Scandinavia Summer 2008 travel blog

At Louisiana's pretty sculpture park.

Hamlet Paul at Kronborg.

Brooding Dane and Americans.

Other than the Friday night revelers noisily passing by our hotel around three in the morning, we all slept very well and later into the morning. The weather looked promising for another day of no rain, thereby breaking Peggy's worry that she'll have rain every day of her vacation. Let's hope it will stay that way.

Breakfast was a little later than usual so the breakfast room was overwhelmingly crowded. Somehow we managed to find a table and squeeze through the crowd to help ourselves to the food items. The poor breakfast personal could barely keep up with the demands of hungry customers and ran between the buffet and the kitchen constantly resupplying the bread basket, sliced meats, and juices.

Shortly after breakfast, we packed up the car and checked out of the hotel. We were on our way to our first stop: the “Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst” (or Louisiana Modern Art Museum) in Humlebaek.

We arrived a half hour before it opened so we wandered over to the park area overlooking the beach and the sea. The sun was shinning and we could feel the warmth enveloping us. It was a beautiful Saturday morning.

At 11 am we walked back to the museum surprised to see the large number of tour buses and cars parked around our Volvo. There was a line going into the museum. Not much for modern art museums, Peggy decided to wait for us outside and read her book in the park instead.

The museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It is known for its incredible collection of modern art works from not only Danish artists, but also many foreigners (consisting mostly of Germans, Swiss, and a handful of Americans).

The museum is thematically divided into wings and each had its unique set up. To avoid the tour bus crowds of Germans, we headed the opposite direction of the large circular layout.

We began with some random modern art sculptures that were not too impressive before we reached the wing dedicated to the “Museum of the 21st Century.” The exhibit claims that “today we build museums the way castles and cathedrals were built in the old days.” Through animations, models, and photographs about the future of museums, we were given a glimpse in some of the newest or soon to be built museums around the world. Some more memorable ones were the Spacelab Museum (shaped like an alien life form—on purpose!), the new visitor center for Stonehenge, and the Hellenic Center in Athens.

We then made it out to the sculpture garden. It is nicely situated looking over the Oresund (the waterway between Denmark and Sweden). The sun was shining and museum patrons were admiring the various sculptures.

The rest of the museum was composed of pieces by various artists, most notably Picasso, Pollack, and Lichtenstein. There were a huge number of German, Swiss, and Danish artists as well. One artist I enjoyed was a guy by the name of Breuning whose two pieces “Easter Bunnies” and “Ass Family” were rather entertaining.

We completed our visit by checking out the museum shop, which was very much like the SF MOMA store selling all sorts of items that had a neat or strange design.

We met up with Peggy by the car and had a picnic in a small park next to the museum. We then drove over to Helsingor to visit “Hamlet's Castle,” called Kronborg.

Kronborg Castle is a renaissance castle and fortress. It was built in 1425 by Eric of Pomerania, much later than Hamlet was supposed to have taken place. However, Shakespeare took his inspiration from an old set of stories with made up Danish Kings, one of them a prince called Amleth. Shakespeare never actually visited the castle of Kronborg in Helsingor (Elsinor), but heard a large number of descriptions from travelers. Thanks to his play, the castle became a major tourist attraction back then and today.

The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a magnificent ballroom and beautiful royal chambers. It was greatly augmented by Christian IV and Frederick III. As we found out from our mediocre tour guide, it used to be filled with art and valuables but all was stolen by Sweden when they attached in 1658.

There used to be an incredible fountain in the center of the castle square made of bronze and gold, but the Swedes disassembled it and took it home as a spoil of war. Who knows, maybe some of the valuable metal was reused to make some of the beautiful jewelry we saw in the Royal Treasury in Stockholm. The Swedes also took a valuable tapestry that they only “allowed” the Danes to borrow to make a copy a few years ago. The large photocopy now hangs in the castle throne room, where the original once stood. The original is in Stockholm.

Following the tour we visited the casemants. These are an underground network of corridors and rooms that used to hold enough provisions for 1000 men for a six week siege. Thankfully Peggy had her small flashlight in her purse so we could explore the area more. (The machine lending “electric torches” was out of order.)

One cool part in the casements was the statue of Holger the Dane. Holger is Denmark's legendary hero who “sits slumbering on his throne ready to be stirred into action the instant the Danish kingdom is threatened by an enemy”. The brooding statue has quite an impressive size in the small cave-like room. (Interesting fact: during World War II, Holger did not wake when the Nazis invaded. Therefore, the Danish WWII Resistance Fighters took on his name and image themselves in their fight against the Nazis.)

Having thoroughly explored “Hamlet's Castle” inside and out (and below), we drove over to the campground in the shadow of the castle. After pitching our tents, we walked over to the beach and sat there watching the sea gulls and the surf.

As it got colder, we returned to the communal area of the campground where Stephanie made us spaghetti for dinner. While prepping dinner, we began chatting with a French couple who happened to have the same ASUS laptop we have. They are on a bicycle ride as a fund raiser for blood donations. They were on the road since March and will end in mid-October. They started in France and pretty much took a very similar route we did and are

now heading back south. That is truly incredible.

After dinner, we returned to tent and hoped that the commuter train that kept passing the campground near to us will not come through all night!

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