Day 7 – Friday, February 25th, 2011 – HILLEROD
Another bacon, eggs, and pancakes morning [Nia and Dave may be the only ones finding this funny as I was trying to tell a story one morning at breakfast and said “bacon eggs and pancakes” at least 30 times] and then we were off. We got a little earlier start than the previous day since we wanted to see a couple things around Copenhagen before taking the train up to Hillerod for the afternoon. To get the most out of our Copenhagen Card there were a couple more things we wanted to see around the city: Carlsberg Brewery, Stables & Elephant Tower, Copenhagen Zoo, Frederiksberg Slot and Have (aka castle and garden).
By this time we had mastered the buses and switching buses (and Nia didn’t get cussed out by anymore angry Danes). So we took the bus to Carlsberg Brewery Visitor Center. The bus didn’t go quite to the brewery, so we still had to walk a bit. And by walk I mean wander around confused trying to find where the visitor center actually was because it was seriously lacking signs. At least we passed by the Elephant Tower on the way. Basically this is just a tower over the road that has giant elephant statues built into it. And you know I LOVE elephants!! This made for a few good photo ops and then we found the visitor’s center. We debated on paying to do the tour but opted not to since we had already walked around some of the place by ourselves and we were allowed to see the stables for free. And we figured it was a bit early in the morning for beer tasting – the same beer we already had as a part of the “free sandwiches” in the evenings in the player’s lounge. Instead we spent our money on some souvenoirs for friends/family/ourselves. We purchased a few different types of Carlsberg beer and some nice glasses with the Carlsberg logo. But the best part about this place – THE STABLES! Remember when the people joked around with me at The Royal Reception rooms about having cardboard horses? Well no worries, the horses in this place were the real deal. Pretty much Denmark’s version of the Budweiser horses. We petted the horses while they tried to eat my scarf, we took some pictures, and watched them get suited up to drive the wagon. We followed the wagon out and under the Elephant Tower as we were making our way back to the bus stop.
We opted to skip over the Zoo (what animals would even be out and about in the middle of winter?) and Frederiksberg Slot in order to make it to FrederiksBORG Slot in Hillerod. But first we needed to stop back by the Radisson to drop off all of our new purchases from Carlsberg. This was supposed to be a quick process – just hop on the 5A bus, brief stop at the room, then back on the 5A bus to central station to catch the train. Instead, stubborn me insists that we need to walk one direction to the bus stop when Nia was certain it was the other direction. So we ended up walking all the way back to the Radisson, in silence and frustration. Once we finally made it back and I apologized for not listening when Nia was right then we were on our way on the BUS, not walking, to central station. Remember when I said we had the bus system figured out? Yeah, I guess I meant NIA had the bus system figured out. My job was just to hold onto our Copenhagen Cards since Nia almost lost hers 3 times.
Once at Hovedbanegarden (Central Station) we checked the timetables to see which track we needed to be at to get to Hillerod. My guide book told us which line we needed to ride and which bus to take to get to Frederiksborg. The train ride was about 45-50 minutes long and Hillerod was the final stop on this line. We had some snacks on the train and this was the one place they did actually send someone through to check tickets. [Taking the metro just throughout the city, no one really checks, but remember my list of things we learned about Danes: they are very honest and trusting people. Imagine this system in the US – I’m sure nearly no one would buy tickets if they knew they probably wouldn’t be checked for because unfortunately too many Americans try to take advantage of things and cheat the system. I think we should learn to be a more honest and trusting culture.] Upon arriving in Hillerod we tried to find a bus that was numbered one of the numbers my guidebook told me, but none were there. So we walked around the station trying to find maps and routes and asked a number of people how to get there. I mean this dern castle is kinda the biggest thing in this town, surely everyone knows how to get there. So some nice teens directed us which bus to get on and which stop to get off to get there. And all of a sudden… there she was! In all her beauty! NOW we sure are glad we ditched the rest of our morning plans in order to make it to this amazing place in time. I mean look at this. Now tell me where I can find something this amazing in the US? And with this much history and detail and culture? Probably nowhere.
There was a lake surrounding all sides of this place, which of course was frozen, and a small bridge crossing over the smallest part of this “mote” to get to the entrance. It was nearing the end of the afternoon, around 2:30ish and the place closed at 4pm. That left us enough time to explore this gigantic castle (self-guided tour of course) thoroughly but quickly. We wanted to see all of it so we went pretty quickly through a lot of the rooms. The best room of all though – the reception room – an enormous room with marble floors and ornate walls and ceiling just screaming for us to take all kinds of self timer pictures. And with us as the only people there = a LOT of picture taking, self timer photos, jumping pics, and experimenting with shutter speed and exposure with Nia’s camera. Still waiting to see how those turned out. We ended up spending much more time than expected taking pictures, so we really had to speed it up through the rest of the castle and somehow we got turned around and left some places out. Before we knew it, it was closing time and we were somewhere in the middle of the castle trying to find the exit. No worries, a security guard found us and escorted us out a secret stairwell and luckily we still had time to take some pictures of the outside of the place. This is when I learned that if its too cold to have flowing water in your fountain, just fill it with Christmas trees. Instant gratification! Yes, I have an unusual obsession with Christmas trees, mainly the smell of Christmas trees. I’d even like my man to smell like Christmas trees [that is, of course, when I finally have a man…]. We didn’t want to head back to Copenhagen quite yet, so we walked around the “high street” for a bit. Apparently every city has a “high street” – a shopping street with no cars, only pedestrians – and still not sure WHY its called a HIGH street?? We did have some pretty good finds here. At an antique store we got these old glass bottles for super cheap, at a chocolate shop got some amazing chocolate flavored ground coffee [which scented our bags and hotel room the entire rest of the trip – it was that strong] and I found a beautiful scarf for Sarah at the coolest travel/outdoor store. We asked more strangers how to get back to the train station and walked our way back there only to have more confusion of which train actually goes straight back to Copenhagen. After asking some strangers and the information desk [which conveniently was inside the 7/11; not only was it inside the 7/11, but the 7/11 workers were the information desk. so strange] we hopped on the train they told us to get on, still unsure if it was right because this one didn’t have the route showing all of the stops.
But sure enough, the train took us back to Copenhagen and we got on another bus in search of Peter Beier’s Chokolade. For days all Nia talked about was hot chocolate and finding PB’s Chokolade to get hot chocolate and possibly sample all the different kinds of hot chocolate. The day before when we were with Dave we did briefly stop in PB’s but sadly there was no chocolate fountain flowing in the window nor hot chocolate samples, only chocolate treats for sale. We found out that evening that there are TWO PB’s and we went to the wrong one. So today Nia and I found the right one with chocolate fountain and all. Now the hot chocolate was not free samples, but we did each get a giant cup of different flavors to share with complimenary walnuts [maybe we weren’t supposed to eat those? but they were in a bowl on the table just waiting to be tasted] and free pieces of delicious chocolate. This place was surely worth the days of anticipation and searching for the right one. We also stocked up on some more souvenirs here: chocolate, coffee stirrers made of chocolate, hot chocolate, and a coffee mug. PB’s was right near Cafe Petersborg – where we planned to eat supper that evening after returning to the Radisson to get ready and get Dave. My friend Peter recommended Cafe Petersborg and we got a discount with the Copenhagen Card. To our disappointment, Cafe Petersborg closed at 6pm and we weren’t planning to go out to eat until 7:30-8ish. We found it quite difficult to find a restaurant that was open past 6pm that was an actual restaurant and not just a bar. And boy was it much harder than we thought! We finally decided on Sari Restaurant and headed there with Dave after we changed into our “going out” clothes. We couldn’t just eat those free sandwiches all week, we had to go out at least once!
We walked to Sari Restaurant and were seated right away. Being that we were in Denmark we had to order Smorrebrod (commonly known as smorgasbord) and herring – so Nia and I each ordered one and split. I don’t know why I ordered herring, but everyone talked about it. We were not a fan of the three types of herring nor the smorrebrod. Maybe if we had different kinds somewhere else it’d be better, but we were just not satisfied with our choices. So what else could we do after dinner besides go to an ICEBAR! We read about the Icebar online and in my guide book, so it was a must. Although a total tourist trap and quite pricey (at least the price included a drink) it was so worth it. The entire thing was made of ice – the walls, the statues, the benches, the tables, the bar, the cups! And you wear these giant blue parkas with gloves to stay warm since it clearly has to be kept below freezing or else it wouldn’t be ice now would it? We met some interesting people in there, but more importantly got to have some fun in our fur-lined snuggies. Needless to say, after less than an hour in that place it was time to get back to the Radisson and get to sleep in a nice warm bed.