Cities / Towns Visited: 37
Countries Visited: 12
Steps Taken Today: 16,844
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,377,638
I won’t bore you with another rendition of our morning routine. Sufficed to say that we eventually found ourselves once more in the Danish capital, ready for the days adventures. Stopping briefly to purchase cinnamon buns, a favourite of the Scandinavian countries, we wound our way towards Amalienborg Palace and found ourselves in its central courtyard before long. In the middle stands a bronze statue of King Frederik V astride a horse, and flanking all sides sit four identical grand old buildings. Although they are not formally connected, they as a whole make up the palace complex, and two of them are the official residence of the Danish royal family. Although the current monarch Queen Margrethe, and her heir Crown Prince Frederik do not reside in the same building for safety reasons, they do live side by side. It was amusing to look at the grandiose structures and think that Mary, an unassuming Australian from Tasmania, now lives within its walls and will one day be the queen of a land I doubt she knew much of before that fateful day when she met a prince, but only informed of the fact after their meeting. It seems like the kind of thing that could only happen to an Australian, us with our non-existent aristocracy. Becoming a princess seems so far fetched when you’re on the other side of the world, in a country where old money and long reigning monarchies simply don’t exist. Even the royal family that rules over our country seems so segregated and distant from our lives there, that if we were to become a republic, we’d barely even notice. You can almost imagine Mary laughing it off when she was told he was a prince, with a shrug and a sarcastic ‘Sure he is!’. I like to think the story is a little more romantic, but the image persists in my mind, as it is probably the reaction I, and those I know, would have if faced with the same seemingly outlandish claim.
After being mockingly outraged that our countryman did not come out to greet us, we headed across the courtyard to grab our tickets to visit the one building which is open to the public as a museum of the royal residence. As we passed through the small but elegantly decorated palace, there was an amusing difference between the more personal rooms of the past rulers, like the study of the current queen’s late great grandfather, which has been left decorated as it was upon his passing. He had been a wholehearted family man, and this is more than evident in the plethora of photographs of his children and grandchildren that sit in such density around the room, that its bordering on an episode of Hoarders. Their private rooms offer a certain warmth that is reminiscent of the ‘lived in’ clutter of your grandparents homes; dark woods, antique armchairs, and a jumble of paintings, a number of which were the work of some of the more artistically gifted of the royals. The public state rooms of course, offered more of your standard cold and somewhat empty, overtly gilded and chandeliered spectacles, designed to dazzle more so than offer a welcoming atmosphere. Dotted around the residence hangs the ever present massive portraits of the past and present kings and queens, along with a number of full family photos, including the mass gathering which constitutes the formal wedding photo of the Crown Prince Frederick and Princess Mary. The strangest and, lets be honest, creepiest of them would have to be the artistic composite image of the Queen and her King Consort, along with her two sons, their wives, and grandchildren; which looks more like a promotional poster for a royal reboot of ‘The Omen’.
Eventually we were released back into the sunshine, and we trotted off, past the historic colourful facades of the port of Nyhaven, and across the canal to an outdoor street food market to refuel for the rest of our adventure. Scoping the options, and finding a perch beneath the shade of the umbrellas, we indulged in some organic sourdough woodfire pizzas, and grabbed a couple of mojitos for the road (please note the ability to drink on the street still hasn’t sunk in, and I just felt like I was going to be reprimanded as I we sauntered along the waterside).
Weaving through the tourists, we navigated our way into the heart of the city to visit the medieval Rundetaarn (Danish for ‘Round Tower’, which is, unsurprisingly, round). Buying tickets we headed in. Much to our surprise, instead of stairs, almost the entire ascent is via a massive spiralling ramp. Although I’m sure this is advantageous as it meant they could have horses pull wagons of goods, or armaments up to where they were to be stored, there comes a point in scaling it that is feels as if stairs are, in fact, easier to clamber up. We managed to reach the top in the end, and were rewarded with a stunning view of the city sprawling out below, before we descended with much ease back down to earth.
We scrambled off, back to the port of the canal, in order to hook into one of the plethora of cruises which whisk the masses of tourist along the cities life-giving arteries. Off we went, just us and an entire boatload of other camera wielding temporary residents. We drifted lazily along the calm water, while our guide pointed out the attractions and memorable areas of the city, from its opera house, and palaces, to its famed hippy commune, and just beyond that, the city’s waste-to-energy plant, which burns so much waste to provide power for the city, that they (much like Sweden) often run out of rubbish and are forced to import it from countries who do not use this ingenious method of producing electricity, while reducing landfill to almost non-existent proportions. The tour continued, winding through tight canals and past the waterside terraces and yachts of the cities wealthier residents, until we finally found ourselves out in the wider expanses of the bay. We drifted past the naval ship fondly known as the ‘Whoopsie ship’, as it accidentally misfired a missile at one point, damaging property on the shore, but luckily not injuring anyone. We then past the massive ornate vessel that is the royal yacht ‘Dannebrog’, on which the monarch and her family carry out official visits to neighbouring countries, like: Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. Coming to the turning point of the trip, we paused briefly to view the ‘Little Mermaid’; a bronze statue which sits on a rock just off the shore, close to the Kastellet fortress. The statue was commissioned by the Carl Jacobson (the son of the founder of Carlsberg Brewery) who was fascinated by a ballet performance of the fairytale, originally written by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, and is now constantly surrounded by selfie snapping tour groups.
Upon alighting our boat, we had exhausted the time bracket of open attractions, as well as exhausting our energy reserves, and thus we made our way home for a quick homecooked meal, and a much needed rest. As I pondered all I had seen, I thought once more of the city’s approach to waste management. Burning rubbish seems like such an obvious alternative to mining and burning the world’s coal reserves. Knowing little of the processes I of course had a million questions: does this incineration produce notably high amounts of greenhouse gases, or more poisonous gases from burning plastics than burning coal? Are these outputs similar or smaller than the amount that would be produced by simply placing the waste in landfill, or continuing with fossil fuels? Do they filter the smoke, and if so, what do they do with the waste from the filtering process? How does the transport of waste from other countries affect the environment, and does it cancel out the benefits? If these countries make a profit from the process, why are so few countries using the technology? Would be better off trying to reach zero waste in other ways, and instead invest in other green energy sources like solar and wind which do not result in the production of smoke or greenhouse gases? I’m sure they have an entire panel of scientists who could answer those questions and I guess it is a method I will have to look into further in my perpetual self education, much like other governments worldwide should. If you’re waste is on your countries list of exports, I think its time for you to have a long hard think about your actions. Contrary to what you may think, sending it overseas doesn’t eradicate the problem, you simply defer its effects. It’s sweeping things under the rug on the grandest scale. Denmark’s, and Sweden’s, commitment to a zero waste country is commendable, along with their widespread harnessing of wind power, evident by their countless wind turbines which dot their coast, and thus they are putting themselves at the forefront of the fight against climate change, and environmental protection and sustainability. To those who strive to make the future health of our planet a priority I say ‘Bravo!’.