by Alice McNutt Miller
I woke up early, before the rest of the family, so I went up to Deck 9, grabbed a coffee, and watched as the ship maneuvered into its docking space in the Copenhagen harbor. The harbor was surrounded by a large offshore wind farm. It was a fascinating sight.
After breakfast in Lumiere's we headed ashore. We were greeted by what looked to be a high school marching band. What a great welcome!
We boarded a public bus and took a 10-minute ride to the city center. We got off of the bus at Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen's largest square. It took us a few minutes to get oriented, but we finally found our way past the Christianborg Palace to the Stroget, a long, pedestrian-only (in theory anyway) shopping street. We found some great shops with cool Scandinavian design icons. We strolled all the way down Stroget, to the Radhuspladsen, a beautiful square in front of the Copenhagen City Hall (Radhus).
From the Radhuspladsen it was a very short walk to our final destination of the day, and the one that I had really been looking forward to since booking the cruise a year and a half earlier: Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli is a lovely old amusement park that attracts more than 4.5 million visitors a year. Walt Disney visited Tivoli, and it is said that it provided him with some of the inspiration for Disneyland. We spent the rest of our day ashore in Tivoli. It was beautiful, and absolutely charming. We strolled the gardens and rode lots of rides, some old-fashioned and quaint, and some newer, up-to-date thrill rides. My favorite was the old, cable-pulled "Roller Coaster."
A replica of the famous "Little Mermaid" statue-the original of which is usually on display in the Copenhagen harbor, but which is currently in Shanghai, China for the World's Fair there-was on display.
(The bird would NOT leave. I guess it really wanted to be in our picture.)
Lunch was bagels for the girls and Danish-style hot dogs for me and Rob. These were very interesting. They were long, thin hot dogs served in hollowed-out rolls into which a good deal of sweet mustard was squirted by the server before inserting the hot dog. Yummy. And slightly weird.
After a full day at Tivoli, we wandered back out to the Radhuspladsen the catch the public bus back to the pier. The bus driver was the same one that we had had earlier in the morning. He must have been tired by that time (we certainly were!). It had been a very warm day in Copenhagen, so after returning to the ship, we all donned bathing suits and headed to the pools.
Dinner tonight was in Animator's Palate, then Rob and I went to see the show "Once Upon a Song" in the Walt Disney Theatre. It was a cabaret-style show where five of the ship's performers sang a medley of Disney songs-old and new, well-known and not-so-well-known. We really enjoyed it. The girls were in The Stack, which had become their hang-out.
We were in bed relatively early tonight, as we were looking forward to and early start for our "Berlin on Your Own" excursion tomorrow.
We docked in Warnemunde early, and were up for breakfast in Topsider's at 6:15. We were in the second wave of shore excursions for Berlin, and made our way to Studio Sea to meet with our "Berlin on Your Own" Group in Studio Sea. Except that we were supposed to be meeting our group in Rockin' Bar D. Ooops. This is what happens when you can't read the tour ticket without your reading glasses (you know who you are!). We ran to Rockin' Bar D, checked in (right place this time, yeah!), got our stickers and followed the cast member off of the ship onto the chartered train that was waiting just outside of the docking area. We found our carriage and settled in for the 2.5 hour, un-air-conditioned, ride. Heat wave in Europe right now, which is unfortunate when you are riding for 2.5 hours from Warnemunde to Berlin. Oh well, we survived.
Once the train arrived in Berlin, we boarded buses to take us to the Gendarmenmarkt in the center ("mitte") of the eastern part of Berlin. This square is absolutely lovely, and a great place to start any tour of Berlin. I had visited Berlin 4 years ago on a business trip, and just happened to have stayed in the same hotel in front of which we were dropped, so I had some familiarity with the area.
It was about 11:30, and Claire was hungry, so we went to a "typical German" restaurant down the street, and proceeded to feast on various types of bratwurst, wienershnitzel and kartoffel salat. After lunch we walked to the Brandenburg Gate, with the intention of catching a hop-on-hop-off bus for the remainder of our tour.
Big mistake. These buses have NO air conditioning, and did I mention that Berlin was in the middle of a heat wave? We rode the bus on the top level in the blazing sun, because believe it or not, it was cooler there in the direct sunlight than it was in the interior of the bus. Well, we rode for about an hour until we got to the Checkpoint Charlie stop, then got off and went directly to find ice cream and cold water.
After that, we found a nearby surviving section of the Berlin Wall, and a new museum outlining the German Secret Police's involvement in World War II and the Holocaust.
It was both haunting and thought-provoking. We walked back to Checkpoint Charlie to catch the bus back to our starting point, and to get the Disney bus back to the train station for the journey home. Before boarding the bus, we stopped in an amazing chocolate shop, with very cool chocolate sculptures.
Check out the kid's expression on the other side of the window!
We headed back for an on-time arrival at the meeting point. Except that there was a problem.
It seems that the locomotive for our chartered train had broken down, and a new one was being brought in. We unloaded the bus in front of the train station, and went across the street to a public park, where we cooled our heels for about an hour waiting for the new locomotive to be brought in. The tour company handed out water, led excursions to the bathrooms, and circulated tour guides to give guests additional information about Berlin. Did we know that the park we were sitting in was made of piles of rubble moved there after the bombing of the city? Pretty interesting, and we actually enjoyed the down time.
We were finally told that the train was ready to leave, and we went aboard. It was a long, hot, un-air-conditioned ride back to Warnemunde, but the girls found some other kids to play cards with while we chatted with their parents.
Once we were finally back on the boat, it was an amazing sail away, with seemingly the entire town out to bid us auf wiedersein with boat horns and fireworks. Beautiful!
That evening we grabbed a quick dinner at Pluto's on Deck 9, then watched some of the World Cup game in Diversions, and went to bed. I had wanted to go see the late showing of the movie "Prince of Persia," but I was too pooped to pop.
Day 6-at Sea
We lost another hour last night, and Rob and I got up around 9:00 and went to breakfast at Lumiere's. Rob had a bagel with lox and the works and I had some kind of savory pancake with eggs, spinach and tofu. It sounds a little strange, but it was pretty good.
After breakfast we went to the Buena Vista theatre to see "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," the movie that I was hoping to see last night. It was fun.
After the movie we went back to the room to see if the girls were up yet. They were not, so we got them up, then went up to Topsider's for lunch. After lunch we all went our separate ways, and I went down to Deck 4 for a half hour power walk around the ship. Then it was up to the Quiet Cove pool. The weather was really lovely today, and we wanted to take full advantage of it.
After the "Villains" theme dinner in Lumiere's, Rob and I went to see "Villains Tonight" in the Walt Disney Theatre. We really liked this show. After the show, we watched the World Cup soccer final in Diversions, and then headed to bed.