Tivoli (Nathan)

Trip Start Sep 03, 2010
Trip End Oct 27, 2010

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Flag of Denmark  , Zealand,
Sunday, October 24, 2010

After our long day of rest, we were eager to get out and see Copenhagen in the short time we had left. For perhaps the first time on our trip, we actually had to plan things, and couldn't just make things up as we went along, staying for as long as we felt like. Tivoli was not only a highly-recommended attraction, but also very convenient, right across from a train station. It turned out we were lucky... we visited on the last day before they were closing for the season!

We didn't go directly there, though... for reasons I can't remember, we got off at a different stop first and wandered around a lot in the morning. We visited a nice park, and after a lot of indecision, got breakfast at some Middle Eastern (I think?) place. I had a greasy, not very good (but very cheap and filling) burger and a Faxe Kondi, which seemed to be a lemon-lime soda, tasting almost exactly like Sprite.

I think we were lost for a while, because I remember following Glennica a lot, backtracking and eventually I think we took the train to the stop right across from Tivoli. While we walked, I noticed that the part of Copenhagen we were in had a horrible graffiti problem. We'd seen lots of graffiti on the trip before, but usually it was scratched on the window of a subway car, or painted on the walls near the train tracks, and some of it actually showed some artistic ability. This was entirely different... the graffiti was an ugly, meaningless, lazy scrawl, and it was on EVERYTHING for blocks around- lamp posts, walls, statues, tunnels, bridges... I was surprised people weren't walking around with the back of their jackets tagged. It was straight-up vandalism, and made me wonder whether that part of town had any cops at all... it seemed inconceivable that people could go around spray-painting literally everything in sight without anyone noticing or trying to arrest them.

Luckily, Tivoli had no such problem. Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest amusement park in the world (the first-oldest was actually close by, but was closed for winter already), and it shows. The park opened in 1843, and it's absolutely beautiful, full of gorgeous architecture and a real emphasis on the "gardens" part, with ponds, wildlife, and well-kept foliage. It's almost as much a park as it is an amusement park, and reminds me of Colorado's own Elitch Gardens in the days before it moved to downtown Denver and lost every ounce of its charm and uniqueness. It also reminded me of Lakeside Amusement Park, but Tivoli's charm doesn't come from being run-down and creepy... it's actually quite modern and well-maintained, without losing the old-timey goodness. I really can't find words to express exactly what that goodness is, but luckily I took a lot of pictures!

The first thing I noticed about Tivoli was that they were celebrating Halloween. At first I thought it was just a few decorations here and there, but it soon became apparent that they were REALLY into this... every nook and cranny was stuffed with pumpkins, the restaurants had autumnal menus, the cafes had Halloween treats, there were jack o' lanterns, spiders, bats, ghosts and ravens everywhere... even the crane games were decked out for Halloween. I'd thought Halloween wasn't a big thing in Europe, and we hadn't seen a lot of decorations elsewhere, but Tivoli had more pumpkins than I've ever seen (or probably ever will see again) in my whole life. There were literally thousands of them, set up in baskets or bales of hay or just piled up in any free space, and I have no idea where they got so many or how they got rid of them after the day was over... it seemed like a Herculean task to set out so many in the first place, let alone remove them before they started rotting.

The weather was starting to get pretty cold, and it rained a lot while we were there, but it never got bad enough to ruin our visit... I only had the fleece I'd bought back in Scotland and the rain jacket I'd brought on the trip, both fairly thin, but together they seemed to work well. For such a large, crowded amusement park, the lines weren't bad at all... I don't think we ever ended up waiting more than 10 minutes, and usually much less. I don't have much more to say about the park in general, so I'll do what I did for Walibi and describe the individual attractions:

Shops and Carnival Games: They had them. We didn't try the games or visit many shops, but there was a nice shop full of Christmas and Halloween stuff where Glennica got some ridiculous flashing LED pumpkin earrings. If you look closely during some of the videos, you might see them.

Ferris Wheel: It had huge jack o' lantern lamps atop every car! Nothing too special here, but we did give it one ride, and it provided a nice view of the park, though not as nice as the...

Carousel: Okay, I'm not talking about the kind with the horses on poles. This is the sort where there's a bunch of individual seats suspended from chains, and then it spins so the seats fly outward. Usually a pretty tame ride, but this one rose high, high into the air... I think it must have been at least 100 feet! It provided a wonderful view not only of Tivoli, but all of Copenhagen. It was really one of the most amazing rides I've ever been on, but we only rode once... spinning around in the frigid wind above the city on an already uncomfortably cold day was a little more than we could handle.

Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy-Tale World: I don't know much about his work, but I doubt this ride did it proper justice. It looked like they tried to cram everything he'd ever written into it, with the result being that the narration rushes along as though it were read by a 5-year-old with a short attention span. The meanings and morals of the stories are lost and stuff just seems to randomly happen: "The Little Mermaid wanted to be a human and gave up her life in the sea. If a woman feels a pea under twenty mattresses, she is a true princess. The steadfast tin soldier had an adventure involving a paper boat and a large rat. But we're out of time, so on to the next story! It's not always the one who knows embroidery who wins the lady. Sometimes dead crows and billy goats will do the trick." Um... right.

The Demon: This was one of only two roller coasters in the park, and a fairly modern metal one. It was fun, but really short, with just a couple quick loops and twists. Of course, that made it easy to ride several times in a row, too!

Black Dragon
: The violentest ride on Earth! This thing was like getting in a car crash. You sat in this bench with a bar across your lap, and then it would start to bob up and down on metal arms. And then the bench would start to swing up and down, faster and harder, moving to the point where you were facing down at the floor, then up at the sky, whipping you back and forth and changing direction with a violent, whiplash-inducing jerk. I had a terrible headache when I got off, and felt like my brain had been banged around inside my skull. It lasted a REALLY long time, too... by the end of it, I was seeing spots in my vision. Glennica seemed totally unaffected, somehow. Maybe there are some advantages to being short...

Restaurants: There were a lot of them. Most were pretty expensive, and it was hard finding one that Glennica would like, since she's such a picky eater. We finally settled on one on the far side of the park that had an autumn-themed meal, and I had butternut squash soup and apple cider-braised porkchops, or something like that. The vaguely-named "pumpkin dessert" turned out to be a disappointment, as it was just some insubstantial pumpkin foam.

The Mine: This ride was really weird... you floated along in a log through a dimly-lit mine while jaunty music played, and a race of kobold-beaver-men merrily worked and took care of an enormous, weird-looking dragon that apparently had a cold or something, because it was sniffling and sneezing and making tired-sounding "wuuuuuRRRRRRRnnnnhhhh" noises. I don't know if it was something from Danish folklore or what, but it felt really Nordic, somehow.

Incredibly Fruity Halloween Stage Show: That wasn't its official name or anything, but it was amazingly fruity. A mohawked vampire terrorizes and eats people, and is stopped by... a little girl, a goofy cop, some guy in an aviator's cap, and... Mexican wrestlers?? All done in mime. I don't know what else to say.

Rutsjebanen: I had to look up the name, but this was the park's other roller coaster, and one of the oldest still running today. It's smaller than modern roller coasters, with a narrower track and shorter train, and most interesting of all, it's actually operated by a guy in the front car, who makes sure it doesn't go too fast and fly off the rails. That might make it sound boring, but it actually makes it really exciting... since it's controlled by a person, it's unpredictable, and the sudden acceleration literally made us fly out of our seats whenever we went down a hill! It's also an interesting track, curving around and through a faux mountainside, so there's a lot of plunges into low, dark tunnels. This ride had been decorated for Halloween too, and there were skeletons and axe murderers in all the tunnels, bathed in eerie red light. It was a great ride, and I wish we'd gotten to it a little sooner... by the time we'd ridden it, it was getting pretty late and the park was close to shutting down.

And that's pretty much it. It was a fun day, and we wandered out of the park tired and satisfied. Tivoli was the last actual attraction we visited on our trip... we'd spend the next day wandering Copenhagen's shops and streets, and after that our main concern was getting home. But the story's not quite over yet...

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