Fantastic weather in a beautiful city.
Denmark completes the suite of Scandinavian countries to complete my Scandinavian Sojourn.
Denmark is country number 9 on this holiday, and the 49th different country I have ever been to. (Bangkok will be the 10th and final on my holiday, but I have been there before, so I will stay on 49 total.)
Landing in Copenhagen, we caught the train to the city centre.
'twas funny. Walking out of central station in Copenhagen at 11pm, immediately across the road was Tivoli amusement park, lit up for the night with different rides going. We were walking the short distance to the hotel thinking there’s a strange feeling in Copenhagen - this place is very, well, dark. Of course it was! They get a night time! My first in over a month!
Due to the poor weather in the high Arctic, even during mid summer, true midnight sun is actually quite rare, but 24 hour light is not, just like our walk ‘home’ last night.
Our walk to the hotel was one of awe as we looked around and saw a sky that was dark with stars in it. (It’s amazing how quickly we become used to something, even something like 24 hour light. I only used my eye mask for the first few days of the trip, then the all-night light no longer woke me.)
Checking into our hotel began what was to be a Fawlty Towers hotel experience. It began with the clerk, after taking my voucher for our stay, said nothing and pushed what felt like 47,000 keys before telling us they’d made a mistake with the dates, did we mind an upgrade as they had no more of the twin we’d booked. We didn’t mind until we discovered it only had a double bed instead of twin. After asking us if we’d mind if it was only for one night and us saying “Yes!” we mind, he gave us a single room each, until tomorrow. The Fawlty Towers bungles of the First Hotel in Copenhagen are many, but I will spare you the details, suffice to say it was so frequent and blatant that it became a comedic talking point. First Hotel = last choice.
Saturday the 19th August – our long weekend in Copenhagen begins.
What better way to begin our time in this city than to go wandering, as I am wont to do. We began by walking down Storget mall, the “world’s longest pedestrian mall”, apparently. (Who checks these claims? I was conned earlier in the trip with the Hurtigruten’s claim to the “World’s most beautiful voyage.” For the Norwegian coastline cruise, only to find that title belonged to Aurora’s trip around Spitzbergen.)
The mall was alive with shoppers and buskers and with the sun shining, the world was a pleasant place, or at least central Copenhagen was.
We stopped at times to admire various musicians, excelling at their instruments.
The main square had a flea market, but I don’t care to buy fleas. Also in the main square were 100 large wildlife photographs, all absolutely magical.
Walking in the sunshine under a blue sky down canals lined with bars, led us to a bridge to Christianshavn. Lunchtime now and a bakery beckoned. A crusty tuna ciabatta and a fresh strawberry tart were enjoyed with our legs dangling over a nearby canal. Memorable meal.
We continued our wandering and ended up in Christiania, an ‘alternative’ community living in the middle of Copenhagen. In 1971 they moved into the empty army barracks and haven’t moved out. They resist the rule of law and have their own leaders. Signs reading “No hard drugs.” are displayed, but pot and hash are openly sold and smoked.
A plethora of vendors and stalls supply not only smoking paraphernalia, but also the usual shite to sell to the many tourists who, like us, wander through thinking “What the?” It sure attracts its fair share of fruitloops and wasteoids. Christiania is a place of paradox – a place where saving forests and being green are promoted as a way of life, but the place they live is quite disgusting and filthy. Starting in their own backyard might be better before tackling the world. The lake in the middle of their oasis from the outside world is full of rubbish and such a horrible green that no one would swim in it. On a visual note, the colourful murals and other paintings adorning otherwise drab buildings such as sheds and toilets added an appreciated burst of colour.
Christiania is car free and after stopping at an outside bar for a beer to take it all in, we continued wandering, deeper into the enclave of Christiania and its 900 residents. Following the lake, we passed many people out and about enjoying not only the weather, but the park-like feel of this place.
We didn’t realise how far we’d walked today until we turned to head back to our hotel. Hmm! Many kilometres. We stopped in Storget to watch a break dancing troupe put on a show and put on a show they did! These 4 guys put on displays of technique and strength and moves that beat what MTV show. Awesome! Nathan got it all on video, then gave them a large Kroner note when the hat was passed around.
Passing through the closest square to our hotel, a free concert was in full swing.
Copenhagen is a refreshing change from the rest of Scandinavia. There’s a much more Continental and liberal approach to alcohol, but with the feeling of ‘design’, ever present in Scandinavia. Copenhagen has a great feel to it. We were enjoying it a lot.
Sunday – bike riding day.
We rented a couple of bikes from our hotel and the Fawlty fiasco continued. Nathan was given a girls bike to hire, much to his disgust. (I was not allowed to take any pictures of him on it!) We began by retracing our steps from yesterday, just his time by bicycle. Again we were reminded how far we wandered on foot yesterday. We took our Bao board and had a couple of games at an outdoor bar in Christiania. The people here make for the most amazing session of people-watching imaginable. Jumping back onto our bikes, we explored some more, taking random turns on Copenhagen streets and seeing where we got. Lots of fun.
Cycling in Copenhagen is such a pleasure. They have cycle lanes everywhere through the city centre and because they make it easy for cyclists, many people get out and ride. Funny to think that countries such as Australia and the US with obesity problems credit the fit people here with having “thin genes”. How about some more cycle paths and less cars? If you build the paths, cyclists will follow and so will better health and fitness. Copenhagen was such a cyclist-friendly city that our choice of bicycle transport today was a goodie. We covered many kilometres yesterday on foot. Today we travelled many more by bicycle.
Later in the afternoon we went to Tivoli amusement park and wandered past the rides and associated stalls, stopping for an early dinner of gnocchi at an Italian restaurant with in the park.
The late evening included beer at an al fresco bar by the wharf. The weather was beautiful and for our last night in this beautiful city, it was a perfect night to be out and about downtown Copenhagen.
Monday – our last day in Copenhagen.
After breakfast I relaxed in my room whilst Nathan’s trekked across town on his rental bike to buy his wife a Louis Vuitton handbag. He didn’t like it when I pointed out what his trip back must have looked like. Imagine the sight of Nathan riding up the mall on a girls bike with a Louis Vuitton handbag under his arm!
Cycling together again, we went and visited a butchers shop we’d found on Sat when it was closed. As the owner of a retail butcher shop, Nathan was keen to see both the range and quality of what was on offer here and once again on this trip, we were reminded of the high quality of ALL the produce we get at home all the time.
A bit more random cycling around Copenhagen had us passing a billboard with the F-word included in the text. Now that’s a first! I said this is a liberal place.
I couldn’t imagine a ‘social experiment’ like Christiania being allowed to exist anywhere else. Alcohol is legally sold to 15 year olds and street drinking is not only legal, it’s popular!
Our flight to Bangkok only leaves this evening, so we returned to the hotel after lunch, showered, packed and checked out at 2pm. We relaxed in the hotel lobby before heading out on the bikes again, or at least that’s what we thought we’d do. The skies opened and it poured, and poured. We felt quite snug peering through the glass out into the street full of rain, beer in hand thinking, “We could have been out in that.” Bao board and beers to the rescue!
Because of the weather, we didn't end up doing the planned canal tour or visit the 'Little Mermaid' statue. Obligatory apparently, but we didn't get in trouble at the airport on leaving for not doing it. I have left something to do whenever I get there again, which I will.
We both loved Copenhagen a lot and I certainly felt I’d inadvertently left the best Scandinavian city until last! Guess I will just have to come back.