A Travellerspoint blog

October 2018

The Home of the Real Hamburger

sunny 25 °C

So, now we are in Hamburg – and discovered that real hamburgers are raw ground beef on half a bun topped with chopped raw onion. No self-respecting Hamburger, (a Hamburg resident), would dream of spoiling it on a grill. In the late 1800s German immigrants in New York ate the traditional raw minced beef patti, then some yankee stuck it on the fire, added mustard and a bun, and burgers were born.
Hamburg is one of the busiest ports in the world with hundreds of wharves servicing fleets of mighty ocean goers like this...
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But the docks closest to the city have been cleaned up and are home to a fleet of tour boats, ferries, and several museum ships including one of the few surviving U-Boats...
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Our hotel gave us free passes for all public transport during our stay so we had a great time riding the buses, the trains and the ferries to places like the Elbphilharmonie...
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This modernistic concert hall sits atop an old warehouse and to reach the observation deck we rode one of the world's longest curved escalators...
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Ferries also ply downstream from the city docks and we spent a warm summery day by the seaside at Blankenese, an old fishing village that has been gentrified. Long gone are the fishermen's cottages and the herring trawlers of old. Today it is home for some of Hamburg's poshest residents, but they have to contend with the passing traffic...
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However, being so close to the North Sea meant that we could get a taste of delicious herrings at a beachside restaurant...
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From the fjords, the Viking longships and historic ships in Norway, to the Vasa and the hotel ships of Sweden, and the numerous ferries of Denmark, vessels of all kinds have played a large part in our trip so far. Our ferry crossing from Sweden to Germany carried an entire intercity train together with 340 cars and trucks and was hybrid electric. It was clean, silent and smooth, and from the deck we saw dozens of the wind turbines that were fuelling us. Hopefully, this is the future of sea travel.

The sea has been the lifeblood of Hamburg for many centuries but much of the city was destroyed by fire in 1842 and what was left was flattened by the Allies exactly 100 years later during World War II. One building that survived the war is the city-state's parliament – the Rathaus...
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This fanciful Gothic style building replaced the old parliament at a time when Germany was a series of independent states and, to impress the neighbours, the businessmen of Hamburg spared no expense in making it one of the most lavish parliament buildings in the world....
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A 500lb British bomb fell on the market square outside the Rathaus near the end of the war and would have totally destroyed the building had it exploded. Luckily for the Hamburgers, it didn't. However, the detonator was removed and now has pride of place in a glass case in the Rathaus...
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Despite the incredibly warm weather, autumn is catching up so we are now heading further south to Hannover in search of the ancestral home of the British monarchy.

Posted by Hawkson 06:12 Archived in Germany Comments (6)

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

sunny 28 °C

It was quite a wrench but we have now moved on to Hamburg in Northern Germany where it's a scorching 28 degrees. - a full 18 degrees above normal for this date. However, we can't leave the Danish Capital without a few words about Hans Christian Anderson. The celebrated author was a regular diner at a house just along from our apartment and we think of him as we enjoy yet another delicious Danish smoresbrod...
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Copenhagen is a beautiful city, especially in the warm autumn sunshine, and we have spent the week strolling her wide, cobblestoned, boulevards and relaxing in her splendid city parks where ugly ducklings are beginning to turn into swans and a little mermaid looks wistfully for her prince charming...
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According to Anderson, this little mermaid swims to the surface every morning and evening to sit on the rock in the hope of catching the prince's eye. She is on the 'must see' list of every visitor and bus-loads flock here every day, but James was up before dawn to get a private audience – but did she catch her prince?

The Danes are very proud of their cultural heritage and each year at the start of the school's autumn break Copenhagan celebrates with a festival called “Culture Night” where 250 museums, theaters, libraries, churches, ministries and parks throw open their doors to celebrate the city's diverse culture. The streets were thronged as we visited one of Copenhagens cultural icons,The Danish Design Museum, which largely celebrates the Danish chair...
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The Danes love their chairs, they virtually worship their chairs, and from the temple of chairs we went on to the city's renowned temple of fun, the Tivoli Gardens, in the heart of the city...
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In 1843, King Christian VIII sought to pacify his subjects with a pleasure garden, and so was born the second oldest amusement park in the world – the Tivoli Gardens – where ordinary folk could be amused with rides, entertainment and greasy food. We had the Danish national dish of roasted pork belly with lots of crispy crackling – it was delicious. However, after such a fatty feast we felt it unwise to venture on any of these sky-high rides...
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Although Tivoli has some of the latest and scariest rides, it also has a wooden roller-coaster built in 1914 and this beautiful carousel circa 1920...
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Walt Disney used Tivoli as a model for Disneyland in 1955 and the pleasure park is Tripadvisor's No.1 pick in Copenhagen. Although people are often dissappointed because Tivoli is only open in peak holiday seasons, we were lucky. The gardens had been closed since early September to prepare for the coming Halloween and it re-opened on our last night in Copenhagen with ghostly lanterns and imaginative pumpkin displays...
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The sun was still shining as we left Copenhagen for Germany by train this morning and we had one last glimpse through the Amalienborg Palace at the lofty dome of the Marble Church as we made our way to the central station...
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Goodbye Copenhagen – a wonderful, wonderful city.
Now to continue with our views of Copenhagen please turn up your volume and click here..... https://youtu.be/iNy9Hmp2n5Y

Posted by Hawkson 07:46 Archived in Denmark Comments (7)

Royal Copenhagen

sunny 18 °C

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The canalside port of Nyhavn is the picture-perfect heart of Copenhagen today, but it wasn't always this way. Not so long ago this was a rat-infested area of slums and dilapitated wharves. Today, its quays are lined with ancient sailing boats, (some a little worse for wear), while the quaysides are home to a plethora of bars and restaurants where a couple of the local Tuborg lagers will set you back $30Cdn. Location, location, location! But not everything in Nyhavn will break the bank. An hours guided cruise along Copenhagan's waterways cost only $11 and took us past many of the city's regal sights including the Christianburg Palace which has been taken over by the parliament and the supreme court. But, we should not feel sorry for H.R.H. Margrethe. She and the rest of the Danish Royal family seem to have more castles and palaces than Queen Liz and her boys in the U.K. Palaces like Amalienborg where we watched the changing of the guard – several times...
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Amalienborg consists of four almost identical palaces surrounding an octagonal plaza in the city centre. One is for the queen; one for her son, Prince Frederik, (a musical ironman who races motorbikes, hunts, shoots and is an arctic explorer); one is now a museum; and the fourth, we guess, is just to stop the place looking lopsided. There are many palatial rooms in the Amalienborg Palace but some of the grandest have been given over to an exhibition of theatrical costumes and sets designed, and even made, by the present Queen Margrethe...
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The chain-smoking Danish queen seems far more down to earth than her English cousin, Elizabeth. Our apartment is very close to the palace and we are told that the queen often walks past alone in the morning, although we haven't spotted her yet. And, at the age of 78 she is still working as a professional designer for the Danish Royal Ballet and for pantomimes performed at the Tivoli Gardens theatre. When the Queen wants to get away from the hub-bub of city life, and the cyclists using her palace as a shortcut, she can always retreat to one of her country pads where she keeps her jewels...
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The Rosenborg Palace is just a short carriage drive from Amalienborg and, although it's surrounded by beautiful gardens, it's hardly in the countryside today. But Copenhagen is a green city where you are never far from a park. At this time of the year the autumn colours reflect wonderfully in the city's many lakes...
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Another place for reflection is Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod, (40 minutes by train but only a couple of minutes in the royal helicopter)...
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This aristocratic pile of bricks was first built in the late 1500s but has been burnt down and rebuilt several times since. A mere seventy of the rooms now house the National History Museum of Denmark with enough exhibits and paintings to keep your head spinning for a week. This is the incredibly ornate Royal Chapel where Danish Kings were crowned until 1840...
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And this is the Royal bedchamber...
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If you think the bed is a little over the top then how about this ceiling...
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With three palaces and several museums under our belts you might think we have done Copenhagen - Oh no...Not yet.

Posted by Hawkson 07:03 Archived in Denmark Comments (4)

Biking Vikings!

sunny 19 °C

Whenever we go to take a photograph of some important building in Denmark there always seems to be a biking Viking in the way. We get the camera set up with the perfect shot of a castle or palace; somewhere like Fredericksborg Slot, the Danish Royal castle in Hillerod north of Copenhagen, and bingo...
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Yup – a biking Viking comes screaming around the corner and spoils the view. And then it happened again at the Amalienborg Palace in the heart of Copenhagen. The late afternoon sun was perfectly illuminating Queen Margrethe's stately abode; the royal standard was flying – she was at home; the tourists had all gone to their hotels; it was just us and two smartly dressed guardsmen – then this happened...
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Biking Vikings have managed to get themselves and their machines into almost every picture we've taken in Denmark There's no getting away from them – they are everywhere. And when they are not scaring us by riding furiously on the footpaths and jumping traffic lights they are using them to block our view. Just look at this famous building – if you can...
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And how on earth are we supposed to get to the subway station through this lot?...
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Most Danish cyclists are, in truth, very considerate of motorists and pedestrians and they generally stick to the cycle paths. However, they are not always conscious of the impact they may have on the aesthetics of 500 year old buildings in somewhere like Koge...
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Although, when when they are symmetrically parked in front of an ancient building they can create a pleasing work of art that marries ancient with modern...
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There are 4 bicycles for every 5 residents in Denmark, (a percentage only beaten by the cycling crazy Dutch who, statistically, all own a bike). The Danes cycle on average 1.6 kilometres a day and they generally take their bikes with them wherever they go – especially on trains and subways where it is free...
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Cycling is obviously good for health and great for the environment – it's just lousy for tourists who want to get shots of beautiful old buildings in Ribe for their travel blogs...
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However, we have no such quibble with horses and we greatly enjoyed watching a horse-ploughing competition on our way from Aero to Copenhagen...
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We will be in Copenhagen for the rest of the week and the weather is absolutely beautiful. So we are hoping to get some great bike-free shots of the castles, palaces, gardens and, of course, the Little Mermaid. Stay with us and keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by Hawkson 10:48 Archived in Denmark Comments (3)

The Toilets of Paradise Island

sunny 15 °C

After a few weeks of variable weather we finally hit the sunshine on Denmark's Aero island and simultaneously stepped into the future and slipped into the past. Where else can you find a state of the art wind turbine powering the lights in a beachside thunder-box...
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But when it comes to lighting a public loo in an unusual way, what about the lighthouse at Soby on the west coast of the island...
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The small island of Aero is a pastoral paradise and has the best climate in all of Denmark so its understandable that many tourists visit here. It is especially popular with wedding parties, particularly for Germans with a romantic bent, but weddings tend to lead to excessive drinking so guidance may be needed – although this sign might confuse anyone already half-drunk and desperate...
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It appears that there are public toilets everywhere on Aero, some are even combined with historical artifacts to give them a more romantic appeal...
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But we are not here for the weddings, the booze or the loos. We came to see the beautiful thatched cottages...
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...the cobbled streets of 18th century houses...
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and the parade of colourful beach huts that line the shore...
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Aero is only a relatively short hop on a ferry from Germany and all but two cars that accompanied us from the port of Fynshavn were German. Denmark is generally more expensive than Germany so why is Aero so popular with the neighbours? Maybe it's because of the large flocks of swans, (the national bird of Denmark), the friendly locals and the beautiful scenery. But maybe it's because it only takes a week to get a wedding licence in Denmark while it can take three months in Germany. So, any German wanting or needing a 'quickie', need only slip over the border to Aero island to get hitched in one of the quaint whitewashed churches...
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Denmark is a generally flat land with many windswept islands scattered throughout the Wadden Sea and the Baltic. As a result, more than two-thirds of its electricity comes from renewable sources – especially wind power from legions of giant turbines. There are thousands of windmills, both on and off shore, and the latest has a giant wingspan of 164 metres, (twice the wingspan of an Airbus A380 super jumbo jet). However, none of today's turbines compare in beauty to this ancient thatched windmill in Aeroskoping – the historic centre of Aero...
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The island of Aero is not only self-sufficient in electricity, it has enough spare to power battery operated car ferries that are in the works to replace the aging fleet of polluting diesel vessels. This leads us to wonder which other islands in the world could follow Aero's lead and use the wind to cleanly drive their ferries!

Posted by Hawkson 08:57 Archived in Denmark Comments (4)

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