Today if you ask me “How was Copenhagen ?”, somehow the image of a busy City Hall Square crowded with passers-by and piegons under a gloomy grey sky often comes to my mind. However it is not true ! Rewinding my week in Copenhagen to the very first day, when I visited in Summer, I was actually impressed by everything I have seen and everyone I have met. In fact, I would say Copenhagen is one of the most exciting city I have been. As usual, I looked at the photos I took and read the diary I kept, and I have decided to do the Danish capital justice and tell you guys how amazing it is if you haven’t known already.
I arrived in Copenhagen by train from Malmö through the Øresundsbron. The bridge connects Sweden and Denmark in 35 minutes. It is a very popular choice for travellers (like me) as the idea of “train ride on a bridge” does sound very exciting. I was lucky and boarded the train early so I found a seat. It became so crowded at the end that at least 20 people were standing in one train. Sitting next to the window I imagined myself swimming extremely fast because despite modern transport technologies, I am still a primitive person and being able to cross the sea in a high speed still kind of excites me. 😀
The first thing I did after settling down in the hostel (it was nice but at the end I had mixed comments about it, keep reading) was going to the supermarket. I was not bothered to cook so I decided to eat Scandinavian – simple and fresh. There is a kind of biscuit/bread in Nordic culture called “Crispbread”, which has a crispy texture (apparently) and a flavour of wheat. It would dry my lips and scratch my mouth cavity if I ate it by itself so I bought some salmon, ham, and small boxes of cold creamy sauces. It was cheap, nice and surprisingly fulfilling, so I ate them basically everyday.
Another thing about food in Copenhagen (and Scandinavia in general actually) is coffee. I was a big drinker in Europe and I always order Cappuccino so I know how it tastes in different cafes or even countries. Any cafe in Copenhagen is good. Even those ones in a shopping mall. One time I felt like dosing aroma of coffee beans and milk foam. The barista (who is by the way, extremely hot) gave me this:
When I was about to take it, he covered the coffee with his hand for one second and revealed this bear face. I think he wanted to see me smile back at him so I did. (Thinking back it was not particularly a nice day, there was little rain so maybe my body was a bit wet and I had my resting bitch face on…) This made my day because I knew he didn’t do it for other customers while I was there. Hahaha. A little fantasy doesn’t kill.
Back in Day 1, I was eating in the communal kitchen of the hostel and I met a Taiwanese girl. We started talking because my brother was travelling in where she is from. So the people around us asked what language did we speak to each other and that’s how it all started. She wanted to go to Christiania and I felt very energetic that evening so I went along. We had 5 people, an Italian who makes very good Carbonara (not as good as my girlfriend Marta’s), a Swede who would be spending his birthday abroad, a Costa Rican volunteer-traveller and us.
No photos were allowed in Christiania and by the same principle, I probably shouldn’t tell what I did there. Google it/ call me for a cup of coffee if you really want to know (if you haven’t known already), but I talked to everyone who has been there and they all said it’s amazing. LOL. And it indeed is ! The atmosphere is really great, and it definitely means more than what it appears to be. In my opinion, Christiania is a freetown not because of the laws it seem to be able to escape. Instead people who live there, people who go there on a regular basis and people who visit there all have the spirit of a free soul. Yeap. It’s a hipster concept. But as I said, I would love so much to talk about it over a coffee. So whoever is reading this entry, ask me out for a coffee !
The next day (Sunday) the weather was nice and I went to the following cool places to do some sightseeing:
The interior of the museum was designed by an architect named Daniel Libeskind based on the Jewish concept of “Mitzvah”, “the good deed”, to appreciate the Danish rescue of Jews in 1943. The Hebrew letters of Mitzvah build up the floor plan so visitors were walking between the letters. Also the floor was not completely horizontal. Instead it gives the visitors a feeling of walking on a shaking boat, as the Jews escaped to Denmark across the Øresund strait from Sweden (the “sea” I crossed by train).
This is my favourite favourite favourite spot of Copenhagen. Under the trees there were secret benches and it was very calm and peaceful (complete opposite of Christiania). It may sound cheesy but I was literally drawn to the garden by some unknown force. It is opposite the Danish Jewish Museum, which was my destination, but I sat and sunbathed in the garden for a much longer time than that I spent in seeing things in the museum. Now that I googled it, on Wikipedia it acutally says it is “somewhat hidden” and “one of the most tranquil spots of the city”. I was lucky I found it. (Or it found me … Haha)
The Tårnet (Tower) is the highest in Copenhagen and on that lovely clear day my short sight went as far as Sweden. Inside the tower there are some rooms for artwork and a restaurant and I have put that in my bucketlist the next time I visit Copenhagen again. 🙂
The next day was rainy, so the best activity is go shopping. I did a bit of calculations that morning, and I realized I spent more on stationery than food in Scandinavia. In fact, whether it’s Norway, Sweden or Denmark, one thing that impressed me the most about these Nordic countries is style. Style of people wearing black, style of beards and manbuns, style of home decor items, Scandinavians have a style in everything. It was Oslo I knew the brand HAY, and it was healing to see all the nicely designed items that shout in simplicity, practicality, pastel colours and fun. I spent so much time there and I liked every single item despite the price. Well but it also motivated me to move to Denmark in the future, because it would be much easier to shop from HAY or other brands … The selection in Lane Crawford HK is rather limited to minor household items… Anyways.
After HAY it was Nyhavn which I accidentally came across by walking. As I said the day was grey so I guess I didn’t get photos with the vibrant colours like those on postcards, and unfortunately I wasn’t too impressed. Probably because I have already seen similar things in other parts of Europe ? And the weather definitely made an impact. The greyness above my head just shaded all the colours of the houses …
On this rainy day I really went to a lot of places. I start to wonder how many miles did I walk that day …
Another of my preferred spot in Copenhagen. I discovered it on my way to the Little Mermaid (Yes … cheesy touristy spot). It is called Kastellet and is one of Northern Europe’s best preserved star fortresses. The other one I have seen is Citadel in Lille, France. I had no idea what exactly a Star fortress does (sorry for my ignorance in military history), but I very much enjoyed walking inside because water, green, and water.
As you could see from the photo the weather was probably very bad. Indeed it started raining 5 minutes after I took this photo and so I had to enter a cafe. Luckily after 15 minutes I looked up and the clouds moved to somewhere else, and here you are:
Now I feel the task of doing Copenhagen justice is almost done … Turns out I have been to a lot of places and I walked a lot. Getting a bit tired of descriptive writing, I have decided to let photos speak the rest of the journey …
It is an art museum exhibiting the collection of the son of the Carlsberg Breweries. I liked very much the roof and the floors of the museum. And there is a greenhouse garden/ cafe inside too.
I was oblivious until now how far I have gone through in Copenhagen. Literally, I have also brought myself to a lot of places on foot. Who doesn’t walk a lot when they are wandering in a foreign city ? But it feels different to walk in a biking city. It was particularly intimidating to see and feel all the sassy, black-suit blond-hair Danish girls or mums hurtling on their bikes while I promenade along side.
Most of the people I have met I met them in the hostel I stayed. I enjoyed most of it. Accomodation-wise, it is clean, the beds are comfortable, the common area is lively, and the location is convenient. Except that you might go back to your dorm room one day and they have changed your bed without noticing you in advance.
However, thanks to the change, I met an old man from America. He has amused the girls in the room with cheesy but lovely jokes. His name is Jack, and he asked us not to shout “Hi!” to him in the airport, otherwise we would attract the police. He also appreciated my good English, as said “If you speak three languages, you are trilingual; if you speak two languages, you are bilingual; if you speak one, you are American.” Whether or not it’s true, we laughed. He was on a trip alone, and he was arranged with the upper of the bunk bed. I offered to switch with him because the hostel staff was too smart to arrange a 70-year-old man the upper bed.
Later he told us why he was in Copenhagen alone. Many years ago he and his wife, whom he has been married for 50 years, brought the kids to a cruise ship holiday in Scandinavia. As his wife passed away, he wanted to go on the trip again for one last time, while he still can. His kids have grown up and his grandchildren are too small. He has an iPhone so he could take photos and use the maps, etc, and he showed us his wife, smiling on the home page wallpaper of the phone.
I was never a believer of anything, including a marriage or relationship “forever ever after”, despite having a complete and pretty joyful family. On one day I listened to the stories of the respectful old man, the other I would still see a person I will never ever see again. Do I feel ironic having such extreme relationships with people ? No. Will I change in the future ? Maybe. Having left a piece of myself in every city I have been, my mind has become more and more open and I have learnt not to hold onto too many things. You may say I care less than I should, for me it’s just about being easier to let go. After all, aren’t these what about being a traveller anyways ? 🙂