When Disney Cruise Line announced they were sailing to Norway for the first time in 2015, we thought about it for all of a couple seconds before deciding we wanted to go. Though we did spend more time deciding which Norway itinerary. There were three offered: the seven-night and nine-night Norway cruises, and then a longer itinerary that went to Iceland, also. We went back and forth between the seven and nine, but ultimately went for the seven-night because it was the first - and we like being first. :-) It was in/out of Copenhagen, with four Norway ports, and two days at sea.
We'd never visited any of those places, so we decided to spend several days in Copenhagen first and take advantage of the opportunity to visit "Wonderful Copenhagen".
We ended up staying in one of the hotels Disney used, the Tivoli Hotel & Congress Center, but we got a better rate booking it ourselves and getting our own transportation rather than going through Disney Cruise Line.
We left San Diego very early on Tuesday morning. We flew United to Newark, then connected to an SAS flight for the trip to Copenhagen. Thanks to favorable winds it was under 7 hours. We landed in Copenhagen about 7:30 on Wednesday morning. But thanks to the 9-hour time difference it was 10:30 pm by our internal clocks.
Our flights were smooth and we were lucky to have no travel issues getting to the hotel. I'd read in advance that using American credit cards is a bit problematic because Europe is mostly chip-and-pin, and our cards, even when they have a chip, aren't compatible. So we'd planned to use our ATM cards and mostly pay cash. In addition there's also often an additional fee for paying with a credit card - and that doesn't count the foreign transaction fee. So that's the long way of saying we got cash at the airport so that we could pay the taxi to the hotel, and have some spending money for later.
The hotel told us we'd have to wait until 3:00 to check in, but that we could leave our bags. We changed clothes and washed up a bit in the restrooms before leaving our bags.
There was an Adventures by Disney desk in the lobby. We talked to Robin, the very nice Adventure Guide, and asked her for ideas of things to do. She suggested all kinds of activities that sounded good and marked the locations on the city map for us.
After leaving the hotel we walked along the canal. It was a pretty nice day, mostly sunny, occasional cloud cover. But it was very windy.
The swans have followed Lee to Copenhagen...we saw this one keeping an eye on him.
We went towards the National Museum first - Robin told us it was free on Wednesdays. Lots of exhibits on the history of Denmark and battles that included gaining/losing Sweden and Norway. We spent a couple of hours there, but were getting pretty tired - starting to feel the lack of sleep.
The Glyptotek, a sculpture museum, was across the street. Interesting building, but it wasn't free and we didn't go in.
We went up the block towards Tivoli Gardens and decided to go in and wander around and get something to eat.
The garden part was really beautiful - lots of flowers and nicely landscaped areas. So many flowers in bloom!
The first restaurants we came to were mostly Danish, and didn't have much that appealed to us, but we finally found one that looked ok. We weren't feeling too adventurous at this point - we were just tired and hungry and wanted a place to sit down. It had turned cloudy and there was even a passing rain shower while we were inside. I had some fried fish that was pretty good and Lee tried the roast beef with horseradish, which was fine. Mostly it was good to get some food and get off our feet - though Lee was falling asleep sitting at the table. :-)
After lunch we wandered around the rest of the gardens. I've read that Walt Disney was inspired by Tivoli Gardens and I can see why. It has a car ride and even a sort of Matterhorn roller coaster.
I really liked the carousel with its variety of animals like a tall giraffe and an elephant - there are also teacups on the carousel that riders can spin.
And while Tivoli Gardens may have inspired Walt Disney, they were selling Disney balloons... :-)
We ended up not riding any of the rides. Especially not this one. :-)
It was really a lovely park and we enjoyed exploring it. I'm sorry that we didn't get back there at night when it's supposed to be especially beautiful with all of the lights.
It was less than a mile to our hotel, and we were able to check in and get our luggage when we returned. Our room was on the 8th floor looking out towards the canal and Amager Island. The room was larger than I was expecting - not too much smaller than an American hotel room. Narrower, mostly. The bed was quite comfortable. The only real problem is that there was no storage - there was a closet with some cubbies, but there were no drawers at all! We had free wifi, and it was pretty good, with decent speed. We both ended up taking naps for a while.
We asked at the desk in the lobby about dinner spots. The guy recommended several places. We checked out the first one but it didn't appeal. We ended up finding a sandwich shop (they were good sandwiches!) and ate at a picnic table along the canal. After dinner we wandered around a bit more. It was after 9:00 by the time we returned and still full daylight, which was really throwing us off. The photo below was taken after 9:35. I think it was 11:00 when we finally went to bed. But we didn't have anyplace we needed to be the next day - we were on vacation!
I woke up just after 2:00 am...and couldn't go back to sleep. I finally got up around 3:30 and surfed the Internet for a while. I saw a full moon and daylight at 3:40! Went back to bed just before 5:00 and finally slept and didn't really wake up until almost 10:00.
There was a little coffee counter type of place in the lobby where we could get coffee/tea plus pastries, yogurt, and fruit. Enough to get us going in the morning. We walked to an area called the Strøget, about 20 minutes away, where we could do a canal boat tour and catch one of the hop-on/hop-off buses. It was a beautiful day! Blue sky and sunshine, though still pretty windy. About 60 degrees, though it felt warmer in the sun.
We did the canal boat tour first. It was narrated in English and Spanish. Everyone in Copenhagen seems to speak excellent English, so it was very easy for us to get around. But I was amazed at how well our guide switched between English and Spanish - seemingly with very little effort and no hesitation. I speak some Spanish, and I could tell she spoke it very well.
Speaking of language...Before the trip, I was trying to find out the correct pronunciation of "Copenhagen". Is it Copen-haw-gen, or Copen-hay-gen? It seems to depend on the language. In English, it's Copen-hay-gen. In Spanish, it's Copen-haw-gen.
The tours are done from large flat-bottom boats that hold over 150 people. We passed under a number of low bridges where everyone had to be seated. For some of them, even when seated there was very little clearance!
One of them was quite narrow, also.
We saw two more swans...
We went by a number of city landmarks, like Amalienborg Castle and the Marble Church
The Opera House
The Black Diamond (a huge library)
The beautiful spiral spire of Our Saviors Church.
And of course the statue of The Little Mermaid. Which doesn't look very interesting from the back. :-)
At the very end we went by this row of colorful buildings - this is THE type of photo you often see from Copenhagen. And we were fortunate to have a beautiful day!
The tour took about 90 minutes. We really enjoyed it. Our guide had interesting things to tell us, but she also didn't talk all of the time.
Nearby we found a fast-food noodles cooked-to-order place for lunch. It was really good, and had free wifi, too!
After lunch we caught the hop-on/hop-off bus. There were three different routes, but we chose the "Mermaid Tour", which would go by a lot of the sights we'd seen from the boat. As it turned out we ended up walking most of the route - we really didn't need the bus. We got off at Nyhavn - the "New Harbor". This is very picturesque with all of the colorful buildings. Most of the ground floor is restaurants with open-air seating and the area was very busy on such a nice day. Plus there were at least three cruise ships in port, and that's a very popular destination.
We found Copenhagen was a lovely city to just walk around - though we had to watch out for bicycles as well as cars! Many people use bikes as their main form of transportation. They have an excellent mass-transit system, too.
This is the Amalienborg Palace area from inside the plaza. There are a couple of palaces, though one is being renovated, and there are guards posted in front. We missed the changing of the guard, which is one of the interesting things to see.
From there we walked to the Kastellet- the old fortress. Outside was the Gefion Fountain.
And a beautiful church.
We entered the Kastellet and went up on the ramparts. One thing we'd learned is that there's no stone in Copenhagen, so that's why the walls are steep earthen walls covered in grass and surrounded by water.
We saw more swans in the moat surrounding the Kastellet...
It was a short walk from the northern exit of the Kastellet to the Little Mermaid statue. I was very surprised at how close we could get to it! There were a number of people, but everyone took turns getting their photos. There's nothing else to really see there, though.
Though it was still bright and sunny it was approaching 5:00 and the last buses were around 6:00. We caught a bus to Rosenborg Castle and the Botanical Garden. It would've been faster to walk but our feet were getting tired.
The garden was large and very pretty. Lots of different flowers and trees, as well as water.
There was a large conservatory but it was only open until 3:00 so we weren't able to go inside.
There was a large rocky mound in the middle that was beautifully landscaped with flowers and a stream running down.
We even saw some old friends from the U.S., like this giant sequoia!
Rosenborg Castle was across the street. It was closed, but we could walk around a bit outside.
We had planned to catch what we thought would be the last hop-on/hop-off bus, but we waited for 15 minutes and nothing came. So we ended up walking back to the main city square area near Tivoli. Lots of interesting buildings and statues and fountains in the square. Flying rhinoceros, anyone?
We had dinner at one of the many shawarma/kebab places. Interesting that they all seemed to offer pizza, also! It was a good dinner, and a lot of food for a decent price.
It was STILL bright daylight! We could see one of the signature rides in Tivoli Gardens was running - it had been too windy for it the day before. Looks like Silly Symphony Swings...200 feet in the air!!! Yikes.
We walked back towards our hotel and ran into some of the "Distortion" crowd. That's a multi-day music festival held at this time of year. Each day it moves to a different part of Copenhagen. Lots of young people out enjoying themselves...
There's lots of construction in Copenhagen and we found we couldn't get back to our hotel the way we expected. So we ended up doing even MORE walking. We were pretty tired - it had been a long day.
Next up - A trip to Sweden.