The Sketch

Our first full day in Copenhagen. Our plan was to take the metro up the city and then head generally north and east past rolyal palaces, touristy high;lights and the citadel (or Kastellet).

The day began, however, by testing the hotel’s breakfast. We got up around 8am and headed down. It was a fairly decent hotel buffet, with a few hot items, meats and cheeses in the continental style, fruits, cereals, pastries, breads, juices and warm drinks. It was good, and the hotel rate I’d booked included this breakfast every day for us both.

Up the Toon

To get up to the city, the obvious route was to take the metro from the nearby Kastrup Station to Kongens Nytorv. The previous night I wasn’t really sure how far Kastrup Station was from the hotel, so we got a taxi from the airport. That was a waste. It was about 300m away at most.

On the way we attempted a multi-cache that I’d got a solution for. Either it was an incorrect solution or it was a missing cache. We didn’t linger, as there were plenty more to come. In fact, we didn’t re-try this one, despite being in Denmark for a whole week after this first attempt.

The Metro proved to be a not-especially-burdensome 10 minute ride through about 7 stations.

Kongens Nytorv (literally “The King’s New Square”) is the central hub of the spangly Copenhagen Metro – the only station that all four lines pass through. That’s not as magnificent as it sounds, really, because the M1 and M2 share a pair of tracks and so do the M3 and M4 lines. So there’s actually only four platforms, each of which is only about half the length of a London Underground platform. Don’t let that sound like a criticism, though. The Metro covers 120 million passenger journeys a year. The trains are fast, clean, spacious and frequent. We’d decided to buy the “small” Copenhagen City Pass, which was probably excessive but the journeys weren’t really planned in detail and the City Pass is very easy to buy online in advance.

New History

Above the metro station is, well, the actual torv that was commissioned by the Kong and which was at some point “ny”. I guess it’s significantly more new than the castle at Newcastle, but nevertheless, you’d have thought after more than 350 years they could drop the “Ny” part……

The square is surrounded by a bunch of quite impressive buildings in a distinctly Scandinavian style, and has a big statue of King Christian V in the middle. That statue was the subject of our first caching experience.

My plan for caching was to basically try do do “area clearance” by zigging and zagging along all the streets in a particular area to find everything possible. In Copenhagen (as in all cities) it gets a bit messy because there are multiple sets of adventure labs to fit in, and some of them are linear, so you have to do the five elements in a particular order. I don’t like doing those because they can result in sub-optimal walking routes when you’re trying to clear an area. The first one we found was a part of one of these. The series is called “Helt til Hest”. That means “Perfect for Horses”, but it became known to me as “Bloke on a Horse” or occasionally “King on a Horse”. The first in the series is Christian V, in the middle of Kongens Nytorv.

Beginning The Walk

Meanwhile, back at the plot, my plan was to try to clear the area north and east of the Square. This would include Nyhavn (“Newhaven” or “Newport”) and the Amalienborg Palaces on our way to The Citadel and the Little Mermaid statue. It’s not a massive-looking area on the map, but I estimated up to 60 caches could be available. So we better get on with it. Anyway, there was a plan to go to a caching event on the other side of the city centre in the evening. I thought that was at 6pm, but when we checked in the middle of the afternoon the event was actualy at 4pm.

Initially we walked north from the square around Palægade doing a few bits of labs and then eventually came back to the square at the top end of Nyhavn.

Nyhavn, is probably the most iconic location in the city for the Scandinavian residential architecture. It’s a street where the houses dress like they’re attending a carnival. Two rows of similar but slightly different rows of houses that all have colourfully painted walls and typical pitched rooves with dorma windows. The north side of the square is now lined completely with cafes and bars that spill out onto the cobblestones. I should probably mention the weather at this point, too. It was beautiful, and way warmer than forecast. I was immediately regretting that I hadn’t packed any shorts.

Palace Time

Time to pass through the place where Danish royalty resides. Four identical palaces, standing in a circle like a well-behaved set of quadruplets. One of them is the actual real Queen’s house. You can go right up to the door but I wouldn’t advise knocking on it.

The palaces are like architectural siblings, each trying to outdo the other in rococo elegance. The courtyard is an octagon, because, you know, rectangles were a bit mainstream. In the center stands “Bloke on a Horse” number 2 – Frederik V. Old Freddie Boy was responsible for the royals being here, after there was an unfortunate incident with a fire at their previous gaff. Anyway, back at that statue, and its octagonal courtyard, it’s like Freddie is saying, “Behold, peasants! I conquered symmetry!”

So from here we walked along the waterside through some extensive rebuilding works, and found ourselves Nordre Toldbod (Northern Tollbooth). There is a small harbour here, with a couple of cafes. We were ready for a break so we sat at a “shanty bar” belonging to a posh restaurant, and pretended we were somewhere tropical. The weather was tropical, and to be honest, the damn great cruise ship registered in Nassau added a bit to that. It was a grand spot to stop for a drink and a break. And to realise I’d walked straight past a couple of caches. Ami sat under a sunshade reafing here book while I walked back to get them.

The Citadel

Picture a pentagon, but not the kind you’d find in a maths textbook. No, this one has attitude. Five sides, five bastions. Rectangles are just so last century. The bastions? Each is a little different. One houses the powder store, one has a windmill and one a memorial. The other two are empty, apart from the grass. There are occasional cannons, for decoration.

King Christian IV was definitely going with the trend when this was built. There are loads of fortresses in this kind of shape across northern Europe. I believe the idea is that it allows cannons to be pointed in a full arc from each bastion. That means there’s nowhere on the perimeter that is away from line-of-sight of at least one cannon. So to get in, you’ve got to get over a moat and two layers of very steep earthen bank, whilst all the while being shot at by cannons and muskets. Where medieval castles are designed so that attackers can be killed once they get close to the walls, these star-shaped ones, from the age of the projectile weapon, are designed to stop attackers from getting anywhere near the walls.

Today, Kastellet hosts military shenanigans, but it’s also a public park. It also hosts yet more geocaches. They were easy enough.

A Little Letdown

The Little Mermaid is a tiny bronze disappointment perched on a rock in Copenhagen’s harbour just outside the Citadel. Imagine travelling a considerable distance to see this? I mean, she’s easy to find. Just go look for the crowd. But once you’ve found her, those same tourists make her difficult to see.

It’s packed because not only do all the tour buses come here, it’s also kind of close to the cruise port. That means that many people who get to escape their floating prisons/palaces for half a day get no further than here, which is a shame. I have to admit I feel much the same about the Mannekin Pis in Brussels. Famous, but I have no idea why. Still, we had to go there, ‘cos we’re tourists, innit? And there’s a cache there.

Cruising for a Bruising

Ami needed a bit of a rest, so she sat on a bench in the shade while I walked the length of the Langeliniekaj hunting for more caches. There were a few. By the time I got back from there is was most definitely ice cream o’clock. Thankfully, the Little Mermaid has some of that nearby too.

Whilst sitting with my ice cream I decided I’d check the exact details of the evening caching event that I was planning to go to. The first thing I noticed is that it wasn’t in the evening. It was at 4pm. It was already well after 3pm and the venue was 2km away and nowhere near any metro stations. So some hot-footing was needed.

Eventing

There’s a caching group in Copenhagen that meets every first Sunday of the month at 4pm in the same bar – The Taphouse on Lavendelstræde.

Turns out it’s the type of place I like for a caching event, especially if I don’t have to drive home. A wide selection of appetising-looking beers in a variety of styles. To be honest, after a day walking around in that heat, anything with “beer” in the name was a winner for me.

The event was very well attended – about 25-30 at this one. They reserve a whole room downstairs and generally talks geocaching and drink beer for well over the alloted hour. So a two hour break and some liquid muscle relaxer was very welcome.

And There’s More!

I hadn’t done anything like enough caches. Well, it was a lot, but it was only 6pm. We’d decided to eat dinner in the town, but 6pm is way too early for that. So we had some time to fill. We decided to wander north of where we were through the Copenhagen University area. There wasn’t much of a strategy, but there was some excellent architecture. The highlight was definitely the fantastic Rundetaarn. It’s a spiraling marvel that seems to defy logic. You have to pay to get in, and what you get for your money is a 7.5-turn helical ramp. It’s about 10 people wide, or maybe wide enough to drive a cart. White-painted walls and brick paviours all the way apart from the last tiny part. One wonders whether the architect was secretly moonlighting at the DNA design studio.

The view from the top was the best of the day, by some distance. A big chunk of the view is occupied by the distinctly Italian-looking Vor Frue Kirke. It’s not like we were short of walking on this day, but it was definitely worth the walk up and down.

My Feet Hurt

OK, so maybe that was enough. The day had cooled down a bit and we were both getting hungry now. We returned to Nyhavn and found ourselves and Italian restaurant. Ami had lasagne and I had a pizza. Some things always hit the spot.

The journey home included two short walks (to Kongens Nytorv and then back to the hotel), and both of those were a bit painful. Still, the hotel was still there and our stuff was still in the room. That had been a busy day.