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By Margaret Deefholts
(For Travel Writers’ Tales)

I am in Copenhagen, just outside the main railway station. It is dark, chilly and despite the city’s reputation for being easy to navigate, I am hopelessly lost. Eventually, more by accident than design, I stumble upon my hotel, the Ascot, which is tucked away in a little lane and is, as I discover later, a mere ten minute walk from the station. Duh!

The next morning, fortified by a cup of steaming latte coffee and armed with my 24 hour “Travel Copenhagen” card I venture out into the city. Arterial roads pinwheel around large pedestrian squares, and cyclists, undeterred by a boisterous wind, stream past in shoals along bike designated lanes.

Photo 14. Pedestrian Square City Centre #2757

Photo 15. Street scene at City Hall Square #2759

Photo 13. City Hall #2867

I’m here for just a brief one-day stay, so for starters I scope out the city on a hop-on-hop-off red double-decker bus. They run every 20 minutes, and I settle into a comfortable front seat, don a pair of complimentary headphones with a recorded commentary, and have my camera at the ready.

The bus route runs through diverse neighborhoods and we bowl along a boulevard flanked by luxury hotels on one side, and the Tivoli Gardens on the other. I peer eagerly out of the window as we pass the house where Denmark’s beloved author Hans Christian Anderson once lived, and goggle at the Amalienborg Palace (the Queen’s winter residence) the Christianborg Palace. I decide to defer exploring both buildings as well as the once bohemian, pot-stoked, Christianshavn neighbourhood (which, according to the commentary, is now an upscale locale), and to stay on the bus through its entire circuit. However, when we draw up beside a canal, where a tour boat is filling up fast, I’m tempted beyond my strength and scramble down to the pier in time to grab a seat on board.

Photo 18. Passengers on river cruise boat #2764

Photo 4. Embellishment on low bridge over canal #2814

For the next half an hour, we cruise leisurely under bridges where passersby lean over the balustrades and wave to us. We putter past the Danish royal family’s yacht, and a construction site where a daring bungee jumper is bouncing off a gigantic crane. One of Copenhagen’s most unique structures, the Church of Our Saviour comes into view, its corkscrew spire soaring against the sky. Our guide Jan says, “It is ninety meters tall and if you climb to the top, you’d better not suffer with vertigo —the last 150 steps are on the outside!”

Photo 1. Frederik’s Church #2787

Photo 3. Church of Our Saviour #2794

Photo 19. Winged gods’ chariot & Christianborg Parliament Building #2818

We catch a glimpse of Frederik’s Church with its iconic green dome—the largest in Scandinavia with a span of 31 meters—its architect having been inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Neat rows of glass fronted apartments slip by, and so does one of Copenhagen’s most distinctive commercial buildings: the Maersk Shipping Company’s offices with deep blue window panes dubbed, “The House With A Thousand Blue Eyes”.

Photo 2. House with a 1000 Blue Eyes #2780

No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a visit to the statue of the Little Mermaid made immortal by Hans Christian Anderson. The promenade has young couples strolling hand in hand, kids licking ice-cream cones and cyclists whizzing by. I squeeze my way between camera-toting admirers to grab a quick shot of the wistful Little Mermaid. Disappointingly she is in shadow as the sun has gone behind a cloud.

Photo 5. Little Mermaid #2830

Photo 17. Marina near Little Mermaid #2827

I decide to have lunch in trendy Nyhavn, where the buildings flanking the river are like children’s building blocks – coloured red, green, blue and yellow they stand one against the other, their oblong windows neatly aligned, their rooftops A-peaked in rows. Being a weekend, the sidewalk tables alongside the canal are thronged with folks chatting, quaffing beer and enjoying what the Danes term hygge – meaning warmth, goodwill and happy times. My rye bread smorrebord (open-faced sandwich) is stacked with a crisp fried fish fillet, topped with crème fraiche, and garnished with chopped dill and parsley. Scrumptious!

Photo 6. Nyhavn #2858

Photo 7. Restaurant in Nyhavn #2861

Photo 12 Rye Smorrebord #160202

As darkness falls over the city, the world famous Tivoli Gardens entrance is spangled with twinkling lights, and children’s shrieks of delight from the distant play area lie faintly on the air. I stroll along a lantern-lit pathway leading to a pool with coloured fountains that dance against the backdrop of a Moorish style fairy-tale castle, its cupolas and turrets outlined in thousands of red, blue and green lights.

Photo 8. Tivoli Entrance #2846

Photo 9. Tivoli Lights #202805

Photo 10. Tivoli Lantern-lit path #202718

Photo 11. Tivoli Fountains # 211647

Diamante-lit hedges and trees shimmering with stars surround bowers where elegantly dressed diners sit at candle-lit tables, and the murmur of conversation lingers on the air. At an open-air amphitheatre a troupe of ballet dancers twirl to a Strauss waltz—a magical fantasy of romance and beauty. I am dazzled!

As the song goes this truly is, “Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!”


• Buy a Copenhagen travel-card before you leave home which covers 24, 48, 72 (or more) hours. The e-mailed voucher can be printed out and exchanged for a card at the airport on arrival. It includes a multitude of attractions including Metro trains , hop on hop off buses and canal cruises etc. A guide book to attractions is also included.
• Take the train from the airport to the Copenhagen Central which is only 3 stops away.
• Ascot Hotel: A comfortable, centrally located 4 star hotel about ten minutes walk from Central Station, Tivoli Gardens, Hop On Hop Off bus depot.

PHOTOS by Margaret Deefholts
1. Frederik’s Church #2787
2. House with a 1000 Blue Eyes #2780
3. Church of Our Saviour #2794
4. Embellishment on low bridge over canal - #2814
5. Little Mermaid #2830
6. Nyhavn #2858
7. Restaurant in Nyhavn #2861
8. Tivoli Entrance #2846
9. Tivoli Lights #202805
10. Tivoli Lantern-lit path #202718
11. Tivoli Fountains # 211647
12 Rye Smorrebord #160202
13. City Hall #2867
14. Pedestrian Square City Centre #2757
15. Street scene at City Hall Square #2759
16. Love locks on Nyhavn Bridge #2857
17. Marina near Little Mermaid Statue #2827
18. Passengers on river cruise boat
19.Winged gods’ chariot & Christianborg Parliament Building #2818

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