You’d think that sleeping under one of them magical Danish duvets would be good enough a reason to stay in bed really late and get the much needed rest I’ve been craving for, for what seems like months now.
But yesterday night, I had the (bad) idea of checking sunrise time for this morning, in Helsingør. Which was just barely after 5 am.
So of course, I was wide awake by four, and even if I knew it would be kind of cold outside, I finally put on my leggings and dressed like an onion under my Spring vest, and I trotted to the harbour.
It was incredibly still by the water. Aside a couple of fishermen getting ready to sail away, I was the only soul around, and I waited patiently for the show to start.
Swedes were nice enough to keep some clouds on their side of the Øresund! How considerate! So, when the sun finally peeked over the horizon, the colors had much more texture than I had expected.
No, these trees aren’t on fire!
I walked back ”home”, my body suddenly realizing that it was in fact just a little past five, and that the cold wan’t fun anymore, now that the sun was up. Luckily, I had tea on the kitchen shelf, and my fingers found their natural pinkish color, wrapped around the warm mug!
Next was the visit of Kronborg Castle, but it opened only at 11 am, so I had some time to lazy out in my little hyggekrog.
Welcome to the castle!
The inner court throught the main entrance
A little view around, from atop the tower…
In Kronborg, I took a guided tour called ”The Royal Baquet” and unlike usual tours, this one was pretty special. A performer playing the role of the Lady in charge of having everything ready for the arrival of the King and Queen to the castle walked us around, as if we were guests for the Royal baquet taking place two days later. It ended up being almost more like a play than a visit, and I forgot to take my camera out, just enjoying the show! If you are visiting Kronborg, ask for the guided visit schedule. They are free, aswell as very entertaining.
Two fun facts to make up for my lack of pictures… Kronborg was built under the reign of Frederik II, on the already existing fortress. And Frederik’s son, Christian, who became king himself some years later is the subject of one of Mew’s songs:
Back to King Frederik II who, apparently, enjoyed entertaining crowds very much. When he and Queen Sophia held big banquets, the king gave ”Canon toasts”. Several times, during the evening, he would hold his glass in the air. To this sight, drumms would go rolling. And outside the castle, some horns were blown, giving the signal to fire the canons around the castle, making a surprising display of Frederik’s power. The sudden vibrations would make some of the ballroom windows to blow in, which amused the guests. Celebrations often being on a period of many days back then, the guest would come back to the ballroom the next day to see the windows all repaired. Yet another display of the Kings great wealth, since glasswear was extremely expensive at that time!
Meet Holger the Dane! The legend says that Holger will stay asleep in the casemates of Kronborg Castle, until Denmark gets in real trouble. That day, it is said that he will wake up to fight to defend the Mother Country. But nothing to worry about, everybody can sleep safe and sound: Holger’s still there, sleeping.
Here’s one of my personal favorite Dannebrog pictures. I don’t know what it is exactly about it… Maybe the nice contrast on the deep blue sky, maybe the way it thrones right in the middle of the picture. Or maybe it is because of the fluffy clouds giving the impression that the canons have actually been shot! I don’t know, but I really really like it!
A couple more pictures, on my way out…
When I returned to my temporary home to get ready for what I had planned next, I found my host spending the afternoon with her mother on the back patio. When I crashed in to announce I’d be back later after the falconry show, I was kindly offered a ride to Falkonergården, instead of taking the bus to Fredensborg. I didn’t want to disturb the mother-daughter meeting, but was assured it was fine, and that it’d give them a chance to take Oliver, my new dog-friend, on a little trip out too.
I got the chance to have a nice chat with my host’s mom, who, had lived in Toronto in her younger years… It is a small world. Life always makes sure to remind me of it.
So… Lucky me got in the car, with my lovely host, her mother and Oliver, and we rode through the countryside where I was dropped off in this little falconry: Falkonergården
I was a bit early, so before the doors to the actual falconry opened, I got the chance to go see the Icelandic horses of the little domaine… I even got to pet one, as a matter of fact he pretty much asked for the forehead rub!
How do you say no to such beautiful eyes?
If you visit the Fredensborg area, and are intested in seeing the Falkonergården show, make sure to visit their website first, before you show up. For an example, this month of May, the only performance of the week occurs on Sundays.
The whole show is about an hour long, and important thing to know for foreigners, it is almost entirely in Danish. The trainer does give some of the information in both Danish and English, and a sheet with some more details about the different birds is provided to follow up, but don’t expect to get everything!
The show is worth it nonetheless. The first part takes place indoor, where three of the smaller prey birds are brought in, one at a time, to perform while the trainer explains their origin, the specifics of each bird and how they were used in falconry over the different eras.
I must say that having these little hunters flying around in such a closed space was pretty impressive.
Regardless the language barrier, it is obvious that the trainer is very enthusiastic and loves her little (sometimes not so little) feathery friends very much. After each presentation, she walks around the room to give everyone a chance to snap a picture or two. Unfortunately, the birds are more into ”feed me” time rather than ”Oh! you want a good picture, here’s my best profile” time… So most of my shots are either blurry, or of a hawk’s back of the head… LOL
The second part takes place outdoor. There, the larger prey birds get their chance to wow us, and they do that well! We get asked, before the beginning of the second act, to sit on the left if we want the birds to fly just above our heads, and to the right if we’d rather not. Don’t take that question lightly, because I the eagle flew so close to me, that I got hit in the face by its wing. No worries, I wasn’t harmed in any way, but if you think you might be sightly scared of large birds with huge claws, sit to the right!
The last part is a demonstration of the way people used prey birds to hunt, horseback riding. That’s when our little friend from the beginning comes to the stage!
Yup, I rubbed that fluffy star’s head!!
At the end of the show, you can ask all your questions, and have a chat with the trainer… It also gives everybody a chance to get a couple of more pictures!
Another great day behind… Already looking for the next one to come! But for the moment, it was time to walk back to the train station and get back ”home”.