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Posted at 03:41 PM ET, 08/25/2011

Leaving Denmark: Falster festival and Danish crown jewels

As we drive through Nykobing, Annelise points out the street where her sister Pip lives and notes a street that used to be filled with shops when she was growing up. A trip to her hometown to run an errand turned into a trip down memory lane.

Every corner seems to hold a bit of her past. The bank where she once worked is on the corner of the town square where we stop to listen to a live beer and have a drink. It happens to be the start of an annual summer festival in Nykobing. Stores are selling their wares on the street boasting sales. Food vendors sell crepes and candied roasted almonds.

We pass a few buildings that her other sister owns and Annelise remembers the walking thoroughfare as a main street bustling with cars. On the same street, two guys in medieval garb swat at each other with fake swords as part of the day’s festivities. As we head back to the car, we walk past the church where Annelise was married next to the old nunnery that has turned into an office park.


(Robin Bennefield )
Annelise says sometimes people don’t think twice about the history surrounding them. Back in Marielyst, we share our last meal together of some of the plumpest and juiciest pork chops ever and then head out for ice cream in hand-rolled waffle cones, a favored Danish dessert. I am ending my stay in Denmark almost as it started with waffles and ice cream. This time I get a picture.

Back in Copenhagen, I stand in front of a painting that could have been a landscape of Marielyst in the 19th century, naked children frolicking in the beach surf. But it is set in Skagen, another city in Denmark known for its watches, and painted by PS Kroyer, one of Denmark’s famous painters.

I make it to Hirschsprung Museum 15 minutes before closing. It is one of Annelise’s favorites, so I promise to make a visit. It was worth it. The staff is kind enough to let me quickly peruse the collection and I find that I really like the beachscapes, particularly one of a couple strolling arm in arm along on the beach with their dog. It is also by Kroyer.

Another painting by Harold Slott-Moller of three women in long summery dresses, standing one in front of the other in a lovely garden catches my eye. The paintings are reminiscent of the Impressionists at times, but are more realistic, featuring Danes going about their daily lives at the time, farming, raising children, enjoying life. Not too different from what they do today.

A bell rings and it is closing time, so I go back to Oster Volgade to check out Rosenborg Slot, Copenhagen’s Renaissance Palace that I’d been meaning to visit before heading to Falster. Rosenborg is surrounded by a park where Danes like to spend their weekends. I wish we had something similar in the states where we could just hang out on the grounds of a palace.

Rosenborg is home of Denmark’s crown jewels, so I head straight there first and I am greeted by the gold and diamond encrusted state sword. Museum docent tells me that I am taking my picture from the wrong side, but it is pretty impressive from both sides. In the next space is the coronation crown.


Robin Bennefield
The same docent tells me that there hasn’t been a coronation ceremony in Denmark since 1840, so the crown sits here on public display. It is also gold and diamond encrusted with the addition of rubies and pearls. It is easy to forget that Denmark has royals, because it appears to be an understated fact of life. But coming here, you realize they are just as grand as Britain’s royal family with all the accompanying crowns, jewels and swords to prove it.

The palace itself is something to behold. It has the grandest great room that I think I’ve seen so far in my palace visits. The room appears to span the entire length of the palace and at either end are stunning thrones. At one end are two gold and silver thrones for the king and queen during coronations and the other red velvet and gold-trimmed throne was meant for the king to receive an audience.

The red, black and white tiled floors seem to make the room even longer and the Danish royal crest beams down from the ceiling. I am certain this was the site of a great many official parties and grand events. All of the rooms in the palace are preserved as they would have been used in the 1600s. And amber chandelier hangs in one, Royal Copenhagen china is present throughout as well as elaborate tapestries.

Once again, I hear the bell that says it is closing time and I go in search of dinner. I wanted to stop at Aamanns, a nouveau smorrebrod place that a friend recommended, but it was closed for the summer. I am near the Norreport Metro and I decide to head to Nansengade a street where young hipsters hang out at bars and cafes. It turns out to be what I had been expecting in Norrebro, but never found.

My last meal in Denmark is a Thai-inspired dish called the Bangkok at Kalaset. It is a basement cafe that is surprisingly bright and cheery and the Bangkok was just what I needed, comforting with a little kick from whole coriander seeds. I finish reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” while there and then venture farther down the street to have coffee of tea at another trendy cafe called Bankerat.

This place has worked hard to be eclectic with reindeer antlers and other wild animal carcasses snarling at you from its walls. Molds of bare-chested and bare-bottomed women are interspersed. This would be an ideal man cave. I order an earl grey and soak in the ambiance, trying not to think of my impending departure and the end of a month of adventure, culture, fun with friends, wings spread wide.

More from Robins Have Wings.

By Robin Bennefield  |  03:41 PM ET, 08/25/2011

Categories:  Robin Bennefield

 
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