrenden channel that was used for this purposes.  They have been labeled Skuldelev 1 through to 5.  Skuldelev 1, 3 and 5 were filled with stones and scuttled between 1060 and 1070.  A few years later the barriers had partially disintegrated and two more ships Skuldelev 2 and 4 were also scuttled.  The channel was still navigable but required local knowledge.

The town’s secondary defense consisted of unseen sunken ships, piles of stone, driven posts and floating palisades near the island of Kolholm which allowed the three sailing channels to be blocked off when under attack.  Five sunk ships have been recovered from the Peberrenden channel that was used for this purposes.  They have been labeled Skuldelev 1 through to 5.  Skuldelev 1, 3 and 5 were filled with stones and scuttled between 1060 and 1070.  A few years later the barriers had partially disintegrated and two more ships Skuldelev 2 and 4 were also scuttled.  The channel was still navigable but required local knowledge.

The ships were initially investigated underwater in the 1950s and not long after a cofferdam barrier was built in 1962 allowing the area to be drained and hundreds of thousands of ship parts to be excavated.  There followed the worlds biggest jigsaw puzzle that took 25 years to complete, as the five Skuldelev collections of different ships, used for fishing, trading, defense, and warfare,  were painstakingly pieced back together.

They provide a unique perspective on Viking Age maritime culture; shipbuilding, seamanship and the ability to journey far from their homes.

Coastal Trader ship – small elegant trading and transport vessel, of the byrding type.  Made of Danish oak, it has decks of loose plans and an open hold for about 4 tons of cargo.  The ship would have been crewed by 5-8 men.

Wreck 5 is a small warship possibly of the snekke type.  Built of Danish oak, ash and pine party by reusing timber from other ships.  With 13 pairs of oars, and about 30 warriors, it is one of the smallest longships in a war fleet.  Along the sheerstrake are remnants of a shield rack.

The Longship was an ocean going warship, possibly of the skeid type.  With a crew of 65-70 warriors, it must have been the ship of a magnate, a vessel like those whose praises were sung in ancient skaldic verse and sagas.  The ship was built of oak, and tree-ring analysis of the timber revels the ship was built in the Dublin area around 1042.  Vikings had settled Ireland as early as 800AD and established several fortified bases along the Irish coast.  The long narrow shape of the ship allowed for great speed and the manning of 60 oars would have allowed the ship to keep moving even without wind.  The Sea Stallion from Glendalough is a reconstruction of this ship, and under sail, it has a top speed of 12 knots.

Small Fishing vessel – this ship is a combined rowing and sailing vessel probably built for fishing or seal hunting.  It was built of pine planks near Sognefjord in Norway.  Later an extra plank was added to increase the height of the side in order to transport more efficiently cargoes of livestock, trading goods or people.  During the alterations, the rowlocks were removed and the number of oars reduced.  The conversion suggests that the ship was probably used more for transport and less fishing, sailing with a smaller crew.

After the museum we stopped for a bite to eat at the shipyard’s cafe – New Nordic Viking Food as it was touted on the menu, so we thought we’d give it a crack.  A flatbread plate with a beer, some red wine and some mead… it was so good!
Beer-braised pork with crunchy crackling on flat bread with cabbage, grated carrot, pickled red onion, watercress and sea buckthorn salad with herbed crime fraiche dressing.

After lunch, we walked into Roskilde to see the famous Roskilde Cathedral.  Roskilde Cathedral is the first gothic cathedral to be built of brick – its success encouraged the brick gothic style throughout Northern Europe.  Originally constructed during the 12th to 13th centuries, the cathedral has many gothic and romanesque architectural features.  It was Zealand’s only cathedral until the early 20th century.

It’s beautiful twin spires dominate the skyline of the city of Roskilde. Towards the altar and the nave of the church. Pulpit, c.1610 AD. Gorgeous carved timber pews worn with age. Organ. Stalls leading towards the altar. I have no idea what this guy with the club is doing to that baby… but it could be a representation of the Slaughter of the Innocents. The magnificent altarpiece, c.1555 AD, was a gift from Christian IV of Denmark. The cathedral has been the primary burial site for Danish monarchs since the 15th century – to accommodate an increasing number of royals over the centuries, it has been extended and altered to contain a considerable number of burial chapels. Burial tomb of Margarethe I of Denmark. The crypt directly under the altar. Looking down on the crypts behind the altar from the choir balconies. Monument of Frederick II, in the Chapel of the Magi. Amusing tourist bus directly outside the cathedral!
Roskilde pedestrian shopping street – it’s a lovely quiet part of the city.  Roskilde Cathedral attracts barely 125,000 visitors each year and as such there is relatively little tourism hustle and bustle here, which makes a nice change from the Copenhagen CBD. Interesting juxtaposition of street art and period building techniques.After Roskilde, we head back to Copenhagen to rest our feets before finding somewhere funky and local to have dinner… Sadly, in our quest to avoid another Irish pub, (this area is just littered with them) we ended up at a Hard Rock Cafe !  😛

Copenhagen Museum, Christiansborg Palace and the Tivoli

Copenhagen turned on its usual weather today, so I was very glad we went chasing some Forgotten Giants yesterday in the sunshine.  The plan for the day was to stay inside in museums!  So off we went to the National History museum first. Bit dismal, but the rain didn’t bother Hans Christian Anderson over there. The museum is amazing!  So many wonderful artefacts to wander through and a lot of it well signed in English.  I am half way through doing up a separate post about all the things I saw there for my dark ages and medieval history friends so I won’t go into too much detail or include too many photos in this post.

Amber from 1500BC.Some horned helmets from around the same period… Runestones of varying sizes – above: about 120cm tall; below: Mr K for scale.  🙂  The Gundestrup Cauldron.  Found in a Jutland bog, its origins are unknown, definitely created in the south, depictions of elephants and what not, possibly Viking loot or a gift.
Beautifully filigreed and granulated brooches incorporating Christian art and Norse designs, made by Danish artist in 10th century AD. Gold finger rings from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD.  Collected from various finds. Golden Horns – reconstructions made in 1861.  These golden horns were recreated from the drawings of antiquarian, J.R Paulli who documented a find that was later stolen and melted down.  King Frederik VII had these copies made for the musuem, based on Paulli’s drawings and descriptions.  I can’t imagine who would steal and melt down such treasures! The famous Jelling cup… you can buy a recreation in the gift shop – approximately $60 for a silver plated pewter one, or approximately $950 for a solid silver one! The Medieval galleries were not so well kept (or well labeled!) in comparison to the prehistory and iron age galleries.  But still full of beautiful items. Altarpiece Northern Germany c.1511 AD Altarpiece depicting the Holy Family. c1522 AD. detail: Full armour for horse and man.  Innsbruck Austria, c.1545 AD. Dower chest or hope chest designed to hold a trousseau.  Renaissance style, c.1549. Faience Portuguese jars, c.1641. Recreation of a medieval room with extant artefacts. Cooking cauldrons.  c.15-16th centuries. Reliquary boxes. c.1200s

After spilling out of the amazing museum and spending no small amount of time in the gift shop, lamenting the lack of English catalogues, I might add (I could have cried!), we wandered the streets of Copenhagen for a while until we found another Irish pub for lunch – the Irish Rover, where we had a weird Danish smorgasbord lunch and massive pints of cider and beer, as you do!

Then it was off to Christiansborg Palace.  Christiansborg Slot (or Christiansborg Palace) is both palace and government building on the island of Sltosholmen in the middle of town.  It is the seat of the Danish Parliament, contains the Prime Minister’s Offices, and also the Supreme Court of Denmark is here.  Several parts of the palace are also still used by the Danish monarchy, including the Royal Reception Rooms and Royal Stables.  Interesting tidbit for the day – this is the only place in the world where the executive, legislative and judicial branches government are contained all in one building/complex.

The current palace, is the third building called Christiansborg, with the last two having died in a fire, and the first being constructed on top of a medieval castle built on this site in 1167.

Grand Hallway leading to the Royal Reception Rooms, also known as the Queen’s Staircase (though I know not why). The Alexander Hall. The Flora Danica Cabinet containing all the royal flatware. The Princess Chamber. The Queen’s Library – never been jealous of a Queen before, but I would LOVE a library like this!  Gorgeous, and so much space for books! The Abilgaard Room. The Dining Hall, which has a beautfiul table that can comfortably accommodate fifty guests. The Green Room (I do not know why so many of these palaces all have a ‘Green Room’ a ‘Red Room’ a ‘Blue Room’ etc, but it seems to be de rigeur for European castles.  The Swedish Gallery. The Great Gallery – whereupon we were greeted by a Great Surprise. Tapestries.  Oh dear God, SEVENTEEN of them.  The Great Hall is decorated with ’17 richly coloured, modern tapestries’.  The tapestries were a gift from Danish companies, organisations and foundations to mark Queen Margarethe II’s 50th birthday on 16th of April, 2000. It was at this point that I stopped being jealous of Queen Margrethe’s fabulous library… if the cost of owning that fabulous library is also having to receive things, like these tapestries, with some form of grace and decorum, well, there goes my pretensions towards Queenliness!  I think if someone presented me with something that had obviously taken so much work but was so positively hideous, I could not possibly have received it with any other expression, other than incredulity. BUTT FUCKING UGLY!  It makes me sad to think so much time, energy and work went into making something like this.  🙁  Seriously.  I’m sure someone likes them, but me and my fine arts degree, and my love of historical textiles are just rocking and crying quietly in a corner somewhere. FFS… who ever thought it would be ‘nice’ to represent 1100 years of Danish history in cartoonish tapestry to the Queen of Denmark on the occasion of her 50th birthday, needs their bloody head read.  Alright, snobbery begone!  Moving right along we found ourselves in the Velvet Room which has covered in lovely cut out brocade velvet wallpaper.   Which leads into King Fredrik VI’s Room that contained some family tree information for the Danish Royal family, and where Mr K learned that all the European monarchy have heavily intermarried through the efforts of the Empress Maria Theresa and the Emperor Franz Joseph in a time honoured tradition that was then carried on by Queen Victoria of England, who also married all her offspring to other European aristocracies.  Next, King Christian IX’s Room – gorgeous and resplendent in blue, and with very modern carpets. Through which, you gain entrance to the Throne Room, which is very fancy indeed (and no ugly tapestries in sight!).

 

Around the corner from the Throne Room is The Tower Room.  I walked in here and was met with a beautiful room containing another series of tapestries that were this time created in the 1920s.  Again, a swing and a miss here – they look like they are trying to be 15th-16th century tapestries of the Gobelins or Flemish workshops or something, but they look just… nope. So much work! The King’s Staircase at the opposite end of the wing… The next area we decided to explore was the Royal Stables.  On the way there, Mr K says to me, “I can’t wait to see the horses.”  My jaded I’ve-seen-so-many-castles-reply was, “There will be carriages and horse stuff, but no actual horses… If there are horses in here, I’ll eat my hat!”

We walked a little further, and I started to think, “Uh oh, I can smell horse shit, there might actually be horses in the Royal Stables! That’ll be a first.”  Right at that moment, Mr K asks me what sort of sauce goes nicely with ‘hat’.  Cheeky bugger.

Anyway, we get to the Royal Stables, and they are indeed working stables with an exercise yard right in the middle of the courtyard, but not a horse to be seen except for this poor stuffed fellow named Perlen… As I expected, lots of horsey stuff, tack, saddles, and royal regalia… And through to the actual stables, where the smells were coming from.  These are obviously working stables, but there were no horses here at present. Lots of different Royal Carriages though that have seen all sorts of special royal occasions – coronations, weddings, baptisms and the like. Another part of the palace that is open to the public is the 12th ruins of the original castle that was built on the site called Absalon’s Castle.  According to the Bishop Absalon of Roskilde, a Danish chronicler, a castle was built here in 1167, and it comprised of a stone wall, that encircled an enclosed courtyard and several buildings, including the bishop’s palace, a chapel, and several minor buildings.

When Absalon died in 1201, ownership of the castle AND the entire city of Copenhagen, passed to the bishops of Roskilde.  It seems though that was short lived, and a bitter feud erupted between the church and the crown, and then for the next two hundred years, the actual ownership of the castle was contested between the bishops and the kings. On top of that, the castle was frequently attacked by Wend pirates and the Hanseatic cities that variously occupied and plundered the city in the mid-1200s.

The castle had long been an annoyance to the Hanseatic League’s trade in the region, but it wasn’t until 1369 when King Valdemar IV of Denmark engaged in a conflict with the Hanseatic League, that they finally sent 40 stonemasons to demolish the castle stone by stone.  You can now go underneath the current palace to see the 12th century foundations.

Another area of the Palace that is open for public entrance are the Royal Kitchens… not sure what to say about the kitchens really, they are there.  They look like period kitchens.  They can serve 400 odd people in the Great Hall and that’s about it really.   Lots of shiny copper pots. We walked back to the hotel via the canals that we toured yesterday, and noted that in the overcast and occasionally damp weather, there was a shocking lack of tourists in canal boats compared to yesterday!  Seems the bad weather is keeping all the tourists indoors today.

Lastly but not leastly, we went for a wander through the Tivoli after dinner to have a look at the famous gardens at night.  The Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden created in 1843.  It is the second oldest theme park in the world (the oldest one is in Denmark somewhere too).  The Pantomime theatre…Tivoli’s Moorish Palace.
Sideshow alley… A statuette with Swarovski accents that I nearly brought home for my sister… it’s fancier than a black velvet Elvis painting! The park is famous for its old wooden roller coster, the Rutschenbanen, or the Bjergbanen (the Mountain Coaster).  It was built in 1914 and is one of the world’s oldest operating wooden roller coasters.  Mr K wanted to take a ride on it so we bought tickets.  I did suggest we go separately so that our son wouldn’t end up completely orphaned if something happened to the rickety old thing!   It reaches a speed of 50km/h on a 720m track and goes to a height of 13 whole meters! The ride runs around inside a small man made mountain and is almost completely in the dark, which was interesting… bit jerky as you would expect, and the seats could use a little padding for when you hit the bottom of those dips, but there was a little guy sitting behind us who was operating a brake to make sure it doesn’t go too far down hill. . Themed around a mountain, train 2×12.An operator controls the ride by braking down the hills so it won’t gain too much speed.

It was a rather long day and now, dead on our feet we were heading back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest.

Copenhagen Canal Tour and Forest Adventures

Today we farewelled our beautiful Regal Princess, and while I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, I am confirmed in my opinion that the Royal and the Regal are just a bit too big for my preference.  Give me the Diamond or the Sea Princess any day!  🙂  It’s a shame they have three more Royal class ships in the pipeline as so far, no plans to replace the smaller ships as they get moved on.  We shall just have to see what happens.   Some windmills off the coast of Denmark… they look so beautiful dotting the seascape. Down town Copenhagen – the architecture is very typical northern European.  Love it!More trolls in the souvenir shops… there must be some massive factory somewhere churning out trolls with different Scandinavian flags!
With the weather being so beautiful this morning, we decided to take a canal ride to get a look at the city from the water.  It was a wonderful trip through the town.  Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village back in the 10th century, and only became the capital of Denmark some 500 years later in the early 15th century… some of these old buildings and old boats definitely take you back. The Copenhagen Opera House is, err, interesting.  It doesn’t quite blend with the rest of the city’s neoclassical architecture though. The whole of the canal ride felt like traveling through one large Marina… so many yachts and boats.  Many people living in houseboats.  It looks like a lovely lifestyle for the locals. The canal boats are obviously designed to *just* fit under the canal bridges – when passing under some of them, we had barely 10 inches of clearance on each side. Stunning photo of the canal and a canal boat – complete with non-image forming spectral highlights for your enjoyment!

 

It was around the start of the 17th century that Copenhagen began to concrete its position as a regional power center with the development of institutions like universities, defense structures, and armed forces.   They apparently suffered considerably from the plague and bad fires in the 18th century, which then forced the city to undergo another period of growth and development. This saw considerable reconstruction in the Fredriksstaden district and the founding of many cultural institutions, like the History Museum and the Royal Theatre… but it was the 19th century disasters, such as Nelson attacking the Danish/Norweigan fleet and bombarding the city, that stimulated the Danish Golden Age, which brought the final neoclassical look to Copenhagen’s architecture.

We went exploring on foot after our canal tour and first stop was the Rundetaarn – also known as the Round Tower.  It is a 17th century tower right in the middle of central Copenhagen.  It was an architectural structure built by Christian IV as an astronomical observatory.

Directly connected to the Round Tower is the Trinitatis Church.  Also built in the 17th century, it was built to provide services to the students at the nearby Cophenhagen University and is part of the Trinitatis Complex which has an acadmic library as well.

View from our lunch spot at the Dubliner pub… why we gravitate to Irish pubs, I’ll never know!  It’s probably got something to do with the certainty there will be cider!

After lunch, and some work (public transport investigations ahoy!), we set off on a bit of an adventure away from the usual tourist traps.  And we thought we better do this today, while the weather was fine.  🙂   A few months ago, I stumbled onto some photos of an art project by a Danish artist by the name of Thomas Dambo.  Dambo has created the ‘6 Forgotten Giants’, a project that scattered six large wooden sculptures throughout some of Copenhagen’s neglected parklands across several kilometers of parklands.  The sculptures are made from recycled wooden materials, including wooden pallets, and they have been placed in areas of natural beauty that were pretty much neglected by Copenhagen residents as they cycled past on their commutes.  The areas chosen were known for being places of high crime and homelessness, and the aim was to bring the city people back into the areas of natural beauty and encourage them to explore their own city. So we went out to Vallensbaek on the trains and went for a walk in the swamplands.  🙂  The area reminded me very much of the Minnippi Parklands near home, but larger, and of course with very different forest foliage.  Love the weeping willows.  We tramped about a bit, and then the GPS had us go off the path – Dambo has provided the exact locations of the Giants by GPS coordinates only so they can be a bit tricky to find  🙂  The map is deliberately vague.

We quite enjoyed our little wander about in the wilderness… nice flat easy walking helps with that, and the weather, as I said was stunning to too hot?! (What’s with that Copenhagen?  22C and kinda hot and sticky in the sun?)

And then we through the trees, we saw Little Tilde – my favourite of the Forgotten Giants.  This art project is super cool!  Totally worth the 40+mins on public transport and the walk in the forest. borys for scale!  🙂  After visiting with Little Tilde for a while, we thought we would try and find another Forgotten Giant, Thomas on the Mountain.  The name should have given it away, but he was a couple of kilometers away and not as easy to find.   Past some more swamps, wildlife and birds.  Great herons, swans and lots of different ducks. Then up a bloody steep mountain track!  I am really quite proud of myself for having made it up actually.  My neck was clicking that stupid nauseating way it does, but we got up there! And here he is, lounging in a clearing up the steep hill, overlooking the valley.

If we have more time over the next few days we may go looking for some more Forgotten Giants.  I think they are amazing.  We would never have left the center of town if I had not seen these sculptures on some random Internet listicle. Thanks, Buzzfeed – there is something I never thought I would ever say!

After our tramp in the prettish kind of wilderness on the outskirts of town, we went to check into our hotel, and then found ourselves at… *drumroll please* another Irish pub for dinner – Rosie McGees.  Very nice place, great ambiance, wonderful service, nice and quiet and good value food.  Seems this area near our hotel is swamped by UK type pubs – there is the Scottish Pub, the Old English Pub, Rosie McGees and several more.  We may have to try them all.  Great dry ciders for the people.

Catch you all tomorrow, I’m exhausted!

Regal Princess Dining

Usually, we like to have a late traditional sitting in the Main Dining Room – but for some reason, when we booked this Baltic cruise from Australia using an Australian travel agent, we were unable to select traditional dining and the TA wasn’t able to alter it either.  So we were down for Anytime Dining whether we liked it or not.  We thought we’d change it when we got onboard but turns out that was not as easy as I had hoped.  There were plenty of options to change to early sitting traditional, but late sitting, not so much.  Oh well.  Our first night in the MDR, the first thing I noticed was the HUGE portions.

I remember this from the Royal Princess in the Mediterranean, the meal sizes are much bigger than we are used to Down Under.  This rib-eye steak meal, for example, was roughly about 60% this size on the Sea Princess earlier this year… maybe that is because when you’re on the ship for 80 day, they know you are not going to eat that big?  🙂  Or perhaps the Royal and the Regal are catering to a different demographic.  Who knows?

We had a couple of underwhelming experiences in the MDR this trip, partly because the rhythm of the anytime dining just doesn’t suit us – the wait staff don’t get to know you and your preferences, everyone at the tables near you are at varying stages of their meals, so the servers are often coming back and confirming what you are waiting for.  It’s just a bit weird, and must be a lot of additional work for the wait staff compared to the traditional sittings.

We were planning on going to some of the specialty restaurants anyway, so we made some bookings early in the piece.

CROWN GRILL

The Crown Grill is a nice casual space near the Wheelhouse Bar on this ship, the only downside of its location is that it can be a bit noisy.  And when seated near large groups of diners it can be even noisier still.  All good though, the service this visit was a little rushed (they had three tables of 10+ near us), but the food of course, is wonderful.

Current Menus:  Mediterranean Style Spiny Lobster Cake… Black Tiger Prawn and Papaya Salpicon… The Grill Salad with Grape Balamic Dressing… Black and Blue Onion Soup… 14oz Rib Eye… Filet Mignon… The Crown Dependence Dessert Selection… Lemon Meringue Pudding Tart…
(which btw, might be the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever tried!)

SABATINI’S

We always love Sabatini’s, and have dined there on the Royal, the Diamond and now the Regal.  I have heard rumours that they are going to update or change Sabatini’s somehow, but I hope they don’t diverge too much from the wonderful Italian restaurant they’re known for.  Everything was delicious, the service was excellent and the ambiance in the restaurant was quieter and less rushed. Love it!

Current Menus:  Burrata alla Panna con Carpaccio de Pomodori… Vitello Tonnato… Spaghetti allo Scoglio…Penne con Brascato de Manzo… Tris d’Aragosta…Lombata di Vitello al Forno…Zabaglione… Torta Profumata ai Limoni di Sorrento…

AFTERNOON TEA IN THE CABIN

We did get back to the ship after one of our ports at 3:30pm, as per the scheduled itinerary, and I called Room Service to request some Engish Breakfast tea for two (as is our habit after a long day ashore).  I had forgotten about the hour, and when I was offered Afternoon Tea in the room, I thought – why not?  Afternoon Tea in the cabin is one of those little loyalty perks that Princess offers their Elite passengers, but it’s one of those things we rarely remember. So when all this, turned up… I was somewhat surprised.  A little bit of overkill for two people, but a nice touch.

 

My husband loves his pizza slices up on the Lido deck, and usually, goes for a few slices of pepperoni on each cruise.  Personally, I prefer the pizza from the pizzeria.  Thankfully Princess is loudly applauded for having the best pizza at sea – so hopefully these options won’t change anytime soon.

Made to order – Hawaiian with shrimp and anchovies!  😛 

CHEF’S TABLE, LUMIERE

This cruise, to celebrate Mr K’s birthday, I had wanted to book us onto the Chef’s Table.  I’ve done it before on the Caribbean Princess, and it was an enjoyable evening of seeing behind the scenes, having some interesting conversations with other foodies, and getting to know the Executive head Chef and Maitre D’Hotel.  So I had called to request a booking on the Chef’s Table as soon as we boarded the ship – literally, got to the room, put some things in the safe and called Dining Reservations, first thing.  It was a wonderful evening to celebrate a special occasion.

It starts in the galley with an introduction to the head chef, some champage and canapes. Carving displays. Working hard hustling out up 1200 meals at a time! Sesame Marinated Big Eye Tuna Carpaccio, Yuzu Dressing… Lobster Tail on Buckwheat Blini with Caviar Citrus Vinaigrette… Beef Tartar with Horseradish… Panko Coated Black Tiger Prawns… Fortina Cheese and White Truffle Mini Quiche… Creamy Italian Carnaroli Rice Rissotto with Wild Porcini Mushrooms… Roasted Orange & Crystallized Ginger Sorbet Double Impact Surf & Turf Baked Cambert with Pinenuts… Chocolate Raspberry Mousse and Hazelnut Brownie, and French Macaroon… And this?  Well I have no idea what this is.  The Maitre D’ was speaking to some people about dietary requirements (we had one vegetarian and two no seafood and two no lactose on the table), he turned to me and asked if I had any dietary requirements, and I said to him, “No allergies at all, sir. Though I have a particular dislike for all things chocolate!” Which 1) raised some looks of incredulity from my fellow diners, “How can you not like chocolate?”, and 2) was information that was obviously filed by the Maitre D’ and they made me a special non-chocolate dessert!  I have no idea what it was, but it was fabulous, something vanilla mousse-like in layers of soft caramel biscuit thing.  Delicious, and so very thoughtful.  And of course, Chef Giovannis’ Homemade Gourmandises…

It was a lovely evening, we met some lovely people, felt thoroughly spoiled by the staff and tried some truly delicious things.

 

This trip, is the first time we have been invited to the ‘Most Travelled Lunch’.  Each cruise, the Princess Captain’s Circle host arranges a lunch for the 40 most travelled people on the ship – these invitations go out to people according to those in the program who have the most days at sea with Princess.  And this trip out of 3800 passengers on the ship, we were lucky enough to be invited.  The luncheon was held in the Sabatini’s restaurant, and we were seated with Ralph, who is the Customer Service Manager of the entire ship – he is repsonsible for the purser’s desk, the shore excursions department, photography department and more.

Lovely custom napery… Personalized menus… Tian of Seafood…Butter Poached Lobster Tail…
Norman Love Fantasy Delight…

It was a lovely luncheon actually, and a wonderful opportunity to discuss ship related things with a knowledgeable member of the staff.  Ralph was intimately involved in the launching of the last three Royal Class ships, and is back on the Regal getting ready to launch of the Ocean Medallion innovation.  We had very interesting conversations.

All up the dining has been superb!