DENMARK: Copenhagen – Land of Lego

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

I had some phenomenal pastry on my first day here and visited a world-class modern art museum called the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. They had an additional exhibition of Man Ray works which I won’t be able to show you since photography was prohibited. I’ll slip in a picture of one of his compelling pieces that I took in Madrid. This was one of those museums where the building is almost as enjoyable as the art it houses. It has a winter garden inside which I am sure is a joyful respite from the cold weather for the locals. There will be some nice antiquities, and impressionist art to come as well.


Danish Pastry – Did I Eat Them All? – Damn Right I Did!

Lego was born here in 1934, but they started out making wooden toys since the plastics revolution hadn’t occurred at that point.

My former wife and I are quite fond of Denmark’s modern teak furniture. She even acquired the nickname “Teakfinger” inspired by the Bond villain “Goldfinger” except in her case, she loves teeeaak! And of course to insinuate that everything she touches turns to teak. We all had a lot of fun pulling her leg about that one. Making up songs to the famous “Goldfinger” theme song, while Jason and I did some painting in the house.

“Teakfinger, she’s the girl with the heart of wood, it’s understood.”

“Such a freak-finger beckons you to purchase a piece of teak, but don’t get weak”….

 Oh, the memories. It’s better than dwelling on the financial wreckage of divorce.




COPENHAGEN DOWNTOWN HOSTEL – Beer Drinkinest Hostel I’ve Been In.



Yes, you’ve probably guessed that it’s Hans Christian Andersen, and now you can see how much I sometimes go through to get those shots at these tourist saturated monuments. The man before had his kid on the statue’s knee, and there are 20 Japanese just waiting for their moment with poor Hans. I actually managed to get a shot in a split second in a parted sea of Japanese selfies.

Hans Christian Andersen originally wanted to become a ballet dancer and went to the conservatory repeatedly to get an audition. He was finally given the opportunity and subsequently told that he had two left feet. Then Hans decided that he wanted to become an actor, and proceeded to harass the man in charge of the actor’s studio. After presenting his acting skills, he was told he was a big ham and sent on his way.

It was at this point that Hans decided that singing would be his thing, and he went to the choirmaster for a tryout. Lo and behold, it turned out he had a decent voice and was placed in the choir. Unfortunately, as is generally the case, the maturation process causes the voice to change. Lucky for young Hans, the choirmaster took note of how well his storytelling was being received by the other members of the choir. This would result in gaining a scholarship so that he could learn to read and write. The rest is history.


GLYPTOTEKET MUSEUM – Funded by the Carlsberg Brewery, it’s the finest art museum in the city.


Auguste RODIN – The Kiss


Auguste RODIN – The Three Sirens








The museum spaces are often as beautiful as the artworks they house.



PERSEUS – The Greek hero who slew Medusa and saved Princess Andromeda.




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ALEXANDER THE GREAT – Alexandria Egypt – 3rd. century marble




Roman Emperor Caligula & a copy with pigmentation as it would have been at the time.


ANUBIS – Egyptian God of the Dead




Paul Gaugin – Coast at Dieppe – 1885


Claude Monet – The Lemon Grove in Bordighera – 1884


Paul Cézanne – Still life with apples in a bowl – 1879-82


Vincent VAN GOGH – Landscape from St. Remy – 1889

Only one year before he died. This piece was amazing up close.


Paul Gaugin


Théodore ROUSSEAU – Thunderstorm over Mont Blanc


Man Ray – Here’s that example I promised since the exhibition prohibited photography.


Elisabeth JERICHAU-BAUMAN – Mother Denmark – 1851


Lego – Denmark’s plastic legacy to children the world over – Founded 1934


This street performer has been doing his thing and traveling the world for 20 years!


Twirling a Trunk


Nyhavn – The number #1 thing to do in Copenhagen says TripAdvisor. Truly a scenic and photogenic spot to grab an expensive meal. It used to be the place where sailors hung out, got tattoos, and visited brothels which operated on the first floor of all of those cute and colorful little buildings. A little known fact is that back in his day, Hans Christian Anderson lived in this neighborhood and really loved it.

Hard to imagine the author of all of those beloved fairy tales choosing to live in that environment. In recent years the area was cleaned up, and only one tattoo parlor remains from its hardscrabble past. The buildings were repainted in those cheerful colors, and it became the waterfront attraction it is today. I’m sure a tear would come to Mr. Andersen’s eye. Maybe the “Little Mermaid” statue on the harbor would cheer him up.



Skipperkroen Restaurant – Nyhavn


My overpriced but highly tasty meal. I thought the herring would be awful and fishy. It was sweet and delicious, but with a Coke zero, you’re looking at $30.


Toldbodgade 11 – Close to Nyhavn –


My Copenhagen Goldsmith – Eske Storm


My New Ring – It was inspired by the stonework of Machu Picchu which I will be visiting next year on my South American Tour. It reminds me of a lot of things in my travels. It mirrors a lot of the stonework on many structures I encounter on my journey, as well as, reminding me of a lot of the things that Gaudí was known for. Actually, Eske had a large Gaudí book in plain sight in his studio. My ring was bought with some of the money I’m saving staying in hostels.  It was only a little more than three times the cost of my meal in Nyhavn.


Art Library – Not what you would think


Bodil Pedersen – The wife of the Knud Pedersen. Knud, as a teenager, was the leader of a group of boys who inspired and inflamed the Danish resistance in World War II. I am holding a copy of the book about these resistance fighters I found on the internet by chance which led me to this great lady who carries on her husband’s work in the arts.

Below you’ll see a poster from 1957, the year of my birth, which signals the opening of an “Art Library” in the Old Nicholas Church. You could take out a piece of art for the price of a pack of cigarettes, and then if you decided you wished to keep it, merely pay the balance. It operates today a couple of blocks from the old church with Knud’s son capably at the helm.

Sadly, Knud died in December 2014,  just six months before I arrived in Copenhagen. If you have kids I would recommend handing them a copy of “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler” by Phillip Hoose.



The Louisiana Museum – Considered to be one of the most beautiful modern art museums in the world.



A completely tripped out mirrored enclosure


Fading into oblivion



Peter DOIG – 100 Years Ago – 2001


Peter DOIG – Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like?) – 1996


Peter Doig – Concrete Cabin II – 1992


Joan MIRÓ – Figure – 1970


Henry Moore – Three Pieced Reclining Figure Draped – 1974-75


Richard Serra – Gateway to the Gorge


Museum Restaurant Terrace – Three Alexander Calder Pieces


Beautiful Grounds


Alfio Bonanno – Even the bridges are artworks.



Alexander Calder


Jean Dubuffet – Dynamic Manor – 1969/82



Asger Jorn – Nothing Happens – 1962


One of many bands of bachelorettes cavorting around Copenhagen that day. This one happened to be in a tour group at the spot we began our walking tour.


The house where Carlsberg founder, J.C. Jacobsen was born. One of the reasons beer was so successful in Copenhagen is that the water was undrinkable, and the beer brewing process did away with the nasties and the alcohol also helped. One problem persisted in the brewing of the local beers, and that was the inconsistency of the batches. One moment you’re producing a great brew, and the next you’ve got swill.

Jacobsen took a very scientific approach to the art of brewing beer and established a special laboratory for the purpose of creating a dependable and consistent product. He named his brewery Carlsberg after his son, Carl. His persistence paid off, and he solved the problem he set out to handle.

Most people would have kept the solution to themselves in order to dominate their market. Not Jacobsen. Such was his confidence in his brewing skills that he shared the secret to consistent batches with the rest of his competitors. His confidence paid off as evidenced by everything Carlsberg in Copenhagen.


Another look at that pretty spot.


Christian the 9th. – This King fathered a number of children, four of which occupied spots in the Royal Courts of Europe. One of his granddaughters married one of his grandsons. They were Queen Elizabeth of England and Prince Phillip.


This is Copenhagen’s hotel to the rich and famous. It is also the hotel where a group of Nazi officers checked in wearing their street clothes and came down the next morning wearing their uniforms. This was the day the Germans occupied Denmark.


This is Christian the 10th. who was King during the German occupation. He was known to ride his horse out in public to show solidarity with the Danish people. On one of his birthdays, he received a lengthy and complimentary letter from Hitler. His reply was curt, impersonal and dry. Herr Hitler was infuriated at this snub, and he cracked down on Denmark severely. He had pretty much let them do their own thing up to that point. Now he had plans to round up the Jews, but luckily a spy got wind of this. The plan was to swoop in on the families as they gathered for a Jewish holiday. All the Jews were informed to be out of Copenhagen by that date. Sweden offered to take them in, and an armada of boats ferried them across to Sweden to safety. Almost all survived. One of the few happy stories involving European Jews during the war.


The Marble Church


The Little Mermaid – Edvard Erikson -1913

A gift from the Danish brewer, Carl Jacobsen, to the city of Copenhagen. Carl fell in love with the character after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at the Royal Danish Theatre. The artist’s wife posed for the sculpture.


A Fairytale Wedding on a beautiful summer day.




Everyday Danes in the park.


Rosenborg Castle


Gold Toy Soldiers!



Crown Jewels




Throne room with magnificent tapestries.



Tivoli Gardens

The second oldest amusement park in the world, and Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. The oldest amusement park is 500 years old and also in Denmark. This one also has fine restaurants as well as traditional junk food.


Georg Carstensen – The Founder of Tivoli Gardens


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Tivoli was one of the first places that challenged children of all ages to eat lots of junk food and then making a mess of things by bringing it all back up again in a technicolor cascade of cotton candy, jelly beans, ice cream, etc.


Big-name class acts play on the main stage in the park.


Central Station – Off to the airport – Next stop Berlin


  1. Jason B.
    June 21, 2015

    We could not get enough Teakfinger banter the entire time I was painting your house. It was the major source of all humor for a least three weeks. It never got old! bizarre! lol TEEEAKFIIIIIINGERRRR!!!!!!!

  2. The Travel Zealot
    June 21, 2015

    God help me when Yelena sees this thread!

  3. Z
    June 28, 2015

    Heeere’s teakfinger!!! with a vengeance 🙂
    I never heard the full version of this song… glad i could amuse you, lol

  4. Z
    June 28, 2015

    Nice report on Denmark, John. Must be beautiful and very comfortable place.

  5. BigD
    June 28, 2015

    That tripped out light room is so cool. I could sit there for hours, must feel like youre in space or something.

  6. The Travel Zealot
    July 1, 2015

    Yeah Z,
    We had a lot of fun with that Teakfinger song. We didn’t write it down so I just came up with some new stuff to illustrate our silliness, and your obsession.

  7. The Travel Zealot
    July 1, 2015

    I’ll tell you Danny,
    That was such a great museum. Total space out.

  8. The Travel Zealot
    July 1, 2015

    Scandanavia is charming and expensive! Copenhagen and the museum I visited 45 minutes away by train were a great addition to my travels. It is the charm of Stockholm and Copenhagen that made arriving in bland Berlin so difficult.

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