We left Hamburg bright and early for the cruise through the Kiel Canal. We were then delayed about 5 hours going through due to maintenance on one of the locks. It was a nice scenic 8 or so hours which gave us time to celebrate Viv’s birthday in the Canaletto an Italian restaurant on board. Then overnight through to the Baltic Sea and on to Fredericia, Denmark.
Fredericia is a very old town founded in 1650. It is a funny combination of small village and fortress with streets running on a perpendicular grid encircled by one of the most extensive ramparts in Northern Europe. We were greeted by a small local band, people dressed in old fashioned costumes and about 30 kindergarten kids all waving the Danish flag. Some old guys dressed as early soldiers finished off the welcome by firing 3 tiny cannons that made a very loud noise.
We walked the ramparts high above and surrounding the town checking out the cannons and the views and then went down into the town to look around and have the usual coffee and cake. Then over to the beach area before we headed back to the ship. A delightful place and the people were very nice. Some older kids talked to us on the ramparts wanting to practice their English. Most people seem to speak some English.
Next day Helsingor was our stop. We were off the ship and on the tenders early to get into town. The main attraction here is Kronborg Castle known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The castle didn’t open until 11am so we has lots of time to wander the empty streets of Helsingor. We found out it was a Danish holiday and the shops would be staying closed. The coffee shops and restaurants did slowly start to open up though. The city has a medieval feel to it with nice wooden buildings and cobblestone streets.
The 400 year old castle was the location for collecting the Sound Toll. Its menacing canons pointed directly at the ships passing through the Sound forced them to stop and pay the toll to the Danish Crown. This constituted up to two thirds of Denmark’s state income in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today it is a designated World heritage site and is visited by 250,000 people a year so it’s still making lots of money for them!
There was a photographic exhibition of some of the great actors, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave, who played Hamlet in the castle over the years. It was very interesting for us.
We left Helsingor at 2pm and headed for Copenhagen. A big change of pace. We headed off the ship to find a bus into town which took a while but we made it and went to the Tivoli, a 20 acre pleasure park in the middle of the city. It opened in 1843 and is said to have been the inspiration for Disneyland. It is a huge fun fair with all the scary rides, drop of doom etc, with food vendors and many restaurants that go with that. We had a fun few hours there reminiscing about our childhood memories of similar parks in England though not on quite the same scale!
The next morning we were on the bus again to explore the downtown area. We stayed outdoors and just enjoyed the lovely buildings from the outside. We stopped by the Amalienborg Palace for the changing of the guard which was a bit underwhelming. The palace itself is a lovely design of 4 rococo palace like buildings facing each other across a beautiful majestic square. Later we stopped by one of the newest buildings, the Black Diamond. This is a glass and black granite extension to the Royal library. It looks lovely sitting on the waterfront. We walked all the way back to the ship along the river. There were lots of locals and tourists out enjoying a beautiful sunny day many sitting in deck chair along the side of the river. Copenhagen is a great city combining the old and new very well.