This was the 7th or 8th time we’ve been lucky enough to visit Denmark and this beautiful city. Not just for the city itself, but because of our beautiful friends, Sekita & Frits who now live on the very north reach of Sealand, the main island of the 400 that make up Denmark.
As our comfortable overnight ferry from Oslo pulls into Copenhagen’s harbor, we saw lines and lines of wind turbines pointing the way. The Danes are way ahead in helping keep our planet green. 60% of their power needs are met by wind. Then we saw what looked to be a fossil-fueled power plant that turned out to be where they efficiently burn their garbage for energy generation. In fact they need to import lots of garbage from Germany and elsewhere to make up their own deficit.
After we left the ferry, our coach took us on a quick tour of the highlights of Copenhagen. We actually learned quit a bit since most of our previous visits had not been for tourism – more talking, eating and drinking for sure. But first stop is always the Little Mermaid (the one in the background) who welcomes everyone to Copenhagen. The diminutive (5’2″) statue is often defaced and continually surrounded by onlookers. This is the only angle I could find without them.
The larges fountain in the city, just off the Harbor.
Then a stop at the Queens residence. She wasn’t there that day (no flag up), but her children and grandchildren were there in the home opposite on the square. The Danish people absolutely love their queen – who has no political power what-so-ever. But she and her family are totally accessible, outgoing, intelligent and beautifully spoken. They regularly ride bikes around, drive or bike their younger kids to public school, and are generally “one of us”. About 1% of Danish taxes pay for the Royals.
Across the harbor from the royal residences is the stunning opera house. 10 years old, not the most exotic or technically advanced facility (like in Oslo or Reykjavik), but literally built by the Maersk organization – you know, the huge, international, Danish firm (shipping, manufacturing, etc.). In fact, Maersk contributes almost 17% of the Danish government’s budget. They actually refuse to take any money and move it off shore for tax reasons.
We stop to tour the real working palace offices, and where the Royals actually go to work. It’s impressively palatial with it’s gilding and chandeliers and furniture, but the real standouts are the recent Queen’s tapestries, designed by the Queen (and a designer) to reflect the real Denmark, it’s history from the Vikings to now, from every angle. The 11 enormous pieces were hand woven painstakingly in France. They were hung on the Queen’s 60th birthday – 10 years ago.
The details are impressive, surprising and sometimes very humorous. This very serious one depicts the Danes hiding a large number of Jews from the nazis, a very proud part of their history. The Jews were brought in by boat and hidden in special places.
For example, the Gilleleje Church (where Sekita and Frits live) attempted to hide 86 Danish Jews in this loft. Unfortunately they were caught by the gestapo and taken to concentration camps. The population of Gilleleje succeeded in helping 1,300 of the Jews in Denmark (of the 8,000) get safely to neutral Sweden.
Look closely for the Beatles…and “fill in with your own imagination”.
Elvis and Groucho Marx also make their appearances among the great men and women who have contributed to Danish and the World’s history.
It is said that these guys are the ones who try to heal ease the burden of taxation on the Danish people – one of the highest taxed people on earth. But, when you look at what the people get and have access to, really a bargain. For example, our guide’s son got his education from kindergarten to PhD for exactly 0 Danish Krone. No one pays a dime/Krone for some of the finest healthcare in the world. The list goes on. Congress take note.
Our dear friends, Sekita and Frits welcome us to their incredible, warm, home in Gilleleje, just by the North Sea. The area is sometimes called the Danish Rivera since it’s partly a resort area place for summer homes.
At the sea.
On our way back to our hotel in Copenhagen, Sekita takes us to the Karen Blixen Museum. A.K.A. Isak Dinesen, who was one of Denmarks most important literary figures; Out of Africa, Babette’s Feast, etc. An amazing woman and story.
Part of the lunch at the museum’s cafe is right out of Babette’s Feast. Only one of eight special open face sandwiches we tasted.
On original screen from Karen’s African house.
Blixen’s grave in the expansive grounds (37 acres) of her home in Rungstedland. The gorgeous cut flowers in the house come from large flower gardens on the grounds.
Sekita drops us back to our hotel in Copenhagen. Lots of hugs, kisses and tears, but promises of visits to come. We take a quick walk down the walking street before retiring and find this sign to help get us back on track.
Tomorrow we hop a plane to Helsinki for a day and a half before training to St. Petersburg.