Day 3 may have been one of the busiest days of our vacation. We had a good night's sleep tucked under our belts and we woke up to our first amazing Danish breakfast.
If you haven't guessed by now, one of my all-time favorite locations on this trip was the Kong Arthur Hotel. It just felt crisp and lovely in a way that I imagine beautiful places feel in my dreams. Of particular beauty was the sunny atrium where we ate breakfast each morning. It looked out on the hotel courtyard and garden and with its pressed white linens, fresh flowers and warm wicker furniture it felt like it was straight out of a favorite novel.
This is a bunch of us luxuriating in our fabulous breakfast. The menu included: scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, bacon, several kinds of pastries, several types of breads as well as cheeses, vegetables and jams to spread on the bread. It didn't end there either. There was fresh fruit, hot chocolate, juices and yogurt and cereal to top things off. We thought we were served this type of meal because of where we were staying, but found later (to our collective delight) that this is the kind of breakfast is served EVERYWHERE! Danish breakfast is now on my list of "favorite things."
Jenny and Rus looking so polite and proper at their table. Doesn't Jenny just look like she belongs in this kind of room, in this kind of hotel in Europe? I always think she has the classic beauty to carry off a fantastic role in a Merchant Ivory film like Room with a View.
Meanwhile out in the courtyard, Cassie had her "Hollywood" look going on.
Spencer and Megan enjoying the courtyard garden. I don't know who captured this photo but you can see it in Megan's face. "What are you doing? Don't take a picture of me! I'm the photographer."
The bakery just down the block from our hotel. Lovely, lovely Danish bakery. You make my heart sing with desire to just look in your window! Yummy, yummy food within its sensory-filled walls.
Cissy partaking of one of these pastries. I think I fell in love with nearly every pastry I ate on our trip. What happened to corner bakeries in America? You never see a gaggle of people staring in the windows of a shop like this in the USA.
After being fortified by our morning snack--and our big breakfast--we begin the activity du jour: walking. It was Saturday morning around 8:30AM and the streets were shockingly quiet. And still. The sun was spilling into the near-empty streets and the city seemed to be resting after a long night of frivolity. I loved walking through that quiet.
This was a good thing because somehow we got turned around and instead of turning right at the Gammel Strand we turned left and walked a few blocks before the error was realized and we had to retrace our steps. It turned our morning jaunt into a bit more of a hike, but at least we got to see more of the city on foot.
In truth, I may have put more of a poetic spin on that than necessary. What was really happening for me was I was nursing along the mother-of-all blisters on the arches of my feet and that retracing of steps along the Gammel Strand only happened for me through a teeth-gritting force of will.
We reached Radhus Pladsen a few minutes later though and we were early for our bus tour so we took a break and waited.
Cassie, Megan and Julie represent some of the excitement and enthusiasm that seemed to be filling our group on OUR. FIRST. FULL. DAY. IN. DENMARK.
Ric and Rus looking up something on Rus's iPhone. Rus spoiled us all with that thing. In the middle of the trip as we were obsessing about updates on our luggage, I would borrow his iPhone and check my email and the lost luggage website to see if anything new had come up. You know, no big deal. Check my email as we are driving, or in a little harbor town, or in the middle of a field of flowers. What I really came away with was a wish to have an iPhone. A burning, burning wish. They are addictive like chocolate.
Actually, Ric seemed the entire trip to be buried in maps or the navigation system. Bless his heart, I dubbed him "The Navigator." Whenever we seemed at sixes and unsure of our next step Ric would right us by consulting a map or the navigation system and get us back on course quickly. I loved it.
And the bus tour begins! We load up on a double decker bus for our drive through the city. Really this tour and the subsequent harbor tour made our list of highlights on the trip. It was so fun to see the great sights of Copenhagen like this. You gotta love the little red earphones we got to wear too.
A great shot of the New Haven area of Copenhagen. Can't you just smell the salt air and hear the busy bustle of this town?
At one point of the tour we could get off to examine a wooden ship at harbor. Matt is smiling in front of this ship.
A gorgeous lilac bush/tree that enraptured everyone. We must have 20 shots alone of this tree it was so pretty.
Some street artist must have particularly wanted Cassie to feel welcome to the city and scrawled her nickname on a brick wall.
Adam and Michelle on the bus tour. It was Michelle's birthday this day and she was a great sport about traveling on this day. I must say that I wouldn't mind being in Europe on each of my next birthdays myself.
Our last stop on the bus tour was one of the most famous sites in Copenhagen--the Little Mermaid statue. She is from the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name and Disney made her famous in their own scrubbed-down and sanitized version of the story.
And then it is off to the harbor tour. We are relaxing here and just chatting waiting for the action to begin.
We had a rather phenomenal tour guide for this part and she gave the tour in three languages--Danish, English and German. That gobsmacked me because I would have been nervous to give such a tour in two languages and she seemed to effortlessly do it in three languages.
I've never spent a lot of time on the sea but just looking at all of these sailboats makes me wish I knew how to sail.
The royal pier. These buildings are for the royal family to sit in as they wait for their boat to arrive. You know, to protect them from any weather like sun or wind or rain pouring down on their royal heads.
As the end of the tour approaches we witness the cataclysmic effects of a big breakfast, a gentle, sunny boat ride and roaring jet lag. Or was Spencer just bored?
The boat we were in was wide and flat and was built just to handle the small bridges and narrow canals of Copenhagen. The last bridge we crossed under was by far the narrowest though. The boat had to be skillfully maneuvered through the opening with mere inches on each side. Then as this long boat exited the opening of the bridge, the canal made a hard right turn. It was a very tight squeeze for our very long boat. Adam has his arm around the driver who made the turn with dexterity and skill. I think Adam wished he was driving that boat just to take on the challenge of that frightful turn. If I was driving that boat we would still be stuck at that particular corner with miles and miles of other harbor tour boats locked up behind us.
The sign at the pier on Gammel Strand where we exited our harbor tour. You see the last four letters on that sign? Well, that one tiny little word in Danish means "speed" or "momentum" or "rate" or "velocity" and is on many, many signs throughout the country. (And yes, the Danish meaning only added emphasis to the English meaning.) Let's just say that one little word inspired hours and hours and hours of hilarity on this trip. Especially when Rus would do things like mispronounce the sign below to say something the equivalent of "Have you a fun f**t?"
After we got off the boat and our tour was concluded, I was surprised to find my feet still really hurt. They had started hurting the night before and continued into that morning, but I expected after a few hours off my feet on the tour that they would be fine. That proved not to be the case. It hurt just to walk. I knew my shoes were a bit new (okay, brand-new, but I'm not going into what drove that obviously witless decision at this moment) but they were comfortable and I couldn't understand why my arches hurt the most.
So, surprise, surprise when I pulled off my sock to find this oh-so-stunning blister in attendance on my foot. It was huge and fat and nearly bursting and it suddenly occurred to me why the only thought I could think about on our morning hike was "just one more step, just one more step, just one more step." That went over and over and over in my head as I walked. I was so focused on just the next step that I couldn't be bothered with tiny things like enjoying the scenery or engaging in conversation. In fact, when someone did try to talk to me my answers were monosyllabic and I would think, "Can't this person see I'm trying to focus? What are they doing talking to me?" I believe it was at this point that I realized the level of pain I was enduring might be a bit abnormal.
Fortunately, we had a general surgeon in the group and Jenny too with her abracadabra, Mary-Poppins-like, miracle bag. She whipped out a needle, some antibiotic wipes, bandaids, scissors, and even Advil and water. Right there on the Strand, Ric performed minor surgery by popping the blister and draining it (look away, look away) and then bandaging the area well. Then I pulled off my other sock and shoe and found a matching twin blister on my right foot. Another small surgery and a few drugs for me and I began to realize that this walking thing is really quite a hit when you don't have two rock-sized blisters in tow.
With surgery concluded, we headed across the canal to the Thorvaldsen Museum to see the process Thorvaldsen went through to cast his famous statues of Christ and the Twelve Apostles. It was an amazing process and made me appreciate even more the beauty of his statues.
Another highlight of this tour was Adam discovering the rather magnificent echoing abilities of a marble room with marble statues.
We are outside the museum now and it is after 1:00PM. We are all starving and trying to decide what to do next. Food was a priority so we headed back to the center of town and the pedestrian shopping center to fill our gullets. Several of us had shwarmas, some hot dogs and some McDonalds . The shwarmas would prove only so-so after we tasted more later in the trip, but at the moment they were good, fast and filling.
As we walked the shopping district after lunch, Rus posed with some mannequins. I think he fit right in.
Then some of us sat on park benches waited while others shopped and shopped.
By 3:00PM several cut out for the hotel to take an afternoon snooze, while a group of us headed over to Rosenberg Castle and the crown jewels. The castle was smaller and less imposing than other castles we would encounter and there were no lines to get in--you gotta love that.
But as would prove typical of the Danish timetable, the fun would all shut down at 4:00PM. So, we hustled through the crown jewels display and raced up several flights of stairs to see the throne room and other public rooms in the castle. It was a breathless experience in more ways than one. The grounds were particularly beautiful and, we found out later, rather famous for the semi-nude sunbathing that takes place within their gates throughout the summer.
The sparkling throne room in Rosenberg Castle.
One of the royal guard outside the castle. I didn't know if the Danish royal guard was like the English one where the guards won't talk to you and maintain poker faces despite your best attempts to dissuade them.
They were not. This one was particularly animated when Julie approached him and asked if she could take a picture with him. He told her yes, as long as she stayed a meter away from him. The great looming question on Julie's mind: "What's a meter?"
She opted for a rather safe distance away from him and when he laughed at her football-length distance she scooted closer in and then leaned his way hoping that she hadn't crossed the mandatory, fateful boundary of one meter.
We rested up for the walk back to the hotel and sat outside the castle for several minutes as Rus entertained us with story after story after story. The laughter echoed off the brick walls surrounding us as we just enjoyed the chance to be together. With the crucial 4:00PM deadline passed, it seemed we had time on our hands.
We meandered back to the hotel trying out the free bikes a long the way. You deposit a certain denomination of coin into a free bike and it will unlock from the free bike stands. Then you ride the bike around the city as much as you want and deposit it back at any of the free bike stands. When you lock the bike and it is secured to the bike stand again, it will drop your coin back into your hand. Very nice.
Cassie showing off her skills.
Megan riding the bike in front of the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we hung out in the lobby. The decision was what to do next on the agenda. We had picked up some pink flowers at a flower stand on our way back from the castle and we wanted to get a treat to accompany them and then surprise Michelle for her birthday that day. So, a group was sent out to the corner bakery to find just the right treat while a bunch of us stayed back at the hotel.
Brock at the bakery attempted to pick out a treat for his wife too. He purchased this green frog which was cute and funny, but unfortunately not the one Julie wanted. She helped him out by showing him which ones she would have chosen. (Hint: just say "green frog pastry" around Julie and watch her reaction)
When we reunited several minutes later, we sat around together cracking jokes and telling stories as Rus pulled out some of his best material and entertained us. It was Rus really in his element. Everything he said seemed explosively funny to us and we lingered and laughed for quite a while together.
With the bakery shopping over and the comedy routine concluded, we tiptoed upstairs to Michelle's room to surprise her and sing "Happy Birthday." The only trouble was we were so loopy with laughter that I'm afraid it sounded like a herd of elephants approaching her room with a gaggle of hyenas.
But surprise her we did. In fact, we woke up her up from a quiet and sweet afternoon nap. She was a good sport though and all 16 of us piled in her room and accosted her in song. That is a candle we "borrowed" from the lobby on top of her cake.
And the pretty flowers she received. She filled up one of the vases on her windowsill with water and enjoyed the flowers until we left the next day.
After all the merry-making we retired to our rooms for a collective rest and then met up shortly afterwards for dinner. This time we walked across the river in front of our hotel and ended up at Sebastopol's, a French restaurant that specialized in hamburgers. (Does that sound a bit weird to anyone else but me?). The food was excellent and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and ate heartily.
I think even the birthday girl had a good time.
On the way back, Adam had to try his hand with one of the bikes. It looks like from this photo that he tried to perform some fancy moves on it too.
We got ice cream and walked back to the hotel, stopping at the bridge to soak up the last rays of the evening. The sun didn't typically set in Denmark in May until about 10:30 pm so it had been quite a day for us. For a little fun, Brock and Julie are posing like the statues below. Julie says this is typical body language for the two of them when they are "communicating."
You can see the sun disappearing behind our small crowd but the laughter and fun just wouldn't quit. We seemed giddy these first few days with excitement and disbelief that here we were in actual Copenhagen, Denmark with all the siblings and spouses around us.
And we were having the time of our lives.
What a way to wrap up the day. Our hotel in the background is beckoning us after the adventures of Copenhagen.
Day 4 takes us on a little journey through Dad's time as a missionary in Denmark and we get to meet some of the saints in Copenhagen. And there is the lunch adventure that will leave us all a bit flabbergasted at other's generosity.
Read the rest of the journey: