Our first visit of the day was to the Danish National museum in the centre of Copenhagen. I was mostly interested in the Viking exhibits which were wonderful and absorbing. Vikings in these parts had a habit of making offerings to the gods by dumping them in the local bog. These included jewellery, weapons, boats, animals and the occasional human sacrifice. The lack of oxygen in the bog preserved many of these and they are on display in the museum.
Having been to Jorvic museum a couple of weeks ago, I found this ten times better. I know it was Denmark, so it probably should have more stuff but the way it was displayed was far more thoughtful. More about education than entertainment. Sadly, the Jorvik museum with its long queues probably makes ten times as much money as the National Museum and that, after all, is what counts nowadays. I could have happily spent all day in there, but they didn’t have air-conditioning and they didn’t believe in opening any windows. We were both sweating liberally by the time we had finished the Viking exhibits.
It was a lovely museum spoiled only by the two young women on the ticket office booking us onto the 2pm tour of a seperate Victorian house that Madam had specifically wanted to see. We waited several minutes after 2pm, only to be told that the last tour for a week had been at 1pm. Madam was a little grumpy to hear this and remonstrated with any of the staff that would listen. Their response was to shrug their shoulders as if to say “We are blonde, what do you expect?” This made her very grumpy indeed.
The afternoon visit was to Rosenborg Castle. The Visit Copenhagen website tells me:
‘A royal hermitage set in the King’s Garden in the heart of Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle features 400 years of splendor, royal art treasures and the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia.’
It was all gold and gilt and twiddly bits of decoration, along with a bunch of tapestries and picture of deceased royals. After the first couple of rooms, they seemed to blur together. How many pictures of 18th century monarchs or how many elaborate carvings can you take?
I don’t remember much more of the castle apart from the King’s toy soldiers in the basement. There were 250 in all, in gilt silver. I couldn’t help wondering how many of the starving poor outside the palace gates all that gold and silver would have fed. I’m sure the ruling class would argue that the poor would just breed faster if you fed them. More poor at the gates and the king wouldn’t have had any toy soldiers to play with. That would never do.
The vault in part of the basement held the Danish crown jewels. Madam loves that sort of thing and I had to hold her back from asking if she could try on the crown. There was a young guide giving a private tour to four American tourists in the jewel room. We caught the last couple of minutes of his talk. At the end, one of the Americans asked “If the queen rules Denmark, is the Prime Minister just for show?” I tried to suppress a laugh. I really did.
“Mmmmm…” said Madam “These bananas taste just like the ones in England.”
She pondered this profound thought for a minute and continued “I like Copenhagen but I wouldn’t want to live here.”
“Why not?” I asked.
She gazed out over the harbour enjoying her Danish-just-like-English banana and thought for another minute and said “I don’t speak Danish.”
I did wonder about our complete lack of knowledge of the language when we booked the trip. Normally we attempt to learn a few words like ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘do you speak English’ and ‘If I speak loudly and slowly in English will you understand me?’ Due to two other trips in the weeks before, we didn’t even get round to that. We need not have worried. Try as we might, we couldn’t find a single Dane that didn’t speak English. Some of them were so fluent you would have sworn that they were a native of an English speaking country. I later flipped through the TV channels in the hotel and many were in English.
Spoken Danish still sounds something like “fladen laden dahden dodle due nic den naden noodle” but after a week there we started to understand some of the written signs and menu items. It helps that some of the words sound similar even if the spelled words have weird and joined up letters like æ and ø. For example In and Out are Ind and Ud. Cold is Kold. Forty Six is Seksogfyrre (think six and forty). Parking is Parkering. Free is Fri. Give me a month there and I think I could manage to order a pizza in Danish if the server was very patient. It helps that the Danish word for pizza is pizza.