Today was a day of coast, castles and culture. But first, as we left the outskirts of Copenhagen, we called in at IKEA. We had been meaning to pay a visit to IKEA since the first week of our trip, but every time we saw a sign, be it in Spain, Portugal, Italy or even Slovenia, we were always either on the wrong side of the motorway, or just didn’t have the strength or inclination to go there. But Howard has been harping on about tidying up the van, and having more effective storage solutions – so IKEA it was. In truth, it was probably the quickest visit to IKEA we have ever managed – we knew which storage boxes needed, and just picked them up. We even failed to buy the statutory giant packet of Dimes.
Next on our itinerary, we headed northwest towards a town called Hillerod, to visit the Frederiksborg Slot. I should explain that ‘Slot’ is the Danish word for castle. It dates back to the 17th century, and between 1671 and 1840, Danish monarchs were crowned in the Coronation Chapel. In 1859 much of the castle was ravaged by fire, and the Carlsberg beer baron restored it and transformed it into a Renaissance masterpiece. It was certainly a very impressive building and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
Next we headed for the coastal road that runs up the eastern side of North Zealand, overlooking the Oresund Straight that looks the short distance across the water to Sweden. We were immediately struck by the huge number of sailing boats out on the water, many racing. Sailing is clearly a very popular pastime in this part of the world. The water was clear, and the beaches clean, and being a Sunday, many people were out running or cycling along the foreshore.
Our next stop was just north of Humlebaek, a modernist art museum called Louisiana. ‘Modern art – not for me’, I hear you say. But our guide book virtually insisted we pay it a visit, and how glad we were to have stopped by. This is not really a museum, as much as a stunning exhibition space, cleverly set out in a large landscaped sculpture park, with rolling green slopes down to the sea. It was simply stunning. And I don’t usually go for modern art in the slightest. But this was quite different, and the setting so beautiful, that I defy anyone not to be impressed. Initially we had planned just a quick visit to the outside sculpture park and the cafe for a late lunch. We sat in the sunshine with many others on the patio area outside the cafe, which looked out with a view across the strait to Sweden, and enjoyed our lunch.
The sculptures in the grounds were an eclectic mix, but for some reason, they all seemed to work in the places they had been positioned. We then went inside, and were delighted to discover that they were hosting an exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s ceramic works. There were five spaces set aside for these – ranging from plates, to jugs, to figurines, to birds and animals. They all had the classic Picasso touch, and were just brilliant to witness. We left this place really glad that we had stumbled across it, thanks to my ever faithful Lonely Planet guide.
Our final stop of the day was to another castle – the Kronborg Slot at Helsingor. It was made famous in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (known as Elsinore), and is now UNESCO World Heritage listed. It was built as a tollhouse by a Danish king in 1420, but was rebuilt over the years, and now covers an impressive site, with a large moat and raised defences looking out across the water to Sweden.
We then headed on to our campsite for the night, situated by a pleasant sandy beach on the northern coast of Zealand. We managed a quick walk before sunset, and tomorrow we will tackle the IKEA boxes in earnest, provided we don’t find something better to do with our time! However, my mother’s voice is ringing in my ears, ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today’! Originally quoted by Benjamin Franklin, it was one of her favourite sayings, but in this case Mum, it will have to wait ’til tomorrow – Howard is taking up so much space, I don’t have the room to tidy just now!