Two weeks ago we were in Copenhagen for a long weekend to see the start of the Tour de France! I have watched the Tour for about 30 years and never imagined that it would visit, let alone start in, Denmark. So I just had to go see it if at all possible. :-D
There are some more pictures in my Instagram stories.
It was quite the experience to see usually busy Copenhagen streets closed to traffic. I’m sure some people were annoyed with it but on the whole it seemed like people really embraced the Tour being in town, disruptions and all.
The first stage was a time trial stage, where the riders set off one by one with a few minutes interval. We chose Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) to go see the riders go by. It is a central location, so easy to get to. The square was decorated with lots of yellow flowers and there were different sponsor booths and kind of a party vibe. The fact that it was raining didn’t really dampen people’s enthusiasm! Because, as the saying goes in Denmark: there’s no bad weather, only inadequate clothing. :-D
In one corner of Kongens Nytorv was a platform that could be raised to give the ‘passengers’ a better view of the street. I don’t like heights but it didn’t seem TOO high so I did get it on it and it was great to get a view from above. Spot the rider!
In the background is the famous Nyhavn area of Copenhagen.
Just a few days before we left for Copenhagen, I had read about Tour de KBH, a cycling festival to be held on the Saturday, the day after the first stage. Part of the festival was that anyone could cycle the route of the first stage on the still closed roads. So obviously we had to do that! It’s not often you get to cycle on closed roads in Copenhagen, or do a Tour de France stage. :-)
So we hired a couple of bikes and did the 13.2 km route in a leisurely hour or so. It was a lovely way to see Copenhagen! Although it wasn’t easy to watch the cityscape because with so many other riders attention was required so we didn’t end up on the ground!
The sign on the bike says “100% rye bread motor” referring to how Danes eat a lot of rye bread. :-D
We didn’t stop to take pictures on our ride, but Tony did take a few while he was riding (really shouldn’t do that!), so here is one of the so-called Marmorkirke (marble church) which is just next to Amalienborg, the Danish royal castle, which the route also passed by. Riding across Amalienborg square was not pleasant, it is cobbled!
We ended the ride at Rådhuspladsen (Town Square) which is at one end of Strøget, a pedestrianised shopping street. We walked the length of it, stopping for lunch along the way, and took the Metro from Kongens Nytorv at the other end. The streets and lots of the shops and restaurants were decorated with the colours of the Tour. It was very festive to see.
Only the first stage of the Tour was in Copenhagen, so we watched the other two on tv. I can’t even tell you how special it was to watch the Tour going through the Danish landscape. So many people were on the roads. One big party. It helped of course that the weather was nice, but I’m pretty sure that there would have been almost as many people even if it had rained. It makes me happy that people really embraced it, hopefully that means the Tour will be back in Denmark at some point!
Obligatory picture of Nyhavn. With bikes. :-D
More Nyhavn. It *is* pretty so of course it draws in the tourists. So if you want to take pictures here, maybe come early in the day before your photos will be 76% tourists. ;-)
Speaking of pretty, this is the court yard where we were staying. So pretty! And that colour combo of yellow and the red roof tiles just feels so very Copenhagenish to me.
In the same building as our airbnb was a bakery so of course we had to have traditional rundstykker and håndværkere for breakfast a couple of time. So nice. You just can’t get nice breakfast rolls like that in the UK. Sorry, but you just cant. ;-)
This yellow building is the Thorvaldsen Museum and it is one of my favourites. It houses sculptures by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen as well as other artists. The building itself is worth a visit for the beautiful floor mosaics and wall decorations. Highly recommended. It is right next to Christiansborg Slot, aka Borgen.
And if you are on Slotsholmen, the island where Borgen and Thorvaldsen Museum are loacated, I can also highly recommend seeking out the garden of the Royal Library (accessed via Rigsdagsgården). We stumbled upon it by accident and it was a beautiful, peaceful place to sit and look at some flowers and birds. We sat in the court yard next to the garden for a while, enjoying a cold drink and the peace and quiet.
At Nørrebro station. Bikes, bikes, bikes, lots of bikes. :-)
A very typical sight in Copenhagen. Cargo bikes, with and without passengers. Sometimes the passengers are kids, sometimes grownups, sometimes dogs and sometimes a combination as in this example. :-)
Even estate agents have bikes! Not sure if they are for the agents’ use or for their clients…
Even the manhole covers were showing the excitement for the Tour being in town. :-)
This is Kultorvet, a small square roughly midway between Nørreport station and Rundetårn (famous landmark in Copenhagen). It is a lovely little square, with several outdoor cafes and veg/flower sellers. The small building with the green copper roof is an old phone kiosk. Now it is used as a small cafe.
This is the outdoor part of Torvehallerne, where you can go and buy fresh fruit and veg. In the inside bit you can buy prepared food and nice utensils and oils etc. If you are into food and cooking, you don’t want to miss it. And if you are vegan like me, I can recommend a visit to Nicecream, where I would definitely order my icecream topped with ‘guf’. :-)
And if you want to try something very Danish, check out Glean‘s flødeboller. It’s kind of like a not quite set marshmallow covered in chocolate. Usually the ‘marshmallow’ is made from eggs but Glean’s are vegan and made with aquafaba.
On the Sunday afternoon, just after the end of the last Tour stage in Denmark, the mood changed abruptly and violently. I was watching the Tour coverage on Danish tv and all of a sudden they cut to breaking news. There had been a shooting in a shopping centre in Copenhagen. Later it turned out that three people were dead and several more were injured.
I can not stress how rare this is. In Denmark, you can’t just go into a shop and buy a weapon. You need permits and actual reasons for owning a gun and it has to be secured when not in use
It is really shocking. It happened just under two weeks ago. I wasn’t in the shopping centre, and none of my friends or relatives were there. But thinking about, and writing about it, I can feel my hands shaking and my mind having trouble grasping it.
Someone broke the peace and the trust that Danes have that Denmark is a safe place.
Denmark is a safe place. Compared to many other places. But in an instant we were reminded that we should not take it for granted… . And anyone who uses this shooting as an example of tough gun control doesn’t work are missing the point. In Denmark it does work, that is why shootings like this are so rare.
Perhaps a bit of a downer way to finish this post, but it seemed weird not to mention the shooting.
Another couple of photos. When we were coming in to land at Heathrow we were treated to some spectacular views of London. Here is the City with Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And below is Kew Gardens.