Friday, August 19 – Northern Denmark, mostly sunny!
Barry Hamlet at Kronberg Castle. Denmark
Our precious time with Jon and Kathryn is up. We dock in Copenhagen, they go on a last day tour then home to San Diego and Barry and I rent a car to drive to the north of Denmark to see some castles.
Always a little worried about driving abroad, we are delighted to find that the driving here is very easy. We have never seen such polite drivers, EVERYONE uses a turn signal and follows the speed limit. The Danes would just die if they were to drive in LA. We also fall in love with the countryside. It’s so green, my eyes water. Cheerful Danish flags flying in the light breeze and tidy villages with well kept buildings pass our view. It is so civilized here!
Our first stop is Hillerød, home of Frederiksborg Castle. It is the largest Renaissance style Castle in Scandinavia. It was built in the early 17th century under King Christian IV. I could live here. It is one of the most romantic castle-y palaces that I have seen. It’s not too garish, with just the right amount of sparkle, when needed. We dodge the Chinese tourists who won’t let anyone else photograph Neptune’s fountain (I copied another photo from google and wrote a previous entry about those tourists.) The King’s Wing and the Knight’s Hall are both stunning, the Church is amazing. We are lucky to have a brief organ recital going when we visit and the music in that room is like a fairytale. Barry got a little of it on video.
The Himmelglobus just fascinates me. It is a large, beautiful mechanical model of the solar system, built between 1655 and 1657. Though we don’t see it in action, it is driven by clockwork which control twenty-four movements in the interior of the globe. The earth and moon are three dimensional spheres and the other bodies are small silver guides with planetary symbols in their hands. The globe is topped by a small Ptolemaic globes, and the outsides of the globe are elaborately decorated by signs of the zodiac. It looks like a steam punk treasure!
After the visit to Frederiksborg Castle, we stopped just outside Kronberg Castle to park. A Dane asked Barry for directions in the parking lot, so we were pretty smug about blending in. Just past the parking lot was another playground for kids. The Danes have playgrounds in the airport, here at the castle; they think about children living here! It’s so civilized here. After some urging, Barry tries out the trampolines and then we have a very nice Danish lunch in a modern restaurant.
Then, on to Kronborg Castle, is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the narrow sound between Denmark and Sweden, quite a strategic location. It looks the real deal castle, with cannons and watchtowers. Originally built in 1420 and expanded between 1574 and 1584 by King Frederik II, it is also called “Hamlet’s Castle.” It is a mystery if Shakespeare ever visited here, but the setting for his play is this castle and the court of Elsinore. We are blessed with a sunny day and the vistas from the castle and grounds are dazzling. They perform “Hamlet” here on an outdoor stage and there is a small museum with photos of different performances done here. I am sure that it would be very impressive to see the play here. It doesn’t take too great an imagination to hear the footsteps of the past here.
A lovely day ends in Denmark and we take a very late flight on Ryan Air to a late arrival in rainy Edinburgh. Ryan Air, as my middle schoolers used to say, “sucks”. However, we sleep tonight in mystical, magical, entrancing Edinburgh.