Thursday, April 28, 2011

N Zealand - 23 April 2011

Two years ago we spent the Easter break exploring the Zeeland that New Zealand is named after and this Easter we explored the Zealand it is spelt after. North Zealand, is the name of the area of the peninsular above Copenhagen and all bus and rail transport in the area is covered by the Copenhagen Card. As we wanted to visit two different destinations in this area we decided that the Copenhagen Card represented good value and gave us the freedom to roam even further.

Consequently, today was spent exploring the North Zealand northern coastline, after first visiting the former royal residence at Frederiksborg Slot. This stunning palace is well worth a visit. The interiors are literally room after room full of fabulous antiques. On the far side of the northern moat are wonderful formal gardens.

A train east across the peninsular, leads to Kronborg Slot, or “Hamlet's Castle”. As this is a UNESCO site, we decided to visit, even though it is not covered by the Copenhagen Card. But our advice would be to enjoy the outside, but don't bother paying the entrance fee. The interiors are starkly bare, and forbidding but the exterior and courtyard are free to stroll around. We later discovered the reason, it was never built as a palace, it was just a toll house collecting 'Sound Dues' for 400 years, a tax imposed on ships passing through the narrow channel between Denmark and Sweden.

But if it really was the castle that inspired Shakespeare to picture his hero there, then it is of interest.

On the point in front of the Castle a wall of fishermen were hauling Horn fish out of the sea at a great rate. The current obviously runs fast close in to shore there and it seemed the fish density was so great, that each cast would snag another fish. We never saw one hauled in that had actually “taken” the lure.

From Helsinger, we took a small local train north to Gilleleje. The evening was perfect to wander round a postcard pretty fishing harbour, with many thatched cottages. The style of thatching is quite different to the UK, and seemed surprising in such a cold country. We completed our visit with delicious fish and chips right of the edge of the harbour.

Returning by train to Helsinger, we then took the train back down the coast to Copenhagen.

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