Denmark, Germany, Netherlands – August 2015 (Part 1)

Denmark, Germany, Netherlands – August 2015

Part 1  – Copenhagen, Denmark
Pictures coming soon….

Background Info

Soon after returning from our April trip, I was curious about going back to Europe sometime in the fall. Airfare prices were outrageously expensive (over $1,100 each) into the main European hubs (Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and London), so I started looking at alternate airports into which we could fly. Three Scandinavian airports (Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo) were around $450 per person cheaper for round trip tickets than the major cities. We ended up paying around $650 per person for round trip Orlando-Copenhagen, connecting in New York (JFK) and Amsterdam. So we picked Copenhagen since we could take the train into Germany and onward to the Netherlands.


After an extremely quick connection at JFK airport (40 minutes), during which my bag did not make the transfer, we landed in Amsterdam around 6 a.m. and connected to Copenhagen some 3 hours later. We arrived in Kastrup, where Copenhagen’s airport is, just before 11 a.m. After passing through customs, we purchased our Copenhagen Card at the train ticket counter. The train ticket counter at the airport handles not only the local trains, metro, and buses, but also all of the tourist information as well.

The Copenhagen Card is available in 4 versions (24, 48, 72, and 120 hours) and includes unlimited public transport (metro, bus, and local train) for the duration of the pass. It also includes admission to 73 museums and attractions, including Tivoli Gardens (but not to ride the rides; there is a supplement to be paid at Tivoli if you want to upgrade). We highly recommend purchasing this pass if you are interested in the museums and attractions offered since you’ll save a lot of money.

Our hotel, about a 15-minute walk from the Dybbølsbro train station, was located across the street from the Sydhavnen canal and near a shopping mall, the Fisketorvet. Since our room was not ready until 3 p.m., we had some time to kill. So we went to the mall to have lunch and to walk around. When hotels in Denmark inform you that your room will not be ready until 3 p.m., they really do mean it. As it turns out, the housekeeping manager manually enters each room into the system at that time, and not a minute before – literally. Also, hotels in Denmark have a 25% sales tax on them. So if you do go to Denmark, either be prepared to pay the hefty tax or to find alternate accommodation.

Designmuseum Danmark (Danish Design Museum)

After resting for a little bit once we got into our room, we headed out to visit the Danish Design Museum. We took the local train to Østerport Station and walked along the southwestern border of the Kastellet, a 17th-century star-shaped fortress. We turned right onto Bredgade and found the museum on the left. This was about a 15-20 minute walk.

Housed in a rococo-style hospital constructed during the 1750s, the building was renovated during the 1920s to convert it into a museum. Displaying exquisite examples of Danish industrial design, decorative arts, and applied arts, the museum’s collections, library, and archives compose a primary resource and research center for Danish design. The museum’s gardens, the Grønnegård, is open during operating hours and hosts theatrical performances during the summer.

Seeing that my luggage had not arrived by the next morning, we returned to the mall so that I could purchase some replacement clothing. After this, we ventured into downtown Copenhagen.

Christiansborg Slot

On the island of Slotsholmen stands the Christiansborg Slot (Christiansborg Palace). Visitors with the Copenhagen Card can enter the Royal Reception Rooms, the Theatre, the Ruins, and the Stables free of charge; otherwise adult tickets cost DKK 150 (approximately $23). The Danish Parliament, the Danish Supreme Court, and the Danish Prime Minister’s Office use this multipurpose complex, some parts of which the Danish monarchy also uses. The current complex, built between 1907 and 1928, stands on the original site of Absolon’s castle built in 1167. It is the only building in the world to house all three branches of government: judicial, executive, and legislative.

Agnete and the Merman

After touring the grounds, we did what we now try to do in each city: take some sort of cruise to see the city from a different perspective. Beside the cruise company’s ticket office stands Agnete and the Merman, a group of underwater bronze sculptures located in the Slotsholm Canal next to the Højbro Bridge. The figures portray a merman and his seven sons with outstretched arms, pleading with Agnete to come back. The work is based on the ballad “Agnete and the Mermen”, which is one of the manifold fairy tales found in Danish folklore.

The Grand Tour Cruise

Taking visitors on an hour-long cruise, the boat passes through idyllic canals and the city’s harbor. A live tour guide, as opposed to a prerecorded audio track, narrates the journey in Danish, English, and sometimes a third language (German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian). Our particular guide gave the tour in Danish, English, and German. For holders of the Copenhagen Card, the cruise is included, but you must embark at the station beside the underwater statue garden on Gammel Strand, not the one in Nyhavn.

Along the way you’ll see the Copenhagen Opera House, the Nyhavn area, the Royal Yacht, the city’s former port, and the Little Mermaid statue. While you can roll the windows up to stand up during the journey, when the boat travels under some of the bridges, you’ll have to sit down as the clearance is less than 6 inches between the boat and the bridge at some points. As we have experienced many times now, we cannot recommend river or canal cruises enough as a way to take photos you otherwise would have no access to take, to gain a different viewpoint of various attractions, and as a way to see things without walking all over the city and becoming tired.

After the cruise we walked the main pedestrian area of Copenhagen: the Købmagergade. This street is one of the main shopping streets in Copenhagen and intersects with the other main shopping street: Strøget. We took Købmagergade about ten blocks to Kultorvet, a square lined with many restaurants. We chose the Italian restaurant on the north side of the square and had a very delicious meal outdoors. Afterwards, we made our way back down to Strøget and walked toward Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square).

Copenhagen Pride

Unbeknownst to us, the square in front of Copenhagen’s City Hall was hosting Copenhagen Pride. The city was decked out in rainbow colors; even 7-11 printed special coffee cups with rainbow colors on them to celebrate. The square had about 30 booths displaying products, food items, and a music stage. We then headed down H. C. Andersens Blvd. where a statue of Hans Christian Andersen was. Across the street was Tivoli Gardens.

Tivoli Gardens

Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tivoli Gardens is the second-longest operating amusement park in the world. Opened on 15 August 1843 under the name Tivoli and Vauxhall, as an homage to the Jardin de Tivoli in Paris (itself named after Tivoli in Rome) and Vauxhall Gardens in London, the park possessed buildings constructed in the imaginary exotic Oriental style, flower gardens, a theatre, and mechanical amusement rides. When the Nazis occupied Denmark, Nazi supporters burned many of the gardens’ buildings, but temporary buildings were quickly built and the park reopened within weeks.

The park is best known for its wooden roller coaster, Rutschebanen, which is controlled by an onboard operator so that the ride won’t gain too much speed on the hills. There are three other roller coasters and various thrill rides. In addition to the rides, Tivoli serves as a venue for the performing arts and plays an active role in Copenhagen’s cultural scene. Visitors with the Copenhagen Card can enter the gardens for free, but to ride the attractions, you must purchase a supplemental ticket.

The next morning, we took the 5:20 a.m. direct train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, Germany. The main reason we booked such an early train was the price, which was cheaper than the next train leaving two hours later by about 20 euros per person. We also wanted to get the five-hour train ride out of the way early in the day so we would have more time in Hamburg to explore.

The fascinating thing about this train, however, was the fact that from Rødbyhavn, Denmark to Puttgarden, Germany, the train travels in the hull of a ferry. The ferry contains railroad tracks on which the train rests during the 45-minute journey across the 18-kilometer wide Fehmarn Belt, a strait that connects the Bay of Mecklenburg and the Bay of Kiel in the western section of the Baltic Sea. Passengers must disembark the train once it is secured in the ferry, which has two restaurants, a convenience store, a duty free store, a currency exchange desk, and several observation decks. Prior to docking in Puttgarden, passengers get back on the train to continue their journey to Hamburg.

Originally envisioned as a bridge, there is a proposal to bore a 3-part tunnel similar to the Chunnel connecting France and the United Kingdom to link Denmark and Germany. Initial plans set completion for 2018, but domestic and EU funding pushed completion to 2024. Denmark will build the tunnel with support from Germany and Sweden, aiming to cut about an hour of travel time between the countries.

We’re off to Hamburg, Germany! –> To continue, Click here

Author: TTG Michael