We started our second day in Copenhagen with a quick breakfast at Emmerys again, having enjoyed their Danish pastries and matcha latte the day before. After the quick breakfast we jumped onto our bicycles to ride to Christanshavn. Jerome had seen the tower of the Chruch of our Saviour the day before and wanted to climb to the top. He said it looked like a “helter skelter” with the stairs going up on the outside of the tower. It surely was an interesting design, perhaps unique in world. The short bike ride led us across the cycle and footbridge from Nyhavn to Christianshavn and down the quay before turning towards the church.
The surprisingly warm spring weather had brought out lots of other locals and tourists alike. We could see lots of people cycling and walking along the quayside, people were sitting on the terraces of the cafes. We cycled along the canal admiring the antique sailing boats and the pretty houses.
We turned left into Sankt Annae Gade, where we could finally get a close up of the black and golden spire of the Vor Frelsers Kirke. We could see a few figures walking up the steps and Jerome got really excited. We parked our bikes and went to join the queue. Due to the tight stairways there is only a limited number of visitors allowed to go up and down the 90 metre tall tower at a time. We waited for about ten minutes before it was our turn to climb the stairs, but I suspect sometimes the wait maybe longer. At first they were quite wide and like any normal stairs but after a few floors we turned into the main belfry of the tower it was starting to get too tight to pass on the stairs, which meant we always had to stop to let people pass coming down. On one of the landings the clock mechanism was interesting to see, all brass and iron cogs. On the next levels were the giant iron church bells and Jerome wondered when they would be ringing again – a warning sign said they were loud! There was still more than half an hour before the bells would ring the next full hour and we wanted to get to the top first.
Chris sometime is sensitive to heights, like many people, and so was content to look at the view from the narrow terrace below the spire where the wooden staircases exited. Some guests even found this a challenge and were turning back. Jerome and I had the possibility at this level to circle the spire and admire the view but we chose to climb the last steps up the helter-skelter staircase on the outside of the tower. The stairs kept on getting narrower towards the top, when we finally reached the golden globe, it was only Jerome who was able to squeeze himself right underneath as the steps were very narrow at this point. It was definitely an exciting experience to climb the tower on the outside, and Jerome was happy to have made it to the top.
We descended to the lower level to walk our way around the spire again and to finally take in the view at leisure. We could see the giant wheels of the wind turbines in the port area floating above a narrow band of fog, seemingly detached from their stand. Jerome said they reminded him of the Ghibli film “Castle in the Sky”. We thoroughly enjoyed the bird’s eye view over Copenhagen city and streets below. It started to get busier on the balcony so Jerome and I decided to climb back down the stairs. We found Chris sitting on a bench in the church’s yard in the sun. I had wanted to see the inside of the baroque church, but unfortunately we found it was closed for visitors on Sundays.
Back on our saddles we pedalled along the cobbled streets of the canal and ended up on the walls of the fortifications of Copenhagen. These fortifications date back to medieval times, when Christian IV decided to build them surround the whole town for defence purposes. They were in use until the end of the 19th century and these days most of the base of the fortifications of Christianshavn and the star shaped Kastellet remain intact. We had noticed the funny star shaped paths on a map and thought they would make a great cycle path away from the crowds of downtown Copenhagen. There were three major paths, one right below next to the water, which we cycled on, one higher up which was only for pedestrians and one behind the top for both cyclists and walkers.
It was a lovely ride, next to the water of the moat lakes, the sunshine’s glitter on the calm water, ducks and swans lazily swam along and other people enjoyed the quiet Sunday morning, grasses swayed in the light breeze. The ride was easy, only a few ups and downs near the few roads that we had to cross and very safe for children of all ages. We saw some families feeding the ducks and at some point there was a little beach between the reeds where some kids were playing in the sand.
After a few kilometres we reached the famous Freetown Christiania, a self proclaimed autonomous area of 850 people that covers a large part of the old fortress area. We could see people sitting by the lake’s shore and smell the smoke of cannabis for which it is famed having been something of a hippy commune since the 1960’s. We also saw some old derelict military barracks and the many modern constructions of houses that were built without architects some from reclaimed wood and others with more care and investment. One of my favourite buildings in the area was a house that looked like an UFO and another seemingly looked like it was constructed with nothing else apart from windows.
Jerome enjoyed his cycle along the unpaved path, in fact it felt more like we were somewhere in the countryside rather than the middle of a capital city. Eventually we reached the end of the Freetown and were back on the road leading us around the back of the opera house to the Copenhagen Street Food market, which is a popular place for lunch and dinner. We had initially thought we might stop there for lunch but when we saw the masses of people we decided to seek a quieter spot for some food.
I had had my eye on the Restaurant Almanak, since we had cycled past the day before. When we got there we were lucky to be shown to one of the free tables on the terrace in the sun, right by the canal and next to the trampolines. We ordered some traditional Danish Smorrebrod. Jerome went off for a round of bouncing on the trampolines while we enjoyed a drink and the afternoon sun. The food was delicious and it made a great finish to our weekend in town.
After returning the bikes to the rental office we still had a few minutes left before we needed to return to the airport. Chris and Jerome went to the playground outside our hotel and I walked the block to the Amalienborg palace. The palace is home of the Danish Queen Margrethe II and Crown Prince Frederik and his family. I could not see a flag flying over the palace’s roof, which meant that they were not staying there that day. A few guards were casually walking along the walls of the buildings surrounding the square with a statue of Frederik the V riding a horse. The guards appeared to be much less formal than the British ones who always look really stuck up and almost threatening. In contrast to Buckingham palace everyone was allowed to drive across the square in a car and on a bike. You could walk up to the doors and windows and almost peek in. I was glad I came to see the palace even if it was just a very brief visit.
We all agreed that we would love to come back for another visit, despite it not being the cheapest of destinations. There was still so much more to be explored – we had not even set a foot near the famous Tivoli gardens which are only open summer months, and also missed some of the other sights.