Copenhagen is a neat city just 90 minutes by air from the UK. A 30-minute cab ride from the airport costs around 300 krone (about £30) and soon we are at our hotel, The Avenue Boutique, on Aboulevard in the Frederiksberg district to the west of the city.
It’s generally cold and drizzly, but we can wander around easily enough. We start by strolling over man-made waterways into the main centre, through the Latin Quarter, and climb the Rundetaarn, a round tower built in the 1600s, which offers a decent 360 degree view of the city. Then on to the superb Nationalmuseet where we can examine the history of the Danes in detail, including Viking ships, Roman artifacts, and a range of goods and animal bones extracted from peat bogs. The Tivoli gardens are shut, but appear to be little more than a massive fun fair.
In the evening, we head out for the event that gave us the excuse for planning the trip – to see Elton John performing at The Forum in celebration of the 40th anniversary of his yellow Brick Road album. If that seems a little over the top, he wasn’t playing London and was on our list of artists we had never seen.
Day two and we walk for miles – along Fredericksborggade, through the botanical gardens with its charming palm house, and down Volgade to the Kastellet. It’s not a castle, but a series of moats rising in a star shape with military barracks at the centre. The wind howls in off the sea as we seek out the city’s icon, the Little Mermaid designed by Edvard Eriksen in 1913. Just like the Mannekin Pis in Brussels and Bobby the dog in Edinburgh, it is tiny, and arguably not worth the visit. Don’t be deceived by photos that include no scale reference.
Lunch at Café Petersborg is a welcome break from the cold. Time to enjoy a Tuborg Classic and a pint of Jacobsen Christmas Ale over traditional Danish fare – yellow pea soup and various somewhat fatty pork cuts. Established in 1746, this classic café was a favourite haunt of the staff at the Russian embassy. Then it’s off to the famous Kongens Nytorv, the theme of many photos from the city. It’s a canal cul-de-sac fronted by quaint brightly-coloured merchant houses, now mainly converted into pubs and restaurants. This would be great on a sunny day, but today it’s more a case of a quick warming cup of glogg and a glance at the Amber Museum. The walk back takes us past Storkespringvandet – the so-called stork fountain, which actually features herons. Dinner is at the excellent La Vita e Bella on Falkoner Alle – great Italian with bresaiola, truffles and top quality wine.
On the final day we walk, again in the drizzle, through the large Frederiksberg Park to the zoo. It’s a bit run down, and much restoration is going on. The Amur leopards are fantastic, but we have some reservations about their proximity to the tigers, and the bear enclosures appear to be too small. We round off at the Carlsberg Brewery. The main site no longer functions a one, but the architecture is brilliant, with a range of large towers, arches and stone elephants. Traipsing up to the visitor centre, it’s a great opportunity to taste a range of excellent beers, including Tuborg Gold, Jacobsen, Carlsberg Special, and the potentially lethal Elephant lager at over 7%. On no account touch the Carlsberg Master Brew, which weighs in at a hefty 10%+.
Closing remarks on Copenhagen… The Danes are a lovely bunch – welcoming and entertaining. There is a lively bustle around the city. Bicycles crisscross it pretty much silently all day and night. Walking around is a pleasure, with scores of parks, classic architecture, and lots of water features. The whole thing would be transformed in good weather, but even in the drizzle there’s plenty of good stuff to enjoy. Recommended.