Cycle Tour Around Zealand
Dag/day 4: Hviledag i København/Rest day in Copenhagen
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Added on 18 May 2020
on 20 Jul 2020
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by Ottocolor on 18 May 2020
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Viberup, Capital Region of Denmark, DK (-5 m NHN)
Viberup, Capital Region of Denmark, DK (12 m NHN)
12 May 2020
Overcast with some sunny spells in the morning and light rain in the afternoon. A cold night (0 to 4°C) and a chilly day (8 to 10°C). Moderate to brisk westerly and southwesterly winds.
The night was ice cold, in fact the coldest night in May, measured in Copenhagen since 1941! So during my nightly pee, I stood shaking under the trees. And had to pull an extra sweater over afterwards to fall asleep again. Erik the White had not frozen inside his two sleeping bags, he said. A shelter is normally colder to sleep in than a tent. During breakfast, my nostrils sensed that funny tobacco was smoked, and Erik turned out to be a big consumer of it. But he seemed perfectly normal and not crooked. So he was well addicted, I reckoned. At the "Treadmill" barracks back in '82, I had also tried the joys of marihuana, but had not smoked before or since, neither fun nor ordinary tobacco. But my nose can well remember the smell.
After breakfast, I cycled a local trip to the Hejre and Klyde lakes at the dammed part of Amager's southern end. The two lakes are completely different. Lake Hejreso is a dam with frogs surrounded by trees, while Lake Klydeso is a large open wind-blown lake, with many islands and peninsulas and is home and resting place for thousands, if not millions, of birds. You can get a look at them from the bird observation house on the dike. With the Copenhagen high buildings and chimneys in the background. It was blowing cold from the north so it was nice to be inside the house. But you had to open the windows to be able to see something. To the west and north of the house is the reserve itself, where access is prohibited except perhaps scientists year-round. But outside the dike runs a nice tarmac path where the racing bikes speed along. On the way back I passed the bathing jetty, where I had had a dip yesterday evening and by the gravel ramp up on the dike, I nearly collided with a racing bike from behind. In tailwind they come as silent, low-flying projectiles. But dirt roads like in the Pentecostal forest they avoid and out there it's peace and no danger. Back at the camp site, I found my mattress and lay down at a tree stump in the sun to laze. Erik the White stood on the grassy shelter roof thinking deep thoughts. I was hungry and began arranging for lunch from my bags, which I had left in the huge shelter. So Erik smoked and I chewed. Suddenly, a group of official looking nature people appeared and consulted around the cold campfire how to improve the campsite. When they were done, they each opened a bottle of beer. Erik and I were delighted. During their somewhat formal conversation, we had smiled at each other and had a little laugh to ourselves about these dull nature managers. But a Green Tuborg belonged to their green profession. Cool! I waited with that until later. In the middle of lunch, I had to salvage my bed and pillow at the tree stump, because it had started to rain. Oh, dear. It didn't bode well for my afternoon bike ride into the capital.
It was a very special visit to Copenhagen. The shutdown of the Danish society, which had been ongoing since March, had been slightly opened, but museums and restaurants were still closed. It was particularly annoying because the weather really wasn't for staying outdoors, and I'd happily spent a couple of hours at the National Museum, home to our country's absolute greatest historical treasures, not least from ancient and medieval times. Here they can be physically secured and restored possibly best and made available to Danes and tourists in the best possible way, although the treasures really belong elsewhere. Until recently the admission was free, and this I felt as a great privilege, especially for youngsters and the less well-off as well as for tourists, who could gain a unique insight into the history of the country they visit totally free. In an otherwise expensive capital. But today it was without matter, because it was closed for everyone. I like history. The readers here have probably discovered that. It forms our roots, determines our thinking, and gives us advice on how to shape future. The National Museum's building is part of the Christiansborg complex. This is evident when standing on the Marble Bridge across the Slotsholm canal. The closest parts are from the original Christiansborg, Christian the 6th Renaissance castle from 1740, namely the stable houses around the riding course and the mansion which now houses the National Museum. The present Christiansborg is the third one with that name after two devastating fires in 1794 and 1884. The castle church is also preserved from the time of the absolute monarchy. This form of government had been introduced in 1660 following the catastrophic defeat to Sweden, which had almost cost Denmark its independence. Only Copenhagen Castle, the predecessor of the first Christiansborg, had withstood the storm. Under the absolute monarchy, Copenhagen was transformed from a medieval town into a splendid residential city for the king with a new castle, a distinguished square and massive fortifications, built right after the spirit of the time with bastions, moats and all that belonged to it. Magnificent Baroque churches such as the Church of Our Savior in Christianshavn were also erected. After all, the king understood himself as king of God's grace, and that was to be taken quite literally. He was only responsible to God. In order to "sell" that position to the Danes, he had to prove it with enormous pomp and circumstance. Only in this way he was able to justify his position. With foreign, especially French, role models, an attempt was made to create a dignified framework for the king's regiment. The best example of this is Kongens Nytorv, which I had a look at after a somewhat confused tour of the Inner City.
Rain and wind had sent me into the Nordic map shop, as I am quite fond of maps. And inside it was snug and cozy and smelled of old paper. But "unfortunately" I bought a historic wall map, which I got put into a plastic tube. I now had to get it attached to my bicycle's cross bar for the rest of the cycling holiday. This would require some luggage straps that I had to purchase. I also had a coffee break in the confectionery Lagkagehuset in Fiolstraede. I also had another errand there. Because of the corona shutdown, all public toilets were closed, and in the center of Copenhagen the possibility of hanging out my hose was excluded, so I had a problem. Cafes and restaurants were closed and no option either. What do people do when they are in need? I can only conclude, they want you to stay home. Well, I digressed from the King's New Square. But, in fact, I arrived at it now.
For a long time, it feels like decades, the square had been completely closed off with planking due to the metro construction works, but now it is open and beautiful looking again, and Christian the 5th rides, dressed as a Roman emperor, his horse in the middle of the square again. He had founded the square in 1670 as a true Place Royale, ie a royal square to replace the medieval Old Town Square. Of course, his equestrian statue was to stand in the center, the square was paved and a garden was laid out. The spirit of absolutism prescribed such a square if Denmark were to have a say in the family of European monarchs, and fortunately his country soon made good money on the lucrative triangular trade with slaves from the Gold Coast in Africa to the Caribbean and home to Copenhagen mostly with sugar from the plantations there. Those noblemen who earned the most were able to build magnificent mansions around the King's Square, many of which are still standing. Charlottenborg and Thott's mansion, where the French Embassy is based today, are good examples. North of the square Frederiksstaden (Frederik's city) was built and soon after the new royal palace of Amalienborg, and also a new Place Royale. Because the geometry of Kongens Nytorv was not as regular as the Baroque style required for a royal square. I skipped this spot, even though the equestrian statue of Frederick the 5th, apparently, is one of Europe's finest. The one on Kongens Nytorv is the country's oldest equestrian statue. I already turned from Bredgade at Sankt Annae square, which is a very long sqaure and also regular, as time dictated. Here I again was lured into the Old Merchant's blissful cellar shop on the corner of Toldbodgade. Unfortunately, the weather ruined most of the enjoyment of the beer I bought there. Afterwards I had a look at the Kvaesthus Quay just north of the modern Playhouse. From here the ferry to Oslo used to depart, but cleverly enough, that quay has been moved further out with its inevitable ferry rush. Instead, they have placed a square on the quay and called it Ofelia's square. And here the fan area during the European football championship was to be. A very nice location close to the axis Opera - Amalienborg - Marble church. I don't know if drunk football fans have an eye for it, though. Apart from Denmark they will come from Finland, Russia and Belgium. Now they have postponed the European Championships to next year and promises great fun. Just don't fall into the harbor and drown. Even an Ofelia Beach is mentioned on the map, although I didn't see any beach. This place is not a good place to bathe, but if you are hot (and drunk) enough, it will be fine. Just keep your head above sea level. Copenhagen looks forward to making good money when the Russians in particular come with their big thirst and a lot of money. The Finns as well like drinking. I must experience this in June 2021.
But now I was fed up with the big city and longed for peace in the Pinse forest. So I steered my bike across the Inner Harbour Bridge, into Christianshavn and onto Amager. Here you can still admire Copenhagen's fortifications from the 17th century. This part is almost intact, though now intersected by several streets. Back then, there was only one gate here, Amagerport, of the four that existed in total. It was the least prestigious gate, because here only Amager's peasants passed when they wanted to sell their goods on the capital's squares. Therefore, it was not so beautifully decorated. The gate itself is long gone, but the small house, where farmers and traders were to pay tax, the accise, still stands. Back then, it stood on an island in the fortress moat, the so-called ravelin. This is the name of the restaurant in this place today.
I cycled from there to Amagerbrogade to find a construction market where I wanted to buy luggage straps. But I found them and the food items I needed in a Kvickly supermarket in Sundby, which this Copenhagen district is called before the city becomes Taarnby municipality. The weather had dried, but it got even more windy. It did not promise a nice campfire evening in the Pinse forest.
When I arrived at the campsite in the Pinse forest, new residents had arrived in the shelter and around the campfire. Erik the White had been replaced by two young girls. So they had booked the shelter and forced the old hippie to a retreat. It could, however, easily have accommodated all three of them. The girls were engaged in fairly sophisticated Indian cooking while I prepared for a simpler barbecue dinner. And they had lit up the campfire, so it was easy for me at first. And Erik had provided plenty of firewood for kindling. But as it blew a breeze even here in the woods, it quickly burned out. Since it was the girls who had lit up, I did not want to take over the campfire, but of course I put my sausages on the grill. They just warmed some naan bread on it. They were quite nice to talk to, but also very busy with the cooking and internal talk about the staff in the ambulance rescue service in Copenhagen, where they were just about finishing their training. And that's the right expression, because it's almost like a craft education, I found out. The girls greedily made Erik's firewood for kindling go up in smoke, but as the evening was cold and windy, it was finally my lot to find some solid firewood. I could not let us freeze, I thought. And some lads at the other campfire site far away from ours had lit a mighty bonfire. They were apparently trying to break the unofficial record for bonfires, so apparently there was firewood to be found somewhere. That’s why I went down to ask them. It turned out their mega bonfire had scorched the wooden seating logs around the campfire site. Well, honestly! But as a result of their advice I soon presented a big armload of firewood to the girls and was their hero for some minutes. In return they could always provide some ambulance rescue service to me one day. A little dal (Indian lentil sauce) I was also allowed to taste. When my firewood had also burned out, I said goodnight to the young ladies who looked forward, I hope, to a cold night in the shelter. Now I was really glad I had placed my tent at some distance to it so they could have some privacy. My fingers were cold as I brushed my teeth at the brim of the forest in the light of my bicycle headlight. Ugh, what a cold May evening.