Among the final sights to share are a couple of shots of the town of Hellsinger, which is a really great small city with tons of things to do as well as being quite picturesque; the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens; and our Swan Song dinner at a delicious Thai restaurant along the lake near our excellent apartment. What a grand city, and I earnestly hope I will return to Copenhagen in the future.
One of the sights to see, if you are a contemporary art lover — or even if you have only a passing interest in contemporary art — is the Louisiana Museum in Helsinger, Denmark. It is a 30-minute train ride from Copenhagen, and the setting alone is worth the trip. In addition, a person can make a day trip and also go to “Hamlet’s Castle,” the real danish castle in which Shakespeare set his story of the Danish Prince Hamlet. But more on that in a subsequent post (I promise).
The Louisiana’s “permanent” collection consists, primarily, of the sculptures in the sculpture garden. There is also a lovely café, and to eat in the sun by the sea is worth the extra cost of eating at a museum. We had a lovely time, and the Yoko Ono exhibit, while strange, was very interesting. Here are some excerpts.
King Christian IV of Denmark built Rosenborg in 1606-34 as a summer castle. He designed much of this Dutch Renaissance style castle himself. The next three generations of kings lived here, until King Frederik IV erected Frederiksborg Castle in 1710. From then on, Rosenborg was used only for occasional visits and certain official functions. It also became a sort of storehouse, where royal family heirlooms, including the regalia, crown jewels, and thrones, were kept.
Rosenborg is unique for its long museum tradition. As early as 1838 these royal collections were opened to the public. The rooms which remained intact from those kings who had lived in them (Christian IV to Frederik IV) were preserved, while rooms from the times of later kings were recreated using the various objects stored at Rosenborg and other royal castles. Most museums of the time were arranged thematically, by portraits, furniture, etc., so the decision to arrange the collections chronologically, giving visitors an overall picture of the nation’s history, was entirely new.
The museum was expanded to its present form in the 1860s, with rooms representing each king up to Frederik VII, who died in 1863. It thus became the First museum of contemporary culture in Europe.
The castle is surrounded by a lovely green space with formal gardens as well as public areas for picnics and gatherings, and several public art/design installations. While there is admission to the castle and Crown Jewels rooms, the park area around the castle is public.
Started our first Post-Bertel (PB) day in Copenhagen with a visit to the main train station and the downtown tourist info office. Jack and I got reserved seats on our train out of town; and all four of us got Copenhagen Cards. For the equivalent of 75 Euros, we pre-paid for three days worth of public transport, museum admissions, gardens, church admissions, canal tours, and more. I highly recommend it, if you visit. You can get 2 or more days, it starts when you use it for the first time and is good up until the same hour on the subsequent day for which you have purchased the card. Hardly anything is excluded from the Card, so it doesn’t take many bus or subway rides plus admission fees to begin saving money.
Wandered all around the downtown pedestrian walkway and canal areas, where the toney folks shop. Did some grocery shopping and ended the day with Ini fixing us a superb salmon dinner, with a beetroot salad, and boiled potatoes. What a feast!
Backstory: I’ve heard about Mary Dashiell’s Danish friend, Bertel, for years. They met as emerging adults and have kept in touch for decades. When an enormous party was recently thrown for a significant Mary-Milestone, Bertel surprised her by crossing the Atlantic to attend. That was the first and only time I’d met Bertel, but we got on right away and I knew we’d be friends.
As Copenhagen 2013 came together in our travel plans, I began a correspondence with Bertel via Facebook and email to see if we might connect (Bertel travels quite a bit and in fact spent much of 2012 in France). As the days counted down, we set times and dates to link up. Being a cell phone neophyte, I somehow couldn’t get a call through once we were in his beautiful city, so we emailed like mad with moment-by moment updates and plans, etc.
After a long walk to his neighborhood, our extraordinary adventure on our second day in Copenhagen began.
First we met Mikael, who is the principal behind the art gallery that was our meeting spot (Galerie Mikael Andersen), and also Bertel’s partner. Mikael was gracious and welcoming, but was unable to accompany us on our day because he has a significant opening at his Berlin gallery, for which he had to be ready by Friday. He was leaving within hours of our arrival to begin the hanging and installations there.
Then Bertel told his what he had planned for us. First, a tour of his and Mikael’s city apartment, just down from the gallery. I should mention that their apartment is stuffed with art and sculptures, and is a private gallery in its own right. The building and flat themselves aren’t any too shabby, either. The gallery and apartment are located in a district of the city made bourgeois by the royal family moving to the area back when the original palace burned (unsure of the date). When they took up residence in the area, the well-to-do of all stripes also moved north to be with/near the royals. Before that, the area was used for military housing and etc.
Second: a pastry and coffee then off to a tour of the district, including the Amatienborg Palace where the King and Queen (Prince Consort?) of Denmark reside. Mikael had a significant hand in decorating several of the wings of the various living quarters with contemporary Danish art. We also caught the tag end of the changing of the guard. (For the photos of the general area, see the previous post).
Then we waked along the harbor stretch, seeing the new opera house, shipping lanes, more public art, and the famous little mermaid statue, which was positively crawling with tourists, so I was unable to get any kind of a photo. At the end of the harbor, we headed to Copenhagen Citadel, a fortress area that is preserved and still used today for military housing, training, and admin. A lovely church is near there, and more public art and fountains, etc. On the grounds is also a new memorial to those who fought and died during Denmark’s participation in recent wars, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and such. Very peaceful and calming place.
Then came the coup de grâce: Bertel drove us an hour north of the city to his and Mikael’s summer house for a late lunch. Wow. The house is some 50 meters above the sea along a stellar coastline. Very quiet, with a remote feel even though we were surrounded by homes of similar use. A decent translation of the place’s name is “Thicket House.” Beautiful gardens, lovely setting — it was so very peaceful and inspiring. He laid out a traditional Danish picnic type meal, with a true smorgasbord of thises and thats. Across the road is another property they use for promising young artists to stay in, by invitation only, to have a peaceful, simple working space/time.
After a coffee, sweet, and more conversation and storytelling, plus the sighting of a fox hunting along the steep, grassy cliff face, and a deer watching our departure, we packed back into the car and Bertel left us off at Frederiksborg Castle (some pix backed by a lowering sky in the previous post are those we took at the end of the day), in the town of Hillerød, and we were left, just as it began sprinkling the least bit, to see the amazing grounds and buildings, and to make our way to the train headed back into the city. We finally got home at 9PM.
Dear Bertel: thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your generous, delightful spirit and everything (including your valuable time), that you shared with us. It was truly unforgettable.
Arrived late afternoon Monday and linked up with Ini and Lee right as we cleared customs. Puzzled about the metro system for a while, then puzzled some more about the self-serve kiosks for buying tickets. Just as our flight landed, it had begun to rain. As we got on the train, it began to pour.
We were quickly in our new neighborhood, and a very short trudge through the rain from the station landed us in our new apartment building. Our hostess, Lene and her daughter Sonya, arrived with the keys and instructions. What a spectacular apartment!
We wandered out for a coffee by the nearby lake, and wound our way back to the apartment through an ethnic neighborhood with wonderful vege markets on the street. We purchased some stuff for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast, ate well, shared wine, and hit the sack early.
I’d tried to get a call through to Bertel, with whom we’ve arranged to meet on our second day, so he might steer us to the best “gotta-do’s” for which we have time, but something went awry and he didn’t get my messages. Last emails of the night were exchanged between us to set up a meet for the following AM at Mikael’s gallery (Galerie Mikael Andersen).
Here are some sights and sounds of our Copenhagen adventure so far (no pix from our short, rainy walks).