Islands Brygge & Frederiksborg

On Wednesday I am heading to Germany on a train with two fully-packed bags.

At first I was going to write, “On Wednesday I am leaving Copenhagen,” but that sounds too definitive. It makes it sound like I’m never going to come back.

I’ve complained a lot during my time in Copenhagen. I used my blog to highlight the great things I was experiencing, to remind myself that I’m incredibly lucky to be living somewhere new and exciting, but even here I’ve occasionally made jokes about my irritations.

I was frustrated with a lot of things. Even now, I haven’t been able to sort out bureaucratic or financial problems that have plagued me since the start of the year. But in the last few weeks, I’ve really come around to Copenhagen, and I’m dreading leaving it.

I’m not sure exactly what changed. Of course, there were still times when I counted the days until I could go back to Germany. Maybe it was the surprisingly nice weather, or the carefree attitude I had when I knew I only had a limited time to experience everything I wanted to, or the feeling that it felt like I was finally living somewhere with a routine and friends and a social life.

In any case, I don’t want to say I won’t come back. It took a while to chisel its way there, but Copenhagen will now always have a place in my heart.

But enough of that sappy stuff. In my quest to see and do as much as I could before leaving, I turned once again to my trusty to-do list.

First, during a surprising heat wave at the end of August, I spent an afternoon at Islands Brygge. The first time I ever visited Copenhagen I stayed at Danhostel, a hotel-shaped hostel on the water overlooking Islands Brygge. The diving platform and swimming area only open on June 15, and since I have up until now timed most of my stays in Copenhagen to end with Distortion, I’ve always left the city too early to jump into the sea.

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Well, on a sunny August afternoon, I finally did it.

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Okay, I didn’t jump from the very top; 5 metres seemed a little too ambitious. I contented myself with jumping from the 1-metre platform at first. It took about eight tries before I finally got the courage to jump from the 3-metre platform – although “courage” is probably too strong a word. I forced myself off, horrified, and screamed the whole way down. Hitting the water was painful.

But hey, at least I can say I did it.

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(Even though I have no photographic evidence of me jumping)

Copenhagen had somewhat of an Indian summer. I was expecting to come back to the doom and gloom that I had known for most of the first half of the year, but I was pleasantly surprised. The sun was shining and the temperatures stayed around or even above 20°C. Most beer-drinking was done outside.

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Saturday night ciders on Islands Brygge
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And a Friday afternoon beer mid-September along the lakes

On a weekend in September after most of my roommates had moved out and I didn’t want to sit around in an empty house, I took the S-train out to Hillerød to explore Frederiksborg Castle. I grew up in Canada which has a much different history than Europe, so I still get fascinated by castles.

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Who can blame me when they’re this magnificent?

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The castle has a long history, but most recently it burned down in the 1850s and was rebuilt and restored as a museum. The Museum of National History highlights Danish royalty and achievements – there are an awful lot of paintings depicting wars won against Sweden. But most signage isn’t translated from Danish and the English information available for each room is a bit vague. Thankfully, the castle itself is beautifully constructed, so architecture admirers can still enjoy it.

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Guess not everything is built to last – this guy lost his nose
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First impression of the museum: The Rose, or the Knight’s Room
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Townspeople watching the castle burn in 1859
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People graffitied the walls even in the 1700s
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The Audience Chamber; paintings in the corners of the ceiling represent Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas (and the chandelier is amazing)
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The king’s private elevator in the Audience Chamber – still fully functioning today

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According to the guide I was given, this room shows the “pompous magnificence of the early period of absolutism”
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The Great Hall
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It even holds a portrait of current Queen Margrethe II and her heirs, Prince Frederik and Prince Christian
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View towards the gardens
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A Danish blood bath

The real highlight of Frederiksborg is its gardens. I visited in the middle of September, so I missed out on the spring flowers and the plants weren’t looking as green as they might have been a few weeks earlier.

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That didn’t make the views any less beautiful, especially as the sun was going down.

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A couple taking wedding photos in the gardens

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The castle cathedral was hosting a concert that night and played a melody on the church bells as people were entering. I can’t describe the pure beauty of sitting in the gardens, listening to the bells, and looking out at a scene like this.

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Seriously, just visit for the gardens. I’m sure they’re beautiful in every season.

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