Copenhagen was a city that I was so excited for. I had seen pictures of Nyhavn scattered across the internet and I couldn't believe that I was going to have the opportunity to visit such a colourful and vibrant city, but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. After Jonathan and I realised that it would be pretty difficult to walk to the city centre from the port, unlike Oslo, we decided that it would be best to book a shore excursion so we could make the most of our time there. By the time we had come to this conclusion there were limited options, but I found a boat tour that said we would get to see The Little Mermaid statue, drive past Tivoli Gardens, and I figured that a boat tour was destined to go past Nyhavn since that is the iconic vision of Copenhagen, so we booked it asap.
We woke up and got dressed that morning, looking out at our view of the sea and heading to the Metropolis Theatre for our excursion check in. They give you a little sticker and point you in the direction of your group. The theatre was really full, but we managed to snag some seats in the middle of a group of people that had the same number on their sticker. It seemed to take ages and I really had to use the bathroom, but I didn't want to get left behind so I tried to distract myself and finally we were called. Our seapass cards were scanned and then we walked onto the dock. I was trying to get my head wrapped around the fact that I was actually in Denmark as someone ushered us in the direction of our bus. A young girl about my age smiled and took our tickets and we all got on and settled for our drive to the boat that would be taking us around Copenhagen. The same girl that took our tickets told us some random facts about Denmark as we drove along. The ship was docked quite far away from the city centre, though, so we were just looking at construction work and shipping containers. We soon came to a crossroads that was absolutely packed with other buses and we were told over the system that we were right next to The Little Mermaid, but that we should NOT take a picture with her right now because there was a boat waiting and we would be back to see her. Once again, do NOT take a picture with the statue.
We all filed off of the bus, I stared longingly at the little bathroom on the bus that I didn't know existed until we were getting off, and we got in a long line next to the boat. Jonathan and I were near the back and we started to realise that it was taking a very long time for the line to move. I had him hold my place while I checked out what was going on. It appeared that there was a meter high step from the dock to get to the first step on the boat and the poor elderly people were really struggling to get on. I watched a man (around 80 if I had to guess) throw his cane into the boat, had his wife help him sit down on the dock, and slide into the boat. I came back to report to Jonathan what was happening and the girl in front of me got visibly upset. She had just had knee surgery and the people at the excursion desk told her that this was the excursion they would recommend for someone that has a disability. (In the end she couldn't get on the boat, so our tour guide put her on another boat that dropped her off in the city centre of Copenhagen where she was stranded- this. is. not. acceptable.) When we got to the front, Jonathan had to pretty much lift me onto the first step and then jumped down himself and we went to find suitable seats.
Due to the fact we were in the back of the line, only aisle seats were left, so we headed off on this boat tour where I had to lean around a couple of people that had a small open window in order to get any pictures outside. This boat was covered with dirty windows which meant no air flow in the heat and no decent pictures for me. Our tour guide, who really did not tell us anything except for where a few obscure movie scenes had been filmed, kept naming random buildings that we were passing and I had to lean over the laps of the people next to us with the hope of getting something. If you notice that a lot of the photos I post at the end of this blog have people or windows in them, that is why.
Sooner than I would like to admit, the boat tour was over without us going anywhere near Nyhavn or anywhere that looked like it. I was so bummed that I didn't get to see all of the beautifully coloured traditional homes. Instead we got off at a random canal (AKA Jonathan held me stable while I crawled onto the dock) and walked immediately back to the bus. I managed to capture a few photos of some of the building and a statue on our 3 minute walk, but I felt like I had been ripped off. One thing I was very glad about, though, was that I got to use the bathroom FINALLY. You may think that this is TMI, but this is me learning a lesson for you- do your absolute best to make sure that you do not need the bathroom before you go out for an excursion as you don't know when you will come across one or if it will cost money in a foreign currency that you don't have, also be aware the 99% of the coaches you are on will have a bathroom facility for you to use.
Once we were all seated once again on the bus, we merged into the exceptionally busy traffic of Copenhagen, driving past some cool buildings and even Tivoli Gardens, which is one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe. The entrance to go inside was absolutely stunning and the rides looked incredible. Our tour guide told us that there is a rollercoaster that is still completely manual, so there is a person in charge of starting and stopping the ride without any help from electronics. Seems a bit dangerous, but I would still love to go and visit inside the park some day. We were then on our way to see The Little Mermaid statue... or so I thought.
I started to recognise the port and leaned over to Jonathan whispering "What about The Little Mermaid?". He shrugged, but seemed a bit concerned as well. As soon as the ship came into view, the murmuring that had been going around the bus turned into shouts. An older gentleman yelled at the tour guide asking why we were not going to the statue. She got on the microphone and said because of the traffic we did not have enough time and they had to get us back to the ship. Everyone was so frustrated because we did not need to be back on the ship for another three hours, so the yelling continued and I felt the disappointment shoot through my body. We had paid around $80 each to go on this excursion, and the only thing we did was sit in a dirty boat without a view and see the walls of an amusement park from a bus window. The bus parked and the grumbling people grudgingly started to get off. I saw the man who had yelled earlier and leaned over to tell him that we were disappointed as well with the lack of organisation. He said that he was going to the front desk as soon as he got back on the ship and invited us to go with him. Jonathan, who loves a good confrontation about business practices, was happy about that and we waited for the man and his wife to get off. Immediately, the two men went to complain to a superior while his wife and I chatted about how upsetting it was that we didn't get to see the main icons of Copenhagen. Soon enough, though, the man stated that someone would take us to the statue, but it would probably be awhile. We said that was fine, we just wanted to see it before we left, and Jonathan ran off to find a bathroom. A couple minutes later, we were told to get back on the bus and they would take us straight there- I started to panic, looking for Jonathan, and right when I thought they were going to leave us, he came jogging and covered with sweat from the boat and we jumped on the bus. There were only 8 or so of us on and we shook our heads- most people had already gotten back on the ship and would not get to see the statue. I bet they were furious.
So, I bet you are wondering- was all of the complaining worth it? Did the trip to The Little Mermaid revive your visit? To answer your question, it didn't fix all of the issues that I had with the excursion, but I felt like I had at least seen something that was worth remembering from the city. To be honest, though, The Little Mermaid was so over-crowded that it was ridiculous. There were so many people that shoved me out of the way so that they could try and have a photo with the statue without anyone being in it, even though there were like 50 people stumbling across the rocks to get a decent picture. I also took photos for like 4 different people and it was exhausting. In the end, I got some great photos of the statue itself, but the selfie that I took with it had a dozen people wandering around in the background. It's the definition of an over-hyped tourist trap. At least I was able to see the icon that has been decapitated twice and I got a rockin' magnet.
Copenhagen was definitely the biggest let-down from the entirety of my trip and the largest waste of money, but it is still a place that I would not mind visiting on my own some day. It seemed exceptionally clean and well-managed, and there was so much to do that we didn't get near. We had a different tour guide take us back to the ship and he was hilarious and attentive and I was so sad we didn't have him for the entirety of our experience, so don't think that all shore excursions in Copenhagen are as much of a flaming-dumpster journey as ours was. At the very least, we have a funny story that we can tell our kids and we got to see a MERMAID, right? We also had multiple moments where we talked to the older gentleman and his wife that we complained with, so anything that leads to new friends can't be THAT bad of an experience!
Hope that you enjoy some of the photos I managed to get through the small windows and short walks!