Visiting Marys in Denmark

Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did

Flag of Denmark  , Jutland,
Monday, August 29, 2011

Our first overseas trip after arriving in London was for a long weekend to celebrate the UK Bank Holiday.  We headed to Denmark to visit our friend Gro. Gro lives in Norway (hence the earlier visit in Oslo) but is studying to be a vet nurse in Kolding, Denmark. We flew to Billund which is about an hour's bus ride to Kolding. 
It was our first time travelling Ryanair and we were a bit nervous so arrived at the airport super early. We were surprised at how easy and efficient it was. When we got to the airport we had to get our passports checked (EU and UK citizens don't need to so they have an even faster run) and then the usual security checks. There is no set seating so it is then a matter of finding the gate and lining up to get a seat. Both flights we got seats next to each other and at the front of the plane so we were lucky. It was interesting to see people as they were going through security - many running late for their flights. Some of them had boarding passes for planes leaving 5 minutes after the time we had on our watches. Given it took at least 10 minutes to get to the gates I am not sure that they were going to make it. Stressful (for them)! The flight to Billund was an early morning flight and Vicki fell asleep on the plane so quickly that she doesn't even remember the plane taking off. We arrived early and that means that Ryanair plays a cavalry charge to celebrate. They are very proud of their on-time rating and I have to say it was something that impressed us. Anyway enough about the flights, it is starting to sound like the start of The Castle!
When we arrived in Kolding we checked into our lovely B&B which was only a short walk from the railway station and the town centre. When Gro finished her classes for the day we had lunch at a pub in town. We were grateful for a guide as the town centre has lots of 'shortcut' alleyways between the streets which makes it quite disorienting. We then wandered along the cobblestoned streets to Koldinghus fortress and had a great view over the lake and the rest of the town. The town is an old town and we spent some time admiring the old buildings including a church, a town hall and an apothecary. We then went to Gro's room (like a college room but much nicer than Australian colleges - the room had its own bathroom and was pretty spacious) and spoke to Stale on skype. That night we 'popped by' and met some of Gro's friends and got a good run-down on things to do in Copenhagen (and a map which came in very handy) as they had been that day. They were lovely and shared their home-made pizza with us as well as some very sweet berry cider.
The following day Gro was very generous and drove us to Copenhagen (Kobehavn) so that we could try to see as much of Denmark as possible in our three-day weekend. It was about 3 hours so almost the longest you could drive in a straight line in Denmark without hitting a border. We went over two bridges to get there, with a toll which carries on the Scandinavian expensiveness, being about AUD$90 per way. 
When we arrived in Kobehavn our first stop was to visit the royal palace which is built in four parts with a sort of round-about in the middle. Our visit was well timed for the changing of the guards (totally unplanned but definitely appreciated). It was pretty impressive with a marching band and the pomp and ceremony that you would expect. No smiling by the guards of course. It also was amusing to watch the police who were there to keep the public away from the guards. Normally for crowd control police have a line, a rope or even some cones to indicate the private area, however, there was none of that here. You really needed to guess where 'the line' was otherwise you would be yelled at by the police. Dan had a chat to one of the policemen and when the policeman found out that we were Australian he was very excited to tell us that Princess Mary was Australian and that the Danish really loved her. He pointed us in the direction of where Princess Mary lives - one quarter of the buildings making up the palace.
Our second stop was to visit the Little Mermaid. We had quite realistic expectations of the Little Mermaid after reading an entertaining travel article about locals' biggest gripes about tourists. The Kobenhavn locals hate the tourists complaining about how small the Little Mermaid is saying "What do you expect when it has 'little' in the name?". A fair point - and compared to the Dog on the Tuckerbox and the Mona Lisa it isn't really that small. We enjoyed a walk along the harbour and looked at the star fort while Dan told us all about when and how they were used.
We had lunch in town and found ourselves in the middle of a protest. You would be forgiven for thinking that we incite civil unrest everywhere we go! Luckily this was peaceful. The town had lots of narrow, cobblestoned streets and it was interesting to see that most of the shops in the shopping area were the same as in London. Not a lot of boutique-y type shops. There were lots of beautiful old buildings and we had a challenging time figuring out what was what - except Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park in the centre of town, which was quite obvious thanks to all the rides. We will probably relive that 'what building is that?' test when we come to putting captions on the photos we took! We drove through the town to Christiania which is a hippy area which has declared itself as a free town so as you leave it says 'You are entering the EU'. You can't take photos in there but it is made up of bars, hemp shops, DJs, craft stalls and the smell of non-tobacco smoke is quite overpowering. The rain was also overpowering, as it had been on and off all day, so it was only a quick visit. That was also the end of our lovely and busy day in Kobenhavn. It was great to have seen all those things and we headed back to Kolding to have a relaxing early night.
The following day we had a zoo tour. We stopped by Gro's school (university) and looked at their zoo (there are zoology students at the university as well) and then headed to a Lion Park. The Lion Park was a safari zoo which had lots of animals other than lions. It was pretty impressive being so close to the animals who didn't seem fazed at all by the cars driving past. In one of the areas the giraffes and zebras were playing and the zebras ran across in front of the car. A true zebra crossing (bazinga!).  It was pretty cool to be that close to the animals and there were monkeys which always offer hours of entertainment. That night we had some tasty Mexican food for dinner and farewelled Gro.
We were flying out in the evening from Billund so decided that we should check out Billund's most famous attraction... LegoLand!  We weren't sure what it really was but are very glad that we went along as it was fantastic. There is a section which has lots of miniature villages and settings made out of Lego. It was especially exciting to see Lego versions of places that we had visited, like Kobehavn, Bergen and the sights of New York. There was also a Lego harbour which taught us the mechanics involved in using locks and a space shuttle that 'takes off'.  That wasn't the end of the Lego excitement though - there was an aquarium, movies (though we ran out of time to see any) and lots of good fun rides.  Dan got very into a water shooting battle against the other pirate ships and Vicki was very brave and went on two rollercoasters.  Lots of fun and the weather was a bit miserable so there weren't even any lines anywhere .  A great way to end our lovely weekend in Kolding.  Oh and our flight home was on time too!
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