Fun facts about Copenhagen:
36% of all citizens commute to work by bicycle. I told you yesterday how easy and convenient the government makes it to do this, and it pays off.
50% of all power generated for electricity is via windmills/wind technology.
The water in the inner harbor is clean and safe for swimming.
The unemployment rate is a steady 5%. If you're unemployed, the government will find work and/or retraining for you. There is no such thing as "welfare" or "unemployment" pay. The government will subsidize you while you are being retrained for new work.
The tax rate is about 49%. What do you get for that 49%? Free health care. No doctor fees, no specialist fees, no hospital fees. No such thing as co-pays. Dental work is partially subsidized and prescriptions are partially subsidized. University is 100% free, AND the government pays you $1,000 per month (before taxes) to go to school. There is no such things as student loans or Sallie Mae.
Workers get a minimum of 6 weeks paid vacation per year. You must take vacation. No such thing as selling days, or rolling days or not taking days. MY KIND OF PLAN.
Women who have babies get 12 months of PAID LEAVE. Yes. You read that correctly.
It's pronounced Cope In Hay Gun.
There are no political commercials allowed on television.
Okay, so our last full day in Copenhagen and I planned a full-day trip to visit some castles outside of the city. We joined a group of 14 others from our cruise critic roll call to spend the day touring Roskilde Cathedral, the Viking Ship Museum, Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle.
Our cruise critic group is a nice bunch of people from all over the United States, Canada and a few stragglers from Australia and some other countries. We spend months ahead of cruises meeting online, planning private tours, researching ports and sharing all we know. I've made some great friends along the way. I think being part of this online group has only enriched my travel experiences, especially when it comes to cruising.
Well, I digress....back to our tour. We met our little bus and guide in a central location, a few minutes' walk from our hotel, at 9:15. Our guide, Michael, was a young student, who was majoring in political science and history. As with most Danes, his English is impeccable and he has a nice sense of humor and a terrific personality. He told us about the Viking Age, which lasted from 800-1066 AD and made Denmark a local superpower that was in control of England. Vikings are known for their savagery and plundering all over Western Europe, but besides being feared warriors, they were also smart and successful merchants and traders.
Our first stop was Roskile Cathedral. Roskilde used to be the capital of Denmark (900-1443). Roskilde Cathedral is historical in that King Harald Bluetooth (after whom this current technology we know was named) chose Roskilde as the capital because of the fjord located there and it's strategic location of being in the center of Denmark at that time. Bluetooth also built the first church, which later was expanded by the Catholic Bishop Absalon, in 1160. This cathedral has become the burial place of the kings and queens of Denmark since that time. It is a gorgeous cathedral and the ornate coffins of the various kings are well preserved.
Our next stop was the Viking Museum. There are lots of displays about the Viking Life, how various kinds of rope were made, and fabulous recreations of the viking ships. There are also 5 excavated viking boats pulled from the waters in the fjord near Roskilde and it is amazing to see how well these wooden boats have held up for so long.
We lunched in the little town where the Frekeriksborg Palace is located, then toured the palace itself. The place could be the perfect playground for kids - there's hundreds of rooms and hallways and stairs inside the palace itself, and what appears to be close to 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, ponds and pathways outside. This palace did not have any big strategic role in Danish history, but it is known as the most extravagant renaissance palace in all of Scandinavia. It was controlled by King Frederik II in 1560, and he named it after himself. Frederik's son, Christian IV, was born at the palace and had a personality and ego to match the size of the palace itself. The most beautiful part of the palace is the old church. It survived a very devastating fire in 1859 and is the only remaining part of the palace today that is 100% original. The remainder of the palace was rebuilt after the fire.
Our final stop was at Kronborg Castle. We call it Hamlet's castle because Shakespeare's play takes place at Kronborg. There is some disagreement about whether or not the bard actually visited Kronborg, but nonetheless, Hamlet the play takes place here. Kronborg is situated at the narrowest point of the strait of Oresund which was the only navigable way from the Baltic to the North Sea. The Danish king would collect taxes from all of the ships passing by. These taxes are what supported the expenses of Denmark for several centuries.
All in all, we had a great day touring these fascinating places of historical interest and beauty.
Adrienne and I were dropped off at our hotel and we have pretty much hunkered down this evening, resting and doing some repacking in anticipation of getting on the cruise ship Eurodam tomorrow morning.
We sail at 4 PM tomorrow, and our first day after that is a sea day. Our first port (on Friday) will be Bergen, Norway. Bergen is Norway's second largest city. We've got a walking tour planned for that, with a funicular ride planned after.