SIX WEEKS, 4 COUNTRIES, 7 CITIES.....COUNTRY 1
Well done for some very accurate guessing! I'm not going to give you all the answers right now, but will reveal each city one at a time. Mean, aren't I? ;-) In fact you will see from the title that by the end of my travels I actually visited a total of 7 cities: that should keep me busy blogging for a while!
So, let's start with the first city. The clue was: a European capital city. A city of fairytales. Everyone correctly guessed that the first city I visited was Copenhagen in Denmark. Why is it a city of fairytales? Well, one of Copenhagen's most famous citizens was Hans Christian Anderson. Hans Christian Anderson wrote probably some of the best-known fairy tales ever. Some are so well known that they have become part of the English language. For example, an "ugly duckling" has come to mean a person who, as a child, may have looked unattractive, but who grew in to a beautiful/handsome adult. If you don't know the story, you can find a translation here. Actually, I visited the Hans Christian Anderson museum and was surprised how many tales I knew - and how many I didn't know. My favourite from childhood was the story of the Wild Swans: although I must have read a very sanitised version as a child, because I have just read the full translation and it's quite gruesome in parts!
One of Anderson's best-loved characters has been adopted as the symbol of Copenhagen. Of course, it's the Little Mermaid - and a statue of her can been found on the edge of the harbour.
I had been warned that she was quite small, but in fact she is 1.25m high - so not too small! The statue was a gift from brewer Carl Jacobsen in 1913. He saw dancer Ellen Price dance in the ballet "The Little Mermaid" at the Royal Theatre and asked if she would pose for the sculpture. At first she agreed, but when she discovered that she would have to take her clothes off, she refused - so the mermaid has her face and the body of the sculptor's wife! Every year on her "birthday" - 23rd August - women jump in to the water around the statue. It was definitely too cold to do that when I was there!
In fact we were lucky to see the Little Mermaid: next year she is going to China for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, from April to November.
Of course, Copenhagen isn't just famous for the Little Mermaid. I was only there for a couple of days and so had to get round as many famous sights as possible in a short time. Here is a whistle-stop tour of the places we saw and what we did:
Amalienborg Palace - this is the winter home of the Danish Royal Family.
Actually there are four palaces built around a square. Two palaces are open to the public. Of the two remaining palaces, one is home of the Queen and one palace is the home of the Crown Prince and his family. Every morning there is a Changing of the Guard ceremony.
As you can see, they all look very smart - but it's definitely not as formal as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace!
Next stop was the Round Tower
It's the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and stars have been watched here since 1642. It was built by King Christian the IV: instead of steps inside, there is a long ramp and I've read that the original plan was to make it wide enough for a coach and horses to be driven up to the top.
And finally, Rosenberg Castle: a real fairytale castle. It houses the crown jewels, although the security guard told us that there isn't actually a coronation anymore - just a proclamation from the balcony of Amalianberg Palace - it's seems a bit sad! The crowns are spectacular and you can get very close: so close, in fact that I nearly set the alarms off. I wasn't really concentrating and lent forward and rested my hand against the glass to take a photo: the guard started jumping up and down and shouting "Madam! Madam!" - you see, sometimes I even almost get arrested in order to take photos for you ;-)
And then I couldn't resist taking this one especially for James and his fans! It's the King's toilet at Rosenberg: pretty, isn't it?
So, that wraps up the first country! I'll try and post again before Christmas and tell you (briefly) country 4....because it has a Christmas theme!
whistle-stop tour: to travel very quickly, with only short stops - it comes from a style of political campaigning, where politicians travelled by train and addressed the crowds from an open platform, without ever getting off the train.
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