Elsinore (or Helsingør..if you want to be accurate)

Morning in Denmark, breakfast without danishes and then

WE ARE OFF

…we’ve been riding on the railroad—all the week-long day… Yes, another train ride. This time North and not over any water. We were going to see HAMLET. Or at least the place that Hamlet was supposed to have lived. This makes me very very very excited. Love the shakespeare.

We made our way through the town, seeing the sites.
The danes like domes:
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This fountain looked puckish:
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Helsingor is a cute little town, but the sky looks ominous.
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The again, this is Hamlet’s home town. It really should be ominous, shouldn’t it?
We made our way toward the castle:
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Don’t those towers look sharp? They remind me of fangs…It’s sort of gothic. Some cities I’ve been to (like, Edinburgh) have so many of these steeple fangs that it reminds me of the rows and rows of teeth in a dragon-dinosaur mouth. It looks like they should hurt.

But still, it was Shakespeare, so I had to get in front of it:
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That spiky fortress is Kronborg, the castle in Elsinore.

Mr. Swan watched us come up to the castle:
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We walked through this to reach it:
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We noticed Mama Swan in the corner on her eggs:
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She didn’t seem too choosy about the material for her nest…All kinds of crap in there.

The other side of the entrance was even better:
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Chris had to admire the towelled crabby man. I can understand why he is crabby; any man that had to depilitate all of his body hair might have that expression on his face.

As you might imagine, the danes are justifiably fond of this place. There was all sorts of information about it, and four tours which you could go on for a special price.

I learned a lot about Helsingor.

As it turns out, Hamlet and his dad would not have lived there. The thing was, Kronborg was not the kind of castle that a King lived in. It was a bully kind of castle. They put it up there to stop ships from going by without paying some fees.

They were serious.
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Check all those cannons waiting to shoot you if you didn’t pull over and cough up the money.

Look, There’s a ship going by right NOW!
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*cshk* PULL OVER, buddy.

They had a tour of the cellars of the castle.
Man on man…They were dark and scary. I had to hold Chris’s hand.
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“Baby, the walls are cold and damp.”

He said “Do you think that when a king is ordering up his castle, he might say ‘Look, we need a little more dankness in the cellar. It’s not as dank as I would like it to be.'”

They wound around, thick square pillars with vaulted arches that didn’t quite vault enough to stand up straight.

But right around the first corner we found this:
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HOLGER DANSKE!!!

“I knew you would like him,” Chris said, “He is a ancient Danish hero buried under this castle. He is supposed to come back to life in the time of the country’s need.”

WHOA! forget whinging Hamlet! This guy is awesome!

…It’s a nice thing for a country to have in their back pocket. Just ask the Brits about Arthur

The Danes like him. Here’s another statue of Ol’ H.D.:
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But then we pressed forward in the cellar caves:
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Forget his hand, i was holding Chris’s entire right side. And then he started making spooky noises that echoed down the hall.

i was quite happy to get back above ground:
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Enough spooky ghosts! Let’s go into the chapel:
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No Chris, you can’t swing from that:
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Each pew had a different character carved on the top, as well as a different face lower down:
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What a lot of artistry to do all that. Here’s a closer look of one with a moustache:
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Another ghoulish carving above the doorway leading out:
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We had lunch right by the wall; cliff bars that we’d brought with.
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It was windy, so we stayed ducked low to stay out of it.

Some guys were there with a pole, the one trying to teach the other to fly fish standing on the rocks. They were having a great time.

NOW, on to the Chambers!

Lots of Kings visited this castle. But the C4 above the door stands for Christian the fourth, I think:
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It strikes me as sort of hip and modern to use the arabic numeral ‘4’ instead of the roman ‘iv’.
Daring in a monarch.

There was a lot of art happening in those chambers. Art through the ages.

I really liked this Rhino:
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That was done when Rhinos were not such a common sight. Rhinos often look like they are wearing armor, because their skin folds that way. But this tapestry-maker had the rhino in the coolest spiky armor.

Yet another entry in the gallery of the grotesque which I find so delightful.

Okay, here is a funny thing. The chambers were full of art of the ages, as I might expect from royalty.

But let me tell you something about the Danes. They are into ‘design.’ They think very highly of their own art, in particular their furniture.

It reminds me of how America tells itself that we don’t do manufacturering anymore, that we do “knowledge” work. Danes want to have their design be their big export. I guess it’s working for them.

Anyway, art is a very high form of design, and they cherish art. So, in the middle of all this respected canonical art they had some contemporary artists on display as well.

I found it sort of jarring. But before I said anything, Chris commented, “It’s kind of cool how they have let artists display here. They are supporting art.”

Then I felt ashamed. Okay, so it was not pinky-up-teacup art. It was rougher and more experimental. But they were letting artists be seen. And I agree with that.

Oh no. They had a MARITIME MUSEUM.
You could see how Chris was quite thrilled with this trip. Everywhere you turn, more ship things. Look, a Prow:
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“I stab at thee!”

But what are these stairs?

“They go to the roof. Do you want to see?’

Of course! But they went on in a lot of circles. Round and Round and Round. But we found the top:
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It’s kind of windy.
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Look! A ship!
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If I stood on my tiptoes and leaned over I could see the bottom of the castle square.
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Chris saw me. “BABY! Dont’ do that.”
Then he pointed. “I was hoping I have a chance to say it. ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ ”
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oh…real nuns walking by. You can’t even ask for that.

Okay, back down the spiral staircase…and we have to stop at the gift shop!

Look. A Holger Danske doll..a Holger Dollske?
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That’s one sexy little figurine.

Alas, they did sell Skulls.

And the Precious Moments Hamlet and Ophelia:
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…makes me wonder if they read the end of the story…

They also had a poster showing the Danish monarchic line. It begame with Gorm the Old, whose son was Harald Bluetooth.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! I LOVE IT!

After the roof and gift shop, it was time to go.

We wandered back into town, discussing what we might do about dinner. The way we figured, a town like this might have a grocery store in it. The 7-11 was the closest we could find in Copenhagen.

But if we found a grocery store, they probably would want cash. Krona, that is.

We looked around and discovered this place:
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YAY! at LAST a full on grocery store. We asked, and they took credit cards, but only if you had a PIN.

Back to the Currency Exchange, one of which seemed to be at every train station, and then to fill my backpack with lovely foods. Cheese and bread and coke and cookie snacks, and also little focaccias with Pepporoni for dinner. How nice not to feel swindled as we bought our food.

It was at this shop that I found the one and only thing in Denmark that cost less than one US Dollar: Pretzel Sticks. They were 75 cents, just about.

Now back to the train. What a long day. Fabulous.

The hotel picnic with pizzas and bread and cookies was great.

“I can’t believe I didn’t know about Holger Danske. Where are we going tomorrow?”

“Well in the morning, I’d like to check out the library. But in the evening…”

“I know! Tivoli!”

“That’s right.”

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