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Baltic 1 – Denmark

Flag of DenmarkJuly 25-27, 2013: Copenhagen, Denmark

Our transatlantic flight was seven-and-one-half hours nonstop from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. We watched movies, read and napped. Somewhere over the Atlantic, I turned 53. Before we knew it we were taxiing on the Amsterdam tarmac as a Marsh Harrier flew alongside our plane low over the grass between runways. Our first life bird of the trip! A quick trip through customs at the airport, and we were in the European Union–we wouldn’t need our passports again until we reached Russia.

Baltic 2013: Part one of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

After just a brief flight and taxi ride, we found ourselves checking into our hotel on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Hotel Alexandra was a wonderful place to stay: a great location in a well-kept historic building. It that featured unique furniture in every room and served as a kind of “hall of fame” dedicated to Danish furniture designers. We loved it!

Click here to view photo album.We spent our first evening (Thursday) in the city walking around the area near our hotel. Tivoli, a large amusement park and one of Copenhagen’s prime attractions, stood just three blocks from our hotel. We did not visit it. Instead, we (Joann and I along with our friends Tom and Lisa) caught the end of a Vietnamese dancing demonstration in a square across the street from Tivoli, window-shopped, ate pizza at an Italian restaurant–Vesuvius of Copenhagen–and visited a small, beautiful park (Ørstedsparken) close to our hotel.

Joann and I got a fairly early start on Friday morning and returned to Ørstedsparken to do a little birding. We saw one life bird, a Little Grebe, and several European birds we hadn’t seen since 2006 in England. We lunched at a cafe in the park, the Hacienda. Later we met up with Tom and Lisa and the four of us set out to walk to the Little Mermaid statue that is such a well-known attraction. On our way to the statue we passed through three different city parks. (According to Copenhagen’s city codes, every resident should live no more than a 15-minute walk from a city park.) We saw birds, of course, including Hooded Crows and Jackdaws–life birds for us, but as common as dirt in the cities of Europe. The highlight, bird-wise, of our afternoon was our first Eurasian Treecreeper. It is a pretty good bet to be our only Eurasian Treecreeper.

At length we reached the harbor and the famous statue of Andersen’s Little Mermaid. A thick knot of tourists with cameras besieged the blushing mermaid. Well she might have been blushing if she weren’t made of bronze. After snapping off a couple of photos of our own, Joann and I caught a bicycle cab from the site of the mermaid to Nyhavn. Our driver was a college student from Poland working in Copenhagen for the summer. Nyhavn is the place to eat, drink and socialize in the city. Tom and Lisa walked from the site of the mermaid and we reconnoitered near the bridge that spans the north end of the canal. All of the trendiest restaurants on the west side of the canal were full, so we found a small restaurant (named the Pizzeria, though pizzas made up only a small part of its menu).

Hotel AlexandraAfter cabbing back to our hotel from Nyhavn, I retired with my Nook to our room while Joann, Tom and Lisa walked a block to a restaurant. After having just one glass of wine apiece (they assure me!), they returned to our hotel. Somewhere on that block, Tom must have dropped his wallet.

Early Saturday morning Joann and I took a cab to Frederiksberg Park & Søndermarken. There we spent almost three hours walking around in this very beautiful, peaceful preserve in a residential area of the city. We saw one new bird for us, the Common Chiffchaff. Tired from our walk and with hotel checkout time and embarkation time approaching, we realized we would not necessarily be able to hail a cab anytime soon. There was a bus station near the park’s zoo, but all of its signage was in Danish. We were unsure how to negotiate the journey home. Joann lined up in a ticket queue at the zoo, hoping to ask for help there. She did get the information we needed to catch a bus just as a cab arrived to drop off passengers. We were able to hail it for our return trip.

As we arrived back at the hotel, we learned about Tom’s wallet. He and Lisa had spent the morning trying to contact credit card companies in the U.S. They weren’t having a whole lot of fun, but the concierge was very helpful. Finally, we all had a very light lunch at the small restaurant off of the hotel lobby (LêLê Street Kitchen & Take Away) and left in a cab for the Norwegian Star and the commencement of our cruise.

Baltic 2013: Part one of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

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