When the days are short and the nights are dark and cold, many people welcome the Winter Solstice (the “shortest day of the year”) as the sign that the sun is on its way back again.
We got up with morning at 8.30am; I would like to have said that we had an excellent night’s sleep, but we came bolt awake at 03:10 hours by the captain’s voice booming through the Tannoy saying “MEDICAL EMERGENCY – will the medical team please proceed immediately to cabin <whatever>” then repeating the words. Oh dear, someone’s cruise was not going the way they’d planned.
We wondered why they felt the need to broadcast it through the entire ship and everyone’s cabin, but it transpired that they do this because they don’t necessarily know where the emergency medical team will be at any given time.
We didn’t really get back to sleep properly after that and the cabin was cold (I closed the balcony door). We had a leisurely morning to spend at sea because we weren’t due to arrive in Copenhagen until about three o’clock this afternoon, and we would remain in port overnight. We already knew how we were going to spend the afternoon/evening – go to the wonderful Tivoli Gardens.
In the meantime, the morning stretched before us so we could do whatever we wanted. It was too cold and wet to go outside on deck, so we just went along to the Palladium theatre, where Keith Hanson, the former Beefeater, was giving another talk about the Crown Jewels.
Afterwards we decided it was time for a beer, so we went along to the Rising Sun and just enjoyed the ambience. We’d noticed that, since we boarded on Monday, the only canned music they were playing around the ship was Christmas music. So we enjoyed a pint of John Smith’s each while Chris Rea proclaimed to everyone that he would be “driving home for Christmas”. 😊
At lunchtime we thought we’d better have a hearty meal as we probably wouldn’t be back on board Arcadia in time for dinner tonight. I therefore enjoyed a plate of cold meats and salad, followed by some potato and chickpea curry and rice.
After lunch, we went up to the Crow’s Nest to watch the Arcadia’s progress into Copenhagen. While we were there, the Captain announced that we would be arriving earlier than planned, around 2.00pm – that was good news. We enjoyed a couple of drinks in there, then returned to E26 to ensure we had our Danish Kroner and warm clothing ready, once the clearance came for passengers to proceed ashore.
From our balcony, we could see a line of shuttle buses waiting to take us into town; there were also a couple of local “hop on, hop off” buses which was good to know, as we’d be able to use them to explore tomorrow.
We disembarked the Arcadia and were pleasantly surprised that the temperature, although cold at 5°C, certainly wasn’t as chilly as we were expecting; in fact, we’d had colder weather than that in Durham last week! As we made our way down the gangplank and along to the waiting row of buses, I was able to get some nice bow shots of the Arcadia.
The bus took about 20 minutes to get to the centre of the town and we all alighted. I used the Google Maps app to see how far it was to the famous Tivoli Gardens; it was only about a 20 minute walk. The last time we visited Tivoli was in 2007 on the maiden voyage of the Queen Victoria, and at that time we only had about an hour in the theme park because it was part of an organised excursion. This time however we had as long as we liked, because the ship was staying in port overnight so there was no hurry.
As we walked through the brightly-lit, Christmassy streets and their colourful, glowing shops, we came across a lingerie shop selling stockings and tights of all different colours and patterns. I picked out a red pair with polka dots on them and decided they’d go well with the Christmas dress and boots I’d brought with me, so went in and bought some. 😊
Arriving at the entrance to Tivoli Gardens, we joined the inevitable queue. But standing in the queue to get into the park was no hardship, and it moved fairly quickly. We were opposite the imposing town hall building, and all the streets were aglow with Christmas lights, as was the outside of Tivoli. We purchased the tickets into the park along with unlimited goes on all the rides; those that I was brave enough to try, that is! 😊
Once through the gates, I suddenly regressed 50 years until I was an 11-year-old kid again. A fairytale scene unfolded in front of me. The trees were garlanded with thousands of twinkling lights; there were large red hearts and lanterns…. Lights – lots and lots of lights everywhere you looked. We could smell the gorgeous Christmassy scents of warm cinnamon, cloves, caramel, toffee; the unmistakeable aroma of mulled wine: “GLØGG” proclaimed a chalked sign outside a wooden hut decorated with holly wreaths and more lights.
As we happily wandered through this magical land we could hear the delighted screams of the riders on the rollercoaster or on the “Vertigo” ride; a terrifying looking experience where the riders sat in their seats in a long carriage that slowly rose up a column high above the park before plummeting down again. Nothing would ever induce me to go on such a ride. Why would you pay money to have the life frightened out of you? 😊
We decided to start off on the Ferris wheel. Each of the gondolas had a colourful little “hot air balloon” attached above it. We joined the short queue and, again, it was not a tedious experience because there was so much to see and hear while we were waiting. Once we took our places in the gondola, we slowly rose until we had a fantastic view of the whole of Tivoli Gardens. It was much colder at the top though, and a biting wind nipped at my hands, face and the back of my neck (must remember to wear my alpaca scarf tomorrow!).
We enjoyed the little ride and we looked around for something else to have a go on. I am a complete wimp when it comes to fairground rides; I have such an overactive imagination I think of all sort of things that could go wrong. Trevor, on the other hand, is a bit of a dare-devil and he will happily go on all the terrifying rides. 😊
We soon came to a stationary ride called “Tick Tock”. The carriages looked like those on the classic Waltzer; the ones where, as well as going around the perimeter of the ride, the carriages rotate on their own axis and sometimes have the attendants spinning them round faster for you: “Scream if you wanna go faster!” 😊
We stood in the lengthening queue and watched as the first lot of people took their places in the pods/carriages. The ride started… and I realised it wasn’t a tame old waltzer after all. Good grief – as well as the ride going round and round at some speed, each pod spun on its own axis horizontally and vertically. You could be sitting there then suddenly you would pitch right forward, the momentum carrying the whole pod upside down and back up; sometimes tumbling over and over. It looked horrendous, and I decided there was no way I was going to take part.
I took Trevor’s rucksack (which he could not have taken on the ride anyway) and decided to leave the queue and wait for him at the exit. Soon it was his turn and, as the Tick Tock gained speed so the volume of screams from the riders increased. I saw Trevor as he sped past, tipped over forwards, rolled over backwards… I was so pleased I had decided not to go on this ride; it cannot have been fun at all.
When Trevor eventually emerged from the exit gate, he told me he thought I had made the correct decision not to go on. When I asked him what he had thought of it, he said it was “an experience”. 😊
We walked around the park for a little while afterwards, soaking up the ambience and the sights, sounds and smells, and looking at the Christmas market stalls. A tantalising, seasidey smell of candyfloss reached our noses, so we decided to enjoy one each; it was years since I’d had a candyfloss.
We approached the stall and watched in fascination as the vendor swirled the stick around and around in the large drum where the pink candy was spun into gossamer thin strands, and the ball of floss grew larger and larger. In fact, we ended up with the biggest candyfloss I have ever had in my life! 😊
In keeping with becoming a little kid again, by the time we’d finished our delicious sweet treat, our faces and hands were completely sticky and we had to go to the restrooms to give them a thorough wash before we continued on our way.
Of course, it goes without saying that we had to enjoy a gløgg each, and I paid a little extra to have mine fortified with 40ml of port. They were good and hot (not like some of the lukewarm ones we’d recently experienced) and we really enjoyed them. Then it was time to try some more of the rides.
The next one was called “Star Flyer” and it was another of those where you took your place in a chair-like seat suspended by chains; your legs just dangling into space. I wanted to be able to take photos but, before we took our places, you had to empty all your pockets (including mobile phones and cameras, keys, wallets etc.) and place everything in a locker. Once we were secured in our seats, the ride started. It was a bit like the old “chair-o-plane” type ride apart from the fact that it rose up a central pole until you were high above the whole of the park with the most fantastic views. Despite being at the mercy of the cold up there, it was just magical, and was over far too soon. I could easily have re-joined the queue and had another go. 😊
Next, we went onto an underground ride which took you through the stories of Hans Christian Anderson. Everyone knows these wonderful fairy tales from their childhood; The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Tin Soldier, The Princess and the Pea and many others. Once again, I regressed into an enthralled child as we slowly travelled through the ride, complete with animated figurines depicting scenes from HCA’s best-known and much-loved stories.
The final ride we went on was a traditional carousel, except that instead of just horses, there were other animals; elephants, camels, giraffes and other things. Trevor took his place on a camel while I just went on a horse. Round and round we went to the evocative barrel-organ music, and the coloured lights winked and flashed as we rode to nowhere. It was great fun but, at the end, I had some trouble climbing down from my “horse” so the attendant had to fetch a step-stool to help me down. 😊
We continued strolling around the park; up until now I hadn’t felt at all as if it was nearly Christmas, but now I was in full festive mode. Everywhere we looked, there was something cheerful and magical. I know I’ve used the adjective “magical” several times in describing Tivoli, but if ever someone asked me “If you had to describe Tivoli Gardens in just one word, which word would you use?” then that would be it. 😊
Looking at our watches we saw, to our surprise, that we’d been in the park over three and a half hours; how the time had flown! In addition, we’d clocked up over 10,000 steps just walking through the park. We decided we’d make our way back to the shuttle bus stop, and return to the Arcadia. We would still have all day tomorrow to explore Copenhagen; we were happy to be here in this wonderful port overnight.
We didn’t get back on the Arcadia until 8.15pm, much too late for our dinner in the restaurant. Quickly getting changed into something smarter than my fleece trousers and hoody, we went up to the Belvedere self-service and enjoyed our dinner, washed down with a glass of house wine, up there.
Afterwards we just went down to the Rising Sun pub and enjoyed a drink in there, before meeting up with John and Linda. We decided to go to the Ocean Room at half past ten to do the Syndicate Quiz. This is a quiz where there are teams of no more than six and you get a table number. When each question is asked, you write your answer on a piece of paper (complete with your table number) and take it to the quiz master/mistress. All the answers are read out (leading to a certain amount of hilarity over incorrect answers) before the correct answer is revealed; each team with the correct answer then receives a point which is displayed on a large score-board. We’ve only ever played the Syndicate Quiz on P&O ships; other cruise lines don’t seem to do them.
We didn’t win, but we weren’t rubbish either; we were only two points behind the winning team. It was after 1.00am when we returned to E26 and settled down. As we were in port it was nice and quiet in our cabin, no rattling and creaking, and we slept very well.