Around the world in 125 days
Our last city in Scandinavia was Copenhagen. We saw the announcement on TV that they had just opened a new bridge linking Sweden to Denmark. In our case, we took a short ferry trip to cross the waterway between these countries. By the time we got into Copenhagen, it was late in the afternoon. Our tour bus pulled up to the hotel and our tour director went in. He came out shortly afterward and told us there was a big, as Americans call it, "screw-up". The hotel did not have our reservation. Luckily they had 40 single rooms so we took them. That night each of us had his or her own private room if we liked.
At night, we joined a tour to the Tivoli Garden, which is a famous amusement park right in the middle of downtown, built since 1843 as a recreation facility for the local citizens. The tour included a dinner before entering the garden. The restaurant was just across the street to the entrance of the garden. We had some typical Scandinavian food. After the dinner, we headed over to the Garden. This fairy-tale village-like place is not that big but it is not exactly small either. You find roller coasters, theaters, restaurants, stages for performance. There were a lot of people there watching live bands playing Latin music. In addition, there are pretty landscaped flower beds and fountains everywhere. It was magical because almost everything in this place was well-lit. Part of the garden had some Oriental-theme buildings that were also brightly decorated. It is a great place to spend a summer evening for sure. I guess a lot of Copenhageners had the same idea. We saw a beautiful restaurant inside the park that we wished that we had had our meal there instead of outside. On the subject of food, one story I heard about this city is it is perfectly legal to sit and drink alcohol in the street, unlike other Scandinavian cities.
For some reason, the tour did not include a visit to another famous landmark in Tivoli Garden - the Little Mermaid - and the schedule simply would not have enough time for us to go there on our own. I was rather annoyed that we came all the way to Copenhagen and not be able to see the famous Mermaid. It was a classic 'so close yet so far' situation. So I discussed with other tour members and we told the tour director that we really wanted to see it. Eventually he relented and agreed that next morning we would make a quick stop at the Mermaid, partly to make up for the screwup with the hotel.
The Mermaid sits by the water's edge on one of the rocks just off the road. Everybody tried to scramble onto the rocks to get close to her for a good look or take picture. The Little Mermaid apparently attracts millions of visitors every year. It was made with money donated by the Carlsberg brewer Carl Jacobsen, in 1913 after he was inspired by the fairytale "The Little Mermaid", written by Hans Christian Anderson. The sculpture was done by a sculptor named Edward Eriksen. He modeled it after her wife Eline Eriksen. Eline must be pretty small because the statue is not that big. On the other hand, they did want a 'little' mermaid.
Anyway, I still think this mermaid deserves a better setting than where she is now. For her fame, the least they should do is to build a small waterfront park around her. Lucky for us, we did manage to see the two famous sights offered by a lovely Northern city.
From Copenhagen, we went back to Germany. Stopped one night in Berlin before continuing to Frankfurt. While on the bus, on our way to Frankfurt, the tour director took out a bottle of German wine and posed a quiz that asked a number of travel questions. The winner would get that bottle of wine. Estrella managed to nail 9 out of 10 questions and got the prize.
The European trip ended in where it started - Frankfurt. That night the group had our last meal together in the hotel and said good bye to each other. We all felt sad after having so much fun together for two and half weeks. Since Estrella won a bottle of wine from the quiz contest, after the dinner, I invited Paul and Janet, Levia and Anna, plus a British couple, to our room and we had our very last party. As usual, we had a great time, exchanging travel stories and offering travel tips. The British, upon learning that we would be heading to Australia, told us when we were at Port Douglas, make sure to visit this restaurant which happened to look extremely ugly from outside but the food of course is great inside.
Then, next morning, on waking up, suddenly we were completely on our own, no more tour director to tell us when to get up, where to put the luggage or where to go next. It was really quite a big shock that after hanging out with 40 nice and happy people day after day for two weeks, now it was just only the two of us. Sadly everything nice has to end sooner or later.
© Dave Cheng 2000