Visiting the Tivoli Gardens was such a luxury

July 14, 2016

One of my earliest memories is of sitting outside at a restaurant in Tivoli with my sisters.

As I sip my drink I gaze at the coloured lamps hanging from the trees, listening to the cheerful sounds and the buzz of voices from park visitors.

It is one of those rare, Danish summer evenings where the heat caresses your skin. It’s late, and I’m getting tired. I’m also happy. It has been a good day.

My father is also sitting by the table. He’s drinking a cup of coffee.

Every year, my father takes my sisters and I to Copenhagen for a weekend trip. Every year, we follow the same programme: We go to the top of the Round Tower, and the church tower at Our Saviour’s Church (even though my dad is afraid of heights). We walk past Amalienborg Palace and down to Nyhavn, where we hop on a sightseeing boat for some fresh air, and to see the city from the water.

One day is set aside for a trip to the Bakken amusement park in a forest outside of Copenhagen, and one night we always go to Tivoli.
My father knows that children love amusement parks, and he himself is particularly fond of the Tivoli Gardens.

He makes us take an afternoon nap so we’ll be awake in the evening. Visiting the Tivoli Gardens is such a luxury. We ride the old roller coaster, which elates and terrifies me at once. We eat at a restaurant. This never happens at home.

And because my father loves the midnight fireworks, I also love the midnight fireworks, even though my eyelids feel so heavy I can hardly keep my eyes open.

One year, I’m allowed to take one final ride on the big carousel, where you can sit on horses that move. Towards the end of the carousel ride my father and sisters slowly begin to walk towards the exit.

I remember the panic: Are they going to leave me? Have they forgotten me? Should I jump off? Or stay on the horse I had so desperately wanted to sit on? Then the carousel stops and I run after them and oh! Overwhelming relief and a profound sense of safety rushes over me as I slip my little hand into my father’s hand.

To a 6-year-old girl from Jutland, Copenhagen seemed like a magical place, so far away, so big, almost unreal. Several years later I moved here to work, met my husband, and settled down.

But when I bike through the town on a warm summer evening I still feel a little bit of that magic dust that Copenhagen sprinkled over me as a child. When I pass the Round Tower on my way to work. Or take my husband and three children on a canal boat ride.

Copenhagen enchanted me, and still does.

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