Copenhagen, Denmark: Karen Blixen & Christian IV

Rachel had a previous connection with Denmark because she had been an adult sponsor for an exchange program. Through the program, she met a woman our age, Camilla, and Camilla was nice enough to offer us her place to stay at while she was on vacation.  She even went one step further and asked her dad, Mr. Olsen, to come to the train station and drive us to her apartment.  It was really nice to have an apartment with a kitchen and multiple rooms.  Rachel gave me the big bed and slept on the couch, so I was able to spread out for the first time in a week.  Very relaxing and refreshing. Thank you Camilla.

Mr. Olsen driving us to Camilla’s apartment:

One of my main connections to Denmark is Karen Blixen, who was a Danish writer who spent 17 years in Kenya from 1914 to 1931.  During my year in Kenya, I lived in Karen, a suburb outside of Nairobi, where Karen Blixen had lived and is now her namesake.  I actually lived less than a mile from her house the entire year.

Quiring family in front of Karen Blixen’s home in Karen, Nairobi, Kenya:

She wrote Out of Africa, which was made into a movie in 1985 with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.  It was funny that in 2009, I still saw pictures of Robert Redford and Meryl Streep posted on walls of certain shops they had visited in Nairobi when they filmed there in 1985.


Since I lived in Karen, Nairobi, Kenya for a year, I wanted to visit Karen’s house outside of Copenhagen.  However, the Karen Blixon museum was closed on Monday, as is a lot of cool stuff in Copenhagen, and that was the only day we had in Copenhagen.  Well, I decided I still wanted to see her house and visit her grave.  Rachel decided to go home after a long day in Copenhagen; so I set off for Rungsted, Denmark solo, which is a 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen.  After the train, I took a bus that brought me right by the sea and dropped me in front of her house.  It sounds a lot easier as I’m typing, than it was when I did it.

Her house had a beautiful exterior and the backyard was incredibly lush with vegetation that smelled amazing.  Her house is right across the street from the Sea with a backyard that looks like this.

She owned several acres behind her house as well and it has been turned into a national park.  There is a beautiful garden farther down the path in her backyard that was gated off and I assumed that her grave was located in there. It wasn’t.  I spent half an hour wondering around taking everything in and then decided I’d head back because I couldn’t find the grave.  As I was turning the last corner to exit the property, I saw a very small sign that simply said, “Grave – 300 meters” with an arrow pointing back the way I had come.  So, I turned around and headed back down the path.  I had been down the path before, but it became too muddy and I assumed that they wouldn’t put the grave that far back.  Well, after walking through the Danish mud and vegetation, I stumbled upon her grave at the end of the path.

It was absolutely beautiful and a very quiet and pleasant place to be buried (although I have not been buried yet myself).  There was a bench by the grave and so I sat down and spent some time with Karen and God’s beautiful creation.  Before I knew it, I had been sitting there for 30 minutes in what would be the most peaceful 30 minutes of my vacation.

I can’t believe how much I sound like my dad in this video. Thanks dad.

Earlier in the day, we had walked all over Copenhagen and my favorite part was Rosenborg Castle.  Rosenborg Castle was built by Christian IV, who was a pretty incredible king.  He reformed the government, rebuilt the army, expanded Denmark’s territory, and was a renaissance man… during the Renaissance.  He built this castle as his summer home and it now houses the Crown Jewels and was were many kings lived after Christian IV.  The coolest part of the castle though isn’t the gold clock, the golden crown, the ivory throne – nope.  The coolest part of the castle is the moat.  I’ve always wanted a moat!  (Nevertheless, it is quite difficult to photograph a moat in it’s entirety)

The Crown:

Final Danish thought:  I was impressed with Denmark’s public transit and was interested to learn that Denmark has a 180% car tax.  So, if you’re buying a $20,000 car it will cost $50,000.  A good way to make sure most people are using public transit.

Rachel and me on Hans Christian Andersen’s knee (author of little mermaid):

One Response to “Copenhagen, Denmark: Karen Blixen & Christian IV”

  1. Helen Quiring August 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I am really glad you made the effort to go to Karen Blixen’s home in Denmark. Somehow when I read her biography, I did not picture her home so close to the sea. Also, I found the gravesite very interesting.

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