We had spent a couple of days in Oslo, resting and preparing for the second part of our bike ride, which would lead us mostly through Denmark, but include a day’s trip to Sweden as well.
This time Solo decided to rather pay for hotels than to take his tent with us, as this would allow us to travel with a little less luggage on our bikes.
He had done a cross country trip in Germany, with only the things that fitted in his 30 liter backpack, but when we tried to fit my things into a 30 liter backpack it soon had turned out that I just needed to carry too much. So I took one pannier bag and the backpack with me instead.
Since I had been able to get us a ticket for the Oslo Copenhagen ferry for a bargain, while we were still on our bike trip through Norway, we had made our plans with Copenhagen as a starting point.
Solo’s expectations of the check-in process for this new ferry ride weren’t actually very high, after the experiences we’d had with the check-in process for the Hurtigruten some weeks ago. So he was rather surprised to see how smooth everything went. We just rode our bikes down to the ferry terminal, queued up with the cars and checked in when it was our time to do so. After that it was just a short period to wait until it was our time to get on board.
A smooth and well organized process, after which we enjoyed the 17 hour long tour on the ferry to Denmark.
We arrived early in the morning in Copenhagen, and the disembarking from the boat was as smooth as the embarking had been. Now it was time to find the way to our hotel.
This time we didn’t count on pure luck in finding a place to stay, we had actually pre-booked the hotels for the first four nights from Norway, which probably had been a wise decision as it was hard to find a room in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is known as a cyclist’s town, so while I tried to pay attention to the traffic and figure out where we had to go, to get to our hotel, I was passed by cyclists on both my right and left side. It was more scary to ride among all these cyclists than it had been cycling over that Atlanterhavsveien bridge in the stronger winds…
I had a general clue in which direction we would have to go but still some roads were closed and so I made some ad hoc changes to our planned route. After a while I figured to take a short stop just to figure out where in Copenhagen we were…only to find that we were no more than two blocks away from our hotel.
Now we learned the reason why it had been so difficult to find a room in Copenhagen: apparently the Jazz days were this weekend’s highlight for the area…
After we had checked into the hotel and placed our luggage in our room we went into town. Solo wanted to get something to eat first and after that we had to figure out a couple of things to plan the next days of our ride. All we knew at this point was that we would go to Sweden the day after, and that we would leave Denmark on July 22, 2014 from Frederikshavn. But we still wanted to get more-detailed maps and hoped to find them at the Tourist Information.
We didn’t have that much luck, as the Tourist Information could not provide us with more than local maps. But at least we got our train tickets to Malmö in Sweden from the nearby railway station.
Now that the organizational duties were done, we were free to spend some time just walking through the town, with no greater goal than to see as much as we could take in.
The origin of Copenhagen — or København as it is called in Danish — is a small fisherman’s village about 6000 years ago. It is first mentioned in a written text around 1043 AC, but was then just called Havn (Harbor) and of little political or strategical importance.
But the fishing and trading of herring from the nearby Øresund made the village grow into a humble town during the next two centuries, before it was declared capital of Denmark by King Valdemar Atterdag in 1343.
The geographical position of Copenhagen became very important, when during the time of the German merchant’s guild — the Hanse — Copenhagen provided both access to the wealthy northern German trader’s towns as well as to the Baltic sea.
The geographical position was the foundation of Copenhagen’s own power and wealth, but the city also had to withstand threads and vulnerability as it was besieged and laid waste by the German traders over and over again.
Queen Margarethe I was the most powerful woman in Europe during her reign between 1387 and 1412 and became — by marrying King Hakon Magnuson of Norway — Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. She laid the foundation of the Nordic Alliance, which in 1397 was formalized as the Kalmar Union and brought the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark together under a single monarch. The union lasted until 1523.
Despite the fact that King Kristian V lost parts of his kingdom to the Swedish crown during his reign, from 1588 to 1648, Copenhagen continued to prosper.
This first changed in the early 1800s.
Denmark and the Napoleonic wars
While other European Great Powers declared war against the revolutionary France, Denmark declared armed neutrality, which was aimed against the British who tried to stop the French trade with a sea-blockage. Denmark controlled the strategically important access points to the Baltic Sea at the time. This led to a first attack on Copenhagen by the British navy in 1801, during which the Danish armada, anchoring in the harbor of Copenhagen, was destroyed.
When — after the peace of Tilsit in 1807 — Denmark and Russia were under threat to be included into the French continental system, the British Royal navy attacked Copenhagen a second time and severely bombed the city, destroying 1000 houses — including the University of Copenhagen.
Denmark then founded an alliance with France, which lead to a British sea-blockage between Denmark and Norway, so that Norway got cut off from the Danish deliveries of grains.
The connection between Denmark and France had grown so strong that Denmark missed the right point in time to change its ally. So that, when Napoleon I lost the battle of Waterloo in 1814, the now bankrupt Denmark had to sign Norway over to Sweden — in replacement for Finland, which Sweden had lost to Russia before.
It took more than a decade for Denmark to recover from its losses.
For us recovery was easier, after an early evening walk through the Park Kongens Have (The King’s Garden), we found a nice restaurant for dinner and afterwards it was time to get back to the hotel, since we have to get up early tomorrow to catch our train to Malmö.