Feeling content with my sightseeing in Copenhagen, I decided to take the train up to the coastal town of Helsingør.
I arrived in Helsingør and followed the signs to Kronborg Slot, the castle built in the 1500’s that originally established the Danish Crown as an international power. Its location at the entrance of the Baltic Sea forced boats to pay a toll that served an important role in providing revenue to the developing Danish monarchy at the time.
The castle grounds featured several Wi-Fi hotspots where guests could download an audio guide for free. They could listen to the history of the castle from a mobile device, a feature I doubt the monarchs of the castle’s past ever envisioned! The views from the castle allowed me to catch my first glimpse of Sweden across the white-capped water. As I wandered through the ramparts, I took note of all the historic smaller buildings surrounding the castle that had been transformed into modern art studios. A bustling modern art colony had established itself on the man-made isle. It served as a place of work and also showrooms for artists ranging from painters to metal workers. Across the water sat the new Maritime Museum and Library featuring some wild contemporary architectural schemes. The once boring shipping warehouse had been complemented with additions of jagged glass forms bursting from the old brick walls.
After my trip to the castle, I wasn’t really sure of what the rest of Helsingør had to offer. I wandered through the backstreets until I reached what seemed to be a sort of central square. I ordered the “lunch special”, which came with some sort of fried fish, pickled herring (not my favorite, but apparently a Scandinavian delicacy), cheese, bread, butter, and a small salad. This eclectic plate with a Coke cost around 23 Euro, and it was the cheapest I could find!
After the supposedly traditional Danish meal, I figured that I had seen my fair share in Helsingør and decided to train down south to the smaller Danish town of Humlebæk to visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Getting off the train, I followed the signs that simply read “Louisiana”, with an arrow. LMOMA holds a very wide variety of contemporary exhibits, ranging from big-name pop art, to Incan pottery, to videos depicting a modern interpretation of the Holocaust. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the museum was its design in general. The main foyer sat in a historic patrician house situated on a beautifully decorated lawn looking out on the churning Baltic Sea. The architecture of the pavilions weaves through the backyard and down under the ground to form an impressive web of underground art halls (complete with a movie theater). The Museum presents itself as a culmination of Danish modernist architecture, integrating both nature and form into a masterpiece which promotes a very alternative method of presenting artwork.
One thing to keep in mind while traveling is the importance of an open mind. With the freedom of a train pass, I had the freedom to go wherever my heart desired. With this little trip, it paid handsomely to take the time to visit someplace I’d never heard of before.