Reader Essential Experience of the Week

A Fairytale in Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark
Posted by Karen Danner
July 19, 2011

“Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen, Friendly old girl of a town” may not be a song a lot of people know but for me it is a childhood memory; I grew up with Hans Christian Andersen and fell in love with Danny Kaye in his role of him.  

Karen and Greg with one of the city's statues of Hans Christian Andersen.

Even though I am older, every now and then I watch the movie and still can hear my mother singing beside me and telling me all about her trips across “the water” from Kiel to Copenhagen.  I fell in love with the place my mother visited, made famous for me through the movies, without ever actually visiting Copenhagen — that is until May, 2010.

I can’t say that I have ever thought of my “bucket list” and although I have always wanted to go on a cruise I never in a million years would have imagined that my first cruise would be a Baltic cruise visiting countries I heard about from my parents, read about in books or saw in movies — Copenhagen, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Norway — for me the trip of a lifetime.

My dream vacation started when my boyfriend, Greg, asked me if I wanted to go on a cruise — of course I said yes I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise.  When he suggested the Baltic cruise, well, could it get any better?  Actually it did when my brother and his wife decided to join us.

Copenhagen is everything I imagined and more.  The culture, the beauty and the breathtaking scenery all part of an amazing trip.

Tivoli is filled with beautiful gardens and entertainment options.

For me the highlights included the Tivoli Gardens with its breathtaking gardens and diverse musical acts; the harbour where the angel awaits the sailors return; and the canal tour, showcasing the colourful homes, restaurants, cafes, shops, and history.

Another interesting discovery for me was the number of bicycles here.  Back home, I work in the department that takes care of our city’s bike lanes, so it was extremely interesting to see that in Copenhagen so many use bicycles as their main mode of transportation.  No matter whether it was hot, sunny or pouring rain, wearing suits, dresses or casual wear, riding to work, shopping or exercising, biking was extremely popular.  The streets even have “bike counters” to show how many bikes have passed by a certain spot in a day and for the year to date.  We could certainly learn from this country — they embrace and promote biking, to the point of having dedicated bike lanes, complete with turn lanes and their own traffic signals (which, as far as I could see, are obeyed!).

Hans Christian Andersen's home.

But most of all, Hans Christian Andersen is everywhere here — there are statues of him around town, his tomb is here, and best of all, there’s a Hans Christian Andersen Museum, located in one of his old homes, that gave me a further education on the talented and varied author.

And of course for Hans Christian Andersen fans — and really anyone visiting Copenhagen — one of the highlights is going to see the Little Mermaid statue in the harbour.  Alas, on our visit the Little Mermaid was not perched on her stone, she was in Shanghai, China at the Danish exhibit at the World EXPO — certainly disappointing but not enough to spoil our experience.

However, I hear she’s now back in place, so if I’m fortunate enough to get to Denmark again, that’s where I’ll head to complete my Hans Christian Andersen fairytale in Copenhagen.

The Little Mermaid Statue was away while Karen visited, but here is back on her stone perch in the harbor.

One of the bike lane counters found in Copenhagen.

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