Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baltic Cruise: Copenhagen, Part 1 (Elsinore)

Well peeps, we are (at long last) closing in fast on the last of the photos from our Baltic cruise from...last May.  I'm so behind.  But let's not dwell on how slow I am in posting these, let's just get right down to it!

So after we left Stockholm (which we quite enjoyed, between the Vasa Museum and the overpriced but still fun ice bar), our cruise ship took us to our last port, Copenhagen.  Lee and I booked a hotel to spend an extra night in Copenhagen so that we would have time to actually see things there before flying back to England, so once we checked in to the hotel and dropped our stuff off, we hit up the train station to go to Elsinore.

And when we arrived we found Noah's Ark?

We found this statue on the wharf, and this was Lee's favorite picture of the day (taken by me).  You'll see another, much more famous Copenhagen statue in the next post ; )

And this is the reason I wanted to go to Elsinore:  Kronborg Castle, which you might recognize as the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet (which is, so far as I know, the only Shakespearean play that has been translated into Klingon).

Looks kind of moody and brooding in this picture, doesn't it?  If you're wondering, when Lee and I go places, we usually Google something like "top 10 things to see in (insert place here)" and that's how we found Kronborg and probably most everything else we saw on the cruise, minus St. Petersburg since that was a tour.

The current castle was built in the 1600s by King Christian IV (who signed it all over) after the previous 16th-century fortification burned down.

Kronborg was strategically important because it controlled one of the few entrances to the Baltic Sea from the west.  Sweden besieged Kronborg in 1658 (not terribly long after it was rebuilt) and stole a bunch of artwork as war booty.

After the castle fell out of use as a royal residence, the army moved in and used it as barracks until the 1920s.

Click this pic to make it bigger and take a look at the Eggo Waffle walls.

I told you King Christian IV signed the castle all over the place.  I think this was on a fireplace mantel.  *Digression alert* I was just sitting here wondering if it was mantel or mantle when discussing a fireplace, so I looked it up (fyi: mantel is for fireplaces, mantle is for an article of clothing).  I just read a couple of books by an author who has a serious and ongoing problem with homophones that was so bad I wanted to write a review on Amazon and teach her that "mane" refers to hair (not main); if you're seeing a single object, then it's "lone", not "loan"; and (worst repeat offender) if you're looking at something, most of the time it's a "sight", not a "site" (unless maybe it's an archaeological site, which it never was).  She also used the expression "lowered his/her brow" I guess to convey a facial expression of displeasure, but that's not a phrase I'd ever heard before.  This author used it so frequently that a.) it was annoying and b.) it could be the basis of a drinking game.  The bad thing about all this indie book publishing going on nowadays with e-readers is that a lot of these authors are in DIRE need of a good editor.  And some writing workshops.  Not to mention they most definitely require a good dictionary.

Ok, back on topic!

Here's another C4, this time on a ceiling.  We saw some interestingly shaped rooms in the towers of the castle, not really round but more polygonal.  If you scroll back up to the picture of the castle exterior near the top, this room was in the tower on the left corner.

This was a very large ballroom with lots of paintings but I don't know where my trip notebook is right now so I don't remember anything specific about the artwork.

Shot of the interior courtyard courtesy of Lee.

The castle has its own small chapel, and you can have your wedding here if you pay lots of money for the use of the chapel.  It is beautifully decorated, though.

Here's the organ at the back of the chapel.

You can go into the tunnels underneath the castle that were used for storage, and see a Danish character connected to Arthurian legend...

This is Holger Danske, a.k.a. Ogier the Dane.  Interestingly, his first appearance (that we know of, anyway) was in medieval French literature rather than Danish (well, they invented Lancelot too).  Like King Arthur, Holger Danske is an ancient king who is asleep, but will wake up to defend his country when it is in grave peril.  According to Wikipedia (source of all knowledge on the interwebs), the largest Danish resistance group in World War II was named after Holger Danske.

And there's Holger Danske with Lee's face : )

Not the best angle for a picture but we tried!

We were walking around the perimeter of the castle when it started to rain, so we got stuck for a bit waiting for it to clear out before we did the 15-minute walk back to the train station since we didn't want to get completely soaked.

Luckily we had shelter in the outer wall near the gift shop, and I got this picture framed in the archway from the wall.

One of the coolest things about Kronborg:  if you look at the castle complex from the air, it is shaped like a crown (tilt your head to the left if you don't see it).

On our walk back to the train station we saw this mural painted on a building, and thought it was fun so we took a picture.

Next up:  our last Baltic cruise post.  Cheers, peeps!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Baltic Cruise: Stockholm, Part 3 (Gamla Stan)

So, today we're down to the last of the pictures from Stockholm.  Moving right along here!

When I sorted the pictures for blog posts, I grouped the pics so I'd have all the Vasa Museum pictures in one post and all the ice bar pics in another, and then today it's all the other Stockholm photos.  So this one of the statue of King Gustav III is actually one of the first pictures we took on the day.

Lee and I were talking about architecture one day last week.  Seems like every place we ever went in Europe, there was something new and different to see and lots of cool architecture.  Most American cities are just about indistinguishable thanks to chains like Starbucks and McDonalds.  And so much of our architecture is just...blah.  I mean, not Soviet bad, but we got nothin' on Western Europe, that's for sure.

Some pretty buildings next to the harbor.  I think one of those is a bank (at least on the lower floors) because we had to go by there first to get some local cash.

We found this flower bed right near the Vasa Museum, so Lee took my peekture.

And there's a picture of the outside of the museum.  You already saw the inside : )

After we looked all over the museum, we got back to walking and passed this...I think it's a department store?  Click on the photo to see who's hanging around.

The oldest quarter of Stockholm is called Gamla Stan, and for the rest of the day we pretty much just wandered around this area.  It was a little bit of a hike from our cruise ship, but doable, so we weren't too worried about getting back on the ship in time.

See, even random streets in Europe are pretty.

And the manhole covers to get to the water main : )

I kinda love this picture.  It's just a little alleyway between two buildings; I think that was a restaurant to the left.

I think I like the vertical one better.

We were heading back to the ship, and stopped at an intersection waiting for the light to change, when we saw this.  Don't drink and derive.

Maybe it was finals week at the local university?

And they were all done with tests and so decided to kill off some brain cells?  Believe me when I tell you that we could smell the alcohol before we even saw the trucks.  I mean, it was like they'd all bathed in it or something (which maybe they did).

One last look at Stockholm on our way out to sea.

And all that's left now is Copenhagen!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baltic Cruise: Stockholm, Part 2 (Ice Bar)

Teehee, you knew me posting twice last week was a fluke : )  I've been meaning to get back in here and post again since Monday but hey, better late than never!  Just don't tell that to my high school band director.

Anyway, after we left the Vasa Museum, we walked to the Ice Bar.  They have these in several cities around the world, but the first one was in Sweden:  the entire bar is made of ice.  The seats, the bar itself, the walls, the glasses, all of it.

It's very expensive to get in, I can't remember if it was $60 for both of us together or $60 apiece, but all that gets you is one drink and the blue parka to wear while you're in the bar.

It's quite small, but luckily when we were there it wasn't crowded at all.

Can't take him anywhere ; )

This ice sculpture car was on the bar, I suppose for tips.

I tried getting a picture of it with the flash and this is what I got : )

There's Lee, just chillin'.

Would you watch that TV channel?

So if you look at our glasses, they're made of ice too.  The list of drinks is short, like maybe a half a dozen, and they have a couple of non-alcoholic options too so I had one of those.  Mine was something apple-y, I really liked it.  Anyway, as I said, this was terrifically expensive, especially since the bar is pretty small and basically you spend maybe 15 minutes in there, but we figured we would most likely only go to Stockholm once so we might as well do the tourist thing.

But looking at all these icy pictures is now making me want to get another cuppa tea!