Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Kennedy Sibling Reunion Tour 2015 Part One: Copenhagen

When I last posted, I was overwhelmed by the two year mark of losing my Mom. Luckily, I have a good group of friends (near and far) who helped me through it all! And, after a day of feeling a mixture of sad, happy, and hopeful, I awoke the next morning to the brightest 4:30 am sunshine I'd ever experienced! This, of course, sent me into immense panic, as I was afraid I had slept through my alarm and missed my flight. Yes, that's right, I was taking off yet again. This time for Copenhagen but with the added bonus of meeting up with my brother who has been biking across Europe with a couple of friends.

The journey to Copenhagen got off to a comedically great start, when I boarded the plane only to be greeted by a mother and her two horrifically under-disciplined children, who were consuming each a bag of chips and chocolate, while washing it all down with a bottle of Coca-Cola. As someone who doesn't like children on the best of days (with a few notable exceptions, of course!), I knew I was in for a long 2 hour flight. And, boy was it ever. But, reflecting on it all, has been met with a good chuckle and a good dose of free birth control, so it wasn't all bad!

When I arrived in Copenhagen, I made my way to my accommodations - a flat I rented through Airbnb, which quickly became my dream flat! It was amazing!! But, I couldn't spend too much time there because I had booked a walking tour that was soon to begin. So, I grabbed my map and a snack, and made my way towards the meeting point.

It was quite grey (the sky), but it was an awesome jaunt to the tour's starting point. The mixture of architecture was stunning. I found the meeting spot easily and gathered amongst the 20 or so other participants. There was an obvious threat of rain, but sun in the distance (depending on which direction you were looking). Prior to the start of the tour, the wind appeared to be blowing the rain in the opposite direction of where the tour would be heading. So, we optimistically set off on our way to Christianshavn. Out first stop was a quick look at Christiansborg Palace. Everyone took one shot, and then the heavens opened up, and the rain came pouring down! It lasted the entire duration of the tour until we took a group photo and began to part ways. Go figure! Despite the rain, it was a really great tour and I'd recommend it to anyone travelling to Copenhagen. Afterwards, I explored the area a little before making my way back to the flat, and having a quiet evening.

Christiansborg Palace.
The only photo I took before the rain started.
Group shot - taken moments before the rain ceased.
(Photo credit: Copenhagen Free Walking Tours)
The next morning, I woke up once again to unexpected early morning sunshine. I spent a good portion of it drinking coffee and working on my dissertation. It was really nice to just quietly ease my way into the day, further solidifying my need to somehow bring this flat back with me! Then, I packed up, and made my way out to my second walking tour with Copenhagen Free Walking Tours (which, again, I'd highly recommend!!).

Luckily, this time around it was nicer weather. This was particularly great, because it was a 3-hour tour, as opposed to the one I'd done the previous day, which was only an hour and a half. The longer tour took us all throughout the city, including to the highest point in Copenhagen, which I have no photographic evidence of, because we were all so winded from walking the 0.9m to the peak*! Our tour guide, Luis, was from Peru and had a great sense of humour, which made the adventure even more interesting. Similar to Amsterdam, cyclists rule the roads. Luis referred to the bike lanes as the "death zone" which gave us all a good chuckle! But, it was a fair point - they're intense!

Copenhagen has experienced two major fires. The first saw one half of the city burn
to the ground, the second saw the other half. This street is the only one to survive both. 
Christiansborg Palace, featuring the Royal horses! It has burned down too many times to count.
The Palace is home to the current parliament, and is no longer the home of the Royal Family.
The newest, and most recognizable street in Copenhagen. It's also the most expensive!
Amalienborg Palace, with Frederik's Church in the background.
The Palace consists of four palaces, and is where the Royal Family resides. 
One of the four palaces. The raised flag means someone's home!
Group shot, with our tour guide, Luis, in the front!
(Photo credit: Copenhagen Free Walking Tours)
When the tour came to an end, I headed back to the flat where I worked a bit on my dissertation while I anxiously awaited the arrival of The Brujjie!

The Royal Danish Library, also known as then Black Diamond. When it was first built,
it was discovered after the first rainfall, that the material used was semi-permeable.
Always a good feature for a building that houses a load of historical documents...
Michael finally arrived just before 6:00 pm. We spent a few minutes catching up, before we set out on an adventure to Christianshavn and the free town of Christiania. It was in Christianshavn, where I found my most favourite church ever (the Church of Our Saviour), which included the possibility of climbing to the top. So, naturally, being both on the verge of hanger**, we opted to take the challenge and climb up the 400 (yes... you are reading that correctly!) steps to the top. This makes it the tallest church I've climbed yet, and it was well worth it - the views from the top were unreal!!

The siblings have reunited!
(Photo credit: Michael Kennedy)
Views from atop!
Windmills in the distance, with the Freetown of Christiania in front.

When we returned to solid ground, we went on the hunt for food, and found a pizza place close to where we were staying. We spent the remainder of the evening relaxing, resting up for our big day ahead.

Apparently sleeping in was not in the cards for the Kennedy children. This is the result of both our genetics and the super bright, super early sunshine. We found a bakery close by and grabbed coffee and a treat. Then we got ready, and set out, once again, in search of adventure.

This is probably a good time to mention that the reason for selecting this destination was because Michael - who obviously hadn't had enough exercise lately - was running the Copenhagen Marathon. So, our first stop was to pick up his race kit. After circling the Expo, we returned to our flat, dropped of his purchases and gear, and made our way to city centre for a canal cruise tour.

The cruise was about an hour in length, and took us all around. It was really interesting. My favourite part was when I noticed a statute of Michelangelo's David, and proceeded to take a picture. In doing so, I failed to recognize the gigantic wave barreling towards us! After about 10 seconds of shock, the remainder of the tour was spent wet, but in good humour because the 5 of us who were sitting near that window were soaked!

The unicorn-looking thing is the top of the former stock-exchange building. It is now used as offices.
The creatures that make up the unicorn-looking horn are supposed to be four crocodiles, but look more like
dragons. Apparently the man in charge of creating this brilliant masterpiece had never seen a crocodile
before, and drew from what he imagined them to look like. If only Google were around then... 
HRM residents - remember the 13-year debate over a cat bylaw? Well, this is what happens when
you don't spend time sorting out all of the details on such big decisions. This is the beginning of a
bicycle bridge across the main canal. It's obviously not completed, and has been in this state for some
time! The Black Diamond error was also the result of Copenhagen's speedy decision-making skills!
A replica of Michelangelo's David. Note the beginnings of an unexpected wave...
A neat vessel along one of the canals. I think it looks like it's smiling!
The top of the Church of Our Saviour! Isn't that magnificent?! It's WAY cooler in real-life!
After the cruise, we decided to pay a visit to Tivoli - an amusement park in the centre of the city. It is believed that Walt Disney's inspiration for his own theme parks came from his visit to Tivoli. It was really cool! It's actually a garden, with a smattering of rides throughout. However, each ride was quite expensive, but the two we decided on*** were well worth it. The first was a roller coaster, which was pretty short, but fun nonetheless. The second, was well, terrifying yet hilariously amazing! It was basically a plane crash simulator that flung you around in circles at speeds up to a G-Force of 5.2. I will say that the onset of the ride, when it was going really slow, I was not such a fan of. In fact I believe I quickly uttered the words "Michael, I hate you so much right now." But, as we picked up speed, there was nothing you could do but laugh! The force was so intense you couldn't move. All I could feel was my flab being sucked against the back of my seat, making for an excellent motive to get back in shape! Thanks semi-racist ride!

The entrance to Tivoli
Shots of the Gardens

Where's the draaaaagggggooooonn?

This is a public swimming pool, not in Tivoli, but in front of our flat! Love that it's shaped like a ship!
We were both pretty tired at this point, so we grabbed a few things at the grocery store near our flat, made dinner and then watched the Big Lebowski. A great day all in all, but Michael had an even bigger day ahead of him in the morning - the Marathon!

The race started later than what other of us were used to. But, since I didn't want to just sit around, I booked a tour outside of the city. Luckily, it started a little after the marathon, so I was able to see him off, before I had to be at the meeting point. It was so overwhelming to see all of these runners. In fact, I thought I'd missed him running by, so I ended up leaving my perfect viewing spot early, only to have Michael run past me shortly after! Oh well!

Almost start time! ...and no, that doesn't mean there's just short of 9 minutes before the race starts...
And they're off!

If you look close, you'll see a pasty Canadian in the centre. That's Mike!
A shot of just a small group of Marathoners! There were approximately 30 000 participants in this race!
My day was spent on the hunt for castles - three to be precise, although one was technically a just a palace. I've done a number of tours with this company during previous trips - all of which were quite well done - but this one I felt was overpriced for the value of what we experienced. That being said, we got to visit some neat places. The first was Kronborg Castle, which is also known as Hamlet's Castle. It was pretty neat, and featured some interesting things...

Views along the way.
These are traditional houses, with thatch roofs. Trodger, anyone?
This is a former flour-producing windmill. It has since been transformed into a residence. Some rich dude lives here, apparently. He's got a new girlfriend. She's blonde. Last year, the owner's lady friend was a brunette. Also, it was someone's birthday. These are just a collection of the quality facts we were presented with along the way... 
Kronborg Castle!
When you need to add a little pizzaz to your dinner party, why
not put a stuffed bird into a loaf of bread?! A feast for the eyes only.
By far the most creepy painting I've ever seen...
This is the castle's ballroom. As you can see by the large number of chairs in the centre, it is home
to both the origin of "Musical Chairs" and the largest game of Musical Chairs ever played.****
Shhhhhhhh - he's sleeping. Holger the Dane is resting up for any potential "next threat" to the castle...
That's Sweden in the background.
A different view of the Castle's exterior
Next we made out way to the palace (Fredensborg Castle), which serves as the summer home to the current Royal Family. Here, we were lucky enough to witness the changing of the guards... although no one seemed to actually witness any guards changing. This may have been erased by the slightly traumatizing, slightly hilarious near death experience*****. You see, everyone thought the guards would stop and turn even though they were clearly marching towards us. But, they didn't. They kept marching, and then they started yelling at us to move. Everyone quickly jumped out of the way, and we all had a good laugh at our own expense!

Fredensborg Castle
Changing of the guards
The final stop was to Frederiksborg. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to fully explore the massive grounds, but it was really neat to walk through. I really would have loved to walk throughout the gardens, perhaps I'll do this if ever there is a next time!

Frederiksborg Castle...taken from the window of the moving bus.
The moat.
Rock on, Neptune!
The Castle's Chapel 
The Chapel from the opposite side
A view of the gardens from inside the castle
The Castle's courtyard
I arrived back, shortly before 5:00 pm. I made something to eat, and relaxed a bit, while Michael took a recovery bike ride around the city. When he returned we took a quick walk along the waterfront before calling it a night.

 This is a really cool project - all of the materials used to make this gigantic fish are all taken from the surrounding waters!

Shots from along the waterfront
The addition of googly eyes make for a delightful edition to the waterfront! 
This is in a park along the waterfront. Mike was too scared to join me after the last time we went on one
of these things left him in the hospital thanks to me. This incident took place approximately 25 years ago... 
The street we stayed on. Michael photo-bombed the shot...
Copenhagen was a neat spot. If I take away anything from this experience, it is this: everything has burned to the ground at least once and has been rebuild each time, regardless of how many times it has been destroyed. Therefore, if at first you don't succeed, keep trying even when everyone else and all logic tells you to stop...

-the Orange Canadian

* No one was actually winded... the difference in elevation was barely noticeable.
**Hanger - the state of being so hungry you become angry, also referred to as "hangry." Pronounced as hang-gry or hang-grrrrr
***By "we decided on" I mean Michael peer-pressured me into doing.
****None of these facts are true... at least that I'm aware of
***** Not actually a near death experience 

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