Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Cruise: Copenhagen and Oslo

I think if we made a mistake on this trip it was underestimating Copenhagen. I remember when doing the initial research and considering catching a ship for another port because, well, how exciting could Copenhagen be? We ended up pick it because the other ports added extra sea days to the trip. But still, I  figured 24 hours in town would be more than enough.

Not even close.

It's a really nice city, I have to say. It's got a great mix of old European style and a modern city. It's staggeringly clean, people bike everywhere (which freaked out Cathy because they don't seem to lock them up, and they all look like they were designed in the 1940s), they're exceptionally polite and just about everyone speaks English. I also got the feeling there was a lot going on (like a great photo exhibition that we sadly just didn't have the time to go and see). There was a nice energy, a nice...vibe, to the place. Something that was hard to put your finger on, but that you knew this was a city you could grow to love if you had more time there.

Because of my little medical...incident, we had even less time to see Copenhagen then we had planned. Through dumb luck I picked a hotel in Nyhavn. In fact, it was the old sailor's hostel. Basically they would show up, go out drinking and whoring (it's the former red light district) and then collapse back at the hotel. Attached next door is a church, so after a night of debauchery they could go and confess their sins.

I mean, the hotel was nothing great, but it was clean, in the middle of things and that's an awesome history. Plus, this was the view from our hotel room.

It was a great area to wander around. Sort of like St. John's, but with a different vibe. Lots of bars and restaurants, so I guess you could make the argument that this is Copenhagen's George Street, except it never felt tacky, which is how I feel about George Street.

After that we wandered. We found the main shopping district, so it was nice to do some European window shopping. Plus, there was a Lego store, so I was good there. In the evening, we walked along the waterside to head towards the Little Mermaid statue, which tour books warn (Rick Steves Guide to Scandinavia was invaluable on the trip) is highly overrated. And while it's not as epic as a lot of the statues you see around Europe, it's nice. Plus, it's nice to watch people's reaction to it. They really love that statue. And the fact it's not covered in fencing or protected by police or having to pay money to see it is pretty cool as well.

And to get to the statue we walked past a restaurant that was offering salsa dance lessons, an exhibition of sand castle art, a couple of massive fountains, a few huge churches and a lovely park. Not bad for a 40 minute walk along the water.

It's just a nice little city. We considered this a scouting trip, of sorts. Yes, we wanted to enjoy the cities we visited and get as much as we could out of them, but we also wanted to get an idea of what cities we'd like to come back and see more of. Copenhagen is definitely near the top of the list.

Oslo got screwed because of the weather, I fear. It was misting and raining on and off in Copenhagen when we left. We then sailed north and took that weather with us. Except it managed to magnify during the trip, so it was pretty miserable most of the time we were in the city. Now, you can still have fun in a city where it's raining, but combine that with the fact you couldn't really see anything (heavy fog) and that Oslo is one of the more expensive cities in the world (which meant window shopping tended to give you a stroke) and we just never warmed up to the place.

Oh, there were still cool things. We went to their national art gallery and I got to see "The Scream" which was interesting. It produced one of those "never thought I'd actually get to have this experience in my life" moments. We walked the grounds of the royal palace and watched a changing of the guard where the soldiers (all in their early 20s) seemed to barely be able to keep a straight face. Scandinavians have very practical looking royal palaces. Not at all over the top like some of the other ones you see in other parts of Europe.

I think the highlight was probably going to the Nobel Peace Prize museum. Now that was a fascinating place. We could have spent hours there, but just didn't have the time. A fantastic photo exhibit on the first floor about Afghanistan, a section featuring this year's winners, then a room featuring previous winners on iPd like devices, followed by an interactive wall display of past winners, like this.

I'm not sure we'd consider going back, mainly because of the cost. But there's obviously a lot going on there and if we had hit it on a better day, we would have liked it more. As it stands, it was when we were leaving, when the weather finally cleared up, that we saw cool things. Like their new opera house, which looks like something from Star Trek.

And this wonderful church we sailed past as we were heading out. We past awfully close to it, as you can probably tell. A wedding was just concluding as we went by. That was pretty fun, with everyone waving...

We saw a lot of churches this trip, but that was one of my three favourites. Pity we couldn't get to go inside, but I don't think the docking facilities could handle our ship.

Next up, Aarhus and Berlin...

Last Five
1. Marathon - Heartless Bastards
2. Turn into - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
3. China - Tori Amos*
4. Hey porcupine - Josh Rouse
5. Reign of love - Coldplay

1 comment:

John, Perth AU said...

Now you know why the original Berserkers became the way they were, stuck in their foggy fjords, the long summer light mocking them. You'd go berserk as well, Mr Summy Iqaluit. ;^)