Third in a series of articles on the Summer 2001 visit to Denmark by the Friends of Denmark, hosted by the West Indian Society there
The opening night for festival activities on Zealand was held at the Danish Gymnastic Federation center in Copenhagen across from the central train station. The complex houses everything from a hotel to an outside climbing wall.
The evening began with the Danish Vendsyssel Marimba Steel Band playing Caribbean tunes. The band featured a tenor pan, a pair of alto pans and a marimba. While the group socialized in this Caribbean setting, Carlsberg/Tuborg brews added to the revelry.
Moving to the banquet hall, the Danish West Indies Society members and their Friends of Denmark guests were treated to an hour-long slide show of Virgin Island scenes, to a background of more tunes from the band.
Eating was a casual affair in three courses with plenty of time for conversation and contemplation. The appetizer was a plate of cocktail shrimp sprinkled over a filigree of mayonnaise and cracked peppercorns.
The main course included pork loin, turkey, an olive medley, new potatoes, antipasto, polenta, green salad, parsley and garlic paste, stewed tomatoes and raised potato rolls. The chef was an American with Italian training. The wait staff had configured the serving tables to allow four lines to begin at the corners, converging on the main course in the center. This scheme was repeated at a second table allowing for eight simultaneous lines and almost instant feeding of all. I have never experienced such an efficient method of serving so many people so quickly and easily.
Dessert of strawberry cheese/cream cake was served as the Balsam Revival Band warmed up. Another Danish "theme" band, it played Caribbean music suitable for dancing and came complete with a dozen or so groupies. As soon as the band was warmed up and the society members had finished their dessert, the dance floor was filled with calypso-dancing couples.
On Sunday, we visitors and our hosts alike relaxed prior to the demanding rigors of the schedule prepared by the Danish West Indian Society (Dansk Vestindisk Selskab).
Monday’s activities began with a tour of the Baroque Garden at Frederiksberg Castle in Hillerod. This garden is a reconstruction of the original one completed in 1726. King Frederick IV had traveled extensively in Italy and France prior to ascending the throne. The gardens he had enjoyed during his travels inspired him to commission this grand example of a formal garden.
A setting of jewels and lions
At noon, we Virgin Islanders had the choice of touring the Danish National Archives, which include extensive documentation of Virgin Island history under Danish rule; Rosenborg Castle, which is filled with memorabilia of the leading Danish monarchs, including the crown jewels; or the King's Gardens (Kongens Have), on the Rosenborg Castle grounds.
Ostentatious jewels win out every time with my wife and me, so we chose to visit the castle. Louise Steensgaard, president of the Danish West Indies Society, was our guide. Rooms in the castle are dedicated to the various kings, from Christian IV to the middle of the 19th century. Our guide at Koldinghaus Castle on Jutland had told us that Christian IV loved to go to war and did so more than 20 times. Unfortunately, he was invariably on the losing side. He is much beloved by the Danes, however, as he also managed to build a large number of castles, palaces and other major structures.
According to Steensgaard, he also was a master at public relations. On display in his suite at Rosenborg is a very bloody shirt he was wearing when he was wounded in a battle. He had it preserved and shown to his subjects to impress upon them that he was with them in places of danger and ran risks as the people did. Not quite true, but he had a good spin-doctor.
In the throne room at Rosenborg are three life-size silver lions. The Danes of the time were particularly taken with King Solomon of the Bible. Solomon supposedly had 12 lions guarding him at all times.
Since it was too cold in Denmark for live lions, the royal court decided to make do with sculpted metal versions. The initial order to the artisans was for three silver and three bronze lions. When the court received the bill, it was running short of funds due to Christian IV's warmongering, castle construction and so forth. So, it was decided to keep the three silver lions, in keeping with the three lions on the Danish royal crest, but melt the bronze lions down and use the metal for other things.
For many of us, the prime attractions at Rosenborg were the crown jewels and other bejeweled regalia of the Danish court. Amid this magnificent collection of jewels, one should think of the Denmark that existed when the objects were created. The ancient Denmark included what is now Finland, Norway, Sweden and part of Germany. In Viking times, the Danes roamed North America to Russia, taking what they wanted from France, England and Ireland.
Pancakes, presents and a photo show
In the afternoon, we all met at the Copenhagen City Hall for a brief ceremony with one of the six mayors. Mayor Peter Martinussen is responsible for health affairs in the city and provided us with a wine and pancake feast. Our personal hostess was proud that her son's catering service had been chosen to prepare the pancakes. The confections consisted of crepe rolls filled with cream and glazed with a syrup and almond chip combination.
Sweeny Toussaint, president of the Crucian contingent of the Friends of Denmark, presented the city officials with a carved mahogany plank. Corinne Lockhart, president of the St. Thomas/St. John group, presented a clock set at Virgin Islands time.
Following the ceremony, we took a boat ride through the Copenhagen harbor and some canals. One of the more impressive sights was the old harbor, Nyhaven. This is a ditch or canal 200 to 300 yards long that was dug by Swedish soldiers to provide the city with a protected area to load and unload cargo. Now it is lined with old-style boats in the water and eating establishments on the land. We returned at the end of the water tour for a pleasant evening meal.
On our way from Nyhaven to the train station, we came upon an exhibit of some 60 plasticized photographs 8 by 4 feet in size in Kengens Nyton, a large square on the scale of the entire Havensite dock area. Having seen an article about the photographic display in the Air France in-flight magazine, we spent a good hour viewing the pictures.
A French photographer spent six years taking the photos from helicopters throughout the world. Our favorites included a line of camels crossing the Sahara with their shadows spreading across the dunes, a collage of Prussian rugs spread out in the sun, a rock island in Iceland covered with birds, and a multistoried cattle yard in Singapore that looked like a parking garage for cows.
Next: A contemporary commune and the remains of the monarchs


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