Terii’s Cycling Babble

Craziness In Copenhagen
July 19, 2013, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Early Morning – July 15th

Yesterday’s drive down to Copenhagen went fine. We simply made a mad dash south on the fastest and most direct route. Saw some lovely scenery, particularly along Lake Vättern, which happens to be Sweden’s 2nd largest.

View of Lake Vättern from Brahe Ruins

View of Lake Vättern from Brahe Ruins

View Framed By Old Window

View Framed By Old Window

The land around the lake is very steep which gives the lake its rather impressive depths. It might rank only #2 in size, but it’s the deepest in Sweden’s fresh water. I’m sure an impressive glacier carved all of it out during the last ice age. Perched on a rocky promontory, the ruins of Brahe Manor overlooks fields and houses surrounding the vast stretch of water far below. The view is stunning.

I’ve been there once before, either when I first visited Sweden to marry Jens or the next year when I finally moved to Sweden. We’ve passed by it a few other times on our way to the southern parts of the country for various reasons.

We stopped there this time to walk the dog and for me take pictures for friends, family and blog. I had my doubts about how well I’d be able to do. On sites like this, I prefer to capture just the ruin and scenery. Clutter like random strangers, cars, power poles and lines often put me off pushing the shutter switch and people swarmed around Brahe Manor like minnows at a lump of bread. Knowing the ride through Copenhagen was very near, it was best if I just got over it.

Brahe Manor From Across Highway

Brahe Manor From Across Highway

And actually, I did just fine with a combination of patience and quick shutter work.

Remanent of the Stairs

Remanent of the Stairs

The crowds took its toll on Jens’ patience though. He doesn’t care for heights and had Loke with him so he went for the low ground while I went up. He called a few minutes later to say he’d be back around the car. The furball was being too difficult with an overabundance of energy and so many people wandering to and fro.

There was a slight haze which lent a certain charm to the views. I didn’t rush as I’d done the first time. I let myself savor the far reaching vistas and explored more thoroughly. I found a chamber you can go into under the main floor the manor ruin as well as stairs leading into the foundations of one courtyard tower. I also spent several minutes just admiring the scenery from so high up. I’ve no fear of heights, but even I felt a little lightheaded when I looked out and down from the ruin windows.

I was glad to get back to the car, not only to sit down, but also for relief from the press of people.

The southern ‘county’ of Sweden is obviously the country’s bread basket. Wheat, wheat and more wheat. As far as the eye can see in some places. Such color in some fields! Some of it was the usual green of unripened grain, others the creamy golden yellow that looks as if it’s just days from harvest. Then there was another sort nearly as bright a yellow as a field of canola flowers, but just a hint of green that somehow made the hue more intense. I never knew wheat could almost glow, especially since it was cloudy most of the way.

No, I didn’t take photos of the fields. Attempting to do so at 110 kph would result in shaky photos and stopping on a highway is risky at best. Not to mention by the time you’ve spotted the perfect view, it’s whipped right by.

There were country churches to be seen of course. Even one that looked like it had been plucked right out of the Danish countryside and dropped in Sweden. Not surprising since that area of Sweden was trapped in a tug-of-war between the two countries for centuries. There was one little church that stunned me, surely a tribute to Gothic architecture in miniature. It lacked perhaps the weathered gray stone and gargoyles, but… I can’t describe it and we were in too much of a hurry to get to our hotel to try finding the proper way to it. Safe to say, I’ve never seen one like it in Sweden or anywhere for that matter. Maybe on the way home we’ll take a moment to seek it out.

The hotel room is comfortable and pleasant. Simply decorated in Scandinavian fashion with very little color. Loke’s fur should blend in with just about everything except for the navy blue carpeting. We’re on the top floor with an view of the city though from here, it’s an indifferent one. The better views are further east with more of the old buildings. The room feels bigger than it is thanks to the ceiling which slopes upward from around 9 feet near the door to 12-15 feet at the window.

Copenhagen View From Hotel

Copenhagen View From Hotel

Once settled into our hotel around 6 pm, Jens wanted to go out in hopes of finding some place to eat. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving Loke in the hotel alone, so that restricted our choices.

The stroll by the modern buildings waterside was nice enough, but then we cut away from the Baltic. Immediately, the smell hit me. It was that sour reek that brought back memories of New Orleans, Chicago or just about any other city of significant size I’ve ever been in. I’d forgotten that odor of mingled spit, food and drink slopped everywhere as, oddly enough, Stockholm and Uppsala appear to lack. The sidewalks were unpleasant, spotted with old gum and dark splashes where sticky liquid, probably soda or beer, had been spilled or thrown. I cringed at the idea of Loke walking bare-pawed on it all.

Don’t get me wrong. Uppsala sidewalks aren’t pristine. What city’s can be? Compared to the ones toward Copenhagen’s rail station (very lovely building by the way) and the postal museum, Uppsala’s seem sterile and gleaming… and odor free.

Copenhagen Train Station By Morning Light

Copenhagen Train Station By Morning Light

I’m sure there’s more to this city then my first impressions gleaned from that short walk and I will find them. I want to be charmed, not revolted. I may not escape the smell as I ride right through the area we walked, but at least the cycle lane was cleaner than the sidewalk which is where Loke and I will be spending most of our moving time. Now, I just need to wait for a little more daylight so I can ride more safely… in Monday morning traffic!

I hoping the ride goes well for more than traffic concerns. I’m also going to try riding in normal clothes for the first time since the failed effort years ago when my Trice was shiny and new… instead of just shiny. There is a reason I pull Lycra onto my plump self for my rides and it’s not for looks. But I’m aware that being clad in black and often pink stretchy fabric while also riding a funny cycle and now a huge brim on my helmet making it look like some kind of odd fireman’s headgear gives me a bizarre and eccentric appearance.

For some reason, I want to look more normal for my ride through the southern bit of Copenhagen. So, cream linen capri pants with a sage green, long sleeved top I’d wear to a casual restaurant without thinking twice. The helmet with the Da Brim and my clunky cycle shoes can’t be helped, but I think the normal clothes will be a big improvement. Maybe even enough that people will be staring more at the husky beside me. Jens’ dad found a place in this part of the city that rents recumbent trikes. Or at least, he said ‘trikes that look like yours’. That could mean that my Sprint 26 might not make anyone bat a lash!

I’ll type more once done with the ride this evening. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Begun July 15th – Evening

Today was… strange. Don’t mistake me, it was fun, just very surreal at times. First, being in a big city with my head just a yard off the ground. Copenhagen might not be Chicago or New York City big, but compared to Uppsala which is Sweden’s 4th largest, it’s much larger with a higher density of people. Probably even bigger than Stockholm. So, I was more than a little nervous about the ride. Jens was going to be working all day so there was also worry about Loke.

All of those concerns faded away once I got rolling.

Blurry Dawn Over Copenhagen

Blurry Dawn Over Copenhagen

Breakfast at the hotel wasn’t going to be available until 7 am. I didn’t want to wait that long. It would have had me starting out on one of the busiest roads of the ride right at rush-hour. So, I went out to the car at 5:30 am with Jens saying he’d come down with Loke when I called. He didn’t wait, but ended up walking around with Loke as I got everything ready.

I didn’t know how much walking I was going to do, so before the trip I’d purchased an inexpensive little pannier bag. Only holds about 11 liters of volume, but very quick on and off. I didn’t want to leave anything on the trike someone might snatch or pilfer through, so needed a bag to carry water and a few other items for a shorter rides, but not so large that I’d dislocate my shoulder lugging it around while juggling Loke’s leash and taking photos. It was the perfect size. 2 liter Platypus water container, telephoto camera lens, Five Fingers for those times I want to walk in something other than cycle shoes, Loke’s off-trike tether, his socks, water bowl and puncture repair kit all fit snugly.

The air was bit on the chill side as Loke and I sped off through the parking area. I swerved around a building to get to the dock-side we’d walked the night before when I decided Copenhagen was stinky. It was peaceful, if a little windy. Hard to say what kind of day it was going to be as it was a fair balance between sun and cloud. When we cut back toward the road and onto the cycle lane, a guy cycled past. He glanced down with a big smile and wished me a Danish good morning. I grinned back and said the same in Swedish.

My fuzzy cycling partner was in high spirits and full of vigor. He stretched into a easy lope when I let him. It’s times like that when my worries about his health fall away. At home with the tedious river loops, he’s so sluggish it leaves me wondering if it’s boredom or something more sinister. Hard for me to let go of that feeling. I guess part of me knows when I do, it will be something bad.

But no worries yesterday. We flew into the city’s depths as if on wings. Near the train station, I discovered a minor problem. What to do when taking photos or reading maps for that matter. Getting that first one wasn’t too bad as the traffic, car and bike, were scarce enough for me to stop. Later would be an issue. Stopping in the bike lane would be like stopping a car in the middle of the street. No space for parking on the edge and often the curbs are too high to bump onto the sidewalk if the pedestrians leave room.

There’s an amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen called Tivioli. Jens and I walked to one of the entrances last evening, but of course, they did not allow dogs so we returned to the hotel. It’s pretty much across the street from the train station. I went on along the outer wall and turned right to follow it around to my next left turn and stopped in surprise.

Tivoili Gardens - Now THAT is an entrance!

Tivoili Gardens – Now THAT is an entrance!

Tivioli’s main entrance is amazing. A candy store and a ‘make your own teddy bear’ shop flank huge arches, beautifully carved and with hints of gilt. All of it, both shops and the entry, are built of a deep red stone and brick. The ground is paved with red and black paving slabs in a smooth, perfectly level checker pattern. I parked the trike with Loke in front of the arches and scrambled to the middle median of the road to get a photo of the unexpected sight. Loke didn’t seem impressed. He did a lot of sighing at me.

Photo taken we moved out again. Before we’d gone more than 10 yards, I came across a couple who were completely and utterly bombed. At the sight of Loke and I, they started laughing and screaming happily while they waved at us, apparently having forgotten that they had cups in hand with beer. The frantic, beer-spraying waving did not help their fragile balance as they staggered along with only each other for shaky support. They actually made Loke nervous as we passed. He edged as far away from them as the trike allowed, ears at a worried angle as he shot uneasy glances over his shoulder until they were out of sight. He’s not accustomed to such erratic behavior. Hoards of screaming, bouncing children, yes. Yelling, happy drunk people trying to walk down a city street? No.

Copenhagen's Fourth City Hall

Copenhagen’s Fourth City Hall

When I told Jens about it his comment was, ‘That drunk at that time of day??’. I answered, ‘I don’t think their night was over yet.’ Indeed, they appeared determined to make a go of it until next dawn.

My next stop was at the Copenhagen Town Hall square. Initially, I’d marked it as #2 on my map, right after the tower ruin, but since it stretched across a city block as it were, I rolled right into it. At first, Loke was in a frenzy because the square had been covered with pigeons. Once most of them scattered to a respectable distance, he settled down and I left him to wait beside the trike.

Bull & 'Dragon' Fountain

Bull & ‘Dragon’ Fountain

It’s a large impressive building, but first I was intrigued by the fountain sitting to one edge of the square. Big, heavy collection of bronze sculptures. Around the lower basin, odd creatures cling to the rim shooting water up in an arc from pointy noses. Above the basin, a titanic struggle between a bull and a strange, long bodied fish looking thing. I liked it. Not sure yet how the photo I took came out as the best angle to view the bull goring the fish wasn’t so good lighting wise. The best lighting angle would have shown little more than the bull’s rump and the fish’s tail. I’ve since found out that the name of the fountain actually has the word ‘dragon’ in it.

Fountain admired, I started toward the other side of the square where a statue stood high on a very tall plinth. When I say ‘very tall’, I mean 20 feet at least. I was about half there when I heard ‘WOOF!’. I looked back and Loke stomped his feet at me. I told him to wait. As soon as I took another step, ‘WOOF!!’. Sighing, I turned back around as the furry bully tap-danced at me again. To his credit, he didn’t try to move the trike even an inch. At least he’s a good boy as far as that goes. Hehe.

The Ruin of Jarmer's Tower

The Ruin of Jarmer’s Tower

From the square, it was a short jaunt to the tower. Traffic was beginning to pick up so it was nice to see a somewhat convenient place to park the trike out of the way near a small tree. Loke sighed at me some more as I moved off to find a better angle for what remains of Jarmer’s Tower which is all that is left of 11 towers built in the early 1500’s as part of Copenhagen’s medieval fortifications.

Street View of City Hall Clock Tower

Street View of City Hall Clock Tower

Random building I liked

Random building I liked

Quite interesting to see a medieval ruin surrounded by asphalt streets and modern buildings. Not another bit of ancient architecture in sight.

From there, we rushed back toward the waterfront. I didn’t stop for the high-up statues across the street from the town hall. The patch of ground it sits on has been recently planted with small trees. The statue is kind of neat, but once I was closer to it, I decided rather than run around for half a block trying to get a good angle, I’d just let it go.

Another Architectural Surprise

Another Architectural Surprise

I had a little trouble puzzling out where the cycle lane was for the direction I needed. In Copenhagen, people on bikes are expected to behave like people in cars to a larger extent. They actually do! In Sweden (and around the world), they may say that bikers should obey car rules, but it rarely happens. There were a very few exceptions in Copenhagen of course. Someone too impatient to wait for a light when there was no obvious traffic, but for the large part everyone played nice. Rather than someone on a bike obeying the traffic laws being the exception rather than the rule, it was an exception when someone didn’t.

Would have been lovelier without the construction equipment

Would have been lovelier without the construction equipment

Of course, it’s easy when bikes have their own little roads between the sidewalk and cars and their own traffic lights most of the time. And cars don’t use the bike lanes for parking! The only thing I could have wished for were more left turn accommodations. They were available in a few places, marked lanes and lights both, but mostly, a bike had to charge into the fray, attempting to convince cars they had as much right to make that left turn as everyone else. Me? Being so low to the ground, I tended to go past the left turn, go right again, then again and once more. That added some distance, but it kept me and Loke in one piece without a single near miss.

Love the spire!

Love the spire!

Eye-catching building near Stork Fountain

Eye-catching building near Stork Fountain

So, with such clearly marked lanes most of the time and the apparent regard most cyclists I saw had for traffic rules, I didn’t want to go riding against the flow of traffic. I just couldn’t see where they’d put the lane. It turns out it was there, but subtly marked from my low-to-the-ground profile. The brick-paved sidewalk on that side had a lines of different colored bricks to divide between pedestrian and bike. If I’d been higher up on a standard bike, I would have been able to spot it. Not about to trade my trike for a better view of Copenhagen sidewalks though.

It was a bit of a headache to figure my way toward the little island with a castle and other buildings on it. So much construction cut off some of the roads I needed. Upon discovering the road I’d spent about 20 minutes looping around to find an open way to, it was only to see a sign marking the entrance as private. That would have been fine. Google street view had shown that standing opposite the bridge and photographing past the arch would have been one of the best shots. Except there was scaffolding and backhoes everywhere.

The Stork Fountain

The Stork Fountain

The next mile or two after is recalled only as a blur of teeth-rattling cobblestones and lost cycle paths while battling with the haphazard layout of the streets. I never did find one little stone statue of a fishwife. In a city of bronze, impressive sculptures, I would have liked to photo the plump, almost cartoony stone woman.

While confusing Loke with all the loops and turns, I did a minor good deed. We were cruising along one of the canals behind a couple of other bikes. The man directly in front of us was loaded down with a few plastic shopping bags. One was near fit to busting. He hit a bump and a small something fell out. He apparently heard it because he stopped to look in the bag and around his feet. I slowed enough to scoop up the lightbulb box, swerved over to stop next to him. ‘Excuse me.’ He looked startled before giving a smile of thanks.

The next point of interest, I pedaled hard for was another fountain. Getting to it was a mad house. The area looked as if it were mostly a walking area, but white vans and trucks rushed every which way, apparently without heed for pedestrian or cycle. It was a hazard of early morning Copenhagen it seemed. Service trucks scrambling like mad to empty the public garbage and clean the streets before the general population awoke to cause it’s daily mayhem.

Somehow, I safely made it to the fountain. As I took the photos, I felt more than a little exposed to those service trucks. Still I collected a couple images of the bronze storks and cattails.

Joy! Cobblestones on the way to the round tower!

Joy! Cobblestones on the way to the round tower!

Rundetårn - 'Round Tower'

Rundetårn – ‘Round Tower’

Fleeing the square with it’s flying city service vehicles, I did a zig-zag through some of the narrower streets, most paved with jarring cobbles, in search of the ‘Round Tower’.

Rundetårn is a pretty 17th century tower built onto the back of Trinitatis Church as a combined library, astronomy observatory and students’ church.

View of Rosenborg Slot (castle) across a formal flower garden

View of Rosenborg Slot (castle) across a formal flower garden

Loke & the Sprint at Rosenborg Castle

Loke & the Sprint at Rosenborg Castle

Next on the map was Rosenborg Castle. With some trepidation, I found my way through the walls around the grounds and into a no cycling zone. Fun times! Trying to push the trike along which didn’t roll straight on gravel while a hyper husky wanted to run back and forth to tangle himself in the pedals and mudguards.

It was worth it though! The castle was beautiful! I took many photos from different angles as we strolled along. As we came to the castle’s public entrance, a pair of geese completely panicked at the sight of us. We were more than 200 feet away when they flung themselves into a frenzied flight for the castle moat.

It was barely 8 am by this time and I was more than halfway through the ride. Jens was going to be working until 3 or maybe even until 5 pm. Worse still was that I’d forgotten my Kindle. If I reached the Little Mermaid by 10 am, that was going to be a long wait.

Burdened with an overabundance of time and quite chilled, I picked a spot in the sun to just settle in and enjoy the morning. By now the light was strong enough and I was no longer shadowed by buildings, it was time to slather down with sunscreen. Unfortunately, all I only had the smelly chemical sort. My less stinky, titanium based kind had hidden itself from me. Pity since the chemical kind breaks my face out. Still even smelly and slight blemishes on my face is better than painful burns.

Other than needing to smear myself with more sunscreen, the ride wearing the linen Capri pants and sage green blouse was problem free.

One of many statues on the castle grounds

One of many statues on the castle grounds

That’s one drawback to having dressed in street clothes. My shins and upper shoulders and chest were exposed when normally it’s only my fingers, neck and face not covered by some kind of sport fabric. So, I needed more than smear on hands and face from a Chap-Stick like tube of sun protection.

The geese came back to the grass, at about 200 feet away which seemed to be their level of tolerance for Loke’s presence. As I sat, waiting for time to pass while Loke wallowed in the grass, I realized the geese were only afraid of Loke or perhaps dogs his size. Every other dog that went through the park didn’t even ruffle their feathers.

Kamp Med En Slang - 'Battle With a Snake'

Kamp Med En Slang – ‘Battle With a Snake’

It was good to finally see dogs in Copenhagen. I was beginning to think they were an endangered species there. In Uppsala, you can’t go 10 steps without tripping over a one, though always leashed with an owner. It just seems Copenhagenite dogs only emerge in a grassy, tree-filled environment.

Also, while I munched cherries, I noticed other people in the park… on bikes. They zipped along faster than the joggers who ran in determined laps. Those rule breakers passed right by park employees with not a word said.

The unusual arrangement of stone & bronze intrigued me

The unusual arrangement of stone & bronze intrigued me

Upon seeing that, no way I was going to push my trike any more though I wasn’t going to speed along. Walking speed or a very slow jog at best. It would drive Loke completely bonkers, but I could see more of the pretty park.

The trike rolled out at 9 am, Loke straining hard at the tether as bikes and joggers sped by. There were a number of statues scattered along the smooth gravel paths flanked by old, cropped trees at attention like soldiers. Though there were spots where grass was browning, the lawn was dense and lush as luxurious carpeting. Beds of flowers made vivid pools of color and hedges divided the park. A fountain splashed water and there was a little fenced play area of children which looked as if it was water based though at the time.

Stag, Hind & Fawn

Stag, Hind & Fawn

I had to keep a good grip on the brakes and kept telling Loke, ‘Easy.’ Not that he listened for even a moment.

Just as I’d finished photographing the snake and rider statue, a couple came walking with a pair of dogs. One was a Bichon Frise and the other looked like a smallish mix-breed of some kind. They saw Loke and came trotting toward us, ignoring their owners who called. I simply sat calmly. The Bichon stopped about 15 feet away and then turned back, but the other one, black and white with a coarse, wiry coat came right up. He and Loke sniffed each other. For a wonder, Loke was polite and well-mannered!

The man came up and I said, in English, it was a cute dog. It turned out the little guy was only 7 months old. Remarkably unbouncy for such a young animal. After a few minutes, the man told the dog to come and it finally trotted after him.

Gorgeous Colors!

Gorgeous Colors!

Barely 10 yards after that meeting, I saw a very odd thing. A few jackdaws were hunting for food on the lawn. One was a fledgling who pestered the others when they found something. The youngster hadn’t a single feather on his head or neck. Not a one. It made his head look bizarre and small. Like a mini-vulture’s stuck on an overlarge jackdaw body. Seeing the size of his skull, it really amazed me that so much cleverness can be crammed into that tiny little space. Jackdaws are extremely smart and some even have what can be considered advanced problem solving skills. I once saw a documentary about a female jackdaw who puzzled out how to bend wire into hooks to pull miniature baskets of nuts from a plexi-glass tube without being trained to do so.

A rental 'bent trike! :D

A rental ‘bent trike! 😀

I finished crisscrossing the park around 10 am which was perfect. Being hungry, I hoped to find someplace to eat around my next destination and most places open around 10 am.

Nyhavn (New Harbor) was just a short jaunt from Rosenborg castle. Still, it took a little time to get there due to my efforts to obey traffic laws, particularly associated with one-way streets. Finally, I emerged at the water’s edge where Nyhavn’s canal met the Baltic. Right at the corner there, I found a cycle rental shop. A lot of the shops rent not only standard diamond frame touring bikes, but also upright trikes with passenger cart on the front. This one even had a recumbent!

Nyhavn - The prettier side

Nyhavn – The prettier side

Rounding the corner where the bike rental shop sat, Nyhavn came into view. It’s beautiful! Old buildings painted in surprising colors lining narrow little streets beside a boat-lined canal. I rolled along at walking speed, enjoying the view. Lovely as it was, I wasn’t entirely looking forward to crossing to that side in spite of street cafes awaiting.

Nyhavn - The Mansion Side

Nyhavn – The Mansion Side

10:30 am and the end with the most cafes closer to the heart of the old city was packed. A milling mass of people. Still, I gamely crossed the bridge and started down the harbor’s opposite side.

Cobblestones! Not only did I have to creep through to avoid bumping people, but I got to bounce while doing it!

To my further dismay, most of the ‘cafes’ were actually just street side beer bars. Maybe only 1 in 4 seemed to serve actual food. Wikipedia says the harbor used to be notorious for beer, sailors and prostitutes. Well, the latter two may be gone, but it’s clear the beer still flows in raging rivers down the throats of tourists. One place had fish-n-chips on its menu as well as lobster (half and soup!), but the area was just too crowded to leave Loke tethered while I sat to eat.

Disappointed, I pushed on.

The map and I briefly parted ways while I tried to keep track of traffic flow and cycle lanes. During the rolling along, trying to reorient myself, I stumbled onto the next site by accident more than anything.

It was startling to emerge into a calmer spot of the city. A wide sort of avenue that ran between the beautiful church with copper roof tarnished green and hints of gilt and the wide paved court of a palace complex.

Frederiks Church a.k.a The Marble Church

Frederiks Church a.k.a The Marble Church

The proper name of the church is Frederiks Church, but it’s most commonly called ‘The Marble Church’ and it is lovely.

Fortunately, the road between the church and castle complex is nearly traffic free. The best view of the church is from the middle of the street. The rest of the area around the church is built too close to manage framing it decently even for a series to use in photomerging. It still felt odd to scramble into the middle of the street to snap the picture.

Up to this point, the ride had been fairly standard except for the unusual (for me) surroundings. I’d gotten some startled looks and more than a few smiles. I’d spotted perhaps a dozen people taking photos of us, but unobtrusively so. No near misses with traffic and Loke had been running like a machine except when his socks made him limp. Just a normal, everyday outing that just happened to be located in the capital city of Denmark.

When Loke realized we were heading for the open area of the Amalienborg Palace area, he pulled like crazy. I guess it was an indication that he was a little tired of buildings and traffic. Fortunately, the square was momentarily quiet as we raced in at almost 12 mph before reaching the cobblestones.

Amalienborg Square Panorama

Amalienborg Square Panorama

The courtyard with its near identical palaces surrounding a bronze statue atop a pedestal of nearly snow-white marble was perfect for a panorama series. Loke huffed when the trike stopped so I could take the pictures. Then we rolled on toward the water-side park across the way.

Before we reached the park, I stopped to see where the next place to see was. Flipping idly through my maps, I was mostly oblivious to my surroundings so I didn’t see them approach. It was the excited and friendly chattering voices that finally got my attention. I looked up and blinked.

In a near perfect semi-circle around me were some 20 smiling faces and nearly as many cameras/phones. Even a pair of video cameras. A few took pictures right away, but most of them held up or waved them as while asking in Japanese or English if it was okay to take my photo. More than a little bewildered by the sudden attention, I nodded and put a smile on my face. It felt rude to do otherwise.

After a couple minutes, one young woman handed her iPhone to someone else and walked up. Without any English, she indicated she wanted to take a picture with me. When I nodded, she crouched down on the side away from Loke, arm around the back of the trike seat and we tilted our heads together a little. It started a flood. Most of the young women and girls took their turn and a few of the older as well. Only one younger guy came with one of the women for the three of us to pose. A few more tourists strolled in so it took almost 20 minutes before the tour group moved on with waves and ‘Thank you’ in two languages.

Just not the same in bronze...

Just not the same in bronze…

Bemused, I could only shake my head as I pedaled on. The incident made me happier than ever that I wasn’t dressed in my usual cycle outfit! Imagine! A rash of online photos posted in Japan of plump me in Copenhagen while wearing black and pink spandex! I shudder to think.

Loke and I crept through the park which was nearly as crowded as Nyhavn had been. The flood of people eased a bit once we reached the water’s edge and I turned east. It was peaceful beside the Baltic though the cobblestones didn’t make for easy going. A few other people took pictures of Loke and I as we rolled by.

I stopped only once and briefly to take a picture of a copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Not something one expects to see when toodling along the Baltic in Copenhagen. A bronze copy of one of the world’s most famous Italian works of art. It might even be to proper scale, but I’m not sure.

The rough surface made a good excuse to go slowly along though once past David, there wasn’t really much to see either on my side of the water or on one of Copenhagen’s islands just south of us. On our side, it was mostly large brick buildings which might have been 100 years or more old, but looked warehouse like. Understandable. What would one expect to be built on what was once a working dock? Across the way, it looked mostly like modern clutter with just a few isolated exceptions that didn’t photo well across the distance.

Gefion Fountain

Gefion Fountain

Relief came into view in the form of the gates leading into Churchill Park. Even before I could see it, I could hear the splashing of something I’d looked forward to the entire ride.

Gefion Fountain. If I’ve ever seen a water feature this size or larger, I can’t recall it. It completely enthralled me and clearly not just me. People were packed around it. I left the trike in Loke’s care to wriggle through the masses to find a good angle for a picture. Loved it.

Saint Alban's Church (The English Church)

Saint Alban’s Church (The English Church)

Close up of the flints

Close up of the flints

Quite literally just a stone’s throw away was the next treat. Saint Alban’s was one of the most lovely small churches I’ve seen in a long time and quite unlike any church I’ve seen before. It’s very much an English country church dropped into Copenhagen. The contrast between the pale limestone accents around the darker surface of knapped flint set in the plaster surface was incredible. Supposedly, this kind of use of flint is common in English parish churches. That’s enough to make me itch for a chance to explore England! As if it wasn’t bad enough thanks to my brief ride around Falmouth when I visited ICE last year.

Saint Alban's Interior

Saint Alban’s Interior

I nearly giggled upon seeing a sign welcoming visitors into the church. With Loke pulling like he could (and would if he had the chance), run another 20 miles, I coasted onto the grass near the church. Once Loke was settled in the shade with plenty of water and trike locked to a small tree, I headed in.

The inside was simpler than anticipated. I guess I just expected more with how elaborate most Swedish churches tend to be. Still fascinating. A pair of women stood inside the porch. As each visitor came in, they would ask where they were from and then offer an information sheet in the best language for the person. A very nice touch, I thought. They also had donation dishes out. I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t anything to give, but all I had was Swedish coin.

One thing I really liked about the interior was the wooden ceiling. I guess it’s what they mean when a ‘wooden barrel vault ceiling’ is used in a description. I sat on a pew to read the info sheet before photographing it and the everything else.

One of the Citadel's buildings

One of the Citadel’s buildings

It was just coming up on 11 am when I unlocked the trike again and we moved on toward the Citadel. That proved to be underwhelming. The grounds were pretty enough, but inside the star-shaped mounds of earthworks were just a few wooden buildings… and lots of uneven cobbles.

Disappointingly, the paths around the earthworks were off limits to bikes, so I settled for rattling my way straight through and out the other side to go hunt for what is probably the most famous landmark in all of Denmark. At least, it’s the one I’ve heard about the most.

It was easy to know when we had arrived. We slowed to a snail’s pace through the densest masses of people I’d seen all day. What I sought was nearly hidden by a wall of humanity even when I stood up from the trike.

As I debated if it was worth the effort of getting a clear view, I heard a woman say something. It was Danish, which has quite a bit in common with Swedish, but all I could make out was that it had been question and the word ‘dog’. I turned to her. A short woman, only about an inch taller than myself, a little older with brown curly hair to her shoulders. She was stirring a pot full of nuts over a propane fueled flame to coat them with sugar and sweet spices to sell to the tourists.

I smiled and said, ‘I’m sorry? I don’t speak Danish.’ She laughed and said she should have known. She left the nuts to come for a closer look at Loke. She asked if he was a Samoyed. I think it was because most huskies don’t have as much white on them as Loke does. When I told her what he was, she smiled and told me that she just loved huskies. She used to skijor with one, a female, when she worked as a ski instructor in Norway. Then her product started to burn and she hurried back to it.

Almost immediately, another older woman said something to me. I couldn’t understand her at all. I asked, ‘Do you speak English?’. She said yes and I realized she had spoken English, just with so thick a regional accent it sounded like another language all together. It turns out, she absolutely adores dogs and asked to take Loke’s picture and pet him. She and her husband immigrated from England to Spain where they run a kennel to rescue and rehabilitate street dogs before finding them homes.

No one else distracted me as I told Loke to wait and pushed forward a little bit. And there it was…

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid.

It’s a small, unassuming statue. Good thing I knew this before I went looking for it or disappointment would have stung me. It just seemed silly to skip it when it was probably no more than a quarter mile from Saint Alban’s church and is one of the most famous things in Copenhagen.

And that was it. Except for the palace area off limits, I’d ticked off everything on my map. From beginning to end, I’d completed the ride and it was not even yet noon.

Loke and I went back to the grassy sward next to Saint Alban’s church where we settled down in the shade. I alternated between dozing and watching people. A few more tourists came up to ask for photos. One particularly brave Japanese woman actually sat down next to Loke and put her arm around him. He didn’t quite know what to make of that, but didn’t move away.

During a lull, a stocky man who had waved a smart phone for permission to take a photo earlier approached. He said something and quickly established how little English he knew. Still, we managed a bit of a conversation. What kind of dog was Loke? Did he have a dog? Yes, a German Shepherd. Where was I from? That took a bit to answer as ‘an American living in Sweden’ was a bit too much English all at once. Where was he from? He answered with a country that didn’t sound familiar at all. I asked where and he answered between Turkey and Romania which is Bulgaria. I’m fairly sure he hadn’t said Bulgaria, but countries often have different names in different languages. In Swedish, Sweden = Sverige, Germany = Tyskland and so forth. So, maybe Bulgaria is completely different in Bulgarian.

Finally, he gave me his name, Achmed and asked mine. After a few minutes more, he held out his phone for me to take a photo of him and the furball together.

Achmed & Loke

Achmed & Loke

Then he cheerfully showed me the picture of me and Loke he’d taken earlier. I really didn’t need to see that. I think one reason I was able to smile as people took pictures was knowing I’d never see them. Even in nicer clothes, not flattering at all. With all the photo exchanges, I pulled out my camera and he happily posed again next to my furry cycle partner.

Achmed finally asked where in Sweden I lived. He was thrilled by the answer. ‘Uppsala, very nice!’ I asked if he’d ever been to Sweden. ‘Yes, Gävle,’ which is less than an hour from Uppsala. As a joke, I said, ‘Prata du svenska?’ (Speak you Swedish?). The answer was ‘Lite!’

Then he wanted to know what had taken me from America to Sweden. I held up my hand to show the wedding band.

He gave a wistful sigh, ‘No good.’

That left me speechless. Had he been flirting with me? It never occurred that might be the case. Overweight with grease stains on one knee, my hair flattened with sweat and in a tangled ponytail. Short of clipping it short, snarled hair is unavoidable when I ride. If it’s not the wind, just twisting my head around to enjoy scenery will do it.

We communicated a few minutes more and then he got up. He leaned over to give me a rough sort of hug and firmly kissed both my cheeks. Shaking his head again, he gave me an wry smile and, ‘No, no good.’

It took a while to shake off that bemusement. First the touring group from Japan taking the photos, then this.

By then, it was a bit past 1 pm and I realized I was ravenous. Putting away his bowl and hitching Loke back to the trike, I made ready to go in search of food. Silly as it sounds, I had spotted a KFC (of all things) near the City Hall. While setting the GPS for it, Loke abruptly started bouncing and yodeling which elicited laughter and another barrage of photos.

The Garmin first led us back toward the Little Mermaid. A Danish woman on a bike started chatting with me about Loke as we went along together. We came to a dead end.

‘Where is the little mermaid? Are we in the right area?’

‘Just a wrong turn. Follow me.’ In short order, I had us on the right trail. I told her to take a turn closer to the water when she had the chance and she couldn’t miss it. Off she sped.

Gustafs Church

Gustafs Church

The starting loop took me by a church rather like a Swedish version of Saint Alban’s. Gustafs Church is for Swedes who lived in and around Copenhagen as Saint Alban was for English speaking Anglican Episcopal worshipers.

From there, Loke and I spun quickly through the city streets as if we’d lived in Copenhagen all our lives. With just 9 miles under his paws when we arrived at the Little Mermaid the first time, he still had plenty of energy so we went the 1.5 mile back to the city hall area at 10 mph allowing for traffic.

KFC was a disappointment. European franchises of it just can’t match my memories of the extra crispy pieces from the US. They don’t even offer extra crispy. I’d have been just as happy with a street side hotdog. Maybe even more so!

Then we buzzed back to our spot in Churchhill park next to the fountain and church. We finished with just a smidge over 16 miles.

He finally looks tired!

He finally looks tired!

I parked us under the deep shade of a tree. Loke paced around a bit, even woofed some. Finally he sat down with a sigh. A few minutes later, he laid down. A short time after that, he flopped over and went to sleep. Curiously, he stretched out in the sun rather than in the shade. Goof.

We had a few more visitors. Some Australians and quite a few more Japanese and even a couple Koreans.

Around 3 pm, I realized my shins felt warm. Baffled, I looked down. They were in the shade, but pink. I’d forgotten to refresh the sunscreen! I could tell I was going to pay for it. My face felt a little warm too, especially my right ear oddly enough in spite of the Da Brim. It was my legs from mid-shin to ankles and my shoulders and upper chest near my neck that were the worst. My carelessness made me grind my teeth. I don’t like sunburn. It’s unnecessary and painful not to mention potentially harmful. I burned more than enough when I was a kid and teen to continue to do so at my current age.

Though it was a bit like closing the barn after most of the horses escaped, I rubbed on a fresh coat of protection. I figured it was better than getting scorched even worse.

Jens arrived to pick us up around 4 pm. We had McD’s and charged off for the south where a reserved B&B room waited for us. It was adequate, but not nearly as comfortable as Copenhagen hotel. Still, I was looking forward to the next day’s ride with more enthusiasm than I’d had for the Copenhagen outing.

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