Roman Forum 2006

Roman Forum 2006
Foro Romano, from the Palatine Hill - a favorite photo from one of my favorite cities

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bloggo Piccolo: A Day Trip to Colchester

Because Dottore Gianni had to cut his fall break trip quite short, he decided to give himself a day trip to a city in England he'd not yet seen, as a sort of consolation prize. What did the good doctor choose? None of the cities listed in Ten Best Day Trips from London! Instead, he traveled to Colchester.

Colchester Castle, built on the
Temple to Claudius
I have long been interested in Colchester because of its association with ancient Rome. The more I read about it, the more I became convinced that, whether or not it was among the top ten, Colchester was worth investigating. Its Roman connections are strong. Its 12th century castle was built on the remains of a temple to the emperor Claudius, who decided to add the British Isles to his kingdom. Claudius himself spent only a tad more than two weeks in Britain, leading his troops to Camulodunum, a city once the center of power for Cunobelin, who Shakespeare made famous as Cymbeline. Here Claudius signed treaties with several local British kingdoms. Camulodunum was re-named Colonia Claudia and by 49 AD along with the military outpost a civilian settlement had also developed. In 54 AD the temple was built, to worship the dead mortal Claudius, who with his passing had become a god. 

Boudica in her chariot,
Big Ben in the background
One of the tribes that Claudius had made peace with was the Iceni. When the ruler of that tribe died the kingdom was annexed by the Romans instead of passing  to his rightful heirs, his daughters. His wife Boudica (also spelled Boudicca, sometimes known as Boadicea) was whipped and the daughters were raped. This warrior queen took an exacting revenge on Camulodunum, leading an army against the Romans encamped there, destroying them (more than 30,000 perished) and sacking the city. She went on to defeat a Roman force directed against her, then marched on Londinium (you guessed right if you guessed the future London), which city was abandoned. Boudica then burned Londinium down, and moved on to another Roman settlement, Verulamium (now St Albans), destroying that as well. The Romans regrouped and destroyed Boudica's army, ending the fierce revolt. The Roman historian Tacitus claims that she poisoned herself after the defeat. 

A portion of the Roman Wall
in Colchester's Castle Park
So that's an interesting early history of this pleasant village, is it not? It continues...after Boudica's revolt was put down Camolodunum or Colonia Claudia was rebuilt, this time with a strong defensive wall. Two-thirds of the wall still stands today. But of course the Romans left Britain early in the fifth century, and after that there is little evidence of anything going on there, except that one British historian argues that it could have had connections with Arthur, and that Camelot may well have come from the town's first name: Camolodunum. No way to prove that, of course, but in the tenth century there is a reference to Camolodunum when a Saxon king drove out the Danes (Vikings) who had settled there. The Saxons may have given it the name it still holds, Colchester, possibly from Colneceaster (fortress on the river Colne) After that it seems to have become a Saxon village, until of course 1066, when the Norman William the Conqueror took control of Britain. 
The River Colne
The castle, pictured above, came into being in the eleventh century as one of many Norman keeps, built throughout England and Wales to maintain power. The castle was taken for a time by the French, But King John won it back for England in 1216. The Doomsday Book names Colchester as a wealthy city, and it prospered until 1348, when the Black Death claimed more than a quarter of the town's residents.

Jumping forward to the Stuart era, the town found itself caught between the king and parliament. A royalist army took it in 1648 and parliamentary forces conducted a siege that lasted eleven weeks and was responsible for hundreds of deaths among the citizens of Colchester. At the end of the siege two royalists were executed by firing squad. There is a marker in the Castle Park remembering their deaths.

Those are the highlights of Colchester history. Today the town is easily accessed from London. My train ride to it was a pleasant, 46-minute non-stop journey. Much as I love London, it is a relief to escape its traffic jams and noise and dirt. I found such relief in Colchester. I visited the Castle, which is very kid-friendly, and school groups, not soldiers, were besieging it on Friday afternoon. 
Castle Park in autumn

More pleasant was Castle Park, a sprawling area of green which was in very active use on this unusually sunny and warm day in late October. A good bit of Roman wall aand also the River Colne run through the park, there is also a little cafe, a duck pond, and so on. It's a beautiful place for a stroll, a picnic, or just a place to relax in contemplation of the loveliness of Essex.
The town itself is quite pretty. There is an impressive High Street -- and it IS high -- I noticed a lot of flat land on the journey. One of the reasons Colchester was popular with Romans as well as with the Normans was that it rose from the rest of the landscape, a strategic location for a Roman fort or a Norman castle.
The High Street
But it is the small streets off the High Street that are really lovely. Together they comprise a maze of pleasant pedestrian zones, .filled with shops, pubs, cafes and tea rooms, food stands, a farmers' market (where I bought blueberries more blueberries for £3 that I'd have paid £9 for in London). I spent a good bit of time strolling this area and would go back and do it again!
Pedestrian zone in Colchester
I had lunch in a pub very near the castle, called, oddly enough, The Castle! 

It's a pretty place and has a large outdoor section, where I enjoyed a pint and a ploughman's lunch. A ploughman's usually consists of some ham, some cheese, some greens, pickles, pickled onions, and chutney. Mine was a ploughman's of some size:

Indeed there was so much ham and cheese that I took half of it away, with me. For those of you interested in such stuff, the pint was a good, common London ale, called Bombardier.

After lunch I embarked on the one slight disappointment of my day in Colchester. I had read about an art walk called, Town to Sea, where 14 sculptures along the way adorned a walk down the river. It was a fine idea in theory, but the art was not all that interesting, and walk took me to some pretty miserable looking parts of Colchester and the River Colne. 
Town to Sea walk:
The art
In fact I gave it up about halfway through. Not only was it somewhat dull in spots, but it was also not all that well marked, and when I could not figure out whether or not to cross a small bridge across the river I realized it was time to stop and turn around. 
Town to Sea walk:
The river
More shopping after that, then a quick hike to the train station, and after between four and five hours in a really enjoyable town off I went back to London. The cram-packed train I was sardined into on the underground made me long for the relative peace of the pretty, rural town of Colchester.

Oh! I almost forgot what showed me beyond question that Colchester was a classy place and well worth the visit. A shop named: 

What fine taste!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bloggo ventiottesimo: Kobenhavn: Sunday

My last full day in Copenhagen began with another great breakfast -- I will be fasting upon my return to London, as I have been eating mostly bad-for-me food, and lots of it! Back to my green tea, which I very much enjoy, but which, on my travels, is no substitute for a jolt of strong dark European coffee; and a retreat from Danish, though as I've noted, where else but in Denmark can you be fairly sure of excellence in these sweet naughties?

A muscle in my right thigh is aching a bit, so I realize that I need to accomplish less than I have been doing. Oh, for the days that I could keep this pace up for weeks! My first sabbatical, which I spent most of moving from hotel to hotel, exploring city after city, getting tired, certainly but ready to leap again into the traffic of Rome, the vaporetti in Venice, the trams in Vienna. My second sabbatical in which I spent a full month traveling through italy, in search of cities I'd not yet seen and, in my own small way, has begun to dawn on me with each trip I take this semester that my very best travel days may have past, and that while I am sure there are many more fine travels to come, I, like Miss Prism in the Importance of Being Earnest, long for "younger, happier days..."
Christianshavn Canal
Having noted all of that, I did move out briskly into the fresh morning air, along much the same route I had taken on Friday morning, heading toward Gammel Strand, this time not to hope on a tour boat, but to cross the canal and head into Christianshavn, an area of Copenhagen I'd not yet explored. It's a lovely part of the city, and on a Sunday morning quiet as a church. It was a church that I was in search of, that of Vor Felsers Kirche, which features a spiral steeple of brass and gold. 

Viewed from across the city or from the ground, it looks too dainty to be climbed, but climb travelers do, and even though the good doctor just wanted to have a look, he decided to make climb along with many others. There are 400 steps to the top. It's a bit tricky in two ways -- and this is not counting the obvious aerobic difficulty for a man my years and fitness level: the spiral narrows significantly after the first few hundred steps, until stairs and passage grow increasingly tight and steep. More problematic is the flow up and down the stairs of the many tourists who want to squeeze onto the outdoor tower from which magnificent views of the city can be obtained. Undaunted, I attained the summit, snapped some photos to prove it -- the view IS breathtaking (especially in light of the climb, which took most of my breath anyway), and then was content, unlike others who lingered on the crowded platform, to head quickly back down and push onward to my next chosen spot.


The Free State within the City of Copenhagen. Begun by hippies in the Sixties, this counter-culture hub is a lure for an aging child of the Sixties. 

Back then I leaned strongly to the left, but never felt really comfortable with the most radical aspects of love generation. Perhaps this was because I was still in the U.S. Air Force when the movement was at its strongest. I was stationed at the National Security Agency at Ft Meade, Maryland as a Russian linguist with a top secret clearance, and two buddies of mine and I decided to live off base for the end of our Air Force (brief) careers. We found an acceptable spot just on the border of Silver Spring Md and Washington DC, thanks to my sister Judy and her first husband, who were moving to larger digs. 

T-2 was the apartment number -- it was a large basement one-bedroom and the three of us squeezed in, two of us on the double bed in the bedroom, the other on the pull-out bed on the sofa in the living room. Later a fourth joined us. He could live just about anywhere, and just about anywhere is what he got. We had a large walk-in closet. That was the price he paid for a "room" of his own. He was very into TM at the time and really did seem happy with his place. The price was certainly right. $100 a month split three ways was good enough, but when our fourth arrived the split was even nicer. Oh, to be spending $25 a month on an apartment today!

But I digress, slightly, as usual. I point to T-2 because it was here that we threw party after party, and in 1969 a large party meant drugs! I don't think any hard stuff was indulged in, certainly not by me, but marijuana and hashish were de rigeur for frolics ath this time. There were some hallucinogens available as well, but I was pretty much a "pot" smoker only -- I was once talked into mescaline, and once fooled into LSD -- the first experience was surprisingly wonderful, the second a classic "bad trip." Digressing slightly again -- this post is taking on a real "oh. for the happy days, the golden age..." tone. The point is that while we had a great time we were constantly worried -- paranoia was the catchword of the day -- that we would be caught smoking dope -- with our top secret clearances especially we had been threatened time and again with losing the clearances, dishonorable discharges -- and with that last a more frightening promise -- that we'd never get good work (what a laugh -- has anyone EVER asked about my clearance? But while I smile in hindsight. our good times were tinged with that catchword "paranoia."

As I walked through Christiania, with its sellers of tie-dyed shirts and peace symbols, and farther in blocks of hash and other drugs I'm certain, the familiar scent of marijuana surrounding all, I was immediately flung back into the Sixties, and to me at least this free state which insisted on no photographs -- buying and selling drugs is illegal in Denmark, seemed first like a dreamworld; the backlash after the Sixties woke me up and made a cynic out of me -- we thought we could change the world, and well...look at it. "It was a bad dream..." sang Bob Dylan. So a dreamworld that these people were still living, but with a sense of paranoia constant in the air.

OK! whew! After Christiania I headed back across the canal. 

Sunday was now bustling, many more people on the streets than when I'd started out. I was on my way back to Nyhavn, where I decided I would make lunch my main meal of the day. I was there early enough (about 12:30 pm) that I easily found a seat at a reasonably priced place, and had plaice, fried, with boiled potatoes and a salad -- all washed down by a pint of Tuborg. 

It was another gorgeous day and I was completely content. A somewhat surreal scene occurred as two horsewomen rode through the restaurant area, stopping for photos, but asking no money. The one was dressed in a sort of Robin Hood get-up, though I don't think that was the point, the other could have been the Virgin Mary -- I was immediately attracted to Robin Hood and snapped a photo to remember her by, though why I was attracted, why they were there on horseback, I cannot say.

A stroll back along a much less crowded Stroget -- half the shops are closed on Sundays, and then, around 2 pm to my hotel, to write my blog re Saturday. After that I popped out just long enough to buy a polser from a street vendor, and back in the hotel worked on photos to be posted, later this week I hope.

Before I finish, I want to share a photo or two that somehow did not get included in earlier postings. First, while on the boat tour Friday morning, we passed one of the neatest buildings I've ever seen: The Black Diamond!
At first I didn't know what was going on...
Then I realized the trick:
different reflections from every angle!
Our own boat was reflected at one point...
As you pass the Black Diamond begins to look normal,
but it's an amazing sight - wonder what
Hans Christian Andersen would have thought!
One more, much more mundane: throughout Copenhagen there are polser stands, where for 25 Danish Croner you can buy a rod polse - a red sausage - beloved by natives and now beloved by me. Here's one such stand:
Polser! Yum!
And thus ends my wonderful wonderful three days in Copenhagen. Green, clean and classy!  An extraordinary place to visit! Farewell Denmark! Very glad to have made your acquaintance!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bloggo ventiottesimo: Kobenhavn: Saturday

It is a beautiful early Sunday morning in Copenhagen! I've just finished breakfast (more yummy Danish!) and am ready to recount the events of yesterday.

Saturday morning was equally as lovely as was Friday, and I set out at a bit before 10 am for the train station. I caught a train immediately for Helsingor and was there in 45 minutes.
Helsingor Station

Kronborg Slot (the Hamlet castle) opened at 11, so I had time to stroll through this lovely seaside city of tiny streets and brightly colored houses. I've noticed that there are a lot of steep red-tiled roofs, on housese here, and that for outer walls the Danes are attracted to a mustard yellow, sometimes a sea or sky blue, which combination makes for bright and cheerful-looking blocks of buildings in Copenhagen and in Helsingor as well as in the towns we sped through on the rail journey from one place to the other. In each of these cities the brightly colored houses surround churches, many of course in Copenhagen, more than one in Helsingor, though one central spire definitely dominates.

Helsingor is among other things a very touristy town. Shop after shop had merchandise displayed on the street, cafes and restaurants offered all sorts of food and drink, and an unusually large number of wine/liquor/beer stores sold their wares for apparently very reasonable prices.
Street in Elsinore - on right - booze for sale

I connected the dots on this last observation as I recalled a comment from one on-line source in my research of the city. It was a note on the ferry from Sweden, which is JUST across the water from Denmark, a twenty minute ride away. In the note readers are warned to beware of drunken Swedes, who make the trip in droves to take advantage of much cheaper prices for alcohol in Denmark than is available in their own country.O my very short walk I must have passed at least five or six of these establishments and I watched as cases of beer and other booty were carted away from each! Does that make Denmark the bargain basement of Scandinavia? Probably just as well that I cancelled Sweden and Norway on this trip, though I still regret it.

After a very pleasant stroll I headed for the castle, set on a spit of land just next to the sea, and visible as soon as I walked out of the train station.
Kronborg Castle
It's a dramatic sight, fit for the the likes of Hamlet, Ophelia and the rest of the characters in the play. And the period is right. The version of the castle we see today was built in the 1580s, just as, in a country not too far distant Shakespeare was embarking on his career in London. But at the castle, the play is NOT the thing. Instead the focus is on the history of the castle and the kings and courtiers that inhabited.

It's a tale very well told. In the second room one comes upon in the preferred route for touring, there is a dramatic film, on three sides of a tiny alcove, of the great fire of 1629, if I remember correctly, which destroyed much of the castle. The feeling is that of being caught in the fire yourself.
Holograph figures dance on small set

A few rooms after that, in the great hall, there are three tiny stage sets set one next to another in a large rectangular box, in which, one set at a time, holographs of dancers and courtiers, even the court dwarf and a dog, "enact" three different kinds of dances and other entertainments that might have cheered up a wintry night at Kronborg, each accompanied by Renaissance music. Farther along the self-guided tour a room with three great globes offers another sound and light show focusing on astronomical observations -- cast upon the wall are images of the path of the sun and the planets.

Only at the end of the path through great halls and intimate bedchambers, during which wise old theatre historian Dottore Gianni could not help but imagine scenes from the play, all in a jumble:
Now might I do it pat
"The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord, are joyfully return'd..."
"Now, mother, what's the matter?"
"'Tis now the very witching time of night..."
"Now might I do it pat, now he is praying..."
"Denmark's a prison..."
"The actors are come hither my lord..."
Denmark's a prison
Just a few of the phrases that popped into the good doctor's head as he moved about Kronborg Slot. You'll have your own, I'm certain, even you non-theatrical types! At very least the obvious, "To be or not to be..."

To repeat, only at the end, in the last few rooms, posters of summer performances of Hamlet in Helsingor are on view, and notes on the Bard explain the theatrical connection.

So 'tis a castle filled with Danish history as well as with theatrical resonances, well worth the visit for either reason, or both.

Or, on such a beautiful day, for a stroll outdoors, though the battlements (thought it's much too bright a day to imagine the two words that open the play: "Who's there?" spoken in the dead of night) that overlook the sea and just beyond, the coast of Sweden with its sister city of Helsingfors.
Dottore Gianni: "To go, or not to go?"

And indeed, many were doing just that. I sat on a bench in the sun and munched my lunch, contemplating a quick ferry ride across the short stretch of sea.

Thought the better of it as the day was flying by, and I had more business (well, pleasure) back in Copenhagen. After another stroll through town I happened to arrive back at the station just as a train back was due to pull out. I'm certain that if I were to stay longer I might become frustrated with a wait for train or bus, but thus far it seems that the instant I require public transportation it is ready to serve. A series of coincidences, or do the Danes know how to travel?

Albeit my acquaintance with Copenhagen was very brief, I felt emboldened to get off at Osterport, in the north of the city, so that I could see some of the places I'd not yet seen, and while doing so gradually make my way back to my own tawdry neighborhood. And I was able, with only the slightest of false starts, to find the large, beautiful park called Kastellet, or The Castle, beyond which was the tourist mecca Den lille Havfrue, aka The Little Mermaid.

This area had been crowded on Friday, but it was even more so now, tour buses depositing large groups for a quick photo opp. Somehow I managed to get my camera high enough for a decent snapshot, and then I managed to get myself out of the crush as quickly as possible. I was the only one who seemed in such a rush, as most were ogling away, young lovers kissing each other madly. Much ado about very little, in my opinion, though of course it's a major reminder of one of the great Danes, Hans Christian Andersen, so I should probably just shut up.

I walked along the waterfront until I reached Amalienborg, the exquisite neoclassical royal residence. When you approach from the water the first thing you see is a beautiful fountain centered in front of four elegant buildings, and when you reach the very middle of that square and look back at the waterfront, you can see the Operaen across the waterway, through the cascading fountain. Beautiful planning, as it seems has occurred throughout much of Copenhagen. I used my Copenhagen Card again (it's printed COPENhagen, and rightly so, as it's a real money-saver) for free admission to see rooms of state from the past, and to show how the royalty and Christianity (of the Evangelical Lutheran brand) are closely tied together.
Room in Amalienborg
Hrkaches note: this
polar bear has teeth!
From Amalienborg I continued along the waterfront to Det Kongelige Teater, The Royal Theatre. This is a spectacular new building, not the older Royal Theatre in the large central square called Kongens Nytorv farther inland, and looks across the waterway on an angle at the Operaen. I walked through the stunning lobby, which sits just above the water, jutting out as its own pier.
The new Royal Theatre

A light refreshment area lies at one end of it, a more formal restaurant and bar at the other. You can order from the bar and take your drinks outside. I thought about doing just that, but the line to get drinks on this beautiful and I'm guessing unusual weekend in mid-October was very long, and there were no seats to be had outside anyway. By the way, above this level and are floor to ceiling glass windows, where actors dress, where costume and scene shop are situated, etc, etc; the architect's notion that those who work in the theatre should have the same lovely view as those who come to see the theatre.

How fortunate then that just beyond the new Royal Theatre is Nyhavn, probably my very favorite section of the city.
Nyhavn - wonderful, wonderful!
And judging by the masses of people strolling through and seated at a long line of restaurants, all with outdoor seating, I am not the only one who thinks so. Nyhavn is set along a canal lined with sailboats, the buildings are painted in bright, cheery colors, and the sun pours over the northern side of the concourse -- what a spot for an unusually warm October day! I finally found a place that had a table to spare and slowly sipped a pint of Tuborg while watching people pass, envious, I'm certain, that I'd grabbed the spot that should have belonged to them.
Dottore Gianni at Nyhavn
Nyhavn ends at Kongets Nytorv -- if you've been paying attention and not just looking at the photos, you'll remember that this is the large square that is home to, among many other buildings, the old Royal Theatre. It is also the entry point to Stroget, the long pedestrian street I wrote about on Friday, and the area I next plunged into, the final walk before heading back to my hotel. Stroget was packed on this weekend afternoon, almost too close for comfort, but I struggled through it and walked the entire length. The pedestrian zone ends at the Radhus, Copenhagen's Town Hall, which is next to Tivoli Gardens and so only a short distance from my hotel.
Rally against banks at Town Hall

There was quite a commotion at the Radhus, and I realized that Copenhagen had joined cities all over Europe in that a protest was being held against their versions of Wall Street. This was not nearly as large as many reported. I'd say hundreds only, and it was non-violent, but very energetic. I watched for a while, but of course I speak no Danish, so while I got the bare gist, I decided it was high time to lie down for a nap in the hotel. I had after all started out before 10 am and it was now about 4:30 pm. Not as exhausting as Friday had been, but another whopper of a day.

 Enjoy the photos, plow through the text, and find out a bit more about a literally wonderful Copenhagen! One more installment to come!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bloggo ventiottesimo: Kobenhavn: Friday

Having spent a very restful first night in Copenhagen I awoke Friday looking forward to breakfast and a boat tour. Breakfast was quite wonderful, a buffet featuring cereals, all sorts of bread five or six kinds of lunch meat, cheese -- not much fruit, sad to say -- but Danish pastry of course! You've not lived until you've tasted a Danish in Denmark! Delicious! As a very frugal traveler I packed the meat and cheese into a sandwich for my lunch. I have heard differing views on the etiquette of this. Some think it completely improper; I think it fine -- the food is set out for me. Does it matter if I eat it at the table or eat some of what I've already taken a little later? Weigh in if you like! No one ever does when I ask them, but I live in hope!

That done, I headed out for my first walk outside my immediate neighborhood, and happily found it easy to get to Gammel Strand, a strip that runs along one of the many canals in Copenhagen. I was there for boat tour, as were two Asian women, and two European women as well. Shortly an older Australian fellow joined us. Then a very pretty young Danish woman parked her bike next to the pier. There were twenty or thirty others at least parked there already, so she could have been going anywhere.
Copenhagen - a city of bicycles

Copenhagen is not without its traffic snarls, lots of automobiles on the road, but they are nothing compared to the the number of bicycles. The bike lanes are clearly marked and woe to the pedestrian that steps into one. The Danes fly by, sometimes two or three abreast, on their cycles. The city has adapted completely, it seems to me, to this means of travel, nothing like London or New York (or even Ithaca) taking your life in your hands every time you mount a bicycle. The rest of the public transport system is impressive as well. Interestingly, unlike other European cities I've visited, I've noticed few if any motor scooters, and a damned good thing if you ask me. But you won't -- you say you will, but you won't...

But back to the young Danish woman: she turned out to be our tour guide! There were only six or eight of us as it was the first boat out that day, and she seemed relieved to know that all of us were English speakers. She was prepared to do the tour in three languages: Danish of course, English and German. No matter how good you are at this, it's got to be nerve-wracking, working between three languages almost at once. She turned out to be excellent with her English, less so with her sense of humor. She told the jokes she probably tells daily, but in a very perfunctory manner/ Still, I enjoyed them, and I enjoyed her tour.

It was nice enough, sunny, if a bit nippy, to be out on the deck as opposed to the under glass-covered, heated cabin. I wanted to snap photos, and outside was much better than in. Everyone one else on the cruise had the same idea. She and the cap'n, an excellent pilot, maneuvering us through some of the tiniest tunnels I could imagine this boat squeezing through, slowing for preferred photo opps, All in all this approximately hour and ten minutes was a great way to see a good bit of Copenhagen! We passed several museums, the amazing Operaen (the Opera House)...

 and the New Royal Theatre...

...we sailed in and out of canals where every apartment or house seemed to own at least one pretty boat,

the guide pointed out the restricted area that was the property of the Danish Navy, which included a big battleship, a world war II submarine, and nicest of all a beautiful four-rigger, that was used to teach young students "the ropes" literally!

Several others joined us at one of the most popular tourist destinations in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid statue, and as we passed a group of eight or ten kayakers maneuvered around us.
Little Mermaid (lost up left)
& kayakers
It was a fresh, bracing way to begin the day, and I saw some of Copenhagen within an hour which I'd probably not see if I spent a week here.
The end of the boat tour - Gammel Strand
Off the tour boat and on my own, I began museum visits, though the day was so lovely I walked outside a good bit as well. I visited the National Museum, which interested me primarily for its Viking rooms.
Viking horns at the National Museum
Once you get into the 17th and 18th century one fancy room after another begins to remind you of the fancy halls you've seen in many other museums in many other cities. Then to the Radhus, the Town Hall, with its immense great hall and a lovely garden court, then the Glyptotek, which housed a good bit of ancient sculptures from Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as a collection of Danish paintings that I probably should have appreciated more than I did. My intention was to find the Teatermuseet (yes, that would be the Theatre Museum), which was almost impossible to find, and when find it I finally did, alas it was closed. Open today and tomorrow, so I'll  check into it. It is housed in an old theatre, so no matter what the exhibit it should be interesting simply for the space.

Between museums, to be exact between the Radhus and the Glyptotek, I took a prolonged lunch stop at Tivoli Gardens!

This is a mix of tacky and charming. I couldn't help but think that several American friends might think it dwarfed by U.S. style theme parks, but this park is not themed, just an area in the center of a metropolis which features food stands and posh restaurants, lovely gardens, at least two or three stages for performance, and all sorts of carnival rides. In fact, as I walked through it I was amazed to see how much was packed into such a compact city space, except that it didn't really seem packed to me at all (if you receive my meaning in that twisted sentence).

It was there that I chose a bench on which to sit and eat my sandwich, when much to my surprise and delight, Harlequin and Columbina passed by, greeted me and posed for a photo! I asked the lovely Columbina (why bother with Harlequin when Columbina is nearby?) if there was to be a show today, and she told me that one would start in just ten minutes. So, although I hadn't planned it, I got to see a commedia dell'arte show!

I wrote above that Tivoli is not a themed park, just an eclectic mix of fun for all ages. Well, beginning yesterday there WAS a theme of sorts: Halloween! Pumpkins abounded! Kids dressed up in costumes as well, and the commedia show was on a Halloween theme. It went something like this: Harlequin, (the lovely) Columbina (beautiful dancer as well), and Pulcinello arrived on stage but began to sense something strange -- sounds, movements, etc. In the yard below the stage, several witches started to sneak around and gradually made their way onto the stage and burst out in cackly song and awkward witchy dance. This surprised the three commedia characters (as you can imagine), and at one point the witches turned their heads into pumpkins, but they almost immediately took control, tying all the witches together in a rope. The witches became penitent, asked the audience to tell the commedia types to set them free, and then they ALL danced together -- they left the stage as drums could be heard in the distance, and joined the boys' marching band (half of whom also had pumpkin heads) in a Halloween parade through the park.
Great fun all in all, and a lovely afternoon for it!
Commedia, witches & Halloween? Tivoli Gardens!
That was when, instead of going back to the hotel for a rest, I set out instead for the Theatre Museum. When I found it (finally) closed, I decided I MUST do something else before retreating to the hotel, so I set out in search of Nyhavn. I think this ordinarily would be very easy to find, but I was tired, got turned around, and somewhat frustrated, gave it up for today or tomorrow. I DID find Stroget, the long pedestrian zone with all sorts of shopping opps, from very high end, at one end, to cheesy and cheap at the other. It was my good fortune that Stroget ended back at Tivoli, which as you may recall was just the other side of the train station from my hotel. Then I DID crash.

I there was one disapppointing aspect to Friday, it's that as so often happens with me I push myself beyond my limit. I was pretty exhausted, had had too little water, and really did need to rest. In fact when I went out in search of dinner I settled instead for a street sand which sold Polser -- these are red sausages, long and thin like hot dogs (only longer and thinner than we're used to) -- and which are immensely popular among Danes. After the first bite I could tell why! Yum! Bad-for-me food, but tasty, and also very inexpensive!

After that a quick stop at a 7-11 -- they too abound in Copenhagen -- that's a surprise -- Starbucks of course, McDonald's it goes without saying -- but 7-11 stores? I bought some bottled water and a pint of Carlsberg (what else does one dring in Copenhagen, except perhaps for Tuborg?) and locked myself in for the night, where I published section of this blog, tried to process some of the many photos I took on Friday, watched some TV -- English language movies are not dubbed, but subtitled in Danish! and then fell into a deep sleep.

Off now, after another tasty breakfast (and packed lunch from it) to Kronborg Slot -- at least I hope so! More anon!