It would be misleading to talk about my Helsingør/Roskilde experiences in a blog about Copenhagen, wouldn’t it? This will be a brief post, but a post nonetheless.
After spending the morning avoiding children and wanting to adopt a sea otter at the Den Blå Planet aquarium in eastern Copenhagen, I spent an hour getting over to Helsingør, a small city to the north of Zealand, the island on which Copenhagen is. It’s not to be confused with Helsingborg, which is a Swedish city, but – confusingly – Helsingborg is just 2 miles away over the sea.
In the last few years, Helsingør has nicked some of Copenhagen’s fire by commissioning a male counterpart to the Little Mermaid statue, called Hans. He sits on the waterfront between the station and the castle, and has apparently had a mixed reaction. I liked how shiny and unexpected he was: whereas the Mermaid is world-famous and surrounded by hundreds of people at any one point, I had no idea Merboy existed, and he was all alone, pensively staring at the water.
Its main attraction is Kronborg Slot (Castle), the backdrop to Hamlet. Now, in my three-year tenure as an English lit student, I did have to read Hamlet, and I came to the conclusion that it’s not all that. Let’s be honest: Hamlet himself is a dick. Yeah, we get it, your dad was murdered and that really, really sucks, but that’s no reason to be an absolute bellshaft to your girlfriend. #JusticeForOphelia Also, he’s just generally a bit weird and creepy and unpleasant. “Clever Hamlet!”, say academics. This is the literary equivalent of football pundits describing Jose Mourinho as “Clever Mourinho!” whenever he starts doing tiresome mind games with opposition managers.
But this is somewhat beside the point, because Kronborg Castle is not to blame for Hamlet a) being a dick or b) being an overrated play. It was built in the 1570s, just 30 years prior to Hamlet being written, and burned down in 1629 only to be rebuilt and sacked by the pesky Swedes in the 1650s. Some of the artwork was quite nice, and I particularly liked this painting of a Danish queen making the Swedish king submit to her (matron) following a war:
I also got to see a ye olde 16th century toilet, which pleased me greatly. Frankly, there is nothing better than seeing a prototype loo:
Having exhausted the joys of Kronborg Castle, I returned to the station and had to wait forever for a train back to Copenhagen, where I had to wait forever for a train to Roskilde. During the second wait, I bought my first actually Danish Danish pastry. Look how much I enjoyed it!:
The train to Roskilde took just 20 minutes, but by the time I arrived it was pissing it down. England would’ve been proud of this downpour. It was eerily empty, a complete ghost town. The cathedral is a UNESCO site, but didn’t look as impressive as I’d hoped given how murky the weather was, and unfortunately all the train waiting meant I arrived after it had closed. No shelter for me.
Finally I found other human life, although I heard them first: singing and shouting from a caravan. It turned out that a large group of students were, er, getting pissed in a caravan and singing about it. I don’t know why. I also don’t know why there were two metal chairs in differing shades of green in the street saying ‘ROSKILDE’.
Hoping now to find shelter, I searched for a pub that would be showing the Chelsea – Arsenal game, but to no avail. Since finding the students in the caravan, I’d seen no-one else. Where the hell is everyone?? Why is Roskilde so empty?? I have no answers to these questions, alas. And thus concludes this exciting account of my trips outside of Copenhagen.