The Sketch

Our sixth full day in Denmark, and this time we planned to go see a bit of history as well as do a load more caches. Our target was the town of Helsingør – the home of Hamlet’s Castle and the closest point to Sweden.

Getting There

This proved to be the more troublesome trip of the holiday. Well, it wasn’t really troublesome, but it took much longer. A part of that was poor route selection on my part. I had in my mind that there would be direct trains to Helsingør from Copenhagen Airport. There may well be sometimes, but when we arrived there, there weren’t.

So we caught a train from the airport that took us to Copenhagen Central Station. Here we had to jump off the train and change platforms to get on a train heading for Helsingør. That one took an hour, so the total journey took us slightly under 2 hours. That meant it was 11am by the time we arrived. It turned out to be plenty of time though.

The Old Town

The town centre could be straight out of a fairytale. Colourful houses line cobblestone streets, and the majestic castle looms over the town from many angles. It’s a place so enchanting that even Shakespeare couldn’t resist. Although, one wonders whether he ever went there, or just made a mental image based on things he’d read about. Maybe the latter.

Anyway, as we left the station we were confronted by a little market square and our first batch of caches. There were a bunch of labs, a trad and a virtual. Cool. 6 finds before we really got out of the station.

Next up was a walk to the far (southern) end of the town centre. This was a direct walk out because I knew there were a couple of sequential labs down there which lead back to the centre. So I wouldn’t be able to do much in the centre unless we went south first. I hope that makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t. So down at Simon Spies Plads there were three more. Simon Spies, incidentally, was famous Danish tycoon, who started a charter airline, amongst other things. Well, let’s just say he had a colourful life.

That opened up a nice ziggy-zaggy walk along Stengade filling in a bunch of other caches as we went.

When we’d been back up the the station and around to Sankt Olai Kirke, Ami was ready for a break. Well, I was too. So we found a cafe and had a break for cake and coffee. Ami was struggling a bit, so she was happy to sit there with another drink while I went for a walk.

Looping Back

While Ami sat in the cafe, I headed out for a bunch more caches. A different sequential labs series started at the nearby Carmelite Priory and finished back at Simon Spies Plads. Ami wasn’t up for walking all the way back down there, which was fair enough. So I spent most of an hour legging my way round to the north of the main street and then back along it. It started raining while I was on this jaunt, so I stood under an awning with a bunch of others for a couple of minutes while that passed.

Ami was where I left her, and when I got back there I’d added a further 12 caches or so.

Welcome to the House of Culture

Just past the town centre is a house of culture and various museums. Kulturhavn Kronborg is an effort to transform the town from its industrial past to a new era of service, and tourism. They did a decent job. There’s a museum dedicated to the old shipyard, and the Danish Maritime Museum (which we didn’t have time for). We saw signs also for a Street Food place, which we promised we’d have a look at later.

There were a bunch of caches around the Kulturhavn which kept the numbers ticking over, including a very well hidden “dangly” cache by the side of the water. There were a couple more of those on the way to the castle.

To be, or not to be. And all that.

The Kronborg Castle is one of the most important renaissance castles in Europe, and stands at the narrowest point of the Øresund, where Sweden is only 4km away.

I’d not really got any memory or whether I’d been before or not. Checking old photos when I got home showed that I had, in fact, been before in 1990, when I lived in Gothenburg. So that was that. It might have been on the weekend I went to Copenhagen in 1990, but having seen the distance between them, it seems more likely I just went there for a day from Gothenburg.

Anyway, back at the Shakespeare-themed stuff….Old Willy Waggledagger set Hamlet here in Helsingør. The castle had been there a few years when Shakespeare wrote about it. It’s had a chequered history of building, rebuilding, invasion and fire. It controlled trade through the Øresund for a very long time and was a royal residence for the Danish monarch until 1785.

As with all the castles we’d seen so far on this trip, it’s in the “Vauban” style, with star-shaped ramparts for use with cannon. The castle itself sits well below the level of the ramparts, so from the sea you can only really see the roof.

In we go

We walked around the seaward side of the castle to the entrance at the north. Inside, we were very pleased to see that there was quite a lot of the castle that could be visited. So we maximised our time in there by visiting all of them.

So we were able to go up the tower and onto the roof, plus there was access to the royal apartments and also into the lower floor. I won’t say dungeons, because that implies they were used soley as a prison, and that clearly wasn’t the case. A part of it might have been a prison, but most of it was stores. Anyway, some bits had no lights, so you had to use the light function on your phone to see enough to get through.

There was a gift shop too, but it didn’t seem to have any tacky souvenir bottle openers.

Boats and Stuff

To the west of the castle is a marina that’s mainly used for small private vessels. The big, commercial ones go to Helsingør’s port, which is on the other side. To get there, it was a short walk out of the castle, taking care to walk around the outer part of the castle to finish off a series of caches. By this time it had decided to rain again, so it wasn’t the best bit of the day.

When we reached the marina it had stopped raining again and the sun was out. Still a bit windy though. Anyway, I offered Ami the chance to sit on a bench and read for a bit while I went to do a couple of sets of caches around the marina. She gave me a very generous allowance of 45 minutes. To be honest, I could have kept going from here for multiple hours, if I’d had the time. But also it was deep into the afternoon by this point. So I plotted to stay in the marina area only. That meant leaving a few puzzles that I’d have liked to get, but also it had been another long day with a lot of walking.

So of the alloted 45 minutes I used about 35 and found 12 extra caches, which was good. By this time I thought I’d found about 80 for the day, so that was enough. When I got home I realised I’d done the sums wrong and only found 70. But that’s still a good haul and frankly I was cached out.

Salvation

We’d decided to have dinner in Helsingør rather than heading home first. A part of that was that it was over an hour to get back. We’d noticed a place advertising street food at the Kulturhavn earlier, so we thought we’d go and give that a go. Boy, did we get a surprise!

It was inside, so I was maybe expecting a couple of mobile food places that were parked undercover. What we actually found was a huge barn filled with about 20 different eateries of various kinds. And then a second barn that just had seats for drinkers. The food barn had various seating arrangments inside so you could park your group at a table and then everyone could wander off and get what they felt like. There was a Greek place, a Japanese, a burger joint, fish and chips, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Thai, desserts, and a few other things. I was also expecting it might be cheap compared to other places we’d been. It was, I guess, but it wasn’t as cheap as back home in the UK. They did have a rather exceptional bar though, so I comforted myself (cough!) with a couple of beers. I went to the Japanese place and Ami went to the Greek. Everything we had was really good.

Going Home

Over the course of the day I’d concluded that the route we took to get there was a bit painful. We’d taken a fairly slow train from the airport to Copenhagen Central and then another train up to Helsingør. That second train went straight through Nørreport Station, which is on the same metro line as where we were staying. So we decided to jump off there and get the metro. It probably took 20 minutes of the journey.

Back home, that had been another long but fruitful day. In fact, it had been six long and fruitful days. So for Saturday we’d decided to stop geocaching and just have a touristy day.