Copenhagen Day 1: Canal Boats, Tivoli Gardens & The Friendliest Place On Earth
“Every town, like every man, has its own countenance; they have a common likeness and yet are different; one keeps in his mind all their peculiar touches.”
~Hans Christian Andersen
We had just stepped onto the streets of Town Hall Square and started to unfold our map when it first happened.
“Can I help you find something?” the man asked. His sincerity and friendliness caught us off guard. We weren’t lost and didn’t even have a question, and yet this very nice stranger had stopped to offer help. We smiled and thanked him and said we were just getting our bearings before heading into Old Town.
But it turned out that kindness from strangers is not a random happenstance in the Danish capital. It’s a way of life that we encountered more often in our two days there than anywhere else we have traveled. The people we met seemed happy. They rode bicycles to work – women in dresses, men in suits – and looked effortlessly stylish. The city was spotlessly clean and endlessly charming. By the end of our stay, I was convinced that if I had to live in another country, Denmark would be the place!
Copenhagen was the embarkation port for our cruise on the Baltic Sea. My husband and I had arrived a couple of days ahead of time to see this city that was new to both of us. We purchased Copenhagen Cards at the Tourist Information Office, which gave us access to the main attractions for our two-day stay.
It was lovely sunny morning as we walked through Old Town to Gammel Strand to catch one of the Canal Tours. We found seats by the open windows and were ready for our one-hour excursion. Our friendly – there’s that word again – guide provided a triple-language narration in English, Danish and Spanish.
After the canal tour, we set out to find a café I had read about called Grams Laekkerier. The little soup and sandwich shop is run by a delightfully friendly owner and has several outside tables. The sandwiches were so large that we decided to share one, and the bread was unbelievably delicious!
Our next stop was Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s legendary amusement park that opened in 1843. Along the way, we took a shortcut through the Copenhagen Central Train Station and discovered these interesting lights and vaulted ceilings.
We entered Tivoli through the side entrance near a mountain that could have been Disneyland’s Matterhorn. Walt Disney visited Tivoli in 1951 and was so inspired by what he experienced – from the rides and food to the cleanliness and twinkle lights – that he incorporated much of the Tivoli aesthetic into the 1955 design of Disneyland. It was easy to see the similarities at every turn.
We left the park through the charming front entrance and returned to our hotel before heading to the ship. As our taxi made its way to Langelinie Pier, we passed windmills along the harbor. Copenhagen had made quite a first impression. And I was happy that we would be invited back for another visit the next morning.