It’s already Saturday night, which means we’re moving on to Helsinki, Finland tomorrow and that we’ll be home in just about a week. It’s crazy how quickly time flies by! Still, we made the most of our last day in Copenhagen, despite some roadblocks along the way.
Wait, roadblocks? Unfortunately, yes – some of our plans just didn’t come together today! But that happens when you travel and you just have to roll with it. Read on to hear about what we did (and didn’t) do.
- Church of Our Saviour – you aren’t surprised to see another church on the list, are you? This one is a doozy! As we were planning our day this morning, I realized I either didn’t know everything about this church or I hadn’t looked into it at all, else I would have realized how amazing it sounded before this morning! What makes this church stand out is that it has a spire that you can climb to the top of (not that unusual), but that you’re actually climbing up a staircase outside the building for the last part of the climb (unusual). It looked amazing! If you’re afraid of heights though, it probably looks scary as it’s about 90 meters tall and the exterior staircase just has a pretty standard railing to hold onto. We decided to put it at the top of our list, so we made quick work of the walk there, enjoyed delicious pastries at a bakery just outside the church, and then promptly hit our first roadblocks (yes, plural). First of all, we couldn’t go into the church itself because of a baptism (when we arrived) and a wedding (when we left). That was disappointing because the pictures I’ve seen of the interior look amazing! Still, at least we were able to climb to the top, which costs a very reasonable ~$7 USD. The second issue came up as we were climbing up to the top (all stairs – no elevator). The traffic runs both ways the entire way up the staircase, including the exterior staircase, and there’s no one to meter the traffic through, which leads to situations where people are coming up when others are trying to come down, causing traffic jams. Sometimes this happened in spots that felt fairly open, but other times it was in very tight parts of the climb, where the stairs were almost vertical. Knowing that, if you’re in any way claustrophobic, I would NOT advise you to try this! Although it didn’t feel as tight as the dome tour in the Duomo in Florence, Italy, it can still be unpleasant. Similarly, if you don’t like heights, I would also caution you against it (though that perhaps goes without saying when we’re talking about walking up a spire that’s 90 meters off the ground). When we finally reached the open air, we were told “it’s full” by someone trying to get down, which was slightly awkward because we couldn’t go back down (people behind us) and couldn’t really go forward (people in front of us). We went forward anyway and realized, after about ten minutes, we shouldn’t have followed traffic and gone to the right because it just dead-ends. So learn from us – when you come out into the open air, the exterior stairs are to the LEFT. And again, traffic is running both ways, so be extra careful as you take those selfies! At the top of the spire, the staircase just dead-ends, so you have to turn back around. Although it was a frustrating experience due to the traffic issues, I would still heartily recommend this church, with the caveats I already called out. If it’s open, be sure to actually go inside the church as well as climbing the spire!
- Christiania – this is a very interesting part of Copenhagen. It’s described as an “autonomous neighborhood” in which some 850 people live that isn’t really governed as the rest of Copenhagen is. It seems to be a mix of artists, hippies, cannabis-lovers, and other free spirits who wanted to somewhat detach themselves from the rest of Copenhagen. We weren’t really looking for anything specific here, but rather just wanted to see it in person. I highly recommend reading the page I linked above as I think it gives some great insight into what you can expect to find when you’re there. Worth a look, for sure!
- Canal cruise – this is where more roadblocks began to plague us. We wanted to do a canal cruise, which is all well and good as there are a couple of vendors who offer them and they leave pretty regularly. As we walked to Nyhavn (since that’s where the canal cruises are), we realized we would be arriving just in time for a cruise with the vendor we wanted (cheaper ticket prices). Perfect! Unfortunately, their credit card machine wasn’t working and we had no cash, so we decided we’d try to do something else, then get cash, then come back. While all this was happening, we were watching the time so we could try and make a return visit to Frederik’s Church for the dome tour (remember, they’re only offered at 1p and 3p on Saturdays and Sundays). Since we knew we couldn’t get the cruise in and make it to the tour in time, we decided to head over to Christiansborg Palace so we could buzz around there, then do the dome tour, then do the canal cruise. Upon arriving at the palace (which, by the way, is the only building in the world to house the judicial, legislative, and executive branches for one country), we saw there was a HUGE demonstration for Syrian refugees happening, which seemed to prevent us from getting through. To be fair, we probably could have pushed through the crowd to get in, but it didn’t feel worth it. So, we decided to walk to the church, wait for the dome tour, and then go back and do the canal cruise (and maybe the palace if things cleared out). We hit another roadblock when we got to the church and discovered it was closed for a wedding – d’oh! There was a sign saying it would reopen at 3p, so we decided to wait until then. Shortly after 3p, the doors did open and out came the happy couple and guest after guest after guest after…well, you get it. After several minutes of guests streaming out, we decided to just scrap the idea altogether as we couldn’t even be sure they would be offering a dome tour because of the disrupted schedule. Such a bummer! But as I said, these things happen. You just roll with the punches! We made our way back to Nyhavn and got on our canal cruise, though we chose another vendor because the line for the other one was waaaaaayyyy too long. That doubled the price (~$6 to ~$12 USD), but we were willing to pay to not wait. 🙂 The cruise was pretty decent, though I can’t say there are any especially interesting things to be seen from Copenhagen’s canal (with a few exceptions, like a glimpse at the Little Mermaid statue).
Because of all the to’ing and fro’ing, we still put in a LOT of steps today, so by the time the canal cruise was over, we were ready to have a meal (aside from what we ate in our apartment before we left and the aforementioned delicious pastries, we hadn’t yet eaten!) and head home. We were craving Italian, so we turned to Google Maps, which lead us to Ristorante Friscati, which proved to be a good choice! Nice, crusty bread, very tasty caprese salad, and great main courses. Like every other restaurant, it’s expensive, but we were so happy to sit down, put our feet up (so to speak), and eat that it didn’t matter. If you’re looking for good Italian food in Copenhagen, check this place out!
Now, onto the pictures!
I took this picture to try and give some perspective of what the exterior staircase is like. As I said above, traffic runs in both directions and there’s just a regular railing between you and the open air, so be safe!
A passing photo of part of Amalienborg, home of the Danish royal family
Nyholm Central Guardhouse, which was built in 1745
This brings our Copenhagen chapter to an end! It was an enjoyable one, but I can’t say I connected more with the city today, perhaps due to all the roadblocks we ran into trying to see what we wanted to see. I’m definitely glad we came though! We saw a lot, enjoyed our apartment, and expanded our travel horizons that much more.
Now, onto Helsinki!