So it’s been awhile…
I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy with travel and while some of it has been, we’ve been dealing with a dose of germs in our house. We had the stomach flu work its way through each family member for a whole month. We’ve also been preparing for our final months here in Denmark. Our house has been listed for rent and I’ve been spending much of my free time keeping it clean.
But here I am….finally sitting down to write a few blog posts.
This trip was AAAAALLLL the way back in February. *hangs head in shame*
So the middle of February was winter break for Danish school kids. We decided to stay in Denmark for this one as the husband still had to work for much of it. We made our way to Sjælland or the island on which Copenhagen rests. We rented an AirBNB cabin in northern Sjælland.
There is a lot to do on the island of Sjælland but we had to pick and choose what we wanted to do as we only had three days.
On Saturday, we decided to go to the historic Roskilde. Roskilde is an important park of Danish history. It is believed to be one of the first Viking settlements in Denmark, housing the remains and crypts of Danish royalty and holds one of Europe’s largest music fests every year. A lot to see here!
Our first stop was Roskilde Cathedral. Unfortunately, we arrived too early. The website said the church would be open for the public at 10 AM but when we arrived, the sign outside said 11 AM. Luckily for us, the cathedral was located right next to the town square and shopping street (something nearly all European cities have). There was a farmer’s market going on and we bought some cheese. We then ventured in to the toy shop for the girls to be entertained.
At 11 AM, we wandered into the cathedral.
After paying for our entrance, we grabbed an English guide book and started our self tour. It was a pretty big guide book so I’ll just give you a brief summary of the Roskilde Cathedral.
The current Roskilde Cathedral is believed to be on the spot where Harold Bluetooth, one of Denmark’s first kings, build a church in 985 AD. That one was likely made of wood and was replaced sometime in the 1000s. The present church started construction in the 1170s and it took over 100 years to complete. Renovations and expansions have still happened with the latest in 1985.
There are over 40 monarchs buried in the church and maybe more or others. The details and effort that went into some of these coffins are incredible.
1st photo: The coffin at the altar is that of Queen Margrete I. Queen Margrete I was a ruler who was able to unite Denmark, Sweden and Norway (and parts of Finland) in the late 1380s. This union continued for over 100 years and she is seen as one of the first greatest queens in European history. So it is no surprise she lays in rest at the front of the church.
2: Memorials lining the floors in the massive archway.
3: Frederik V’s coffin and chapel. The two grieving women signify Norway and Denmark and his urn sits at the top. The chapel also houses 12 royal tombs.
4: Queen Louise of Great Britain, the first wife of Frederik V. She died due to a pregnancy complication with her sixth child. She was only queen for four years.
5: Sepulcher of Christian III in the Chapel of the Magi. Guards protect the king while putti (had to look that up, but basically chubby, male angels) hold torches aiming down to symbolize death.
6: The Chancel with Christian V and Frederick IV along with their queens, Charlotte Amalie and Louise, respectively. Important events in Christian’s life are represented on the sides of the sarcophagi.
7: Sarcophagus of Christian IX and Queen Louise. There was actually a contest for someone to design their sarcophagus but whoever was in charge didn’t like any of the entries. So architect Hack Kampmann and sculptor Edvard Eriksen were chosen. Hack Kampmann is the sculptor who designed the famous Little Mermaid sculpture that is a symbol for Denmark. The three females around this sarcophagus represent Remembrance, Love and Grief.
8: View overlooking Queen Margrete I to the back to the church.
This is just an overview of some of the amazing stories within the church. Highly recommend a visit if you are intrigued by royalty and their drama through history.
The girls became quickly bored with the church but we had reservations to eat near the church so we stayed until it was time for that.
We ate quickly as we wanted to make the English guided tour at the Viking Ship Museum.
I was unsure how much we would get out of this tour as we have already learned a lot about Viking culture having been to Ribe and Jelling museums.
The Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde houses five Viking ships that were found in Skuldelev. They are ancient ships that archeologists have attempted to recreate. Our tour guide told us about all the theories surrounding each boat, like how they may have been built, what each boat may have been used for and how important these ships were to the Viking Age.
What I found absolutely insane was that a 65-person crew with the museum decided to recreate one of these ships in 2007 and it sailed from Roskilde to Ireland (click to read the news story). Of course, they had a support ship with them but still, absolutely crazy.
After the 30-minute tour, we checked out the rest of the museum. There were some stations for kids to complete some activities such as a scavenger hunt, learn to write in Viking Runes and dress up as a Viking. The girls enjoyed this part and the Viking replica coin they received for completing the scavenger hunt.
Our last stop for the day was Ragnarock. Not to be confused with Norse mythology or that famous Thor movie, Ragnarock is a museum about pop, rock and youth music culture. It really focuses on the Roskilde festival that pulls in huge acts from the Rolling Stones to Cardi B to local bands. The museum is also pretty cool looking:
Once inside, the museum itself, we realized that it is very oriented towards Danish music and youth culture. Most of the videos were in Danish with few English subtitles and it had a lot of topics through history that I never knew or experienced as an American. It also had a lot about drug use and its role in music…so not a great thing to show two kids under 10….
But the architecture and decor of the museum was awesome. There was a huge vinyl record in the middle that turned, a large cassette tape, curtains, recording studio, etc. Our favorite part was probably the huge disco ball and dancing game.
But due to our lack of knowledge in Danish youth culture and PG-13 displays, we breezed through this museum pretty fast and ended our day in Roskilde.
The first stop was to the Danish Museum of Science and Technology.
Fair warning: this building is in a huge warehouse to store all of the transportation vehicles including planes, parts of a submarine and more. It is also uninsulated and freezing in the middle of winter. I’m so happy we were decked out in our winter gear. It was cold!
We enjoyed walking around the exhibits. They had exhibits on bikes, transportation, energy, and old technologies (including video games). There was even a model train area tucked in a corner of the building. Avery enjoyed touching all the buttons and climbing in and out of vehicles. Claire enjoyed the old video games and inventions. What I also love about Denmark museums is that during school breaks they will typically have hands on activities for children. The girls were able to make Hama Bead (Denmark invention) creations while mom and dad read some of the museum signs.
After eating our packed lunches, we drove out to Helsingør Marina to see Kronborg Castle.
Kronborg Castle may be one of Denmark’s most famous castle. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet takes place at Kronborg Castle. It is pictured in many photos of Denmark so we figured we should probably check it out before we leave.
After paying our entrance fee, we started our self tour around the castle. The castle was built in the 16th century by Frederik II and is massive. It has the same architecture as many of the other castles throughout Denmark which may also be the reason our girls became bored very quickly. I mean you can only look at so many castles before they all start to look the same.
Luckily, we found a group of children learning medieval dancing and proper sword techniques. Although it was in Danish, the girls caught on quickly and seemed to have a good time.
After walking through a few of exhibits, we made our way back out into the courtyard. Out here they had hoop rolling and wooden stilts. The girls had a fun time doing this and didn’t want to leave it for quite a while.
We then walked down into the casemates. The casemates were where the soldiers’ quarters would have been during wars. It is also where Holger the Dane rests. The legend surrounding Holger is that he will awaken and fight for Denmark if it is threatened. H.C. Andersen wrote a fairytale about Holger and said he slept in Kronborg Castle. So a statue of Holger the Dane sits in wait in the casemates.
The casemates are also dark, damp and the home to flying rodents, AKA bats. My family got in a good laugh when one swooped down at me and I screamed. So
The casemates ended our tour of Kronborg castle for us.
Next, we went to the Maritime Museum. The girls had much more fun at this museum. There was a kids activity where children were to find certain clues hidden throughout the museum. One clue included counting (fake) vomit, so yeah, the girls loved it.
The museum included history on the royal’s yacht, trade, WWII and more. There is also a nice playground in the middle for children to play on and many interactive displays including getting a fake tattoo. A very good museum to take kids to.
Afterwards, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. It was raining hard and the winds had increased. So we decided to just drive along the coast towards our AirBNB. We enjoyed viewing all the different beach houses and watching the waves crash against the shore.
On day 3 we took the morning to clean our AirBNB and then head into western Copenhagen. I decided it would be fun to search for some Thomas Dambo trolls. It had been a wet couple of days so many of our paths were muddy or even blocked by water. We didn’t see as many trolls as I would have liked but we did see four trolls: Little Tilde, Thomas on the Mountain, Hilltop Trine and Sleeping Louis (pictured below in that order).
It that concludes the end of our winter break. Next post upcoming….Ireland!