August 14, 2012
The song goes “wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen …” and I’ve been singing it in my head for the past few days, although I can’t remember any more of the words (*must google that).
But we reckon Roskilde, about half an hour away and home to our friends Lene and Carsten and their kids, is even more wonderful.
I enjoyed seeing the little mermaid statue, a tribute to Copenhagen’s favourite son Hans Christian Anderson, even if the tourist brochures warn it can be disappointing. And I was reminded that HCA also wrote one of my favourite childhood stories, the Ugly Duckling (*must read that again).
The rest of Copenhagen was like many of the other European cities we had visited, but not as grand as St Petersburg or as romantic as Amsterdam. Sadly we found it to be quite dirty, with loads of rubbish, broken glass and general filth on the streets. We arrived the morning after the city’s gay pride parade but that should be no excuse. There were no teams of cleaners as I would expect in Sydney after mardi gras.
Roskilde, on the other hand, had large green parks, a fjord with a beach and a swish new marina and a fascinating history. The city was Denmark’s original capital and all Danish kings and queens are buried in its cathedral; then some years ago a stash of Viking ships were discovered scuttled in the fjord, which triggered a rebuilding project that makes for a great tourist attraction. Our main reason for visiting, however, was to catch up with Lene and Carsten.
We first met during our family holiday to central Australia some 16 years ago. They were living in Adelaide at the time and were having car troubles when we struck up a conversation in the Uluru campground. We spent a few days together visiting the Olgas, stopping to peer at lizards on the roads, and watching the sun set over the rock. We have a photo of our kids (Liz, Sam and their two boys) perched on the roof of our old Jackaroo.
Now our kids have grown, they have another child, a daughter Josefina, and they are well and truly settled back home, near their families, in Denmark.
The years, though, melted away as we shared stories and memories over delicious home-cooked meals, including some traditional Danish pickled fish. Quite tasty really. Lene and Carsten were as gentle and funny and friendly as we remembered.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening celebrating a family milestone, 25 years of Carsten’s sister and her husband sharing a communal home with another couple (and all their children).
And spent another glorious day and evening at another sister’s holiday house on Mons island, about an hour away to the south. We visited Mons Klint (chalk cliffs) with Carsten and Josefina, searched for fossils on the flint beach, and then came back to the cottage to eat blackberries picked from the garden hedge with fresh-cooked pancakes. Yum.
We are inspired to grow more of our own veggies, use more fresh produce in our meals … and return to spend a week just relaxing and appreciating the beauty of nature in this chilled-out country.