A Sunday in Copenhagen
We are at the National Museum, when it opens at 10, and buy tickets for a guided tour in The Victorian Home. The lady asks: "Adults?" and Helle replies: "Yes, we must admit to that".
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The tour is at 12, so we go for a walk past the royal stables, Christiansborg (the Danish parliament) and the canals. The water is crystal clear, and you can see numerous bicycles in the shallow water.
The stock exchange lies next to the parliament, and thus the legislative and the real power are close. A man is walking his mobile hot-dog stand to work.
We have a Coke at Café Europa near Højbro Plads. It is expensive here: 33 kr. for a small Coke. The waitresses are all young, pretty and blonde. Being a cynic I suspect this very 'Nordic' look is deliberate to please the tourists.
On a bench outside a man is playing a violin. There is a recorded harp in his bag. He plays quite well, and I wonder how he keeps his fingers working in the cold.
The Victorian Home
From the National Museum a group of 14 is led around the corner and up to the second floor in an old apartment building.
The Victorian Home is a 340 m2 big luxury apartment, and it is like a time capsule. It is furnished exactly like it was between 1890 and 1914, and everything is remarkably well preserved: furniture, decorations, drapes etc.
The house was built around 1850 and was bought by the wealthy merchant Rudolf Christensen (1849-1925) in 1886. The family with 3 children moved into the apartment in 1890.
The two daughters never married and lived in the apartment until they died in 1963. Through all those years the original interior was kept unchanged.
The young guide from the museum knows a lot about the apartment and how life unfolded in the old days - truly fascinating. There are guided tours in English, Saturdays at 11.
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Lunch at Restaurant Nytorv
We drop in at Restaurant Nytorv (Nytorv 15, 1450 København K). It is in the basement and a really cosy place serving traditional Danish food like e.g. open sandwiches ("smørrebrød"), and one of their specialities is pickled herring. The place is some 150 years old and very popular. We are lucky to get a table.
Glögg at Hviids Wine Bar
We consider going home for a siesta, but with a temperature of 2° C the midday heat is no excuse, so instead we stroll to Kongens Nytorv and drop in at Hviids Vinstue (Kongens Nytorv 19, 1050 København K.).
This cosy bar has been here since 1723 and is very popular. At this time of the year you can taste their famous glögg (heated spiced wine). The glasses are small, but the content is potent. They produce 6000 litres per year.
Red wine soaks with raisins and spices and is then stored for months. The only sweetener is raisins that are later pressed and thrown away. In the last part of the process cognac and dark rum is added. Before being served in a small glass it is heated to 85° C, and a few fresh raisins and an almond are added.
When we are half way through our first glass, we are lucky to get a table. The room is softly lit by candles, there are lots of people, and there are old pictures on the walls. We have another glass and then walk home to rest. The streets are crowded now - Christmas shopping.
Supper at Le Pave
We have a reservation at Le Pave, a French restaurant at Gråbrødretorv 14, 1154 København K. We have dined here several times, and it has always been excellent with exceptional good value for money.
As we get close to Gråbrødretorv, a guy on Strøget is playing an accordion. It is not the ordinary sailor's tune, but could be a fugue by Bach. Brilliant!
There are a few steps down from the square to the restaurant, where the windows mist up. So do my glasses. We both want the menu with game.
First course is smoked goose breast with salad and pickles espagnol. The main course is juniper-marinated deer fillet with a purée of potatoes and celery and with this honey-glazed cranberries and pepper sauce.
For dessert we have baked apples with cinnamon-vanilla ice cream. The wine is a red Gigondas with a fine earthy flavour. It is all superb, and the bill for this feast is a mere 890 kr.
Changes in Copenhagen
Here and there along Strøget homeless people lie in rags trying to keep warm, as we walk home. People just pass by pretending not to look. I feel ashamed; it is a stain on our wealthy society that we cannot take care of the weak - not even a place to sleep.
When I think back over the 30 years I have visited Copenhagen from time to time, it strikes me that there are now more homeless people. Well, I don't know for certain if there are more, but at least they are more visible now.
Other things have changed too. A law was passed this year against smoking in-doors in public places like bars and restaurants, and now pavements are littered with cigarette buds. But there is other trash as well.
Copenhagen is not a clean city. It is not for lack of trying - we see several street sweeping teams, but bins for rubbish are too few and ashtrays scarce.
The drug addicts in the neighbourhood near the central station (Istedgade) are not as visible as they used to be. In the morning they used to gather at certain street corners waiting to get the first fix of the day, but I don't see that now.
Maybe they have been harassed away or at least out of sight. However empty needle wrappings on the pavement testify that they are still around.
The receptionist says a polite "good night" and straigtens his tie.