Literary stop 2 was Hellsingor / Elsinore which is a little north of Copenhagen. The castle of Kronborg is reputed to be the place of inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A production of Hamlet is held annually. From the castle, you could see Sweden across the strait. Hello, Sweden! Anyway, we got to the castle just as it was closing. We found out, though, that the one night we were in town is the annual Kulture Festival, so the castle was for evening hours as were most of the shops in town. Just like that. The clerk at the gift shop suggested a hotel in the old town we could stay at. It happened to be right in the middle of the festivities in town. Every bar and restaurant had musical acts playing. There were bands playing on the cobbled streets. There was a theater with a concert that sounded that an American Idol type show, all pop music. We checked in, went back to the car to get the luggage and when we came back, the front desk was closed. We had made it just in time. Just like that.
We would not have even known about the town, but my brother made the connection and when we looked it up, knew we had to make it a stop. Our hotel had an autographed picture of Derek Jacobi as Hamlet in the lobby for crying out loud. This is serious stuff. Everything was working out perfectly. The timing was spot on. We had a dinner of a traditional Danish cold sandwich called Smorebrod. It's basically stuff piled on an open face slice of crusty bread. And get this, with dinner, we got a pilsner beer called Wiibroe which is brewed and bottled in Hellsingor. For all you Strange Brew fans out there (Bob and Doug Mackenzie. Take off, eh), you guessed it. We had ourselves some Elsinore beer. Brought a bottle home, too, just to prove it.
After dinner, we headed to the castle for an evening adventure. I was taking some pictures outside when the battery completely died on me. I forgot to check and charge the battery. So while everything else was timed perfectly, this is the one thing that did not go according to whatever plan we had. That and me falling off the curb on the way back to the hotel and scraping up my hands, forearm and knees. But anyway, we had access to any of the interior that was open and even some places not accessible to the public normally. The dungeon was not really a dungeon, just a gigantic labyrinthine basement, but the lights were off and we could only see by the light of the LED light my husband carried. And while Hamlet did not exist and the castle is a more modern construct, it was still really cool to go traipsing around in the dark. Sadly, though, no proof that we were ever there, no photographic proof anyway. I'm over it now.
As we headed back to town, we took a different route and found something amazing I had never seen before. Hellsingor is a UNICEF city, and the proceeds for all the charitable events were going to UNICEF. One of the events was a floating lantern armada. I believe it was 20 euros to purchase the lantern and they were sent up into the sky. The seemed to hover over Kronborg castle in the distance. Very cool to see. I had only seen this in the Disney movie Tangled and while there were not as many lanterns as there were in the movie, these weren't animated. They were real and it was a sight to behold.
I really loved Hellsingor as a town, but let me tell you. One night a year that everything is open late? The Danes really know how to party. The party raged on until at least 2am which I could hear out the hotel window. I guess they have 364 days to make up for. Which is why I guess I was awoken around 2am by two rather inebriated Danes arguing very loudly. Their voices were echoing off the buildings and the cobblestones. It sounded like they were in the room with us and the argument was getting very heated. They carried on for about 15 minutes or so until they were finally out of range. No idea what they were arguing about.
We stopped at another Viking museum on the way to our final stop in Denmark. This Viking museum was completely dedicated to seafaring. The remains of 5 Viking ships were found and after excavation, the remains were on display in the museum. There was also some living museum displays as well. The main attraction was that you could take a boat ride out in the bay in a Viking vessel. My hubby had visions of standing tall with axe and shield in a Viking long ship. We didn't get there are everything was shutting down as you might assume. However, when we requested two tickets for the boat ride, we were informed they only had one ticket left. As it turns out, though, it was not one of the long ships they were riding in and it wasn't any ride. The lucky seafarers were actually going to be manning the oars. After we realized that, the idea wasn't quite so attractive.
Gratuitous baby cuteness.
Stay tuned for the next installment: The Road Goes Ever Onward or What Would You Do for a Magnum Bar?