May 2006 - Tokyo & Europe

The perils of staying in a Hotel that offers free breakfast is that it significantly reduces the chances of you finding a table, or a chair, or a corner to sit against. There was things to do, places to go, and so minus breakfast I hit the city and onto all the Castles and Palaces I had planned for the day.

On the way to Kronsborg Slot in Helsingor (people might know this better as Elsinore or the Castle which Shakespeare based Hamlet in) I was sitting next to the tour leader of a Japanese tour group. He was more than happy to talk about my travels, their travels. He was translating what I was saying to the five people in his tour group and soon they were all very interested in me, Sydney and what I had seen in Kyoto (as most of them were from Osaka and Kyoto). They only had an hour to look at Kronsborg Slot, so they caught a taxi at the station and I walked. But sure enough, right at the castle we met up again when they were taking photos and insisted that I join in.

Kronsborg Slot was a beautiful building, it's right on the water and you can see Sweden in the distance. Inside there wasn't a lot to see, but I must say that Dungeon section was a bit dark and eerie. Fortunately I had a guy in front of me saying that he was glad someone was around because he thought he was more scared than me. In some sections it was either almost pitch black or under candle light.

So another train later I was in Fredensborg, a tiny little town north of Copenhagen, famous for one reason... This is where Fredensborg Slot is, the home of Prince Frederick and Princess Mary. Unfortunately only the front courtyard and royal gardens are opened to the public at this time of the year. But it is set on some stunning grounds, and I got some good piccies of the Slot itself. Missed the next train by a matter of seconds which meant a half an hour wait for the next one.

The final Slot for the day, the Frederiksborg Slot, is absolutely stunning. I was walking through the town trying to follow the signs to the Slot and decided to walk down to the bottom of a pedestrain square to have a look at the lake and out of nowhere this huge castle starts to appear. It was one of those jaw dropping moments when you just say "wow". Who cares if the weather was overcast? Not me.

Frederiksborg Slot is now The Museum of Natural History, apparently it contains paintings of all the Kings and Queens from around the 1600's, all I know is there were a lot of paintings.... EVERYWHERE. The Chapel was stunningly decorated and the Grand Hall had probably the most detailed roof I have seen on my travels so far. When I got my ticket the lady explained that there was a temporary exhibit on Australia, I told her I think I could skip that, but she then mentioned that there might be something of interest in there. The first portraits of Princess Mary and the dresses that she wore for both the paintings. So to my surprise I got to see them! I had to keep turning my head until the Slot was completely out of site, I wanted to make sure I had that image superglued in my head.

Dinner was average (really average) and instead of paying the huge expense of an ice cream sundae for dessert I decided to head to Maccas for a chocolate sundae. Queue was huge, but I waited patiently, 15 mins later (the person, two people in front of me was ordering for an army) I was next in the queue with my money all ready to go. Another staff member comes up and speaks Danish, but I got the point when everyone else in my queue moved to another that they were closing that register. Bugger that, I walked out, I wasn't waiting another 15 mins for a sundae. Fortunately there was another Maccas nearby, a bit out of my way (notice this cunning sense of direction I have... In one day I know there are three Maccas stores within walking distance of the Hotel and I hadn't even been inside one until tonight). So I go in and find no queues, order my chocolate sundae only to find out that they have run out of chocolate! FAIL! I settled with Strawberry and pottered back to my Hotel room. What a disappointing evening after such a good day!