Saturday, August 6, 2011

Castles and Palaces - Denmark

There are numerous castles and palaces in Denmark - and they look quite different from ones I've seen before in the UK. We saw several in Denmark, and visited inside two of them.

First, at the end of our train from Copenhagen to where we were staying, we first decided to go one stop further to Helsingor (or Elsinore in Shakespeare's Hamlet).
We were so very tired by then we could hardly keep going - at this point we had been traveling for about 20 hours straight. But, when we rounded the corner out of the train station, there before us lay the beautiful sight of Helsingor Castle. Wish we had possessed the strength to tour it - next time!

This is Hamlet's Castle

The next day we took the train back into Copenhagen and visited Rosenborg Slot. Slot is Danish for Castle or Palace I guess. We wanted to visit this one because is is where the Danish Crown Jewels are housed. Well, we couldn't take pictures of the crown jewels - but they were very nice. There was an especially beautiful little set of a tiara, necklace, brooch and earrings made of emeralds and diamonds that Mathilda especially liked. She has good taste!

Kronborg Slot - Copenhagen

This Palace is pretty small compared to some others - but it was very beautiful and built as a residence, not a fortification. There are still Palace Guards - but they carry automatic weapons these days!

Palace Guard

Later that day we took a short train ride to the northwest of Copenhagen to Hillerod where Fredericksborg Slot is. This castle is in a lovely setting, on a small lake, and there are beautiful gardens. Unfortunately, we didn't have time before they closed to visit the gardens - just the castle. It is also now the Danish History Museum.

Fredericksborg Slot - Hillerod, Denmark

View of Fredericksborg from the far side of the lake.

The Neptune Fountain in the inner court yard.

Exterior architecture - very pretty.

A view of the Royal Chapel - the royal weddings in Denmark are still often held in this Chapel. As you can see, it is extremely ornate!

This is the Great Hall, where the king would hold audiences and entertain his courtiers. It was quite magnificent, and had some beautiful tapestries.

Kronborg Castle Great Hall

One of many beautiful stained glass windows in the the palace - this one is the emblem for King Christian IX.

On a boat tour of Copenhagen we could see the back of the current Royal residence - Amalienborg Palace. The Danish flag is flying, indicating that Queen Margaret was in residence.

Just across the water - at anchor and awaiting its next trip was the Royal Yacht which the Royal Family still uses. Another reason why it is good to be the Queen or King!

So, that's it for Denmark.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh the Food!!!

Hi ya'll - I guess you probably thought I would never write another post, but here it is. Of course, Spring brought the baseball season and things have been really busy when the team is in town. Before I took the job with The Drillers, I had already scheduled a trip to Northern Europe for early June with granddaughter Mathilda (Tilda). This post will just focus on some of the cuisine we enjoyed while on our trip.

First of all, Denmark is VERY EXPENSIVE. Expect to pay nearly $30 to feed two people at McDonalds! However, you can get a Danish Dog, with everything for much less at one of the many carts in Copenhagen.

We had bought some beautiful cheese (called Sara) and sausages on our first day when we took the train all the way to Helsingor (this is where Hamlet lived - OMG!!) We usually had that for our typical Danish breakfast, along with orange juice and coffee (for me).

We did enjoy a nice meal in the town of Hillerod, where one of the fabulous palaces/castles is located. We'll talk castles another time - lol!!

This is what nachos look like in Denmark - but they tasted good according to Tilda!

I order a grilled chicken sandwich - and I got a beautiful feast!

Tilda enjoying a cool beverage (actually iced tea) at the Hillerod cafe where we enjoyed the best meal we had in Denmark.

This is the beautiful house overlooking the sea where we stayed in a small town just outside Copenhagen called Snekkersten. More about it on another post - there was some amazing connection to WWII here.

We spent 4 days in Denmark before embarking on Saturday, June 4 for a 9-day cruise of Baltic Capitals. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. We had absolutely gorgeous weather the whole time.

The first port of call was Rostock, Germany. I didn't know until we arrived, but this area was formerly part of East Germany in the "bad-old" days before the Berlin wall came down. We took a full-day tour with someone I found through Cruise Critic. It's called "Friends of Dave" and he only takes small groups, so it is more like having a personal guide. We chose the "Magical Mecklenburg" option, so we were off early in the morning to Schwerin, which was the former capital of the Mecklenburg Duchy - and remained an independent state until the early 20th century.

Dave's price included lunch at the oldest brewery in Schwerin and we were given several choices while we drove over there and he called in the order!! Such efficiency - lol! I wanted to eat local cuisine everywhere - try new things, etc. Dave told us it was "white asparagus season" in Germany, so one dish would have that as a side. The dish was the schnitzel - so what's not to like. I opted for that choice. Tilda opted for a pasta dish - you will begin to see a pattern there - ha!!

Schnitzel with White Asparagus - oh so good!!

A beautiful and good pasta dish for Tilda.

After Germany, we spent a day at sea on our way to Helsinki. This turned out to be one of favorite places for easy local transportation and the most wonderful market place where your could buy all kinds of food, handmade local crafts, souvenirs, flowers - whatever you might want. We bought some grilled salmon in the Food Hall but didn't get a picture of it - it was so good. And, we bought dried reindeer meat to bring home to my son - his only request. (I think it is still in the refrigerator).

A local hot dog and beer was the food of Helsinki (Coke for Tilda, of course).

I must always also try the pastry!!

I forgot to take pictures of our two meals in Russia. The first day we had a typical Russian meal starting with Borscht (beet soup). I like beets, but I may have been the only one in our tour group who ate it - ha!! We had stroganoff and blintzes for dessert. I enjoyed it all - not great, but edible. The second day we had a chicken soup (much better), Chicken Kiev, and other sides. It was in a very charming restaurant in the middle of Saint Petersburg. time I'll tell you about two amazing meals: Tallin, Estonia and Nynashamn, Sweden.