Tag Archives | Denmark


Copenhagen can be intense: all the Ryan Seacrest look-alikes, the bizarro-world of Christiania and an endless stream of bicyclists whizzing past you. So I took a day trip to the North by train.


I can make no sense of the Kobenhavn H station and the Denmark train system and my fellow travelers appear equally confused: some have failed to validate their tickets and none of them have any clue as to how many zones their transversing. Fortunately for all of us our train marshall is understanding.

The majority of us disembark at the final stop, Helsingør, home of Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This little burg is hopping on a Saturday: everyone is out and about walking, noshing, and drinking beer, of course. I walk through the town on my way to the castle, stopping at shops here and there. Amazing. The enviable Danish design aesthetic extends beyond the suburbs: the furnishings for sale in this remote hamlet (not to be confused with Hamlet) rival anything that can be found in Chicago, let alone our schlubby suburbs (that means you, Schaumburg).

Kronberg Castle Denmark

I join a tour at Kronborg Castle, and our impeccably-dressed guide regales us with tales of Denmark royalty. The queens, attempting to maintain the 16 centimeter diameter waist standard set by Catherine of Medici, would regurgitate into pails held by their servants during meals; in fact, the act was considered to be a status symbol. Klassy. The ginormous kings, less concerned about their figures, routinely consumed five liters of wine or beer with their meals. Most of them died an early death, our guide informs us, from liver disease. Go figure.

Fat Danish King
I reboard the train, heading southward this time, to Humlebaek Station. Louisiana, Denmark’s greatest museum of modern art, is a fifteen-minute walk from here. The museum was named by the property’s original owner, who married three women: all named Louisa. Sounds like my family.
Louisiana Museum Day Trip from CopenhagenLeave it to the Danes to create the perfect museum: the art (Calder, Moore, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Picasso, Rauschenberg) is world-class and the setting worthy of it: billiard table lawns dotted with sculptures, slope into the Oresund Strait. I’m tickled to run into Giacometti’s Walking Man and stare into his craggy face. I poured through the “A” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia as a child and was always transfixed by the photo of it (under “Art”). So fun to finally meet the lanky guy.

Louisiana Museum Giacometti

I follow the road along the ocean – lined with perfect homes (no doubt housing perfect families) — back to Himlebaek. Even the retirement facility I pass is a classic work of modern architecture. I’m envious of this society.

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So were you underwhelmed with the mermaid statue and want to know what to do in Copenhagen for fun? A mix of something different? I have some suggestions for you.


The Rundetaarn is more than just a big, round tower. It’s home to art exhibits, concerts, and an observatory. The walk to the top is one continuous, upward spiral, paved in brick (bring a few golf balls).


Rundetarn Copenhagen

The 360-degree view of Copenhagen from the Rundetaarn “deck” is worth the trudge up there. Copenhagen is not a photogenic city but the panorama view is interesting: patinaed steeples; graceful, white wind turbines stretching up above the ocean and the sleek Oresund Bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden.

Copenhagen Visit Skyline


Illums Bolighus (not to be confused with the Copenhagen department store Illum) — the ne plus ultra of modern decor stores with four glorious stories of uber-contemporary applicances, furnishings and furniture — is The Best Home Store in the World (according to me). The Danes really do possess superior taste.

Illums Bolighus Copenhagen

And if you like IB, and shopping is on your list of what to do in Copenhagen, you might want to try Normann Copenhagen, Hay, and Klassik Moderne Mobelkunst.


Walk the car-free streets of Stroget, stopping occasionally for an overpriced beer and Dane-watching and perhaps indulging in an expensive knicknack or two for your place.


Eat at at the revolutionary Noma, widely regarded as the Best Restaurant in the World.

And if you can’t get into Noma, don’t worry: there’s no shortage of fabulous (but pricey) restaurants in Copenhagen: Relae, Alberto K, Geranium, Restaurant AOC, etc., etc., etc. This city is up there with San Sebastian for being one of the world’s great foodie capitols.

And then there’s this interesting concept: Dine with Danes. Book a reservation to eat dinner in a private home (I would love to see how they decorate it!).


If you seek a more affordable dinner option, go to Spiseloppen, located in the  fringe of bizarre Christiania. Good food in an untraditional space.

Spiseloppen Copenhagen


Take a day trip up North to see Hamlet’s Kronborg Castle and the fabulous Louisiana Museum.


There’s no end to what to do in Copenhagen, but be careful not to get scammed in a shell game.

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I like to think I’m kinda smart, a little worldy. And then I was scammed in a Copenhagen shell game.


Having just completed some scientific, sociological research which required me to drink a large beer in the early afternoon, I make my way out of the Copenhagen square and encounter Red. Red is so ugly he’s adorable. He allows me to get right up in his grill and snap his picture. What a mug! What a shot!

Red Dog Copenhagen

Suddenly, I like Copenhagen! Could be the beer, could be that the sun has finally emerged, could be the great photo with my Canon Powershot, or all of the above.

Look! A shell game! A real, live Copenhagen shell game! I join the camaraderie, the circle of pals surrounding the operator, and they welcome me heartily with backslaps and arms draped around my shoulders. We watch the game intently.

I know what shell it’s under. I know! I know! I know! How can they not see it? I cannot pull-out all my cash ($100) from my wallet quickly enough.

“Obama money?” the operator asks, rubbing his hands together.

“Definitely not Mitt Romney money,” I reply, oh-so-wittily. They all laugh. They think I am so funny!

And now the operator switches the shells again, and I’m suddenly betting on something other than I thought I was betting on, and all the men are encouraging me and I’m confused and everyone points towards one shell but I don’t know and…there go my twenties. Right out of my hand. Scammed!

But he swears I can win them back if I just bet my 2,000 DKK. Hmmmm….

Like out of a Grimm’s fairy tale, a wrinkled woman, bent over and clad in a black shawl, hobbles past, sticks her face an inch from mine.

“Noooooo…..!!!,” she scolds. She seems so disappointed in me, so horrified by my behavior. And I realize I’m not so smart. Not so worldly. I’m just an…ostentatious narcissist!

I get the hell out of there before I get scammed again.

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