Day 19 – Castles and Trains

So I mentioned before that I was using this Copenhagen Card, which covers entry to things and transport. While amazingly, it also covers transport out to areas that I would not consider to be part of Copenhagen. I guess they are considered part of “Greater Copenhagen”, but to me it would be like saying that Hudson, WI is part of Minneapolis.

Anyways, I hop on the S-tog (never did figure out what the S means, Tog is train). It essentially runs like a local train would. I headed up to Hillerød, where Frederiksborg is. (It’s a good thing I picked up a tourist map, because I definitely thought that Frederiksborg Palace was in Frederikberg Park. Which is a completely different direction and area.)

My first stop in Hillerød was the mall, because I had found some place that sold fitbits! Got my new fitbit, was all set to just run with it, but it needed charging, so I guess I’d have to wait a few more hours. If only I had remembered to bring my portable charger with me!

Next off I walked to the Castle. It is quite cool because it is on a series of islands in a lake. I’m sure at some point they were connected by draw bridge or some other moveable structure, now they are connected with permanent bridges. Anyways, I was sad to discover this was yet another collection of paintings and memorabilia instead of a restored castle. Oh well. The building had clearly gone through some troubles and almost none of the original interior remained anyways. The gardens looked amazing, however I hadn’t planned as well as some past days, and was lacking enough layers. I swore that I’d be warm enough in shorts in 15 degrees, but I didn’t factor in the wind and clouds. No park dwelling for me.

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Back to the train station to take was actually described as a local train. Super nice though! Obviously none of the amenities that come with the regional trains, and not the billion seats all facing one way with tray tables, but very nice and clean. To me, nicer than our light rail at home. I had to read the schedule/train stops about 10 times to figure out what train to get on. There were two that went from Hillerød to Helsingør. Turns out the only difference was the route and how many stops and the time, so really, it didn’t matter which one I got on.

At Helsingør, finding the castle was extremely easy. Clearly it’s a big draw for the town as there were signs right from the train platform. On the way, I found the library, which happened to have computers set up for free use. Well, if you remember earlier, I had a fitbit that needed charging. They also had free wi-fi, so I was pretty content to hang-out at the computer for 30 minutes or so. If you follow me on instagram, I’m sure you saw that.

Kronborg Castle was the type of castle I had been waiting to see! Helsingør (written Elsingor some places) is the town that is at the point closest to what is now Sweden, and the town Helsingborg. At the time of this castle’s establishment, both sides of the water were Denmark (remember, for a large part of history the Danish ruled over all of what is now Sweden and Norway, or at least most of it). The castle was established so that the king could force all ships sailing through the area to pay dues, or taxes. It started as a small castle, but around the 16th century underwent some additions, partly because the cannons of the time were getting better and there was no way the walls could withstand the newer ones.

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In this castle, there was an area that was particularly dedicated for the women of the household (queen, staff, etc.) to walk inside. This was in order to save their shoes. Crazy to see. I can’t imagine living in the castle because it must have been brutal to keep it warm at all. But this was used as the Royal residence in the time of Frederik II, after which it was used as a summer castle for some time, and then later abandoned. However, it’s one of the few that weren’t built by Christian IV, who built what seems like every other castle in Denmark. (A little tough to keep straight who built what, because they liked naming things after themselves, but the line of kings have names that pretty much alternate between Christian and Frederik from the “modern” time of the middle ages).

Inside one room (can’t remember which one now, a smaller hall) they had tapestries depicting the kings. Originally there were 43, now 7 hang in this hall, and 7 more in the National Museum in Copenhagen. They were made by Frederik (the something) to in an effort to demonstrate that the Danish monarchy was older than the others around them. How amusing. But it was cool to see that they all had different thing to distinguish them, and the Danish Coat of Arms of the time they ruled (which changed a lot over time actually). The danish coat of arms has 3 lions on it, which makes more sense to the 3 silver lions guarding the thrones I saw the other day.

Also in this room is a canopy which was hung over the king’s table at all meals (see the previous slide show pictures). The canopy was awesome and giant. I can’t tell you about what’s on it any more, but for once there was an awesome display telling you about it. When Sweden captured the castle (~1640 if I remember correctly) they took a lot of things with them, including the canopy which must have been in a trunk. Anyways, it was kept in Sweden, and is normally on display in a museum in Stockholm, so I was excited it was in Kronborg.

I took a walk around the outer walls of the castle (again, see pictures above), and then headed back to the train station. I was planning on taking the S-tog back to Copenhagen. All the S-togs that run in Copenhagen (like the one I took in the morning) are a red train. All the trains in the station were silver (only 4 tracks, 2 trains). And they were all going to Sweden. Looked at my S-tog map to try to figure out what was going on, couldn’t. Asked the conductor standing outside the train (thank goodness everyone speaks beyond fluent English). He nicely told me this train was going to get me to Copenhagen central. About half the way home, I took my map back out and realized that the nice silver line which I just figured was another S-tog color, was in fact a regional train. Way too much time spent trying to figure that out. Got home safely and quickly!

I decided I really should check out Tivoli, as it was right by my hotel and central station. And because I could get one “free” entry (normally 99dkk ~ $15) per day with my Copenhagen card, I didn’t lose anything if I decided I really was too tired and left shortly. I got in, took a walk around, went to check out the one ride that looked awesome (each ride is 75dkk…. woof). After finally figuring out where the entrance was, turns out it was down for the day. The ride is essentially a giant kite eating tree (for those of you that remember the old Camp Snoopy rides), and you must get a good view from the top. Oh well, decided to come back tomorrow if I saw it up and running.

I walked around the rest of the park, but that night there was an Elton John concert, and so they were starting to close down lots of the walk ways. The concert would be awesome, and you could hear without a ticket I’m sure, but huge crowds for something I’m only sort of interested in, doesn’t work for me. I decided to just head home.

On my way out, I actually got yelled at. I had been drinking a cider I brought in with me (I hadn’t had it on the train like planned). Turns out you can’t bring in drinks. Denmark allows you to drink pretty much whenever and where-ever you want, so I hadn’t even considered that! Oops. Luckily it was just a telling me, and I kept heading out.

Wow sorry, that’s a novel. There just wasn’t anything I could leave out!

P.S. This is the first day which I’ve had clothing struggles. The biggest part of the struggles was my inability to keep my food in the container, and not on my clothes, both my coffee and my yogurt decided they were more fashion statements than food. The other was my lack of warmth, but that was poor planning not lack of resources.

Steps: 17,750 (12,750 logged after charging my fitbit! The rest are an underestimate)

Floors: 25

Day 18 – København: Museums and Castles

It seems that most things open at 10, at the earliest. And being that this was a Sunday, lots of things didn’t open until 11. It makes for a calm start to the morning though. To start, I wrote my starting time on my Copenhagen Card, hopped a bus and off to the museums I went!

Design Museum Denmark – This goes over design and how Danish designers are influenced and what influences them. Not my favorite because a lot of it was just displaying what they made, without any information about how they got to that object. The temporary exhibit right now is on Children and design for them, or about them. So I did learn that the company Baby Bjørn is called that because the man that made the “babysitter” chair and whatever the harness is that holds the baby to you in the front had the last name Bjørn.

This chair made of newspapers I did find amusing.
This chair made of newspapers I did find amusing.

Amalienborg Palaces – This is now the home to the Royal Family. It has been so since 17something (I want to say 1749, but don’t trust that), when one of the great fired burnt down Christiansborg (see, fires are a common theme here). The Palaces were originally built as a place for four families of high nobles to live, and the royal family moving in was thought to be temporary. However, the family liked the palaces so much (they started with living in two of them) that they booted the other nobles and took over all four. They are connected by underground spaces, and a public street and roundabout continue to be used in between the four separate buildings. Luckily not many cars come through because all us tourists stand in the middle of the road to take pictures like this.


The one pictured above currently houses rooms used by not-first-in-line princes and princesses when they are in Denmark, as well as the museum, which contains rooms restored from pictures taken near the time of death of the different kings and queens. Let me tell you, the kings and queens did not start the “Danish Modern” type of style. SO MANY things in every room. The reigning monarch lives in one of the buildings, the crown prince/princess in another (alternating every generation) and the fourth is used to house guests and to conduct business. Pretty cool.

Rosenborg Slot – This was built as a summer palace, I believe. Now, by who, I don’t remember. It would make sense that it was built back before Christiansborg or Amalienborg were the main residence of the royals, as they are only a few blocks apart. I’d probably remember it better if there had been more historical information in the Castle. However, the castle mainly contains items and pictures. It was used as a storage location for a lot of years, and was turned into a museum as early as the 1850’s. Denmark has had a monarchy for a long time, so not surprisingly, there are a lot of paintings. The exciting part of this castle, is that it houses the crown jewels. I, however, will never understand why some people take pictures of every single little thing in every room, including all the pieces of ivory and silver and jewels.


I could have one of these, that'd be okay.
I could have one of these, that’d be okay.

Round Tower – This tower is part of a church and is a great spot for a look out over the city. It contains a ramp that spirals around until you reach the top (with a few stairs at the end). Certainly not an easy climb.

Ramp going up!
View out over the city
View out over the city

I then walked around the shopping street hoping to find a replacement fitbit since I determined mine was really dead. Sadly, everything closes early on Sundays (not that an hour or two later on the week days is really all that late), and I had spent the opening hours seeing the sites. Google found me some place, and I took note to go the next day.

Days 14, 15, and 16 – Island, Fortress, Ferry

Day 14

I started the day off up bright and early. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to wander around places without very many other people, and the Akershus Fortress opened at 06:00 (No, I wasn’t there at that time, more like 08:00). So off I went. It really was empty! Of course, there’s always guards on duty, as it is a national fortress and castle, and I didn’t realize this until I turn around and see one standing back in the trees. They patrol around, so they can appear in places you were looking earlier and no one was there. Scared the shit out of me! They carry big guns too.

Anyways, gave some timer selfies a try. Most looked horrible, half shadows doesn’t do well for my camera at all.


The fortress was interesting to wander around, but there’s not much in the way of information. I found it amusing to look up the side of the castle (which was closed on this day) and see the many different building materials.

It's easy to see 3 different types of stone here.
It’s easy to see 3 different types of stone here.

After this, I decided to check out one of the islands in the Oslo bay area. I went with Hovedøya, the one that the past day had the most people in line, and the sign with a two sentence description said it was a good recreation and beach area.

There was also a monastery ruin, which is part of where some of the different stones for the fortress came from.

Just free to wander around as you please
Just free to wander around as you please

Going over a hill on the path to the beach and I heard some weird noise, get to the top and see these lovelies staring back at me.


Apparently used for mowing that area
Apparently used for mowing that area

I wasn’t properly prepared though. Everyone else that went over was ready with lunch/snacks and beach gear. People were carrying foam mats, which made more sense when I saw that they would simply lay on the hard rocks. I grabbed a bench and did a little reading before ending up hungry and heading back. I took the ferry that made stops at some of the other islands, just to get a mini sight seeing trip out of it.

After grabbing lunch, I did a bit of shopping. I had a mission when I went to Norway to come home with some Comfy Balls Boxers, and so needed to find those. I heard of them through the Norwegian Curling Team, Team Ulsrud. They did a hilarious commercial for them, which I have to link even though I’m sure no one else will find it as funny as I did. Anyways, mission accomplished. No other shopping needed here where everything is so expensive.

My next task was finding some food for dinner and for my next days lunch, as I planned to go back to the beach, this time better prepared (including sunscreen). Grocery shopping in a country that speaks a different language will never be a simple task. Perhaps it would be less difficult if I wouldn’t end up sick if I ate the wrong things. So far, meat, cheese and crackers have been my go-to snack, once I found GF crackers.

Day 15

Pretty much the same activities as yesterday, just in the reverse order. That and the castle at the fortress was to be open, so I went back. I will never understand why displays which contain chronological information are presented out of order. Makes it rather difficult to follow. Oh well.

Turns out this castle ran into the same problem as most castles/churches/towns and burned down a few times. That’s part of the reason for the many materials. The other is that it went through many different uses over time and fixes/improvements were done and no one bothered to care what they were using to build the walls so long as they stood.

This is the fortress where Norway was overtaken by the Nazis in 1940 at the beginning of the German Occupation of Norway. Luckily, they managed to sink a ship which held off the Germans long enough to allow the King to escape.

Castle Pictures:

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Beach pictures:

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Then I went back to my hostel, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the boat I was taking to Copenhagen.

The boat was like a mini-cruise ship. I did some laundry quickly, grabbed dinner, wandered around, watched the scenery, and then was bored. So I went off to grab a drink. I ended up running into some ladies that were heading to Copenhagen for the day as a girls night/weekend trip. I ended up spending the rest of my evening with them, which was quite fun! The Thursday night trip must not be the party trip though, because pretty much all the bars and club were empty, and there was a lot of them.

Day 16

Off the boat with my clothes that apparently do not all dry in 12 hours (sad). The ferry terminal in Copenhagen is not quite in the city. They provide a bus that brings you to the city center, which being that my hostel was by the train station, I figured was good enough. Well, at least I got a lot of walking in. It’s always tough to find your way around a new city. Usually it takes me a couple times walking around, then I’ve totally got it, but that’s never when you’re also carrying all your things.

So I dropped my stuff off at my hostel (too early for check-in) and headed to the tourist information, then the store to grab lunch, and then to a park to grab a spot in the shade.

This is where I learn how to get around the city. After lunch I spent some time looking through the materials I picked up and at the map and planned all the things I wanted to see, and came up with a plan of attack.

After everything was all decided, I headed back to the hostel and got settled. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to just do nothing at the hostel, so I decided to check out Nyhavn (pronounced like na-haown, I’ll never really figure it out though). It was packed as it was happy hour/dinner time on a Friday, so I grabbed some ice cream (yes, for dinner) and grabbed a seat on the side of the canal to watch the world go by.


This happens to be where the most commonly seen picture of Copenhagen was taken. Looks just like it too.

I gave up after not too long and hopped the bus back home. I am learning that two showers a day will probably be the norm for me this trip, especially if it’s going to stay in the 30’s (90’s for us Americans – I had to learn Celsius or I sound crazy).

Day 14

Steps: 22,875

Floors: 35

Day 15

Steps: 20,260

Floors: 87 (lots of stairs on that ferry boat!)

Day 16

Steps: 18,485

Floors: 23