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Journey To Verne’s Copenhagen April 22, 2008

Posted by finallywoken in Around The World.
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The article is writen in 2005
Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Copenhagen*

Most people associate Denmark with famous author Hans Christian Andersen, or maybe the brilliant scientist Niels Bohr, who discovered the atomic theory, or probably rock band Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich, but I found Denmark between the pages of a Jules Verne book titled A Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The book, which I read over and over from the age of 15, told how Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel, the main characters of the story, took their preparations here before moving to isolated Iceland where their journey began.

I decided I would do the same during my two-week vacation in the land of fairy tales, as some people call it, referring to the fairy tales told by H.C. Andersen.
My first stop was Kongens Nytorv, or the King’s New Square in English, there was a green horsemen statue of Christian V, former King of Denmark, standing in the middle of the square facing Det Kongelige Teater (The Royal Theater).

Almost everything looks green in Denmark, the roofs of old buildings, churches, statues and castles since most of them were made with by copper and later oxidized and turned green after several years, giving the city an “ancient” look.

Obviously the square has changed a lot from the time when Verne wrote the book, as it is now surrounded by stylish shops and fancy restaurants, including an Indonesian restaurant, rather than 19th century buildings.
As it was a sunny day and Nyhavn (New Harbor) was just a few steps away from the square, my Danish friend took me to one of the many cafeterias along the harbor to enjoy the sunny afternoon while sipping famous Danish beers.
I saw many people carrying big plastic supermarket bags to collect used bottles, either picking up left bottles or asking visitors for theirs at the harbor. The bottles are apparently worth some money in the city.

Leaving Nyhavn just in time, I took a bus and crossed a bridge from Sjaelland to Amager, two islands which form the city, I continued my mission to visit all the places written in the book, including a church named Vor Frelsers Kirke or Our Saviour’s Church.

There was nothing remarkable about the church when compared to many other churches in Copenhagen, such as the Marble Church (Marmokirken), which has a grander design and historical value. But, the name of the church has been on my mind since I was a teen, thanks to the book.

In the book, Professor Lidenbrock took his nephew to climb the spires each day just to make him get used to the abyss and conquer his acrophobia. It was part of their preparation for the journey to the center of the earth.
After buying an entry ticket for 20 crowns, I began to ascend the staircase that lead to the top of the tower which is adorned with a gold-gilded globe and flag-bearing Christ figure. The staircase consists of 400 steps, about half of which are situated inside the tower with the rest on the external part of the tower.

Cold freezing wind snapped at my face and my fingers went numb when I reached the external part of the staircase of the 90-meter high spiral tower. I continued climbing to reach the top of the tower, while enjoying the breathtaking view around me.

The whole city lied beneath me. The houses below looked like doll houses and the scenery looked like the one we often see in the paintings of the renaissance era. In the distance, I could glimpse the coast of Sweden looking gray under the afternoon sun.

Descending was much easier than ascending, obviously. But, we had to rush to take pictures of the old stock exchange building before the sunset. The building has a weird-looking spire composed of twisted tails of four bronze dragons.

We hopped on a bus again and headed for Tivoli, the famous amusement park, for some afternoon fun.
There is a rock concert in the park each day. After paying a 150-crown entrance fee, you will be able to watch the rock concert, get two free beers and a free ride in the park’s famous roller coaster “The Demon”.
I chilled out with some Danish friends while waiting for the midnight fireworks.

After waiting for several hours, a Tivoli park official told us that there were no fireworks on Friday, asking us to come on Wednesday. We rushed home at half past midnight in the freezing cold night.

I completed my mission to see everything described in the book in one day. After that, I, just like any regular tourist, went to see the famous places and objects in Copenhagen, including the Little Mermaid statue — or Den Lille Havfrue in Danish — which is based on another Andersen tale. The statue is located near the harbor, not far from the Amalienborg Palace, where the queen lives.

I also noticed many footsteps scattered around the city. Tourism brochures say the footsteps, which total 200, were created to mark Andersen’s 200th birthday. The footsteps are located in places where Andersen loved to visit during his lifetime.

Too bad that I was not in Denmark in April, when celebrations of his birthday were held around the city.
Only Tivoli still holds Andersen shows every week.

Hundreds more beautiful churches and museums are worth visiting in the city, ranging from historical to erotic museums, which are open for tourists daily. You can also taste the famous Danish pastries for breakfast as well as munching butter cookies during your trip.

Two weeks of my vacation felt like two days. When I had to say goodbye to the city, I said to myself I would be back again to finish my journey exploring the fairy tale land.


*Indonesian Expatriates Forum obtains a permission to republish this article from the author.



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