16 December 2015 – paying a visit to Princess Mary’s place (& some vikings or beer!)

Our final day in Copenhagen was spent visiting the botanical gardens, Rosenborg Slot, Princess Mary’s digs at Amalienborg Palace (which we timed to watch the changing of the guard) then there were either vikings at the museum or a beery good time at the Carlsberg brewery.


Unfortunately Astrid decided to wake up at 5am and refused to go back to sleep.  Not so good when she was already overtired! Soren didn’t sleep a great deal longer so we had some very tired kids on our hands. We still had quite a few things to do on our last day in Copenhagen. Our Copenhagen cards ran out at 2pm so we wanted to make sure the activities covered by the card were ticked off by then.

Botanisk Have
First up was a wander around the botanical gardens. They were only a short train ride from where we were staying and are free to enter.  We were there by around 9am (the gardens are open from 8.30am til 4pm in Winter) so we had time to wander before visiting Rosenborg Slot which is situated with the gardens and open from 10am.

It was a cold and grey morning and pretty much the only other people out were tourists with cameras!  The gardens are much smaller than Frederikserg Have which we had visited the previous day, and we got around most of them in our just under an hour of wandering.  We did notice there was quite the large collection of naked statues so we decided to make our own European collection of photos of naked statues.  We have since added to this collection in Stockholm (where we currently are).

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There are large greenhouses within the gardens and they looked lovely all lit up on a dark morning.  It was bitterly cold so we wandered inside for some warm, where my camera promptly fogged up from the 25 degree temperature differential so there aren’t any good photos, but there was a great collection of interesting plants, cool staircases and viewing platforms and some enormous water lillies.

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It was then back outside in the cold and we wandered off to find the Rosenborg Slot.

Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle)

Rosenborg Slot is a renaissance castle that was built in the 17th Century by Christian IV (along with half of Copenhagen it would seem). We arrived just after the 10am opening and had to store all our bags (no bags allowed in which is a pain).  We had a quick wander around the outside and then decided to head to the Treasury which houses the royal jewels and several crowns and lots of expensive crystal and other bits and pieces.  To go in Soren wasn’t allowed to be back carried in the ergo so had to be moved to Anto’s front and there were plenty of guards watching our every move.

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Astrid enjoyed looking at some of the crowns, tiaras and very large pendants, as well as jewels for the horses. There were also some impressively jewel encrusted swords.  Our wander around took around 20 minutes and headed outside and into the main part of the castle to look at the reception rooms. Soren had managed to fall asleep on Anto while we were looking around the treasury and stayed that way while we were looking through the main part of the castle.

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The most impressive part of the castle for me was the ornate ceiling art and plaster work. It also had some impressive pieces of furniture.  There were quite a number of rooms over at least 2 floors.  Astrid was quickly tiring of the small and dark rooms so after about half an hour we decided we’d seen enough and it was time to move onto the next palace – because there seem to be an abundance of palaces and castles in Copenhagen.

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It was outside into the not very warm (the apparent temperature was well below zero thanks to an icy wind), where we collected all our belongings and were about to head off when we heard some music and noticed a bunch of people in funny outfits marching in lines. They looked suspiciously like the guards from Amalienborg Palace. We wondered if they were practicing for the changing of the guard.  At any rate we failed to find a spot where we got a good view so we headed down through the park and out a different entrance and towards Amalienborg Palace.

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Entry to the Rosenborg Slot in included on the Copenhagen card. The Castle is one of the more interesting Danish castles from the outside and it was interesting to look at the royal jewels in the treasury. The gardens that the castle is set in are very pretty and certainly worth walking around.

Amalienborg Palace (and changing of the guard)

We had looked at the outside of the Palace during our bike tour but wanted to come back and see the changing of the guard and have a look through the exhibition parts of the palace.  Amalienborg is the Winter residence of the Danish Royal family. The palace is made up of 4 identical palaces around an octagonal courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard there is a statue of King Frederick V on his horse.


One of the palaces is open to the public and has a museum the ‘Amalienborg museum’ which apparently lets you experience royal life past and present.  When we arrived at Amalienborg it was still half an hour before the changing of the guard, and we were pretty cold from our walk down to Amalienborg from Rosenborg so we decided to do a quick tour through the museum.  Entry was included on the Copenhagen card. If you don’t have the card you can purchase tickets for the palace separately or as a combined ticket with Rosenborg slot.

Once we got our tickets for Amalienborg we again had to put all our bags in lockers as they weren’t allowed in, we also had to put booties on our shoes for part of the walk through the palace.  It wasn’t a quick process to get in and out with 4 adults and 2 kids (plus coats to get on and off).  The interiors of Amalienborg are much lighter and brighter than Rosenborg and it felt like a much more modern palace from the inside.  There were lots of exhibits of rooms that had been set up for previous Kings and Princes. Lots of showcases of artwork and dresses the royal family wore and plenty of information on members of the Royal family over the last few hundred years and how they had lived.

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We did a pretty quick run through as we were trying to make it to the changing of the guard, even so we saw all of it in under 20 minutes, even if we didn’t read every bit of information. One of the more amusing parts of the museum was the gift shop that contained many different books on the royals and a selection of postcards featuring the Royals. Yet again there was much evidence that ‘our Mary’ is beloved!  Speaking of Mary she is apparently in Australia at the moment so there was no chance of seeing her while visiting her palace. As all the flags were down it appears that no royals were currently in residence.

After touring the palace museum we headed back out into the cold in preparation for the changing of the guard.  There were a reasonable number of people around but the courtyard is massive so we didn’t have too much trouble getting a spot.  After a long few minutes waiting in the cold, we heard a band in the distance.  In marched all the same people we had seen an hour or so earlier, complete with their ridiculously large furry hats that make them look like mini-people from a distance.  It appears we had busted them practicing over at Rosenborg and now we got to see the final show.

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The band and guards marched around for awhile and then they changed over the guards and the band played several songs.  The kids enjoyed watching them march and were very excited with the music being played, especially when the band knocked out a version of ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’.  It got quite the applause from the crowd. Soren was shouting ‘more men, more music’ so we think he enjoyed it too.  As we were all losing feeling in our hands and feet and it was past lunch time we decided to wander and get some food.

The vote was for the Christmas markets we had visited a couple of days earlier.  With hungry and tired kids it seemed to be a long walk in the freezing cold but once we were at the markets the throngs of people and hot food cooking warmed us up.  The kids had sausage sandwiches and a hot chocolate.  The boys had another sausage/bratwurst concoction and I decided to try the Danish Christmas pudding (Risalamande) which is similar to a rice pudding, served with cinnamon sugar and butter.  The adults all needed a glögg after being out in the cold for many hours.  The warm food (and glögg ) helped us warm up and refuel so we decided to brave the cold one final time for the afternoon activities.  Anto and Mikl were keen to see the Carlsberg brewery and do the tour (which was included on the Copenhagen card).  I was not in the least bit interested (and nor would the kids have been) so instead we decided to visit the National Museum of Denmark. My dad also opted for the museum.


We split off into our two groups and headed in different directions with a plan to meet back at the accommodation in a few hours.

National museum of Denmark

This museum is free (although some special exhibitions do have entry fees).  It was supposed to have good vikings exhibits and a children’s area so it seemed like it was worth a visit, if nothing but to get out of the cold.  It was a pleasant change to go to a museum (or castle or palace) that was free! As another bonus they provided free lockers and free strollers for the kids.  Both kids immediately opted to be pushed in a stroller rather than walk or go in the ergos. After carrying them all day we readily agreed.

The museum was very warm so we stripped off about a thousand layers and headed off pushing the kids.  The museum is a lovely 4 storey building with a light central atrium. There are quite a lot of exhibits through long corridors, with rooms off to each side. You could easily spend many hours here.  We again did a kid-friendly version, stopping at the things that interested them and not spending too long in any area.

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The viking exhibits were good but we did see a few other bits of the museum. The kids liked anything with skeletons, armour, horses, knights or swords.  There was also a toy museum up on the top floor which they liked for a bit.  There is a separate ‘children’s museum’ which included lots of things that could sit on or in, dress ups and a few interactive exhibits.  This was the hit with the kids!  Soren adored the boat and had to be dragged away from it.

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There is quite a bit of walking in the museum so the strollers were a good idea. Given it’s free it was definitely worth going to if you have the time, even just for a quick visit. It is also centrally located.  If you have small kids then it will get you out of the cold for a bit and there are certainly areas that will interest most kids for at least a short time.

The museum was so warm we were walking around in T-shirts but the apparent temperature was still below zero. It was time to put the thousands of layers back on and head into the cold. The sun was now setting as we walked back towards central station.  A quick pick-up of supplies for dinner and we were on the train back to the accommodation just as the sun was setting.

Carlsberg brewery
So after leaving Nic, Alan and the kids at the Christmas markets Mikl and Anto made a rapid walk though town to the train to take us out to the Carlsberg brewery, which was conveniently located two stops from our accommodation. Like seemingly 1/2 of Copenhagen the area around the brewery is under construction – which made actually getting to the site on foot more challenging than it would normally be. However not to be put off my minor inconveniences like footpaths no longer existing, we bravely made our way to the entrance.

A fairly quick swipe of the Copenhagen card resulted in us being presented with both a tour sticker and a map – which had attached two
‘free’ drink vouchers – a suitable reward for a strenuous tour.

The tour starts in a simple bar, where you may exchange one of your vouchers for a (plastic) glass of Carlsberg’s product. A screen behind the bar was showing the times of the tours, annoying informing us the next English language tour didn’t start until 3pm. While we briefly considered camping out in the bar for the next 80 minutes or so we decided that being ‘grown ups’ we could probably take the self guided option, and set off to wander through the exhibits, sans refreshments.

Most of the tour was concerned with the history of both beer production and Carlsberg’s role to play in the modernisation of beer technology and production. We spent about an hour reading through the many and detailed displays, looking at mocked up ‘ye-oldy’ laboratories etc.There was one interesting display of the lockers the workers used to keep their lunch and beer rations in – apparently workers were allocated around 4L of beer a day (until sometime in the 1960’s) when it was reduced to 2L. Watching video footage of the working conditions 50+ years ago we concluded that being 1/2 drunk probably made it more bearable.It appeared that historically beer production involved quite a lot of manual labour – especially when you start to scale up production.

Carlsberg historically delivered their beer on horse driven carts, and like the royal family they maintain a small amount of horses and carts
for promotional activities. The last stop of the tour was the stables where the horses are kept. While the royal horses were large, and both white and impressively clean-looking, the Carlsberg ones looked much more suited to rigorous labour. Somehow they were even bigger than the royal ones, and had an obvious amount of strength waited to be directed at the rigging of a cart. Unlike the royal horses, although you were prohibited from feeding the Carlsberg ones, you were permitted to ‘touch the horses at your own risk’ – given they looked so nice a few got gentle rubs, while we discussed that Astrid would be annoyed she missed out.


After the stables we only had to present ourselves at the bar to ‘use up’ our drink vouchers, a task made all the more difficult by the choice of around 12 different beers being available on tap. A helpful bartender talked us through what each of the beers was & what made it different from the others. After some thinking time we settled on the christmas beer, not at all because of it’s higher alcohol content (apparently around christmas more alcohol is a good thing 🙂 After sitting quietly and contemplating the beer, we decided to try their new unfiltered (‘totally hipster’ according to the bartender) organic beer. Having spied a Fußball table, we figured what could go better with a nice cold beer than simulated sport. It turns out that neither of us has a particular talent for the game – however it did provide some entertainment as we finished off our beverages.

As our Copenhagen cards were running out we decided that we should make a move, past a fairly well provisioned supermarket to pick up some essential supplies (well mostly Glögg) but I’m sure there was something we really had to get.. From there it was a pretty quick walk to the train station, a couple of minutes on a train and then the now-familiar walk back ‘home’ to meet up with the others.

Farewelling Copenhagen

All exhausted (and it now being well and truly dark at before 4pm) we had a quiet afternoon and let the kids play while we tried to pack up the monumental mess we had created (well mostly Nic and Anto had created) and ate enough food to compensate for all the walking in the cold we’d done.  The next day was a long train North(ish) to Stockholm.

Stats for the day: Temperature was 1 to 6 degrees with a mean temperature of 4 degrees. This sounds positively balmy compared to other days but the apparent temperature was below zero most of the day so it was our least pleasant day weather wise during our Copenhagen stay. We walked a total of 14km for the day. Beers drunk by the boys may have numbered ‘several’ The sausage consumption was also high. Glogg and cheese consumed was also more than recommended for people not doing lots of walking in the cold.  We have actually fed the kids vegetables the last 2 nights.  Apparently when deprived of vegetables for a few days they start wolfing them down!

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