I’m on the train this morning as we quietly slip across the straits of Malmo toward Sweden and today’s destination of Gothenburg. Nothing like a train trip to slow down and enjoy the journey, feeling the soft sway of the train under you while you take in the beauty of the countryside around you. Such a relaxing way to travel!
Watching the Swedish countryside fly by reminds me of the countryside north of Toronto. I guess the world isn’t that much different no matter when you go, especially across the Northern Hemisphere.
After arriving into Copenhagen I’ve spent my time walking the city from end to end, neighbourhood after neighbourhood, noting that little has changed in the 30-year hiatus since I was here last, still just as beautiful as I remember it. The food just as delicious and the people just as I remember them – incredibly friendly, in fact the Danes are said to be the happiest nation in the world and for good reason. Denmark is such a tranquil and scenic place, what a wonderful place to escape to. 🙂
So what were the highlights of my two days in Copenhagen…wow, where to begin?
I stayed at the AC Bella Sky, an architectural gem equidistant between Kastrup airport and the city of Copenhagen…okay I’m not roughing it this time around.
The Metro station was a short walk from the hotel and about a 15 min commute into the city center, although my first morning I detrained at Christianshavn and wandered the streets of this interesting and alternative part of town. To give you some context during the 1970’s this neighbourhood took on a distinctly bohemian feel, this self-proclaimed and self-governing anarchist neighbourhood is better known as Freetown Christianshavn. To get more of the color of this part of the city I strolled down Prinsessegade from the Metro toward the infamous Pusher street past the gorgeous Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of our Saviour) to the abandoned military base which serves as the center of Freetown.
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photos in Freetown, I guess it goes back to their anti-establishment and anarchist roots, this local law is strictly enforced by everyone who lives here (numbering some 850 residents), anyone who even looked like they had a camera or tried to use an iPhone was shouted at by all and sundry…yes, they take their privacy very seriously! Trust me it’s a slice of life and well worth the walk around, even sans camera.
Next I continued along the canal to the waterside marketplace featuring independent food stalls and trucks selling snacks and meals – Copenhagen Street Food. Although a popular spot with locals and tourists alike it was definitely worth the wait, I had a Fatburger…then sat outside in the sunshine enjoying the cityscape across the canal. Easy access to this part of the city has just been realized with the opening of the Inderhavnsbroen, this bicycling and pedestrian bridge raises for canal traffic and makes for a simple way to for Copenhageners to visit, not to mention the burger was delish!
Indelible Tip #1: Walk
I find the best way to explore European cities is to walk them, not only are they relatively easy to navigate (I always ask for a city map from where I’m staying and get them to highlight where are just so I can get my initial bearings), although most cities also have fantastic options in terms of transportation. The vast majority have comprehensive underground/subway/metro systems that enable you to broaden your travel experience to the lesser known districts, which is also very fun. Its great to get local!
If I decide to head further afield I usually buy a day pass, most times not longer than a 24-hour pass. Not buying a multi-day pass costs a little more but then again I never have to worry about not using a pass that I’ve already paid for. As well, I’m not one for organized city tours or big groups…that’s just not my style but everyone has their own comfort zone, but if you haven’t tried plain old exploring without the safety net it’s high time you gave it a shot. Just sayin!
Once I have my map I just wander until I get lost… (Remember your personal safety is paramount so be aware of your surroundings at all times). I often find that I uncover the most interesting and delightful things when I slow down and get lost, plus meet and experience the most interesting people along the way.
Indelible Tip #2: Finding the vibe
Every city has its own vibe, and Copenhagen was no different especially this past weekend as it was Jazz festival weekend in the Danish capital. So lots of free music, both on the street, in bars, cafes and clubs.
The other thing I love about Copenhagen is the food – seriously if you’ve never tried Danish cuisine you have to try it. Lunch often consists of an open face sandwich on dark rye bread, with an assortment of delicious toppings including herring, cod, shrimp (my favorite!). Now this can be washed down with a glass of imported wine (Italian red…as you’d expect no less!) or a tasty local beer, either way it’s a gastronomic delight! Choose a seat the front of the sidewalk café and take in all the sights, sounds and color that passes your way while enjoying lunch.
During my stay I also had to find the best Italian restaurant in the city, just for fun. 🙂 If you’re visiting, go visit LaVecchia Signora (Gronnegade 12 – 14). They have both indoor and outdoor seating (beautiful back garden area) and a great menu! Lol – no kickbacks for the recommendation btw, just a great little restaurant off the beaten path and frequented by locals.
Indelible Tip #3: On your bike
Like many European cities, Copenhagen is built for biking. You can rent bicycles in almost any neighbourhood and are as distinctive as the city itself. Copenhagen City Bikes come with headlight, front tray and are super sturdy. The cost is a modest kr25 ($4.80 Canadian) for 30 minutes with the first 30 minutes always free. What makes this a great choice is that there are dedicated bike lanes and/or bike paths on every street. You definitely won’t be alone as literally thousands of people enjoy this great way to get around the city.
In some ways I feel as though the 30 years has evaporated and that I am transported back in time, and find it hard to believe that I haven’t visited since 1986, yet it feels very familiar to me in so many ways.
My advice is to definitely add Copenhagen to your list of European cities to visit in your lifetime!
A series of fictional micro-stories by Terence Wallis
Episode 53: Recovery and reunification
Bill’s eyes peeked open to the view of the overhead fan slowing turning above his bed, the cool, crisp hospital sheets felt good on his sensitive and now healing skin. He lay perfectly still, breathing slowing and deliberately as he tried to remember the events of the last few days, his mind struggled to grasp the details and felt as though a heavy fog had descended over his mind with details dark and sketchy.
Phuong’s ubiquitous smile was warm and generous as he entered Bills room, Bill sensed that he owed his life to Phuong and that he had in some way engineered his rescue from his captors. After the initial pleasantries Bill asked Phuong what had happened so that he could piece together the events and try and make sense of the experience, but Phuong, in his usual style remained elusive and non committal.
It was then that Bill sensed Mai’s presence long before she seemed to materialized out of thin air and swept into the room, filing it with her beaming smile. Phuong rose from his chair and offered it to Mai who accepted it without acknowledging his presence. As she sat, Phuong stepped back and gave a slight nod of his head to Bill and quietly exited the room. Mai reached for Bill’s hand and held it firmly as she survey his handsome features, he noted the glimmer of concern cross her face as she endeavoured to give her best smile.
Bạn có ổn không? (Are you okay?) He smiled and squeezed her hand, “yeah I’m fine, just a little worse for wear I’m afraid”, nothing a few days rest won’t fix though he went on. Do you know how long you’re going to be in here? Mai asked as she reverted to English. I’m not sure, but I feel fine, Bill said trying to sound chipper.
I know just the place where we can go to help you recover Mai said, with a mischievous grin, at this Bill’s face flushed “I’d like that, yeah I’d like that a lot”…
Next week: Episode 54: Warmth
This week’s photos are from my time in beautiful Copenhagen.