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.
COPENHAGEN DAY TRIP
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).
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.
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.
Leave 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.
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.