Roskilde and more of Copenhagen

posted in: Nordic Adventure 2012 | 0

I’m at the central library using their free internet. It’s just 17:00, and I am planning another bike tour, again with Mike, this time an evening tour that starts at 19:00 and goes further afield.

I forgot to share some of the fun facts I learned on yesterday’s tour:

  1. There are 1.8 million people living in Copenhagen. There are 2.5 million bicycles in Copenhagen. It’s the only city in the word with more bicycles than people.
  2. There is a plan for Copenhagen to become a zero-carbon-emitting city by 2050.
  3. When the Nazis were on the verge of occupying Copenhagen, the citizens ferried the Jews across the strait to Sweden in the middle of the night in fishing boats.
  4. Denmark and the USA have the longest continuous diplomatic relations of any two nations in the world.
  5. In Denmark, healthcare is free and university is free. Not coincidentally, Denmark has one of the highest tax rates in the world.
  6. In 1930, Denmark was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today it’s one of the wealthiest.
  7. The Danish monarchy was forced to relinquish power in the mid 19th century. Today the monarchy rents their home from the people. The people own everything. The monarchy costs the people $400 million a year, but supposedly it’s an investment worth about $2 billion in publicity and tourism dollars.

Mike talked a lot about how everything in Denmark is about the common good, and not so much about individual freedom or prosperity He spoke with pride about the redistribution of wealth, a phrase so politically charged in the USA that even Democrats won’t use it. But in Denmark, even the conservative party is in favor of the welfare system.

I asked him if I could move here.

Today I went to Roskilde to see the cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum. Both were interesting and definitely worth the 30 minute train ride each way. The cathedral is a lesson in Danish history. Pretty much all the monarchs are buried there, and there’s already a planned sarcophagus being designed for Queen Margrete and her (rumored to be gay) husband. (I wish I’d studied the Danish monarchy before coming on this trip.) The original cathedral was built in the 13th century, but over the years it’s had many additions, and there is art and architecture from every century, including the 21st. Fascinating. (No pics allowed inside, but I’m including a few I found on the web.)

The chapel of Christian IV


This clock goes off every hour,and when it does, Saint George kills the dragon and it lets out a loud wail. The first time I heard it, I was stepping up toward the altar, and I thought it was an alarm going off because I was going where I shouldn’t.

The Viking Ship Museum includes remnants of five Viking ships that were either sunk or scuttled in the 11th century and were discovered in the harbor fifty years ago. It was a great exhibit.

On my way back to the train, I stopped at a bakery to get some lunch. They couldn’t figure out how to get the machine to accept my credit card without a PIN, so they finally offered me the 23 kroner worth of rolls as a gift. I handed them my pocket full of change, which came to about 16 kroner. (It’s about 6 kroner to the dollar.)

I so wish I had one more day here so I could make it to Fredriksborg Castle and Louisiana, one of the great museums of contemporary art. Both are about 40 minutes away by train, and I just couldn’t fit it all in. I did get to spend some time in Rosenborg Castle, which was truly interesting. It’s was the castle of King Christian IV, from the 17th century. Apparently he was a real lecher. He had a room with a mirrored floor so he could look up the ladies’ dresses. One story Mike told us yesterday is that he’d have dinner parties for the men where they’d have lavish banquets sitting on toilet chairs so they didn’t have to get up from the table. The servants mopped up the mess and the men kept eating.

I took lots of pics inside. If you’re interested, check out my Copenhagen album.

Tomorrow I’m off to Ærø. Not sure if I’ll post again this evening after the bike tour. I’ll see how tired I am.

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