Friday, April 29, 2011

Roskilde – 24 April 2011

There are two UNESCO sites near Copenhagen, and with our Copenhagen Card, we were able to travel to, and visit, the other site, Roskilde Domkirke, for free. The town of Roskilde is just a 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen. Roskilde used to be the capital of Denmark, and as it is at the head of a fiord, was a strategic position to defend and defeat invaders. The Vikingeskibs Museum, records the discovery in 1958 of five Viking ships, which were sunk in the 11th century, to block the obvious channel to the harbour.
The ships have been recovered, preserved and replicas made. The entrance fee allows you to see the original partial remains of the five ships, and a film puts the historic events together clearly, but for free, anyone can enjoy the harbour area, watch craftsmen at work, and see the replicas which have been made of each ship. One of these replicas has been used to sail to Ireland and back with a full crew of 65.

The Roskilde Domkirke is a dramatic setting for the burial tombs for all the Danish royalty. These are in various side chapels, and the difference in style is interesting. The building looks a lots younger than its age of 700 years.

On returning to Copenhagen, we endeavoured to catch a bus to Dragor. The guide book describes it as a delightful fishing village and says to take a bus 30, the information centre at the train station confirmed that, what could be easier? We had to wait some time for a #30, and after 20 minutes, it terminated miles from our destination. The driver said to take 4A, this too had no intention of getting anywhere near Dragor. Some helpful passengers gave us instructions, which had us walking miles out of our way, but eventually we discovered a bus which had Dragor on it's information panel. So we sat happily until the end of the ride.

Once there, it was worth the effort. All the houses/cottages in the old town are yellow, and many with thatched roofs. The harbour was not so much full of fishing boats, as pleasure craft. Being so close to Copenhagen, it must be a good place to moor a boat. Nearby, Oresunds Bridge connects Denmark and Sweden and is close enough to see the cars going over. We climbed Dragor Fort for a great view.

The harbour was lined with cafes, so dinner at the harbourside was another must. A very relaxing end to a difficult journey.

There was still plenty of day left (sun doesn't set until 8.30pm), so we visited the Tivoli gardens, which we can see out of our hotel window. These gardens are a great mix of fairground rides, amusement arcade games, heaps of restaurants, all set in wonderful gardens. The garden theme was of course Easter, and as Denmark is later that the UK, spring flowers like daffodils and blossom trees were everywhere, and at their peak.

A bonus for us on Easter Sunday, was the Tivoli Gospel Festival. This started shortly after we arrived, and finished as the Tivoli Illuminations began at 9.30pm. The singers were excellent, a few deck chairs were supplied (we managed to bag a double deck-chair – very comfortable and warm as the night grew cooler). Although we saw the gardens in the evening sunlight, if time permits, another visit during the day tomorrow, would be great to see them properly. After all, the Card allows any number of visits.

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