Daily Post challenge: Ornate

This week’s Daily Post challenge is “Ornate”. Castles and stately homes are particularly good places to find ornate items or decor. These photos were taken in Rosenborg Castle, in Copenhagen, most from the treasures in the

Emerald Crown, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Emerald Crown, from the Emerald Set. Emeralds from the 18th century, jewelry created in 1840. Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Prayer book. Rosenborg Castle "treasures", Copenhagen

Prayer book. Rosenborg Castle “treasures”, Copenhagen

Clock in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Clock in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Christian IV crown, dates from 1595, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

King’s Chamber, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Travel Theme: Below

This week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Below.

First, looking below me from a hotel window in Copenhagen:


Then, looking below me from the CN Tower in Toronto towards Toronto’s City airport

And looking up at the CN Tower from below! (not taken on the same day)

Weekly Photo Challenge – Treasure

For this week’s WordPress challenge, I thought I would show some of the treasures in Copenhagen’s Rosenborg Castle.

Danish royal crown choked with jewels

Danish royal crown choked with jewels

Prayer book. Rosenborg Castle "treasures", Copenhagen

Prayer book. Rosenborg Castle “treasures”, Copenhagen

Gold and  jewels, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Gold and jewels, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Yet another jeweled crown, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Yet another jeweled crown, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Emerald Crown, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Emerald Crown, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

One of a kind set of Colt pistols made for one of the Danish kings

One of a kind set of Colt pistols made for one of the Danish kings

Travel Theme – Stone

This week, Ailsa wants to challenge us with Stone.  The earth is covered with stones and rocks of every kind. If it isn’t cover in water that is, and beneath the water, you’ll find it too. Third Rock from the Sun, right? Stone has been used to create weapons, tools, shelter, fences,  and artistically for statues and sculptures.

There’s a little fishing village about an hour and a half from where I live, called Blue Rocks. The geological composition of the rocks there in layers is quite unusual apparently.  I was approached by a company that publishes geology textbooks and this next photo was published in it.

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

In the far north of Canada, the inhabitants there have been known to make little piles of rocks, often resembling a human. They call them Inukshuks.  We used to have an “info” type ad about them. The grandson of the Elder woman that built one translated her explanation: “Now the people will know we were here”. This little one was spotted at Blue Rocks during our visit.

Now the people will know we were here. Inukshuk, Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Rune Stones from Scandinavia. Seen at the Royal Danish Museum, Copenhagen

Stone marker at the border of Exmoor, Somerset

Stone Circles are mystical and nobody really knows what they were for. Most of them are smaller or thinner stones than the best known, Stonehenge.

Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, England

Ruins of Rieveaulx Abbey, Yorkshire

Stone fences criss cross the English countryside. This one overlooks Lake Windemere and Ambleside.

The famed stones of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia

A Word a Week Challenge – Square

This week’s challenge is “Square” but not in the geometric sense, or, well, it could be if you wanted I suppose but it’s meant in the sense of a public space. A Square, a Plaza, a Piazza. Most cities and towns have squares. They are usually in the centre, often in the older section of the city (town/village etc) where people would gather. They often have public buildings such as the Town Hall and churches or Cathedrals and many have war or other memorials or tributes to someone from the town’s past, a monarch or prominent citizen.  Some have a market set up once a week or at Christmas. Some, probably most these days, allow vehicle traffic but some are pedestrian only with traffic around the edges. They are used for public celebrations, markets, or just a place to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Some squares aren’t really squares at all, just a major intersection. Times Square in New York actually encompasses about 10 city blocks around the main “square” which is a huge intersection but it’s still the heart of Manhattan these days. Lots of cities that I’ve been to have more than one large square, but also have lots and lots of little ones, both landscaped and green  or paved or cobbled and ringed with shops and cafes and they are lovely to discover when you’re wandering around exploring.

For this challenge, I’ve picked some famous squares and public spaces from the larger cities I’ve been to.

London is full of squares, large and small but probably the best known is Trafalgar Square in the heart of the West End of London. The fountains and massive lions guard Nelson’s Monument. The National Gallery lines the north side of the square, with the Canadian High Commission on the west side. The Mall leads off under a wide stone “gate” up to Buckingham Palace.


Trafalgar Square, London, Lions at the foot of Nelson’s Monument

Trafalgar Square, London, St. Patrick’s Day concert

Montmartre is the more artsy section of old Paris and this square, Place du Tertre has long been associated with artists who set up here to try to make a living.

Place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris

While the new Georgian part of  Edinburgh has several lovely leafy squares, this one, the Grassmarket, is in old Edinburg and is seated beneath the cliff on top of which looms Edinburgh Castle.

Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Kongens Nytorv (“King’s New Square”) is one of the main squares in Copenhagen. It’s at the end of the long pedestrian shopping “mile”, the Strøget, and has the Danish Royal Theatre along one side and several buildings used to be palaces. One is now an embassy. Another part of it fronts the famous Nyhaven harbour with the brightly coloured buildings and restaurants. In the center is the statue of King Christiain V on a horse. This is the monarch that laid out the square in 1670. Students celebrate around the square when they get their exam results.

Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen

Relaxing in Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen

Amsterdam’s main square is Dam Square, with the Royal Palace, a cathedral and other large state buildings surrounding it. It’s also got the National Monument in the centre and is used for holding public concerts, memorials, and celebrations.

Dam Square, Amsterdam. The National Monument

Rome… Impossible to pick just one. It’s filled with “squares” and piazzas, many of them very well known. The largest is probably St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City of course. Piazza Navona, a long, narrow square built on top of an old “circus” or race track, with the three large fountains, the most famed being the Four Rivers by Bernini. The Trevi Fountian square is very small and is basically just the fountain and surrounding are for the crowds. There are lots of other squares that are large intersections but always with a fountain or statue in the centre, such as Barbarini, Monte Citorio, Piazza Venezia in front of the Vittorio Emmanuelle II memorial monstrosity, and Piazza Repubblica. Then there’s the busy square in front of the Pantheon, the Piazza Rotunda. That’s probably my favourite even though it’s usually wall to wall with tourists. The square is not that big, and is closed in by buildings housing hotels and restaurants. There’s a fountain in the middle with the dome and pillars of the Pantheon on one end. There are narrow alleys leading into it and the square is cobbled.

The Pantheon, Rome

Tourists in the Piazza Rotunda at the Pantheon, Rome

Just to add a little Canadian Content..Toronto’s Dundas Square is the city’s attempt at a mini-Times Square I think. It’s ringed with large shopping malls and stores and close to the theatre district as well.

Dundas Square, Toronto, across from the Eaton Centre shopping mall

Dundas Square, a mini-Times Square wannabe?

Probably the grandest and most elaborate of squares I’ve ever been to so far is the Grand Place in Brussels. Narrow lanes lead to it from some of the more well-travelled streets. You come around a corner and see this  jaw dropping site, a cobbled central square lined with tall, thin guildhouses and several  palace type buildings. One is now the Town Hall and the tourist information office is in the ground floor of another. It’s all lit up at night, too. There are restaurants around the square, a chocolate museum (I think) and they use the square for exhibitions and markets and festivals as well.

GrandPlace guild corner houses

Grand Place, Brussels, some of the guildhouses in one corner of the square

GrandPlace 382 Duc MontTabor Rose ArbredOr Cygne

Grand Place, Brussels, more guildhouses and a palace.

GrandPlace gilded flag

Grand Place, Brussels. With details like this on every building, you’ll get a sore neck looking up everywhere!


Travel Theme: Hidden

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack Has a weekly photo theme and this week’s is Hidden. When I travel, I often steer my fella down lanes and alleys, into courtyards and following little signs for something that might be interesting. You never know what you’re going to find hidden off the beaten track.

I spent a morning wandering the City of London once, which, you might think, is mainly tall buildings, office workers and the occasional church but around a corner and through a stone gate I found the remains of a bombed out Wren church, just the clock tower remaining, with the space landscaped with grass and trees and benches. A little oasis of calm in the middle of a very busy city. My photos didn’t really turn out sadly, the film got exposed.

In Amsterdam there’s a little courtyard called the Bejginhof where women used to live in seclusion. They were not nuns but lived in a similar way. This too is a peaceful closed off spot in a busy neighbourhood.

Many cathedrals have cloisters around which the grand walls rise. Cloisters sometimes have little cemeteries in them, too.

Here are a couple of hidden delights that I discovered on my travels.

First. The Lake District in England. This is Keswick, a market town near the north end of the district. We walked along the pedestrianized town centre square, lined with shops and pubs. There was this very narrow alley between two stores:

Keswick. Remember that blue shop on the left.

Through that alley, you find yourself in a parking lot. This bright sweet shop is not the same shop as on the other side.

Cafe this way! Ambleside, The Lake District


When we were planning a trip to Copenhagen, I watched a Rick Steves travel program on the city. In it, he walked with a guide to a little hidden courtyard where some of the oldest wooden houses in Copenhagen were. They didn’t say where it was, probably because it was a private residential place but I hoped to find it and, walking through the old Latin Quarter, I recognized this street:

Latin Quarter, Copenhagen

You see that reddish building with a doorway? Go through that doorway and this is what you find:

A Word a Week Challenge – Ornate

This week, Susie’s word challenge is Ornate. You don’t see as many ornate details these days. I guess it costs too much to really put the flourish into things. But go back, even less than a hundred years to the Art Deco period and you see wonderful detail. Go back even further and you will see ornamentation everywhere. The Victorians and Georgians were over the top. Baroque’s middle name is “Ornate”. The rich details in the Renaissance era are astounding.

One place you can always find lots of ornate details is in a cathedral when more was better, and all to the glory of God. The architecture, the decoration, the stained glass, the altar. Statues and tapestries. Everywhere you look you’ll find intricacy. Architecture is a great place to spot it, even just a little swirl on a window frame or door.  The Vatican Museums are lined with intensely detailed paintings and moldings along the walls and ceilings of the hallways. Whole rooms have every inch of wall space covered in murals and frescos.

Palaces and old manor houses, the owners all seemed to want to out-do each other but not many can match places like Versailles but there are a lot who gave it the old college try including Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.

Below are a few photos I’ve taken of ornate bits of architecture, decorative items and interiors, including a door from Georgian Dublin, details from both Wells and Canterbury Cathedral exterior, Galleries Lafayette (a Parisian department store), some Belgian lace examples, and a few shots from Rosenborg Castle.


Memories of Copenhagen – Day 5 and 6

Botanic Gardens, Copenhagen

Continuing on, our last day and a half in Copenhagen…

Day five is again overcast and cool. This is getting boring! We had the Sunday brunch at Bankerat today and that was very good. They had an English style one with beans and bacon and sausage that Graham had and I had one with cold meats, cheese, yogurt, eggs and bacon. I’ve given up trying to get a decent cup of tea and am sticking with coffee for the duration.

Rather than take another bus tour, we walked through the Botanic Gardens and then over to Rosenborg Castle. That was really good! There are a couple of floors of rooms chock full of antiques and art and collections that took ages. There was a lot to see there including the crown jewels in the vaults. It’s a 17th century brick castle built as a summer home for Christian IV but only used as a residence for about 100 years. The Royal Collections have been housed here and open to the public from the middle of the 19th century. The treasury and jewels are dazzling. I particularly liked the ivory collection with some exquisite carvings and there was a collection of gold toy soldiers that was something to see as well. And yes, the jewels and crowns and jewelled books were stunning, too. This was definitely an interesting place to visit.

We went over to Tivoli Gardens where we’re meeting the others later on. Tivoli was founded in 1843 and is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. There are gardens, a little lake with boating, a pavilion, a concert hall, a pantomime theatre and an outdoor stage. There are lots of rides for kids and adults, one or two that looked terrifying and which, judging from the screams coming from them, certainly had that effect on some of the people! There are arcade and game booths, a fish tank with some small sharks and a stingray and lots of other fish. One area is done up in a Chinese theme and other seems very like you walked into a storybook. We saw a parade of the Tivoli Boys’ band looking like red toy soldiers and at the end of the parade were two children in a horse drawn carriage.

Pantomime in Tivoli gardens

Naturally there are lots of restaurants as well for fine dining right down to general family friendly places. The down side is that it is a bit on the expensive side. In addition to the lofty entrance fee you pay, you also have to pay extra for the rides. None of us did that aside from one that Dave’s little “nipper” wanted to go on. The others weren’t planning to eat there so we stayed on ourselves and walked around some more and saw the end of a pantomime though couldn’t understand it as it was in Danish! We ate in a Viking theme place which was a bit touristy but the food wasn’t bad. We decided not to stay until it got dark to see if there were fireworks because it was still a few hours until the sun went down and we’d seen everything we wanted to and it looked like rain. Indeed as we went back for the bus it did rain a bit but it didn’t come down too hard until overnight.

On our last day in Copenhagen THE SUN CAME OUT!!!! Doesn’t that just figure? After breakfast back at Klimt, we realized we wouldn’t have time to go through the Copenhagen city museum if we were meeting Dave at 12:30 so we just walked through the city centre and went to Trille’s shop to wait for Dave and Matt. The four of us wandered the sunny squares and streets and just enjoyed the sunshine and scenery. I found a little private courtyard lined with some ofthe oldest wooden buildings in the city. It was something I’d seen on a Rick Steves Travel show so I was glad I’d found it! The old quarter is so much prettier under a blue sky! Pity we didn’t have more time to lounge on a sidewalk cafe or explore more.

View to the Round Tower and BLUE SKY!

We had to grab sandwiches for lunch and we’d booked a taxi to the airport mid afternoon. With a little last minute shopping at the duty free stores, we boarded a plane and landed back in Manchester which was…. grey and gloomy as per usual. Nothing new there, then.

We have a rental car for the next week so we can do some driving around. We spent one day up in the Lake District, in Grasmere and Keswick and visited the Castlerigg Stone Circle. We also went to the Trentham estate near Stoke and saw some lovely gardens and a macaque monkey sanctuary. Our weekend in Manchester was a group get together with a lot of Coronation Street fans, gathered to celebrate the iconic tv show’s 50th birthday this year (2010). With a visit to the television studios, and a few get togethers, a good time was had by all!

Memories of Copenhagen – Day 3 and 4

Gundestrup Caldron – National Museum, Copenhagen Largest known sample of European Iron Age silverwork dating 200 BC – 300 AD

Continuing on with my Copenhagen memories…

Another cold and damp day! We are going to the National Museum but first, brunch at Cafe Klimt and we were not disappointed! We bought “clip cards” for the busses and hopped on one to the town hall square, Radhuspladsen. The famed Tivoli Gardens amusement park is next to the square and the central train station is nearby as well. We walked around the building taking pics and then to the museum which isn’t far from there.

It’s a natural history type museum of the area, from prehistoric times to the present. There are some wonderful old artifacts and treasures including some gold and silver, paintings, even burial treasure. It’s a really big museum with free entry but a lot to see in one go. We went around to the bits we most wanted to see, had a coffee in the cafe and later headed back out into the historic centre to browse the shops along the narrow cobbled streets.

Stroget – Actually five adjoining streets, pedestrianized for shoppers in Copenhagen. Starts at the Town Hall square and ends in Kongens Nytorv square.

The Stroget is a long series of 5 streets back to back that has been pedestrianized and set up for shopping. It’s been so well received that other similar shopping areas like it have been implemented in many other European cities.

The shops range from high end department stores and designer shops to low end souvenir kiosks and everything in between. Side and parallel streets have good stores as well including antiques. There’s a flagship Lego store on the Stroget and there are usually buskers and entertainers scattered through the throngs of people. We were mainly after a few souvenirs so didn’t go into the department stores or posh places like the Royal Copenhagen china store though I did drool at the window for a few minutes.

We had trouble again trying to get a place to eat because, it being Friday night, you pretty much needed a reservation anywhere and we didn’t think to do that. We blagged our way into the restaurant next to the hotel, an Italian place called La Rocca but got the distinct feeling we were putting them out. It was a posher place than we anticipated and we really weren’t dressed for it as we usually prefer more casual surroundings but I did catch the waiter off guard when I ordered *in* Italian and said “Grazie”. The service improved every so slightly after that.

As usual with the more upscale restaurants, and something we should have remembered, the portions are small. We had looked at ordering the pizza and didn’t, favouring the ravioli which, when it came, barely covered half the plate but what really annoyed us was seeing someone at the next table be served with a pizza. It was huge and the person ordering it didn’t even eat half of it! The food was good, but we were not happy with the attitude of the staff and the portions and the price which was not cheap. Live and learn!

We were supposed to go to the airport tonight with Dave because his brother was arriving for a visit, and then for drinks but I was still chilled from the day so I opted out and they had a boys’ night out instead. I got a cup of tea from the hotel lobby and busied myself with my journal and the free wifi in the room!


Day four in Copenhagen dawned, yes you guessed it, overcast and chilly. Omelets for breakfast at Klimt and off to catch a bus for the hop on hop off tour to get an overview of the city. The ticket is good for two days if we want to do more tomorrow, though in the end, we didn’t. We caught it at the town hall and went around the main route.

We got round to where the other ubiquitous Copenhagen tourist icon is, the Little Mermaid. Normally this small statue sits on a rock out in the harbour about 10 feet from shore. Copenhagen is Hans Christian Andersen country and this is one of those stops that most of the tourists make to take photos. We wouldn’t have bothered going at all but the bus stopped there.

Guard at Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen

The thing is, the Mermaid statue was actually not there! She was off on a tour of China so she wasn’t sitting on her rock. There’s a large video screen erected in front of it showing a live feed from China where you can see the Mermaid on her/a rock with Chinese tourists looking at her. Bizarre. And the weird thing is, people actually get off the bus and go look and take photos. Of the video screen. *shakes head*

One place we got off was the square at the Amalienborg palaces, a cobbled area that has four nearly identical palaces surrounding it where some of the royal family live. There’s a museum in one of them as well. It’s also a traffic roundabout normally so you would want to be careful. As luck would have it, it was nearly midday and the traffic was all stopped for the daily changing of the palace guard so we got to stand in the centre of the square and watch it. It’s quite nice to watch, not a huge production like the Buckingham Palace one.

Marble Church (Marmorkirken, officially known as Frederik’s Church, for King Frederik V)

We also had a look in the huge Marble Church or Marmorkirken with it’s Baroque dome on top. That’s just a block away and a block to the other direction, on the harbour front is a little park with a big fountain that looks across the harbour to the new Opera house. We walked towards Nyhavn from there, with a coffee stop, By the time the next tour bus came, we just took it back to the start and decided that was enough for one day. We walked down into Stroget to find somewhere to eat though weren’t overly impressed with our lunch. We went back to the hotel before going out again for an early dinner with Dave, his wife and son and his brother. It was nice to meet his wife finally! She owns a shop selling goth and club gear near the university which we also got to see en route to a buffet restaurant called RizRaz. Good food, mostly vegetarian on the buffet but you can also order some meat as an add on.

The evening was another quiet one for me as the men were off to record another radio show. I could have gone but it was a squash with four of us the other night so a fifth would have been too uncomfortable. I left them to it, bought some snacks and curled up with the telly.

Memories of Copenhagen – Day 1 and 2

Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s “new harbour”

I promised to blog my travels in Copenhagen so this is part 1. The full detailed travelogue is here on my personal website.

We got very good priced tickets on SAS from Manchester to Copenhagen, a little less than $250 Canadian for two return tickets. Where to stay…. It was tough deciding and I knew it would be expensive as it’s not a cheap city. We settled on Hotel Ibsen which is close to the Norreport station and only a few blocks from the historic city centre. It’s an older hotel, a bit worn down and creaky but it was fine. Our room was a decent size and there was free wifi. We paid about $185 Canadian for our double room without breakfast and we ate in a couple of local restaurants instead.

Graham’s friend Dave met us at the airport and helped us settle in to the hotel. We struck out on our own as the sun was shining and the forecast for the week ahead was on the dismal and grey side. I was determined to see Nyhavn, the colourful harbour, in the sunshine. We walked, stopped at a small takeout style place for a quick bite to eat, and explored a large public square that opens onto the harbour, Kongens Nytorv, before walking down the harbour side.

Nyhavn means “New Harbour and was dug back from the main harbour in the 1600s to connect the harbour to the inner city at Nytorv. It was for shipping and fishing boats so it was all very industrial and disreputable. It wasn’t really a heritage tourist type thing until the last 25 years or so and now all the buildings have cafes and bars in them with outdoor seating all along the waterfront. Wooden ships and sailboats can moor at the docks and a floating theatre on one of the boats as well. It was indeed very pretty to see all the brightly painted buildings in the sunshine. It’s one of the quintessential views of the city.

We wandered some more and headed back in the general direction of the hotel, crossing canals and getting a bit turned around by Christianborg Palace where the parliament and government offices are but a friendly person stopped and pointed us on the right path, straight up a pedestrian street lined with shops and sunny squares. Later that evening we met up with Dave and his radio show cohort Donovan for a drink in a real English pub in the historic centre. Later Donovan took us to a “reasonable” restaurant with a very bizarre decor and it turned out to be on the end of the block by our hotel. It’s called Bankerat and the decor is very goth and bizarre. The food is really good and the Sunday brunch most tasty.

Skeleton of a Viking longboat, Roskilde Viking Ship Museum

On our second day, we decided to take the train out of Copenhagen and visit the city of Roskilde. This is the old capital city and it’s cathedral, the Domkirke is where Danish Royalty has been buried for generations. It’s also got a Viking Ship Museum which was our other destination for the day.

We had a bit of difficulty with the ticket machines in Norreport station but managed to get a day pass from a man in a newsagent kiosk on the train platform. Roskilde is a pretty place, again with buildings painted different colours. We walked down a cobbled street lined with shops towards a main market square where the cathedral is. The cathedral is made of brick as is a few other buildings around the square including the town hall. The interior of the church is clean and bright, painted white and it has a restored look though you can tell the woodworks, such as tables and pews are very old. The Royal chapel is modeled after Sainte Chapelle in Paris and it is really lovely.

Did you know that the word “Vik” means “shallow water”? Therefore the Vikings were people that lived along the bays and inlets. The ship museum contains replicas and the remains of some of the longboats. There’s a shed where they build boats using the old methods and they have at least one they’ve taken on a sea journey though it does have some modern safety features like radar. You can see a film that was made of that. They have artifacts and displays and a nice little gift shop. In good weather you can go out in a longboat and row with the other tourists around the sheltered bay.

We had a nice day even if the sun hid all day. When we got back to the city, we found a restaurant not far from our hotel called Cafe Klimt. It was a little worn down around the edges but the staff was really nice and the food was very good. The prices were reasonable by Copenhagen standards as well. They do breakfast though it starts at 10 a.m. but we decided to eat there the rest of the week and have leisurely starts to our days.

That evening we all went to the studio space to record a Metal Breakfast Radio with Dave and Donovan. That was good fun but by the time we got back to the hotel, it was too late to get into the restaurant in the hotel and anything else handy was far too full so we went to bed hungry! I think we’ll get some snacks to have on hand!

Copenhagen, Day 3 and 4

Copenhagen, Day 5 and 6