Copenhagen to EsjbergPosted: August 2, 2011
Jutland, Zealand and Fyn! Could be the names of David Beckhams children but no, they are the 3 major islands of the many hundreds of islands that compose Denmark.
Zealand is the home of Copenhagen (By the Harbour). The first stop on a 4 hour self guided walking tour of Copenhagen, was a visit to the Copenhagen Cathedral just after the memorial service for the Oslo victims, and we entered to light a candle and take a moments silence.
After that, it was all teeming throngs, we have not seen so many people in one city anywhere else on our tour, it seems. I ask a young ice cream vendor if it’s a public holiday. “No” he smiles, “Just summer. It will be quiet in August!!”
This is Roland, Royal Guard, 20 years, old, first day on the job!!! And we know this as his sisters and friends were as busy as us taking photos!!! The poor boy clearly could not even look sideways amidst his families fuss.
Copenhagen is a capital city with everything. We wander with the crowds, through design districts including the Danish design center (who knew – Denmark owns Lego !), cafes, bars, restaurants, designer shops for clothes, household items, gifts. Through manicured gardens, canals, harbors, past royal palaces to one of Denmark’s most photographed icons, the Little Mermaid, and just absorb the energy and liveliness of the sun loving Danes and tourists. Copenhagen is a wonderful bustling city with old world, royal charm.
The next day we leave Zealand, and head to Esjberg, Jutland to catch the ferry to England. In the middle, the island of Fyn houses Odense, the childhood city of Hans Christian Andersen. (Prolific author, The Ugly Ducking, The Little Mermaid etc etc)
Andersen was a highly intriguing fellow. A tall gawky looking character with very odd features. He never found love or created a family of his own. On a holiday in London, a non English speaking foreigner, he was a guest of Charles Dickens and his family. Charles Dickens daughter was said to describe Andersen as a big “boney bore! ”
He was endlessly creative. An extraordinarily fertile, wildly imaginative mind and a creative energy in his hands to match. It seems neither ever stood still. As with Karen Blixon, Andersen could draw beautifully but he preferred, as he told stories , to cut out paper shapes using scissors. Some tiny and intricate, even with his big hands. He was constantly creating story books full of characters from his paper cuttings, or drawings and stories and tales, endless, endless, he would then give them away. A gentle, whimsical character whose legacy is an enormous body of work enchanting children (and adults) from all over the world. The museum was packed!
I was particularly charmed by the account below and rather than paraphrase the anecdote, have transcribed it as found in the museum. Taken from Josefa Durck-Kaulbach: Memories of Wilhelm von Kaulbach and his Household, 1921.
“After dinner, the writer, who did not smoke – retired with the ladies to the salon and asked for a pair of scissors and a large sheet of paper. The latter he folded a number of times with great care with his gentle, supple fingers and then cut out with great skill the most charming things, which he distributed amongst us. While doing so, he told us about his life, then involuntarily (it seemed) leaving the terra firma of existence and floating off into the land of fairy tales, carrying all of us with him on his outstretched wings. He told us how he had often sat by the seashore and looked into the water. Once, he had walked far out along a jetty, had seen a shipwreck deep down in the water where fishes swam in and out. Then he had noticed how a huge creature dragged something along with it in it’s mouth that the others were unwilling to allow, and that when he looked more closely, he saw it was a small golden crown – and now his imagination took over and image upon image unfurled. We sat with bated breath. Many of us secretly concealed our tears, for we experienced something sad with our writer, sitting there in front of us and directing the scissors with his restless fingers as he cut out ballet dancers. When he had ended his story (or did it end because he had finished cutting the paper?), he spread out in front of us a whole series of cut-out ballet girls who were holding each other by the hand, their feet in the air, with Andersen delighted at the success of his venture. He took more pleasure in our praising him for this than in the impression his story had made on us.”
We have much to thank Denmark for, Karen Blixon, Hans Christian Andersen, Lego and a royal home for our Mary. On a personal note we want to thank the Danes for their generous spirit – always given with perfect English! A wonderful and happy end to this part of our journey, as we say goodbye to Scandinavia, and the continent of Europe.