Lan and Jane 'do' Western Europe travel blog

The birthday girl in the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

In the Winter Garden, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

At Holmens Kanal

The Little Mermaid

At home with Sam and Stefan


Once again, we find ourselves OS on Jane’s birthday! She was inundated with birthday wishes from friends and family, much to her delight.

We had a light breakfast in the apartment (we managed to find porridge that we could make in a cup with just boiled water!) before heading out to the famous Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek on our wonky rental bikes. As mentioned yesterday, we had a couple of pretty basic bikes - one of them had to be replaced before we even started because it had a flat tire. Jane’s bike also had a very wobbly front wheel and Lan’s had only one (very low) gear!

They were still faster than walking though, and they gave us a chance to try out the famous (and quite magnificent) Copenhagen bike paths. The paths can be quite intimidating because sooo many people are on them at any one time and it can take quite some time to find a break in the stream to join the riders. Still, most people don’t ride super quickly (there are no MAMILs* in sight), and it is quite easy to negotiate complicated intersections and left turns (we’re riding on the right) as you simply follow the bunch and go with the flow!

So we arrived at the Glyptotek in only 10 minutes, and what a terrific museum it is! As you might have guessed from its full name, it was built around the personal art collection of Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries. Who knew beer could be put to such good use?

The name Glyptotek comes from the Greek (glypto: carve; theke: store), which is apt, as the museum contains a superb collection of sculptures, including one of only four complete collections of bronzes made from wax models by Degas. Equally stunning is the building’s covered courtyard, the Winter Garden, which features huge palms, neat gardens and a fountain, and provides a marvellous setting for the many works of art scattered around.

We explored the Greek, Roman and Egyptian collections extensively (although we missed the mummies!) The Glyptotek must have one of the world’s most extensive collection of carved Roman heads in the world (or so it seemed), dating from the time of Julius Caesar to the end of the Roman Empire. It was fascinating to see how sculpting styles changed over the centuries, eventually becoming much more realistic than the initial abstract/idealistic approach.

Unfortunately, some of the exhibits were closed, so we didn’t get to see the gallery’s extensive collection of Rodins. They were possibly closed because there is free entry on Tuesday, and maybe you have to pay to see the rest! Anyway, what we saw was certainly enough for the morning.

We had Jane’s birthday lunch at the museum’s café, sitting on a terrace overlooking the Winter Garden, with the sun (yes, there was sun today!) streaming in through the glass ceiling. Jane had a superb salmon dish and Lan a delicious onion and leek tart. Perfect!

After lunch we continued down H. C. Andersens Blvd to the Københavns Havn (Copenhagen Harbour), where we were able to ride alongside the water’s edge, admiring the many post-modern buildings on either side of the canal. We turned into Holmens Kanal, which is one of the prettiest spots in Copenhagen, where colourful houses look down on numerous houseboats and other pleasure craft. There were huge numbers tourists here of course, with large buses squeezing across the little canal bridge every few minutes.

We then continued past Amalienborg (the royal family’s palace, waving to ‘our’ Mary Donaldson) and the Royal Opera opposite, and up to where the Little Mermaid sits quietly near the mouth of the harbour. There were the usual busloads of tourists there but it was still quite lovely looking out onto the harbour.

We cycled back to the city around the Kastellet, a star-shaped former citadel that now provides a lovely walking and running track around its moat. We then rode down Dag Hammarskjölds Allé and down the eastern side of the Sortedams Lake before turning back up ‘our’ bridge to get back to our apartment.

We were very happy to be rid of the wonky rental bikes but had really enjoyed our day in the saddle. Even though it seemed like we had ridden a long way, we had only covered a little more than 10km, and it was all really, really flat. The only inclines were those created by bridges and even those were of little consequence. The priority given to bicycles is also a real eye-opener and there is little wonder that few people wear helmets here, as cars politely give way to cyclists and traffic lights and wide paths all pander to two wheels, not four. It is little wonder that this is such a cycle-friendly city! Even Melbourne, Australia’s most cycle-friendly city, can’t compare to the system here. Sigh...

After a quick clean up, we headed out again, dirty laundry in tow, to have a birthday dinner for Jane at Sam and Stefan’s home. We took the airport metro line from Nørreport, as their apartment is just near the Lergravsparken St station, in the south. Their neighbourhood is quiet and pleasant, and their apartment is nicely renovated and well suited to a young couple starting out. Sam cooked a delicious salmon dish (recipe from her mother) and we had a lovely time chatting and catching up on their lives now that Sam has settled in (after four months). As a bonus we were able to get two loads of washing done during dinner! Such a luxury to have clean clothes again! And then Sam kindly drove us back (with our wet laundry!), with me sitting in one of their heated car seats; a deluxe end to a lovely evening!

* MAMIL = Middle-Aged Men in Lycra



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