Day 2: Canals and castles in Copenhagen

Midlife Sentence | Nyhavn Art Installation for World Refugee Day

Our luck was holding out on our second day in Copenhagen, although Mike kept testing the gods, saying things like “I thought it always rained here? You guys are just pulling my leg.” Jack kept shushing him and making the sign for the evil eye and looking skyward.

We returned to Nyhavn for a boat tour, which started near this thing:

This, as it turned out, was an enormous art installation called Soleil Levant, featuring 3,500 life jackets discarded by refugees who’d landed at Lesbos. The piece as assembled for World Refugee Day, June 20, by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Some other views of our tour (click on the photos to scroll through the gallery with descriptions):

Our plan for the afternoon was to tour a few castles. There are quite a few in Copenhagen, and I knew mom was probably the most enthusiastic about castles of everyone in our group.

If you’re going to try to narrow down which castles to tour as part of any particular plan, you have to set priorities. My first was how many pub breaks we could take in between castles without too much difficulty. Colin’s, I’m sure, was determining how quickly could we race through them and say been there, done that, before we got to the gift shop.

I remember when mom was more of a “there can never be enough castles” kind of person, or manor houses, plantations, or mansions kind of person, for that matter. For the rest of the members of our party, I suspect castles are more interesting as part of haunted house exhibits. So I rather thought we were in for a long afternoon.

In the best interest of all of us, we let geography determine our castle-visiting plan for the day.

We started out with Rosenborg, smack, dab in the center of Copenhagen. From there we could hit Christiansborg and then maybe the current royal residences at Amalienborg.

Mike and I had seen a movie or two about Caroline Mathilde of Great Britain, who was a very interesting character, married off to the mad king Christian the VII at age of 15 and then involved in a torrid affair with his chief minister. Rosenborg Castle has a number of their portraits and jewels, along with other collections, although neither of the two would have have lived there. The castle was built as a summer residence in the 1600s and was only used as a royal residence until the 1700s (Caroline Mathilde married Christian VII in 1766). I think both mom and I were hoping the castle would have rooms made up as though the castle was still in use. In fact, it’s more of a museum, with displays of art, jewelry, furniture, china and pewter.

The opulence may have been breathtaking, but the first thing I thought was oh my God, someone has to dust all this stuff.

Am I the only one whose mind goes in that direction?

With regard to the other castles, let’s just say, we WAY overestimated our castle stamina, people. Mom was done with what will hereafter be known as our Epic Afternoon of Castle by that point, so we decided to wander down toward the harbor to look at the great marble cathedral, which we’d seen from our boat tour, and at least the outside of Amalienborg, the home of the Danish royal family (who were not in residence at that moment, so it wasn’t like we were barging in).

After that we were done for the day with some takeout pizza from a little shop near our flat. I could barely keep my eyes open by about 9pm, which is how I’ve gotten so behind logging our trip.

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