Honey, the guards need changing

I am still somewhat scarred from the whole Copenhagen experience, so it is taking me a while to compile my postcard, so here is a vignette.

We visited Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish Royal Family, where they reside in four identical (well they looked identical to me) homes facing a circular palazzo.  Cars, pedestrians and stylish cyclists are permitted to cross the palazzo, and the Royals will often emerge and arrive unheralded  – not when we were there unfortunately – although the flags indicated that someone in our Mary’s home was actually AT HOME.

The changing of the guard ritual takes place at 12 noon, we had had a look around the palace buildings and the lovely church and so decided we would stay.   Police cordoned off the area prior to the ceremony, which is held in the palazzo.  One stylish cyclist, blissfully ignorant of the shouting due to headphones, rode through the square and was quite taken aback to see such a crowd looking at him and the apoplectic police waving their arms at him.

Have to admit we, along with many others, were a bit flummoxed by the whole thing.    There was some marching, but basically it appeared to be a competitive staring competition between two lines of guards.      A group of ceremonially dressed guards emerged, led by a tall man, who appeared to wish he had a different squad.  One, I swear, looked about 14.  They marched across the palazzo, taking up a position opposite the departing guards.    The staring began.  Those guys stared hard, and long, I bet their eyes were watering big time.  This continued for about 15 minutes or so and the crowd was getting restive, some even drifting away. Steve and another guy from Australia started talking about the football.  Kids were whining.   Even the Asians had put their cameras away.  Still the staring went on.

Eventually some marching maneuvers commenced, involving a complex almost-about face involving some shuffling and sidestepping.  One of the junior guards displayed great composure, proceeding in complete darkness, his bearskin hat having slipped and by now completely obscuring any vision.  His commander was inwardly muttering to himself ..”Jones you idiot, can’t you even secure your hat?”…  Luckily the guards seem to be equipped with coms units so they can be directed in the event of a hat failure, along with other nifty equipment like swords and cute little satchels.    After a bit more of this crab-like formation marching , they marched off to take positions in front of the palaces, where important tasks such as telling off tourists who get too close resumed.

The crowd drifted away in search of beers and $20 open sandwiches.

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

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