What I Spent In Linz, Austria (Just kidding.)

I love the “What We Spent” posts that Ali writes when she travels, and I wanted to do one for my side trip to Linz, Austria last month.  Alas, I didn’t track my spending very accurately.    I can tell you that I spent somewhere around sixty euros for all my food in Linz, and I can tell you that I spent €12 on a ticket for an art exhibition, which I will come back to later in this post.  I also spent around ten euros for various public transit needs around the city, €6,30 of which was just for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

It turns out that tracking my spending in such minute detail isn’t really my style, so I’ll leave that to Ali and go back to doing what I do best-  posting waaaaaaaay too many photographs.  Seriously, I came back from a twelve day trip with roughly five hundred photographs, and I did not take a dedicated camera.

While the overall trip ran about twelve days, I was only in Linz for about a day and a a half.  I started off on Tuesday morning from Regensburg, traveling in one of my all-time favorite conveyances, a Deutsche Bahn high speed ICE train.

After I reached Linz, I dropped my bag off at the hotel and set out immediately to start my tourism.  Here’s the highlights of a brief visit to Linz.

The Mariendom. 

Also known as the New Cathedral, this very enormous cathedral is the largest in Austria, although not the tallest.  The style is very similar to the cathedrals in Regensburg and Cologne, although this one only has the one spire.  It was really difficult to get the entire thing into a single photograph.

I took a bunch of pictures inside, but I think this one gives you a sense of the size while also showing you some pretty, pretty stained glass.

Schubert, Kepler, and Mozart all lived here.

While I was in the city, I sought out the listed former homes of Kepler and Mozart.  The Mozarthaus is actually kind of difficult to spot because it’s part local government office (hence the Austria and European Union banners on the building) and part cultural location with shops and restaurants.   The only obvious sign I could find was a bust of Mozart and some commemorative placards just inside that archway.

The Kepler house was much easier to spot-  the sign over the door says that Johannes Kepler lived in this house, and the little one off to the right has a bunch more information.

I didn’t set out to find the Schubert sign on purpose, I just sort of stumbled across this one.  Basically, it indicates that Franz Schubert came here to visit family friend Josef von Spaun.  The bottom floor of this building now holds a Douglas, which is a perfume and cosmetics store.

Höhenrausch.

Höhenrausch is an art exhibit that Linz puts on every summer.  This year, it runs from late May to mid-October.   The theme this year is “The Other Shore,” and everything has to do with water in some form.  There are regular exhibit rooms, but the true delight of Höhenrausch is that it winds its way over the rooftops of the city, through church and building attics, and up a custom-built tower.  This is the flyer they give you at the start, showing you the full path you take for the exhibit.

I paid my twelve euro admission, climbed over the starting barricades seen all the way to the left of this flyer, and moved onward.  On a nice sunny day, the views as you clamber over the rooftops are spectacular.

I’m curious to know whether these walkways stay up year round, or whether they build them anew every year like they do for the decks at Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls.

After I first emerged on the outdoor portions of this exhibit, I saw the sculture man in the distance.  I didn’t yet realize how large he is.

It had rained before and after my day in Linz, and this was a perfect day for this part of the trip.

As I got closer, I saw just how large the  sculpted man is.  His name is El Pensador, sculpted by Cuban artist K’cho.  He is made from the remains of Cuban fishing boats.

The tower behind El Pensador is called the Oberösterreich-Turm, which just translates to Tower Over Austria, I think.   Regardless, it was tall and I wanted to climb it.  Long time readers know that I always like to climb the tallest thing in any new city I visit-  I get a little bit King Kongy when I travel.  I wasn’t able to climb the spire at Mariendom because that’s only allowed during tours and my visit didn’t coincide with any tours. So, I climbed this instead!

Partway up the sculpture was “The Flying Ship,” said to signify a “new departure.”

Here’s one of the views from about two thirds of the way up the tower, looking toward the top of the Flying Ship sculpture.

Here’s one last look at the Linz skyline from the rooftops of Höhenrausch, before I head back inside.  Nice view of the Mariendom’s spire from here, don’t you think?

I took lots of photos of the art inside of Höhenrausch, but most of those photos were set aside before I started writing this post because I already had more than thirty shots to include.   Besides,  I feel like most of the art in this exhibit loses something in a still photograph.

Even this piece, “Uncertain Journey,” a dense network of woolen threads created by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, loses a lot of its impact in a single photograph.  Pretty neat though.  I wonder if this was created within the space it currently occupies, or if it was made elsewhere and then installed here.

These pictures are only a fraction of the Höhenrausch exhibit, and if you have a chance to swing by Linz before it closes in mid-October, I highly recommend checking it out.

Hauptplatz and the Trinity Column

Hauptplatz is one of the largest city squares in Europe, and it’s home to the Dreifaltigkeitssäule, or Trinity Column.   The column is a giant Baroque sculpture which was installed in 1723 as a monument to those who had died in plague epidemics.

This building is in the square, and this interesting relief work on the building was directly over a restaurant.  I have no idea what the history is on this, but it looked pretty nifty.

Hauptplatz is also the launching point for this adorable little tour train that goes through the old city, as well as the end point for the Pöstlingbergbahn.

The Pöstlingbergbahn and Pöstlingberg.

Linz has a wonderful system of Straßenbahn (street cars,) but the Pöstlingbergbahn is a special part of the tram network.  The Pöstlingbergbahn is considered the steepest mountain rail in the world.  It was built in 1898 although it has since been modified to use updated rail technology with a more commonly used gauge of track.  To ride the Pöstlingbergbahn up to Pöstlingberg, you will need to pay for a round trip ticket, and then wait-  it comes once every thirty minutes.   The ride is picturesque as you climb the mountain.  The Pöstlingberg stop at the very top is quite pretty for a tram stop.

This is the door to the men’s room at the tram stop.  I just thought this was hilarious and kind of adorable.  And I cracked my head on low hanging stone at least twice trying to get a good photograph.  I feel like this is what it would have been like if Gandalf needed to take a whiz in the Shire.

When you walk out of the tram stop, there’s a sign to let you know that you are at the very border of Linz.

As you walk into Pöstlingberg, you quickly come across an open space that looks over Linz.

Pöstlingberg is high on a hill, on the bank of the Donau (Danube) river.  At 539 meters (1,768 feet,) the view of Linz is pretty great.  This was not the same day as the earlier pictures from Höhenrausch, and you can tell that this was a much more hazy day than in the Höhenrausch shots.

One of the big draws for families in Pöstlingberg is the Grottenbahn, a train ride geared toward small children.    As you approach it, fairytale creatures help to point the way.

I found the entrance to the Grottenbahn, but decided not to ride because there was a pretty large number of small children already waiting to ride and I just didn’t feel like waiting.  I will say that the walkway leading up to it was cooler than the rest of the hilltop by several degrees, and this was a very refreshing place to walk.

The decorations on the entrance walkway give you an idea of what you can expect inside.

Another major point of interest in Pöstlingberg is the Pöstlingbergkirche, a large pilgrimage church built at one of the highest points on the hill.

The walkway leading up to the door of the church has a fenced platform which has begun to collect Europe’s ever-present love locks.

I honestly have run out of things to say about the inside of churches throughout Europe.  They’re all pretty ornate and they’re all very impressive.   And most of the time, the people I find inside them are tourists rather than congregants.

The Ars Electronica Center.

After I rode the Pöstlingbergbahn back down the hill, I got off the tram one stop earlier than Hauptplatz so that I could go to the Ars Electronica Center.  It’s a museum that has exhibits related to technology, and I was curious to spend a few hours checking it out.  I had heard that it was a really cool place to visit.

Unfortunately, it was closed.  I didn’t catch that on their website-  they opened up again about a week after I left.    I got to see the entry vestibule, but that’s about it.  Anyway, the building is right on the bank of the Donau, directly across from Hauptplatz, so I walked back over the river.

Four random pictures that don’t fall into the rest of the narrative for this post.

This street is Landstraße.  I spent a lot of time traversing this street because it was kind of central to everything else I was doing, and it led directly to Hauptplatz.  It was also the path that most of my tram usage required, including going to and from the train station.

I hate a couple of times at Deli-Linz while I was in town, and this was my favorite snack of the visit-  Peanut Butter Bread with bananas and cracked cocoa beans.  With a Fritz-Kola.  Sehr lecker.

Last, but certainly not least, I saw a great many interesting vehicles during my visit.  This brightly colored Vespa was just too cute.

Have you ever been to Linz?

First Folio and Video Game Art

me-prosperoI’ve always been a big fan of William Shakespeare.  Visiting the Globe Theater in London was a highlight of that trip.   I like the bard so much that in the early 1990s, I had a costume party for his birthday with a “dress as your favorite Shakespearean character” theme.  That’s me there on the right, dressed as Prospero from “The Tempest.”  The costume started with a mustache to match the beard, but it kept falling off whenever I had something to drink.

Since I’m a fan of Shakespeare’s work, you can probably imagine how excited I was when Amelie told me that Florida International University’s Kendall campus is showing Shakespeare’s First Folio at the Frost Museum.

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The Frost Museum is a four story exhibition hall with multiple exhibits going on at all times.   This nifty globe is right in front, and from a distance, I thought for a moment that it might be one of the many versions of Sfera con Sfera that is out in the world.

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Until February 27th, the fourth floor of the Frost museum is home to an original 1623 edition of the First Folio.   This is a national traveling exhibition organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The book will be displayed in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  When the book reaches Tulane University,  New Orleans will reportedly celebrate with a jazz funeral for Shakespeare.

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The First Folio was published seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and it contains 36 of the Bard’s plays.  (The Frost museum website says that it contains eighteen plays.  I’m curious about the discrepancy.  Perhaps older printings of the First Folio didn’t have all 36?)

On exhibit, it is stored in a temperature (and probably humidity) controlled case.    Photographs were allowed as long as you used no flash and as long as you didn’t actually touch the glass.

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The book on display is opened to the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet.  You can see it there, in the bottom-left part of this image.  I am incredibly fond of the old spellings of things, like queftion and fleepe.  However, that may just be because I need more fleepe.

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While Shakespeare’s First Folio will be gone after February 27th, the Art of Video Games exhibit will be sticking around until mid-April.  Organized by the Smithsonian American Art museum, this exhibit looks back at “the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies.”   Plus it shows a history of all the game consoles, from the Atari 2600 and Colecovision all the way up to modern gaming systems.

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It was especially interesting to see this through Amelie’s eyes-  she’s about five years younger than me, and she didn’t reach the US until the mid-80s, so her first video games were not quite the same as my first video games.

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Of course this is where most of my favorite games lived during middle and high school- the Commodore 64.  I had a C128, but I ran it in C64 mode almost all of the time.  I was always a one-button-joystick sort of guy.  I have an incredibly difficult time with the newfangled game systems that have two sticks, a directional pad, four buttons, and two triggers.  Get off my lawn, you over-complicated controllers!

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There were other nice exhibits in the Frost, but those two were the most interesting to me.  I shall wrap up this post with a picture of Amelie playing Secret of Monkey Island.  Those old adventure-quest games were fun, weren’t they?

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Should you wish to see the First Folio or the Art of Video Games, know that the Frost Museum is free and open to the public.  The address is and the hours are 10-5 Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 Sunday, and closed Mondays and most holidays.

What was your first video game?  What was your favorite?

Visions Of Star Wars

Just before I went to Japan, I started looking into shows and events and interesting things to see in Tokyo.  One of the first things I learned was that there was a Star Wars: Visions exhibit in Roppongi Hills from late April until late June.    My colleague and I hit the train before work one day, to see the exhibit.   There were advertisements in the train stations.

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Before we went all the way into the tower, we stopped for a quick breakfast.  It turns out that Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee has a presence in Tokyo, and they make very tasty pastries.  I think this was an apple based pastry, if I remember correctly.  It was quite good.

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Mori Tower was our next stop.  This is where the Star Wars exhibit was being held, as well as a Naruto exhibit which we did not visit.

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On the walk into Mori Tower, there’s a giant spider thing.  Fun!

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If you’re not sure that you’re headed in the right direction, just look for a sign.

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I’m not really a fan of most anime, but it looks like Naruto fans would have really enjoyed this nearby exhibit.

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The exhibits are held on the top floors of Mori Tower, which means you get a pretty spectacular view of the city looking out toward Tokyo Tower, the one that looks like a red Eiffel Tower.  I’ll get to Tokyo Tower in another post.

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Star Wars: Visions is an exhibit of artifacts from the Star Wars universe, as well as some new art pieces.  The artifacts were far more interesting to me than the art.

First, you have to get past more giant signs though.

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Once you get inside, one of the first things you see is the Death Star!

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Here’s a Darth Vader figure in his regeneration chamber.

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There was a life-sized Darth Vader lightsaber duel set-up on the roof for you to pick up a lightsaber and get a good photo against the Tokyo skyline.  However, that part of the exhibit was closed when we were there.  (Dang it, it looks cool!)

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We didn’t get to fight a Sith lord, but we did get to see almost every light-saber in the Star Wars film universe.

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And models!  Lots of tiny lit up models of ships!

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The level of detail on these ships is amazing.

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So much goodness can be seen here.

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Look, it’s a recreation of the two second scene in Jedi when you see a shuttle landing on Endor!

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In case you ever wanted to see the individual components of Vader’s mask, here they are.  I’ve always been curious about the little brown postage-stamps that ring the face-mask.  I can see now that they’re covered in circuitry, which makes total sense to me.

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I believe this is an original Boba Fett costume and Han-sicle.

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This is an original Han Solo blaster prop.

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…and this is actual C3PO and R2-D2 costumes.

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On the way out, there’s some rather nifty art in a lucite box.

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Have you ever seen a Star Wars exhibit?   What was your favorite artifact?

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis

I thought it might be nice to take a quick break from Japan to show you art in Minnesota.  While I was in Minneapolis, I took some time to visit the Walker Art Center.  I particularly liked the sculpture garden.

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This piece is called Spoonbridge and Cherry, and it was designed by a husband and wife team in the 1980s.  I just like it because it’s an enormous spoon.

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I don’t have commentary for every photograph.  I really like sculpture though.

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Horse!

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This is the outside of the Walker, showcasing the displays that were ongoing while I was there.  The Walker was celebrating 75 years while I was visiting, so there were two different “75 years” themed installations.  International Pop  covered the emergence of Pop art from the 1950s to the early 1970s.

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I like the little round grass patches in front of the building.

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This item was part of the “75 Gifts for 75 Years” exhibition.

There was a sign on the floor stating that you should take selfies here and post them to social media with the tag #AtTheWalker.  I am a slave to trendiness.  Also, I’m partial to this piece because I have a tiny metal version of this piece at home, which I’ve had for years because it came from my grandmother’s house when she passed away.

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I think I saw these in the lighting section at Ikea.

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It was all done with mirrors!

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I read recently about the artist who does these bendy trucks actually getting a parking ticket on his art installation in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany.  That’s hilarious.

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Um.  America!

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Whatever your artistic preferences, it’s important to beeeeee yourself.

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I like the pieces that are sort of political-cartoonish.

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I also like the pieces that are kind of random.   That tiger must have had a really good idea!

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This bit here made me hungry…

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This was one of the most showcased items in the Pop art exhibit.

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I thought this metal pressed newspaper was amazing.

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…made you look!

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I like the classic sci-fi feel to this bit of wall art.

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There was a film explaining this piece-  the artist Yves Klein got naked models to dip themselves in blue paint and then press themselves against the canvas.

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Do you have a favorite sculpture?  Have you ever been to the Walker Art Center?

Nordic Adventure, Part 6: Copenhagen

The fourth city in my five-city romp through the Nordics was the capital of Denmark:  Copenhagen!

Copenhagen is full of fascinating things to see and do.   For example, directly opposite the main train station is Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world.  Opened in 1843, Tivoli is the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fourth most visited in Europe.

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Most of the rides are considerably more recent than the park’s opening in the 1800s.  For example, the red track here is The Demon, which only dates back ten years to 2004.  Some roller coaster enthusiasts posted a video of their ride if you’re curious.

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In the center of the city is the Rundetårn, or Round Tower, completed in 1642.

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The tower was built as an astronomical observatory at the top and a library partway up.  The path to the top is a helix, a sloped walk.  This was chosen over stairs because so that a horse and carriage could go to the top.  This allowed them to move books and sensitive scientific equipment up the tower easily.

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The center of the tower is completely hollow, and you can see all the way to the bottom.   A daring tourist can step right onto this thick observation glass.

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This is the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. It was founded in 1897 by Carl Jacobsen, the man who founded the Carlsberg beer brewery.  It’s an art museum which originally contained Jacobsen’s private collection.

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The museum was originally a sculpture museum, and sculpture remains the primary focus of the atrium and grounds.  This is Kai Nielsen’s sculpture, “Water Mother,” front and center in the Winter Garden.

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In front of the main stairway is a rather nifty statue of Neptune.

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…and this attractive fellow is in the gardens out back.

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Let’s get this out of the way right now- You’re going to see Segway riders in a bunch of these pictures, because I took another Segway tour when I was in Copenhagen.   The city of Copenhagen contains hundreds of miles worth of bicycle lanes, 14 miles of which are on the streets in the city.  Segways are allowed to use bicycle lanes in the city, so it’s an amazingly great way to cover a lot of ground.  Plus they’re really fun.

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I can’t really remember why I took a picture of this wall, but it sure is a happy wall, wouldn’t you say?

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This square is called Gammeltorv.  That round thing is a fountain but I guess it was still covered from the winter.  I had a very enjoyable traditional Danish meal at a restaurant in this plaza.

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Copenhagen was nine days into my travels, and I needed to do some laundry.  I found a marvelous place called The Laundromat Cafe, which has locations in Denmark and Reykjavik Iceland.  The Laundromat Cafe is exactly what it sounds like-  a nice place to get a snack or a beer while you’re laundry is running in the handy coin-operated wash machines.  I did a load of laundry, and had a delicious pastry.  The girl behind the counter said this was a traditional Danish pastry, but I never caught the name of it.  I can say that it looks and tastes like a strawberry  Pop-Tart, only more delicious.

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Non-sequitur time!  The Metro in Copenhagen has large clear windows on the front and back of each car, and if you take video from inside, it looks a little bit like the opening credits to Doctor Who.  Behold!

Amagertorv is a popular meeting place in Copenhagen because the Stork Fountain is a pretty well known and easy to find landmark.

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This building used to be Nikolaj Church, but now Nikolaj Kunsthal is a contemporary art center.  They do their best to keep the confusion down, by way of this handy hanging banner on the front of the building.

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Frederik’s Church is often referred to as the Marble Church.  It’s due west of Amalienborg Palace.  This is the largest church dome in Scandinavia, and it was probably modeled after the Basilica in Vatican City.

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This is the courtyard at Amalienborg Palace.  Amalienborg consists of four identical palace buildings in an octagonal courtyard.

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You can tell it’s a Palace because there are guards with fuzzy hats.  It’s a royal thing.

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Den lille havfrue, or The Little Mermaid, is a fairly famous bronze sculpture by Edvard Eriksen which sits on a rock by the waterside.  The head of the statue is modeled after ballerina Ellen Price, but Price didn’t agree to model in the nude, so the body is modeled after the sculptor’s wife, Eline.  The statue is a frequent target for vandalism, and tourists climb onto the rock with her quite often for photographs.  In fact, the solitude displayed in this picture is very much an illusion, as you’ll see in the next photo.

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Later in the day, I took a boat tour which passed the Little Mermaid from the water.  This view gives you a much more accurate idea of what it’s like by the Mermaid’s rock.

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The Gefion Fountain, near the Little Mermaid, is the biggest monument in Copenhagen.  It was created for Carlsberg Brewery’s 50th birthday.  The legend of Gefion was told to me three different times while I was in Copenhagen, and it goes roughly as follows:

The Swedish king Gylfe offered Gefion as much of Sweden as she could plough in one day and one night.To get the most out of it, Gefion turned her four sons into big strong oxen and harnessed them to a plough.   And then they ploughed. And they ploughed. All day and all night. So deep in the ground, that when the time expired, Gefion could lift up the land and drop it into the sea between Sweden and Funen Island in Denmark.  And that’s how the beautiful and historic Zealand Island – the biggest island in Denmark – came to be.

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Near the Little Mermaid is an old well preserved star-shaped fortress called Kastellet.  This is one tiny corner of it.

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Apparently, this bridge is the source of considerable embarassment for the Danes-   the construction was begun from both sides, and when they got near the middle, they realized that the two sides did not actually line up.  The construction company has since gone out of business and they’re left with an incomplete non-connecting bridge.

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The spire on the left here, with the four entwined dragons, is actually the Stock Exchange. This is very misleading, Copenhagen!

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This is the Royal Library in Copenhagen.  The structure in the front is referred to as the Black Diamond, and the part in the back is the original Library building.

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The Royal Library Garden exists behind the structures in the previous photo-  it’s a really quiet and pleasant place in the middle of the city.

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This is Christiansborg Palace, the seat of Danish Parliament.

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Anchored in the harbor is the Royal Yacht Dannebrog.  Dannebrog serves as the official and private residence for the Royal Couple and other members of the Royal Family when they are on official visits overseas or on summer cruises in home waters.

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When the royals are waiting to be picked up by the boat, or when they’re waiting for state visitors, they wait in Toldboden.  They use the gazebo-like building on the left, with the crown on its roof.  Non-royals are allowed to wait in the other structure.

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My visit was just after the Eurovision Song Contest was hosted in Copenhagen.  It was so recent to my visit that they hadn’t even taken down the banner on the giant music hall yet.

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I don’t have much to say about the Opera House.

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Frederik’s Church again, this time from the water.

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The neat looking spiral spire is Christianshavn, the Church of Our Savior.  The circular stairs to climb the tower are on the outside of the building.  I didn’t climb this one, regrettably, but it looks really neat!

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Copenhagen’s City Hall Square.

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Alongside of the Copenhagen City Hall is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen, author of faery-tales such as The Little Mermaid and Frozen…er, I mean The Snow Queen.

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Have you ever been to Copenhagen?