Friday, September 15, 2017

Blonds and bicycles: part 3

Similarly to our last day in Italy, we took it pretty easy on our last day in Denmark. We left Copenhagen and took the train an hour north to Hillerød. The scenery from the train looked a lot like Wisconsin- very green, and lots of trees and small towns. 

Hillerød is one such small town, and it is home to a gorgeous Renaissance castle... which is definitely not something you'd find in Wisconsin.

Frederiksborg Castle was probably my favorite thing I saw on this trip!

As a summary of our castle tour, the chapel and ballroom were amazing. And the royal family in the 1600s was not the most attractive. At first we thought maybe they'd just hired a bad painter, but after seeing countless ugly portraits we determined it was probably the inbreeding.

If anyone's familiar with Carl Bloch (Mormons, I'm looking at you), a lot of his original paintings are hanging in this castle. I guess I've heard of at least one famous Danish person.

The castle is surrounded by a lake on one side, and by French-style gardens on another side. 

We took a boat tour around the lake and were treated to beautiful views. I couldn't stop taking pictures even when I already had 20 of the same thing.

Town on the other side of the lake

After some cake at the garden café we headed back to the hotel to relax and pack our bags. 

We might have accepted a ride from a stranger to get back to the train station. Probably the first and last time I'll ever do that- I'm usually pretty overcautious while traveling. 

Don't worry parents, it was a nice older lady we talked to and had asked for directions. Based on the friendly Danish culture we'd experienced the last few days, it didn't seem out of the ordinary to me for someone to offer. If someone offered me a ride in France I would probably run the other direction. I would question their motives because it wouldn't be normal culturally.

The lady asked us why we came to Denmark since they don't get thousands and thousands of tourists like larger European countries. She said "Did you come because you heard we have the friendliest people in the world? I know you didn't come because of the weather." If only she knew how much I was REVELING in the chilly weather.

We survived "not being trafficked," as Elvera put it, and had to say our goodbyes the next morning. She had an early flight to O'Hare, and my flight to Nice wasn't until dinnertime. 

Not going to lie, I was jealous she was flying home! I haven't been home for about 8 months, which is by far the longest I've ever gone without a visit. Eat some Culver's for me, Elvera!

Instead of heading to the airport, I headed to Sweden. Why not? I'd come this far north, so it would be wrong not to check off another country for my tally.

Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden are connected by the Oresund Bridge. Before they finished the bridge in 2000, the only way to get to Sweden was by boat. 

The bridge is about 2.5 miles underground and 5 miles above the water. It only took about 15 minutes on the train from my hotel to Malmo. I had to include this picture from Wikipedia of the bridge because it was pretty unique.

Malmo seemed like a very nice place to live in, but it wasn't really a touristy city (as in, there weren't really "sites" to see). Even though it's Sweden's 3rd largest city, Malmo only has 300,000 people. I wandered around for about an hour and saw the older part of the city.

For my last official sightseeing of this trip, I felt obligated to see Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue. The author of The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Anderson, was Danish, and this statue is supposed to be the symbol of Copenhagen.

After taking the train back to Denmark and a bus to the port area, it wasn't hard to find even though the statue is pretty small. #followtheasiantourists

That concludes 10 days of hardcore, "my feet are falling off" sightseeing days with Elvera. It was amazing that she could come and that we could travel so much together! Even more amazing- she planned the ENITRE trip and did all of the research. After so much trip planning this year (poor me, I know) it was relaxing to just enjoy and not worry about itineraries and directions.

In conclusion, here's why I loved Denmark:
1. Unexpectedly beautiful castles.
2. Perfect fall weather after sweating through an AC-free summer.
3. Everything was immaculately clean (this was especially apparent after being in relatively dirty Naples).
4. People we talked to were helpful, friendly, and spoke fluent English. I even went into a bookstore and half of the books were in English. That was a treat for me because I really miss having access to English bookstores and libraries.
5. Very easy to use and convenient public transportation.
6. It was fun to not feel like a giant like I do in France. Everyone was taller than me (besides Elvera haha). 

The only negatives about Denmark were how expensive everything was, the food not being my style (WAY too much herring), and trying to avoid getting run over by bikes.

Tak, Danmark! (the only Danish we learned...)

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