Wowzers, a superlong day today. Am writing this at 9 in the car and we are not there yet! It's been good though.
This morning we packed quickly. The kids were bitten overnight - not the nicest of huts. We went into Helsingor briefly to see Kronberg Slot - very imposing - and stop in town to get a new memory card. The old town is so pretty. Lovely half timbered houses and low painted buildings in the Danish yellows and reds. Next flyby was Fredensborg Slot, the royal family's summer palace and where Mary and Frederik's wedding reception was. Rather plain to look at, we didn't go in. Next we stopped at Frederiksborg Slot. Everything is so close in Zealand! A nice change after the bigger Scandinavian countries.
Frederiksborg is a stunning Renaissance style palace spread over three islands with magnificent gardens. The embellished brick and stone facade paired with tarnished copper roofs and shiny gold accoutrements makes a pretty picture. We didn't take the pusher again, and after an initial strop Meg did fairly well walking around. The castle was well worth a visit. Started by Frederik II and built mainly by Christian IV in the 1600's it has been repaired after fires and has not been lived in for well over 100 yrs, operating rather as a museum of pieces of furniture and art as well as the rooms themselves. Lots of paintings of the Danish monarchy over time. The chapel is beautiful and was the home of coronations for a few centuries, and there is an audience room in the oldest part of the palace that you get to via a stone gallery lined with windows one side, Renaissance paintings the other, and cheeky stone cherubs climbing and hiding all over the Walls. In the chamber, painted on the ceiling are four very base (for today's society) representations of the four world powers - Europe, Asia, America and Africa. Europe's is a Caesar-like emperor reclining with wine and olive leaves. Africa is a shaven-headed black man reclined on a lion, you get the picture. The highlight of the room was a throne on a lift, that could transport the king to and from the room below, where he could exit. The lift was built in the 1600's and is still in good working order!
There was a stunning great hall with yet more portraits of royalty. It's funny that because we're doing this trip and visiting so many historically interconnected places that history is finally starting to come together for me, which I find fascinating. It's a little like navigating the tube in London. You can use it easily to get from a to b, but it's not until you start walking or bussing around and see how the places connect that you can make any sense of it.
I love all the woodwork in these palaces. The parquet floors, inlaid and decorated walls, carved furniture and detailed ceilings. So tactile and evocative.
The last highlight was of course a quick tour of the modern gallery on the top floor to see the portrait of Princess Mary. Beautiful. How odd must it be, to go from growing up in Tassie to being someone that gets their portrait painted!! There couldn't be a nicer country to ascend in though. Wonder if her Danish is fluent by now?
Walking back to the car past the fountain Em got a bit wet as the wind blew! Got our obligatory magnet and a Danish toy for felix's room - once he has one!
We ate lunch in the car driving to Roskilde, the pre-Copenhagen capital of Denmark. Meg and felix had fallen asleep so j and I took it in turns to view the impressive Domkirke or cathedral. Started in the 1100's (I can't quite get my head around numbers like that!), it has been built up and improved along the way so that it looks fairly unassuming from the outside, red brick solid and squat with two slender and elegant spires. Inside is very nice but not breathtaking. Lots of whitewashed stone. The best feature are the myriad side rooms and chapels, many with ornate metalwork gates and grills at entry. But...and this is a big but, there is something quite magical and emotive about the place. No less than 39 of denmarks' monarchs and their partners are entombed here. In the nave, in the crypt and all through the side rooms. From Harald Bluetooth, the last Viking King, Margrethe I and through history until the most recent kings and queens of last century. Indescribably incredible.
We had wanted to go to Roskilde's Viking Ship Museum, so quickly headed over there. It was just after 4pm and the ticket booth was deserted. Me an the girls just wandered through and had a look around the open air bit, centred around small marinas at which are berthed various recreations of traditional Viking boats ranging from small to middle-sized. There are waterfront workshops there where craftsmen toil at their woodwork in a traditional way, a half finished boat in the middle of all the wood shavings. The main attraction at the museum are the 5 original Viking ships rescued and lovingly restored from the bottom of roskilde fjord. They were brought up in thousands of pieces having lain there for hundreds of years after having been weighted and sunk in order to block entry to the fjord when roskilde was denmarks capital. As we didn't really have tickets and had seen quite a lot of Viking boats, even if they were just copies, we didn't go in to the main building.
So...that leads to now. Nearing the end of a long, long drive up to Skagen at the northernmost tip of Denmark. We skipped Funen, instead crossing directly from Zealand to Jutland on a ferry. More ferry fare for dinner though mine was really good! A pre-prepared plate of cold chicken pieces with some kind of dijonnaise, a gorgeous salmon and dill mini tart topped with smoked salmon, dill and pink peppercorns (reminds me of Rouen), and a little pot of watermelon and feta salad garnished with fresh herbs and toasted seeds. Mmmm. The great thing about these sort of dinner/buffets is that Emily is half price and under three's are free. So we pay for 2 1/2 meals but 5 people eat! At least I FEEL like I get a good deal! Under 3's seem to go free for a lot in Europe, helpful with entry fares and transport costs.
I've booked a hotel for tonight as 'the campsites I rang were closed for the season, I researched the hotels and knew they had spare rooms then rang one and asked what the best deal they could do was. Ended up getting a famy room for about half price! Am looking forward to sleeping in a proper bed, having breakfast tomorrow and not having to clean up before we leave. Almost there now. Night night.