Thursday, 20 January 2011

Copenhagen Diaries - Day 1

First day in an even colder city has prompted my very first new year resolution... never to leave home during the dead of winter! Winter holidays, especially Christmas & New Years should always be celebrated at home, snuggled up in a blanket with hot-cocoa in one hand and a TV remote in the other, in the warmth of ones very own home... crazy kid what were you thinking when you came up with this brilliant idea of a winter get away in Copenhagen, Denmark in the dead of winter, while all of Europe was being snowed in. The rest of the world is trying to escape the continent, not enter it... but if I look around, we are not alone...phew I was not the only one with the genius idea. But seriously having thought that, I am (as always) having a lovely time with my fav travel bud, Mr Hubby, in this very friendly, actually infectiously friendly who cares about the cold, for now, since I am finally sitting indoors in a warm place, and the hot cup of coffee has helped thaw me ;-) 

OK so I've only been here a few hours and already so many Danes and tourists have made my day (trip), and left a warm fuzzy feeling about this place in my heart...many strangers have gone out of their way to help us and made pleasant conversations. How often does that happen, let me think, the last time that happened I was in my all time fave sunny Tuscany :) Aaaah, I miss Italy... snap out of it, so coming back to reality and cold winter breaks. It's seriously not all that bad, there is something about this city n it's people, that turns equally lost fellow tourists into wanna-be helpful locals, who after fumbling with your map for a few seconds confess they are equally lost, ha! It's perfectly OK, considering it brought a smile on all our faces, half rather fully covered and hidden behind oversized muffler faces, slipping-sliding-balancing over snow which is now solid ice trying to find our way around, so where does the Queen live?! 

We in fact had a local walk up to us twice (already) to check on us, once to encourage me to enter a private courtyard to take pictures (he saw me hanging outside the gates admiring it through my lens) and another time to make sure we were not lost when he saw us struggling with our oversize map while trying to balance ourselves on ice. This was one of many lovely encounters with the Danes in this beautiful city.

(my fave travel-bud & the mysterious private courtyard I was coaxed to enter)

(first few sights of the city - Town Hall with clock tower, Tivoli & a Church in the old part of town) 

The city looks big and grand but from all the walking we did today, it seems perfectly compact and manageable at the same time, just the way we like it :) Most of the many old churches, palaces and buildings are very grand and each one unique in it's own way, tempting us to visit them all. But what we liked the most was how we let the city introduce itself to us, delightfully stumbling across slices of these beautiful buildings, and getting peeks at sections of Danish history while we lazily strolled through it old cobbled streets. Personally there is a sudden rush of childlike excitement that races through me when I explore a new city, especially an old European city, enriched with history & charm. The characters of some wonderful history-fiction book I've recently read start to dance in-front of my eyes & I want to discover it all :)

(outside Lego's Store)

One of my favorite finds was coming across the Lego store in the heart of the old city, with it's giant Lego structures standing inside... sadly it was closed by the time I discovered it, but not to worry I shall be back for a peek inside tomorrow! Lego is originally from Denmark, so it's rather special to visit a store dedicated to one my all time fave childhood pastimes.

(Gammel Strand & the frozen canal that accompanies it)

We've walked past many beautiful buildings, fountains and squares...even explored the famous Gammel Strand which was buzzing with it's colorful cafes & restaurants by the famous canal, which at this moment is frozen, so my thoughts of taking a boat ride were not properly thought & researched through ;-) Since the canal is frozen solid it has also graciously trapping with it many beautiful old wooden ships, which can be aimlessly admired at this time of the year! So no glorious summer afternoon sipping a chilled beer by the canal, quiet the opposite actually, yet this below zero winter day has made this canal site and the city it inhabits even more charming for us. 

Next stop - the Queens Palace, which we very happily used as a backdrop for our very own shadow-home-production show. Being new years eve and all that, there were quiet a few TV channels crews picketing at the square along with heavy duty flood lights... you see the Queen addressees her subjects each year on New Years eve and her palace walls and the square is used as a backdrop, so in our defense we were simply adding a little color to the plain and boring background with our wall-shadow-show, until we were politely asked to leave ;-) Not to despair the (very fun) activity in question was captured in pictures... see below :)

(the Sibia's entertaining all)

It's been a long and tiring day on slippery frozen streets, but the day is not over yet, in fact it's far from it, it's new years eve n we have quiet a way to go before the town hall clock strikes 12 n for the celebrations to begin. If I were to predict that by sound & beautiful bursts of fire in the sky, the celebrations have already begun!

It's cold, it's dark, we've been walking for hrs exploring the city, and it's only 7pm, I am afraid entertaining the Queen was quiet tiring and our hungry tummies are finally revolting so it's only fair to feed them and rest our feet for a bit before we hit the streets for a second round!

11.45pm and we along with our fellow travelers (Ginny & Tony who have just landed) are at a very packed RĂ„dhuspladsen (Copenhagen's version of Piccadilly Circus/Time Square) ready to call in the new year! I think I speak for everyone in our group when I say, I don't think we've ever been to a more exciting & scary firework display in our lives! The entire show very well might have been orchestrated by the locals. Having read more than once in guide-books & online: "extravagant one-hour long firework displays tend to be private events with precious few safety concern" did not prepare us for this! People of all ages including children were present & packed in the square, and everyone was exploding fireworks everywhere, if you were lucky they went up in the sky and on more than one occasion they got thrown in your general direction. So not only were we WoWed by their spectacular display but also had to keep an eye out to dodge and run for safety more than once ;-) 

(some of the few captures of the night, I dared in the name of safety)

In the end it was a truly amazing and exhilarating experience we'll  remember and narrate for years to come. Hang on I am done yet... we are not yet done with the evening. After the fireworks ended and we were absolutely sure it was safe to walk through the square, we made our way towards the old cobbled streets to soak in some more culture... and here we encountered many drunk people, some of whom were young Indian immigrants from our part of the world, and the minute they would spot Sunny & his turban, they would come running towards us to wish us a 'Happy New Year!' It was a truly lovely day and a wonderful way to start a trip in a strange, mysterious and wonderful city! Goodbye and good night for now... we have a very early start tomorrow!

(our very first pictures of 2011)

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