Today I got to dress up as a Queen. It was awesome.
Our second day in Copenhagen encompassed two extremes of the city, from the decadent Christiansborg Slot, to the freetown of Christiania. Copenhagen may be a relatively small city but each area that makes up Copenhagen has its own unique characteristics.
We began the day with a walk down to the waterfront, enjoying the refreshing air and delighting in the pretty buildings that line the canal and waterways. After our rather expensive day yesterday, we decided to head to the café at the library, Oieblikket for a cheap and cheerful early lunch/very late breakfast. The library building itself is quite a modern piece of architecture that stands out against the older buildings behind.
The café was clearly rather popular with locals and tourists a like and we had to queue to order our food. I had a turkey sandwich and a latte. The latte was really good. I do not know what Copenhagen do with their coffee, but it is incredible. Every single coffee I had tasted so good. The only downside was that they were served in glasses and therefore were rather hot to hold! We also enjoyed a piece of incredibly light and fluffy cheesecake whilst looking across the water.
With our bellies full of more delicious food, we headed back along the canal to Christiansborg Slot. We crossed the famous marble bridge and entered the palace grounds. The building itself is really quite something to gaze upon, to be honest, we spent a considerable time looking at the outside of the building as we could not actually find the entrance to the palace. We did all sorts of loops around the outer buildings, accidently stumbling upon parliament thinking it was the entrance to the palace. With a bit of perseverance though, we eventually found our way in (we followed some other people who looked like they knew where they were going).
We decided to visit the Royal Rooms first and as we wanted to visit the ruins and the stables, we decided to purchase a combination ticket (I would recommend this if you want to visit all the different areas of the palace). When you enter the Royal Rooms you are asked to put large bags, coats etc in lockers (with cute horse keyrings on the locker keys) and then put on some bright blue shoe covers – very sexy, I must say.
I don’t know why I found it so much fun putting on the blue shoe covers but I felt the need to take various pictures of said shoe covers, and found myself walking like a right weirdo around the palace as I admired them from all angles. Sometimes I wander why my boyfriend hasn’t yet distanced himself from me in public to be honest!
Anyway, cool shoe covers aside, the interior of the palace was truly spectacular, there were so many intense colours, extravagant chandeliers and mesmerising art work adorning the walls. Each room had it’s own unique design and I got quite excited when I walked into the throne room and saw two, velvet covered thrones at the opposite end. Luckily by this point I had moved on from photographing my feet and instead took many pictures of the beautiful rooms of the palace.
After sadly parting with my blue shoe covers, we headed back outside and across the courtyard to explore the ruins beneath the palace. Before exploring the ruins I would recommend you take a bit of time to read up on the history behind the palace and it’s ruins, mainly because once you get underground, you will pretty much be faced with piles of stones which without knowledge of the history and then taking time to read the information boards down there, they may as well just be a jumble of rocks.
However, once you have read a few of the signs and let your imagination run free, you can find yourself sucked in to the history. The palace has been built quite a few times, and burnt down entirely on two occasions. There is a really informative short documentary about half way around which helps to being the ruins to life. I would recommend taking the time to watch this.
The highlight of the ruins though is at the very end when you can dress up and sit in a throne and pretend for a moment that you are in Game of Thrones (or something similar). I opted for a crown (which I personally thought suited me very well), an axe and a shield. I took my seat in the thrown and felt a minor moment of power. I think I would have suited being a medieval queen. Although the (fake) heads on spikes surrounding me helped to being me back to reality. Reluctantly I gave up my throne to the next excited tourist in line.
After a brief and disappointing visit to the stables (there were no horses there), we then headed to the tower. It is free to enter the tower but be prepared to queue. There is only so much room at the top so they let people up in waves. Once you have gone through airport like security you are huddled into a very small lift and whizzed to a floor near(ish) the top of the tower. There is a restaurant on this floor which you can book into if you wish. If you are just there for the tower (as we were) you then move into another even smaller lift for the final few floors. There is then a short climb up a metal spiral staircase to the observation deck of the tower.
All the queuing and lack of personal space in the lifts is worth it though when you look out across Copenhagen. It provides a completely different view to that from the top of the Rundetarn. We were also a bit luckier with the weather so the view was pretty clear. If it wasn’t for the bitterly cold breeze I would have spent longer at the top.
After our fun filled day at Christiansborg Slot we then crossed the bridge to Christianshavn. It was considerably busier this side of the water. There were numerous cafes, bakeries and restaurants lining the streets and hoards of people. It was quite a contrast to the quieter streets of Stroget.
We took a pitstop in a coffee shop and enjoyed yet another incredible Danish coffee. We then wandered along the canal edge taking many pictures of the quaint, colourful houses and moored boats. It is really pretty walking along the canals of Copenhagen. I could have spent ages meandering along the many streets lining the canals.
However, we were walking along the canal for a purpose, and after consulting my map quite a few times, and having to double back on ourselves, we eventually stumbled across our next destination, Christiania. The roads leading to the main entrance to Christiania are adorned with colourful graffiti and you enter through a large wooden arch. You have to battle your way into a good position to get a picture of the entrance without all the other tourists getting in the way. It is a very popular tourist spot in Copenhagen.
Christiania is referred to as a freetown, free of rules and restrictions that come with day to day urban living. There are no cars allowed in Christiania and the houses are adorned with a variety of colours and paintings. It is also the Green Light District of Copenhagen.
As you enter Christiania you are not only greeted by the intense smell of weed but also a large board with rules. Yes it may claim to be free from rules but there are actually rules, which are taken very strictly. Buying and selling weed is actually illegal in Copenhagen, although walking the paths of Christiania is hard to see that this is actually enforced, on any level. However, as it is illegal, you are not allowed to take photographs in the majority of Christiania (there are a few signs indicating where you can), you cannot run as this causes panic and there is an even a rule to ‘have fun’…
As we entered Christiania I was surprised at how open yet secretive the area was. It was very clear what was going on yet the various stalls selling ‘product’ were covered in camo nets and many of the people had their faces covered. In contrast as you headed further into Christiania there were people quite openly smoking away on the readily available weed.
I found Christiania rather odd and I moved through it very quickly. I was glad to have walked through and seen it but it certainly wasn’t somewhere I felt comfortable. It baffles me how obvious it is that weed is sold and bought here despite it being illegal but I suppose from the police’s point of view, it is contained to this one area and isn’t infiltrating the rest of the city. In addition, one of the unwritten rules is that no hard drugs are accepted here. It is just an area of the city where those who are that way inclined can escape from their day to day lives and the residents and visitors alike respect both the written and unwritten rules which seem to make a place like this work for all pretence and purposes. I am glad I took the time to experience Christiania but I am not sure it will be somewhere I will return to.