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This excursion was our planned activity today. It was OK but not great, and we’ve been wondering why. In the end I think it didn’t really have a focus.

The plan was that we would be coached off to the north of Copenhagen to visit a handful of ‘castles’ in that region. Apparently this was a favoured area for the Kings of Denmark – for the hunting – and various aristocrats followed suit. However, there was a bit of confusion over what ‘visit’ actually meant. It did not mean ‘get off the coach and go into the castle’, except in one case. In the case of the others it seemed to mean ‘drive slowly by’ or ‘catch a glimpse from a distance’. Additionally we were supposed to stop at one castle for a photo opportunity, and that didn’t happen either.

Val was disappointed that there was little or no ‘Christmas’ aspect to it – in general, there weren’t even any Christmas decorations on display. Of course this might have been because there was no snow, and our guide, a jolly elderly Danish gentleman with impeccable English, did say that this was unusual. In a normal winter the snow arrives in mid-December and stays until some time in March, but this is happening less and less. Last winter was a ‘green winter’ (i.e. no snow) and so far this winter looks the same. I think it would all have felt much more Christmasy and festive if the castles had been surrounded with snow, instead of just muddy fields and a grey, lowering sky – it was one of those winter days when it never really seemed to get properly light.

Anyway, we spent a good hour walking round Frederiksburg Slot, which may have been the first castle. Certainly we were there about an hour or so after leaving Arcadia. Although 15th or 16th century in origin it was rebuilt in the 17th century as a hunting castle by King Christian IV, and rebuilt again in the 19th century after a major fire – that rebuilding was a reconstruction. There were many pictures, especially of the Danish royal family who had owned it for about 400 years, and it was well furnished. I gather that it’s not used as a residential castle any more, but is in occasional use for formal state occasions. One interesting fact – the church at the castle is the home chapel of the Order of the Elephant, Europe’s second oldest order of chivalry. (The Garter is the oldest, apparently.) Among those inducted into the Order of the Elephant were Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Montgomery.

Next we should have visited Fredensborg Castle, where we should have had time to stretch our legs and take a photo. In the event, this was just a drive-by. After that we should have stopped at Havreholm Castle, which is now run as a high-class restaurant and where we were supposed to have coffee and danish in a drawing room ‘beautifully decorated for Christmas’ (which would have pleased Val). Unfortunately we were told in a letter 24 hours earlier that Havreholm Castle would be shut on the day of our visit, and that we would be diverted to Kokkedal Castle, which is also operating as a restaurant. So that’s where we went and had a bit of pastry and jam, and a cup of mulled wine and schnapps with raisins and other items of dried fruit in it. It was very odd, and Val didn’t enjoy it at all.

Then we began the drive back to Copenhagen along the coast road, along which we had various other castles pointed out to us. Among these was Kronberg castle, in Helsingør, which is believed to be the inspiration for Elsinore in Hamlet. More interesting to us, however, were the beautiful houses either side of the road. Those one one side had the sea at the back door, while those on the other backed onto a forest. That drive was possibly the best part of the excursion, to be honest.

We were back at the ship just after 3 o’clock. We visited the buffet for a light late lunch and did a bit of deck pounding. During this we got the chance to observe a supposed highlight – the Tivoli Gardens Marching Band, who had been booked to turn up at 4:30. Well, ‘band’ was stretching it a bit in my view – there were barely ten of them. And they just played, they didn’t march, so it all seemed pretty silly.

Now it’s about 5:30 and we’re under way. Next stop a very cold Oslo…..

2 Responses to “Christmas on Arcadia – "Christmas Castles of Copenhagen" excursion”

  1. rosie says:

    This so reminds me of a hadrians wall excursion we did, where there was 6 inches just up there, and if you look at that field, well look at the field behind that and there is a couple of feet there. Excursions are never quite what you think they are going to be,are they.

  2. […] Christmas on Arcadia – “Christmas Castles of Copenhagen” excursion […]

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