IT'S impossible to ignore Denmark's Viking history so we decided the best way to start our first full day was to head off to Roskilde where our guide book recommended a renowned museum exploring this rich heritage, writes Camilla Chafer.
It took us about an hour to drive from Faxe Ladeplads, from the tree lined country lines to the motorway. At the museum, parking was plentiful and free and the museum spanned an indoor section as well as a bridge across to the outdoor working shipyard-cum-museum.
First though, we headed off to nearby restaurant Snekken. Inside we found a smart monochrome affair but were quickly assured that children were welcome and that the terrace was nice for outdoor dining. We made the right decision as outdoor was where the rest of the patrons were. The menu was in both Danish and English. Yusuf and myself ordered the burger and barbecue potatoes whilst Max had the fish and chips with Sacha, with Gabriel getting the mini frikadelle served with sticks of cucumber and carrot. The kids had some fantastic huge strawberry smoothies too. The food was delicious and a great size, perfect for stoking our little boilers ready for a long afternoon of seafaring history. Plus we had a lovely vista of the working boatyard which bordered the Roskilde Fjord.
The museum does have several sets of steps which does make it somewhat awkward for pushchairs but not impossible. Here, we found the remains of boats with great descriptions – in English - and sketches while the waves lapped at the museum's tall windows. Most interesting for the children was the section off to one side were they could clamber on to partial reconstructions of ships, try on Viking costumes and ask the very knowledgeable staff member about all aspects of the ships. They also tried their hand at writing their names in runes and could see a lady weaving sail cloth which would later be used on a ship.
Outside, we could see actual seagoing boats made. This included a Viking ship which did take passengers out on to the fjord plus there were more boats, a stunning photo exhibition and lots of hands-on things such as knots and even example of the trees that were grown to make the boats. We really enjoyed learning so much history right at the heart of where it all started!
How much? Adults 95kr, Children up to 18 free.
Opening times: Daily 10-5pm
Pushchair accessibility: Very good outside. Steps inside could be a problem.
Facilities: Plenty of clean, free loos.
Cafe: Small on-site drinks-only cafe.
SatNav postcode: Roskilde
Web: Viking Museum
Day Three: We agreed that Tivoli Gardensin Copenhagen sounded too good to miss. So from our lovely summerhouse, we headed back up north to the city. Traffic was far easier to navigate than in London and we parked easily in the underground parking lot just around the corner at Radhus Plaza on HC Anderson Boulevard (20Kr per hour, 200Kr per day). A five minute walk took us over to the tourist information cerntre opposite the Vesterbrogaerde entrance which we found really well laid out with sections for children, activities, nightlife, the city, the islands. There were pamphlets, magazines, bus timetables and a touch screen PC for all the information you could need. We'd recommend dropping in to snag some paperwork to help plan your journey in a way that guidebooks may miss.
At Tivoli Gardens, you can just pay for the garden ticket but we opted for multi-ride passes as well so that we could all experience the thrills of the amusement park rides and we thought this was good value for money if you planned on many rides like us. And yes, a theme park right in the middle of the city is genius. We'd like to nominate a slice of Hyde Park for one too! The walk to the rides took us past the beautiful Asian-inspired Pantomime Theatre, the dramatic Nimb restaurant and hotel with its bubble fountains and a huge wind turbine.
Consulting our ride's guide we wondered if we had made a mistake. There seemed nothing we could take our 23-month old Gabe on. Seeing his face fall as the others headed off on a ride was sad and I wondered if it was such a good idea. However, we quickly realised that the minumum heights/ages were if the passenger intended to ride alone. So long, as someone over that was present, it was a free for all and after that we had a blast – and so did Gabe. The attitude to children on rides was so very different from the attitude of ride operators in the UK and we really, really appreciated that (by that I mean there would be very little we could take Gabe on in the UK and we've been turned back several times for being a 1/2cm off minimum heights for our 10 and four-year old – at Tivoli they were far more flexible which really contributed to our brilliant day out).
We rode the Odin Express and the oldest wooden rollercoaster in the world (it dates from 1914) (woohoo – older than the Grand National! Ed) , the Little Pilot airplanes, the Mine train, Galley Ships and Gabe's favourite ride Nautilus (right) which he took us on time and again, the mini rollercoaster Camel Train, the Flying Trunk (which had nothing to do with elephants and was in fact a journey though HC Anderson's tales). Yusuf braved the Demon and he and Sacha checked out the spinning teacups then we rode the Vintage Cars. Taking a break we snagged some ice cream before wandering over to the children's play area which rather awkwardly was reached by a flight of stairs leaving mums either abandoning prams or lugging them up but the huge bouncy trampoline was big hit as were the slides. By now Gabe was fighting sleep so we took a walk through the scented fountain garden and admired the ship on the lake (actually a restaurant) before taking the children to enjoy some more rides including the water boats. We stopped off at a vendor for some helium balloons and as dusk set in, classical music was played on the bandstand.
Finally we went to visit the Pantomime Theatre where we heard from another visitor that there would be a performance. This wasn't well advertised (we didn't see any times to suggest it would be on) but at 7pm the peacock feather screen folded back for a ballet-pantomime of Pierrot. We gather the pantomime has been held every year since 1843 so we were really pleased to catch it.
The staff were always super helpful, again not a speck of litter (they had cleverly introduced automatic kiosks where 50kr was reimbursed for every paper cup returned) and it may have been quiet because it was a week day so there were no crowds and we didn't queue for any rides. All the rides were within a few minutes walk of each other, so you won't get worn out with walking like in many other theme parks which is a bonus plus there are plenty of places to eat and relax with beautiful planting throughout the gardens.
How much? Gardens only – Adults (over 12) 85Kr, Children 3-11 45Kr, Under 3s free.
Rides - 20Kr per ride or purchase Multi-ride tickets – Adults (over 12) 200Kr, Children 3-11 160Kr.
Opening times: 8 April - 20 September
Pushchair accessibility: Great. Some gravel paths but not problematic. Strangely, the children's play area has stairs which makes it awkward unless you leave the pushchair below or lug it up.
Facilities: Plenty, good and clean.
Cafe: Lots and lots to choose from including take out Chinese or ice-cream to served sit-down meals.
SatNav postcode: Tivoli
Check in tomorrow to hear about tigers and giraffes on our safari tour plus our visit to the historic Mons Kint.
Images: Camilla Chafer (please click images to make larger)