Sit back and enjoy guys. It's your lucky day! In this blog entry you get to hear from not one, but two extremely annoying tourists!!! That's right, halfway through the blog I'll be throwing the keyboard over to Jess so she can fill you in on some boring girly crap that she did while I went off and did cool stuff like go to museums and read every. single. plaque. for hours on end!
Continuing with the Scandinavian leg of our trip, we made our way to Copenhagen for a little taste of Denmark. Well that's not entirely true. Jess just wanted to go there to try and catch a glimpse of Princess Mary! And me? What was I supposed to do? Roam free around Europe and party the weekend away, only to wake up on some random street curb to find a gypsy trying to eat my socks? Not likely chaps. This old dog has been well trained to obey his master's command!
We kicked things off with a guided walking tour of the city. Our guide summed up the history of Copenhagen in one word: fire. Copenhagen has been on the receiving end of several significant fires which have destroyed large parts of the city. The first occurred in 1728 and was the largest in the history of Copenhagen. It lasted 3 days and destroyed almost 30% of the city, leaving up to 20% of the population homeless. And it all started when a candle was knocked over in a restaurant. The second fire in 1794 left 6000 people homeless and, together with the 1728 fire, destroyed most of the remnants of the city's medieval and renaissance heritage. And Christiansborg Palace was twice ravaged by fire - first in 1794 and again in 1884. Miraculously, the Chapel at Christiansborg managed to survive both these fires, only to be destroyed in 1992 by - you guessed it - a fire that was started by some stray fireworks during a city festival.
Continuing on with the fire and destruction theme, I spent my second day in Copenhagen perusing the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum - one of the most extensive collection of weapons in the world, housed in Europe's longest arched renaissance hall. I gotta say, every European city we visit tries to lay claim to some ridiculous record. "This building is the tallest building in Europe with 7 windows and at least 9 powerpoints. And our town hall is the widest town hall in Europe with terracotta roof tiles and at least 4 working showers". Okay, we get it. Your city is the best at something! Anyway where was I? Oh yeah, the arsenal museum. With more than 8000 swords, pistols, armours and machine guns and more than 300 canons dating from the 16th century, this thing had more firepower than the 1982 Brazil world cup team.
And while I was getting my dose of manhood at the Arsenal museum, Jess was on her way for her chance encounter (or as it's better known, breaking and entering) with Danish/Aussie royalty. The night before her Royal Palace visit, Jess was busy picking the blisters and dead skin from her feet. As she was peeling away the layers of skin like an old reptile, she looked at me and declared, "You know, I could've been a princess just like Mary". Yeah….and I could've played Quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs! More on Jess' royal soiree below.
We also managed to spend a day touring the Carlsberg brewery. Carlsberg is now the 4th largest brewery in the world and there were ample exhibitions which explained the brewing process in intricate detail. Now I must confess, I'm not a huge Carlsberg fan. It's like the Bryan Adams of beers - there's nothing wrong with it but you don't find yourself just dying to get some more. But the Carlsberg brewery has a little secret: it owns a niche subsidiary beer called Jacobsen's which is brewed to the Carlsberg founder, J.C. Jacobsen's original recipe. It's a darker beer called (surprise, surprise) Jacobsen's Dark Lager and is only available in Denmark - making it rarer than rocking horse teeth. And the taste? Well as Gene Simmons once sang, "Nobody's perfect but baby I come awfully close". Easily in my top 5 all-time beers.
Now we'll cross back to the studio where Jess will report on her visit to the Royal Palace. Over to you Jess. My beer is getting warm.
May, 2004. I was in year 10 at high school and I can remember waking up on a Sunday morning nice and early to watch the wedding of Australia's Mary Donaldson to her Prince of Denmark. I can just remember thinking that it doesn't get more Disney than this - Tassie girl meets Prince in a pub during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, fall in love and 4 years later she is marrying into one of the oldest monarchies in the world. Look, to be honest, my story is matching up nicely…. 18 year old girl meets wanabe rockstar in a (very shady) nightclub, falls in love and 7 years later she gets to stand in the same cathedral where Mary & Fred were married….
Excited? That's an understatement. I grew up on Disney, my sister Hannah and I loved our Princesses and now I was going to see a 'live-in' palace with guards and all. It sounds stupid, I know, but that's my inner child and I'm running with it. There are four main buildings that make up the Amalienborg Palace - they are situated in a square where they all overlook a statue in the centre. Don't ask me what the statue was because, at the time, I couldn't have cared less. They are beautiful buildings, all nearly identical to look at and are all occupied by members of the royal family. Fred, Mary and the four children live in one, his brother Joachim and his wife and children live in another, and of course, the olds (Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik) live in the other.
The royals, apparently, have a great relationship with the Danish people. They liked to be treated (within reason, obviously) like they are a part of the community - taking their children to and from school on their bikes, nicking down to the local supermarket to pick up a few bits and pieces; maybe even a traditional Danish hotdog from a street vendor (they are few bucks worth of sausage and mustard induced goodness) - you name it, they've most likely done it. I know many people are not fans of royal families around the world, but geez, you've got to have SOME space in your hardened heart for this family.
I want to go back. Just to have another street hotdog, but with Mary this time.
Next stop: Glasgow, Scotland