Copenhagen and Karlskrona
The weather is one variable that requires flexibility and adaptability. After a day on the North Sea we were scheduled to arrive at Skagen, at the northern tip of Denmark next morning. The weather however seemed of a different mind—30-40 knot wind and 15-foot swells convinced our Captain, after determining that the local pilot had never docked a vessel under these conditions, to change the plan and continue on to Copenhagen. So, we arrived in Copenhagen that afternoon and had the chance to disembark and wander about the neighborhood enduring a brief shower or two. Docked at Langelinie, near downtown, the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city was easily accessible. We regretted missing a chance to see Skagen, a picturesque fishing village cum artist colony, but c'est la vie!
We arranged to meet Janet's cousin, Tom, in Copenhagen the next morning and so, we rode a free shuttle bus into the center and walked to Central Station to meet-up. We checked with Tourist info office and nearby coffee shops. No Tom, but we picked-up a map and our Copenhagen Passes. We tried calling Tom, but of course, the call would not go through! After 20 min or so, Janet's phone rang—it was Tom wondering where we were. It turns out there was another Tourist Info office a couple of blocks away!
Tom, Janet and Stu in Rosenborg Castle; The Little Mermaid; and Copenhagen's Palace Guard
After coffee and "Danish" we set off on the tram for Rosenborg Castle, a place Tom said we shouldn't miss. Situated within a large garden, the 17th century castle served as a Royal residence, and it seemed as though the Royal family had only just left for the day. Remarkably well-preserved in an apparently original state, furnishings and decoration intact, it's one of the best "house museums" we've ever visited. And then there's the Treasury, an underground vault housing the Danish crown jewels. Not so opulent or numerous as Britain's, they were nevertheless exquisite, gleaming and befitting Danish reserve and style.
A short walk to Nyhavn yielded an al fresco lunch accompanied by a brief shower, a walk along the tiny harbor with it classic boats, and a visit to the Amber Museum. After a stroll along the Stroget, Copenhagen's famous walking street, and a beer in an Irish pub, we bade farewell to Tom and headed back aboard, as Tom headed for the train home to Bastad, Sweden.
The next day we visited the port of Karlskrona. It was not one of the reasons we booked this cruise. And, before we arrived we knew almost nothing about the place. It proved to be a very pleasant surprise—a charming and historic little city, it's the home port of the Swedish Navy and has been for over 300 years. Founded by King Karl XI in 1680 specifically to relocate the Swedish fleet south from Stockholm where it was often ice-bound during winter.
Karlskrona Harbor and the Main Square, Sweden
Lars, our guide, introduced us to some very historic buildings that remain on the Naval Base, including the 1692 Repslagarbanan, or ropewalk, a 320-meter long wooden building where ropes were produced for the navy until 1960. Since 2006 they are again being produced using traditional techniques. Our guided tour included a hands-on demonstration—great fun plus a quality length of rope. We also appreciated getting out of a bone-chilling wind. Lars explained how an early dry-dock had to be bailed with buckets because pumping technology was too primitive, and escorted us into a cavernous post and beam structure that once housed ships under repair but now provides small-boat storage.
Swedish navy vessels were once repaired in this cavernous post and beam structure; Janet helps make a rope.
The planned town is laid out in a grid mostly on the island of Trosso and several smaller nearby islands. It has a large main square bordered by two large churches and the town hall, while much of the architecture is 18th century Baroque-style. It makes for an appealing town with its history and jewel-like architecture and it's in a very scenic setting. We even learned about rope-making. It was a nice introduction to Sweden.