“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Andersen
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark is a land of fairy tales, vibrant, dream-like city, where stories of Hans Christian Andersen would start floating into your memory. The iconic Little Mermaid is a must see and perhaps the one thing that would your believe in fairy tales all over gain. And lest I forget, it is such a little statue. Legend has it that the owner of Carlsberg Brewery was captivated by the beautiful ballerina while watching the Little Mermaid Ballet at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen. Subsequently, he wanted to sponsor a mermaid statue and asked the ballerina to be the model. The Ballerina declined as she didn’t want to do it naked. This was in the 1950’s. The sculptor instead asked her wife to pose for him and the statue of the Little Mermaid came into existence.
The Little Mermaid is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s contributions to the literary world. The story has been altered numerous times just to have that happy ending. The truth is, the beautiful mermaid perished with an ultimate broken heart. Yes, it was a tragic end but nonetheless realistic; albeit the setting was so magically described. The truth of the matter is, without love, magic ends.
On the other hand, every visitor of Copenhagen must visit the Tivoli Gardens. The founder Georg Carstensen once quipped that “Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished”. And indeed, as you stepped into this world full of colorful rides, concerts, pantomimes, open-air restaurants, you will realize that magic never stops. Visiting Tivoli Gardens is a must for every Danish family, especially for couples with young kids. These past days, Copenhagen is celebrating a week-long Jazz Festival and Tivoli Gardens was packed with concert events that one should not miss out on.
If you like Disneyland, perhaps you should know that Walt Disney and his wife Lillian came first to Tivoli Gardens and fall in-love with the place. The “happy and unbuttoned air of relaxed fun” was the concept he much like his “Disneyland” to have.
Another magical place to be in Copenhagen without experiencing the high taxation of the country is walking around in the small square inside the four look-alike palaces of the Amalienborg Complex. The current Queen Margrethe II chose one of the palaces as her winter residence. History has it that when Christiansborg Palace got burned down, these four noble families decided to offer their complex to the King. Since then, Amalienborg Palace has always been the residence and working offices of the longest running monarchy in the world. If you’d notice the Danish Flag waving gently in the air, then the Queen is working inside her Palace.
And lastly, the best place and perhaps a unique magical experience of all is having beer at one of the bars along the famous Nyhavn. This old fisherman’s district was the place to be if you would love to hear stories of adventure, of conquests and voyages to the far side of the world. In one of the houses here, H.C Andersen wrote his famous stories such as the Emperor’s New Clothes. Through the years, the place has been carefully restored, elevating it status from a filthy to such colorful, artistic place to be seen walking into. Indeed, in the early 70’s and 80’s, you wouldn’t want your kids parading into Nyhavn and drinking beers with all the hippies around. But seasons changed and Nyhavn is the place to be when visiting Copenhagen.
There are still so many magical places in Copenhagen. I haven’t told you yet about Rosenberg Castle, the home of the crown jewels. The famous shopping street of Stroget. The Prison Cells, The Carlsberg Museum and so much more. But remember that Denmark is one of the most expensive countries in the world. The magic ends as soon as you realized how much of a commission these different money changers get every time you change currency. Do it once and only if necessary.
In closing, the capital city of Copenhagen has a long history of magic and conquests. I have been bombarded with information regarding the Danish monarchy, the different Christians and Fredericks who ruled the Kingdom of Denmark, the first queen Margrethe I, the wars between the Danes and the Swedes, some rumors and scandals in the monarchy especially in the 17th and 18th century, as any monarchy in the world anyway and the Danes’ continued happiness and contentment in life. In fact, the Danes has been one of the top five happiest people in the world.
I guess being happy and content are the just two of the magical secrets after all.