My Little Mermaids on the road
Since the beginning of our trip, we had (unintentionally) avoided the big cities, and we even haven’t felt like we missed something! 🙂 The change of scenery is total! But today it was time for our family to return to civilization. And we knew the girls were really looking forward to today… We would finally “meet” the little mermaid! THE REAL ONE! Excitement was at its peak.
After awakening anew in paradise (see picture on awakening), we left for Copenhagen. We crossed the famous bridge that connects Sweden with Denmark. The Øresundsbron is a bridge, a border, a highway, a railroad, and even a tunnel on the Danish side. It marks the boundary between the Baltic Sea and Kattegat. And if you’ve ever heard of this bridge it’s probably thanks to the “Broen” series (The Bridge).
The Little Mermaid
Copenhagen is a very modern city (there is a lot of new construction and architectural feats) with a perfectly protected heritage. We crossed the city for the first time by rolling up to the park next to the site of the little mermaid.
I had warned the girls that, like the Mona Lisa, people are sometimes disappointed to see the little mermaid in reality, because they imagine it bigger than it is. In fact, it is simply real size.
Arriving at the site, the girls kept asking:”How much further to the little mermaid?” and when we finally answered “Here we are”, they found themselves looking around for some time before finding it… Yet the gathering of tourists around left no doubt as to the direction we needed to look.
There she is standing on her rock, her soul in pain, her eyes lost, her back to the sea. Yes, because in fact in the original story she is abandoned by the prince who goes on to marry another princess, thinking she is the one who saved him from a shipwreck. With her love for the Prince never to be repaid, her choices were to murder the Prince or die herself – returning to the sea and dissipating into foam. As dawn (and the end of the spell) arrived, the Little Mermaid, beside herself over the decision to kill her love or die herself, chose the latter, jumping into the sea to die… We are far from history according to Disney, but she has a touch of romanticism and an incredibly deep melancholy. That is the beauty of this young girl, and it’s what makes her so fascinating.
Our visit was followed by a short walk into Copenhagen, first through the royal quarter, where we met the royal guards (perhaps not as stoic as the English royal guards). Then we headed to the “postcard” district of “Indre By” for a boat trip.
This tour-by-boat allowed us to get a quick feel for our surroundings. Copenhagen is a city that has found the perfect balance between the old and new – guarding those precious pieces of history while maintaining the flair of a modern Danish city.The now unused docks have been converted into accommodations with direct access to the sea.The warehouses have become hotels, lodgings, and offices. A whole area of the old port is entirely dedicated to street food. The old and the very modern cohabitate in perfect harmony. There is a feeling of freedom and lightness in this town, while maintaining a Danish allure.
A singular neighborhood:
With the boat we crossed the district of Christianshavn, which is beyond the inlet that crosses the city, in front of the center. It is at the same time one of the oldest and most modern districts of Copenhagen. This district was once a kind of no-man’s land.
The island has always had a special status as a freelancer in Copenhagen. It was the fortified stronghold, in front of the post, which protected the city from its aggressors and the bad weather. When maritime and naval activities became more scarce, the neighborhood turned in to the poorest in Copenhagen between the 19th and 20th centuries. A community of hippies settled in some abandoned military buildings in the 70’s, establishing a kind of autonomous mini nation, self-proclaimed, within Copenhagen.
Even today, its 850 residents struggle to preserve their autonomy, and although the Danish authorities regularly seek to drive them away, the community has survived and even has a unique right in the territory of exploitation and trade of Cannabis. The birth of this district has given rise to an awakening in the city of Copenhagen which has in turn led to a revitalization of Christianshavn, which is now a chic and trendy district, epicenter of contemporary Copenhagen culture.
Copenhagen also has a singular peculiarity, at least in my eyes. From this city emerges an esoteric atmosphere. In all the streets there are magic symbols. Viking mythology is still alive and well. Trolls are seen alternately on churches, basilicas hung on buildings, phoenix as ramps for access. In short, I Loved Copenhagen. it was really a good idea to keep this city for the end. We will probably go back to visit the city more thoroughly.
The day ended at Stevns Camping in Strøby. A very family camping, with a freely accessible mini farm for the children – A pure happiness … Until Josephine came back to the camper van crying. She wanted to feed the goats and had gathered a large handful of nettle in her hand … Nothing serious but a hugely emotional for her. Fortunately, it is nothing a bit of Duct Tape can’t solve! 😀 Place the hands 20 min in water, stick the tape on, and hop! The thorns magically disappear. And now, go to sleep my little mermaid.
Back to 21st century
Today, we took the ferry back to Germany. The end of the holiday is approaching … We had planned since the beginning to stop in Hamburg on our way back. So we set our sights on getting into the city today.
From Strøby, we went as far as Gedser. The closer we got to Germany, the more the rain began to fall again. We left the rain at the Danish border on the way and we found it at the German border on the way back.
The crossing to Rostock was very short (less than 2 hours) just enough time to embark, eat in the boat and return to the camping car to land. Then we drove to Hamburg.
It was really great to see my friend after 17 years!
We had left our home town at the same time, to live our lives. Our paths have been rather different, and yet, today, our lives are very similar. We are both expatriates, coupled with 2 children – they have a boy and a girl, but they are about the same age as our children. She works in internet communication like me, and her husband is a man as reserved as mine.
Hamburg was still in turmoil after the G20, which resulted in riots close to home. They were never directly affected, but we could see the effects of this difficult episode. A lot of graffiti in the streets, areas ransacked by protesters, closed by barriers.
That did not stop us from spending a delightful evening together… We talked a lot and the children played together all evening. They enjoyed it so much that when it was time to separate, it was very difficult … Josephine and my friend’s son fell in a deep friendship and it was heart-rending to see them say “goodbye”.
We got back into the Camping van, which had been parked on the street, and decided not to open the roof (where the girl’s bed is) for more security. So we slept (restlessly) together. The girls are starting to get big, so 4 of us in a small bed was not easy. But we made it work! 🙂