One of the highlights of our Scandinavian trip was visiting Denmark’s Kronborg Castle, immortalised as Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy “Hamlet”.
Having both studied Hamlet for our “A” Level English (school leaving exams) way back in the day, the castle held special meaning for us and it did not disappoint.
We crossed over from Helsingborg in Sweden to Helsingor (Elsinore) in Denmark via car ferry over the narrowest section of the Øresund Strait. It was a short (20 minutes) but lovely crossing – it is always good to be on the water even if it’s not on our own sailing boat! The bonus was the great view of the castle as we approached the Danish side.
As the castle came into view I have to admit feeling a thrill of recognition and definite excitement to think that we were about to visit what amounts to a sacred site for lovers of The Bard.
We had spent our last couple of days in Sweden doing quite a bit of driving – going south and then crossing over from the East to the West Coast, ending up in Landskrona just over half an hour’s drive north of Malmo and just down the road from Helsingborg where we caught the ferry.
In Helsingor we were able to park the van in a car park in the shadow of the castle and just metres from the yacht marina. What a perfect position!
The castle was very atmospheric and my most favourite part was wandering deep down in its casements (cellars).
We learnt that casement is a Latin word meaning “home in darkness” and believe me, it was black as night down there. There were two storeys of these hellish bunkers and as we wandered through them we felt sorry for the soldiers who would have been billeted in the damp and creepy lower storeys during attacks on the castle.
Down in the bowels of the castle we discovered an amazing statue of the legendary Ogier the Dane, a Danish folklore hero who according to legend, will rouse himself and save his country if Denmark is threatened. He sits in the casements in the dark with low light coming on intermittently to allow enough light for photos to be taken.
The other part of the castle I really enjoyed was dedicated to the various productions of Hamlet that had taken place there. Many, many famous actors have visited the Castle to take on roles in this, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
The little town of Helsingor was very pretty and we enjoyed cycling round and exploring the little winding streets. We also discovered that you could buy duty free alcohol there which explained the large number of Swedish tourists with bulging bags!
Helsingor also has a very modern underground maritime museum built in a former dry dock. The exhibits were quite quirky but there was a distinct lack of boats! A lot of the exhibits were devoted to navigation and the sailor’s life since the 16th Century.
We had avoided going out for meals in Norway and Sweden as it was incredibly expensive to eat out but while in Helsingor we decided to have fish and chips and a beer at a little kiosk in the marina. It was a lovely spot and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner but it was roughly Aus $75 for this very simple meal which was really very expensive for what we had – particularly as we had to take up our empty plates to the kiosk afterwards.