Last weekend Spouse and I spent two nights in Copenhagen to mark our tenth wedding anniversary. Twenty years ago when we were planning our Interrail route, we’d crossed it off both our lists as it didn’t tie in with our other destinations and was ‘easily accessible from the UK’ anyway. Finally we made it!
We stayed at Hotel CPH Living which is a floating hotel with twelve lovely rooms. Great views of the canal and city coupled with friendly and helpful staff. Full marks from us!
We arrived at lunchtime and got the Metro to Christianshavn, the nearest stop to our hotel/boat. Dragged the suitcase over the cobbles beside a beautiful canalscape, checked in then crossed the bridge over to the city centre, 10 mins walk away. We found our way to Stroget, the main shopping thoroughfare and had a late lunch in a pub. Wandered back to the hotel for a nap then used the web to find somewhere nearby to eat. Booked into the Asador Restaurant online where despite the slow service we enjoyed fantastic steak and fish.
Next day, Sunday, we enjoyed breakfast in our room then walked to nearby Christiania which I had first heard of many years ago. Christiania is a ‘free’ community living (squatting) on ex-military land which has recently (2011) celebrated its fortieth anniversary. It was initially tolerated by the city authorities as a social experiment but due to the open recreational drug culture and the increased value of the land it stands on, has seen ups and downs in city relations over the years. Do check out their website for more details. They’re currently selling shares in the land to strangers so that they can legally own it without having to ‘own’ it, which would contravene their freedom mindset.
We avoided the main drag ‘Pusher Street’ (no prizes for guessing) and walked across a bridge to a quieter wooded area alongside a lake. It was interesting to see the individual, owner-built houses along this picturesque stretch of the city. Christiania is also famous for those bicycles with wooden containers at the front for children to ride in – we see them and ones like them all over Cambridge now but the original workshop is still there, producing actual Christiana Bikes.
We walked back to the canalside in Christianshavn and had drinks and a snack before crossing the main canal into the city and heading to our next destination, Danish Museum of Art & Design. We share a love of modern design, well 20th Century I guess, which may not be classed as ‘modern’ anymore and this was one of two museums in Copenhagen to offer exhibits on the subject. It was a long walk.
We went through the most photographed part of the city, Neuhavn, with its coloured houses, tall masted boats and hoards of tourists enjoying the sunshine. We passed Amelienborg Palace where the Queen and her sons live, stopping to watch the guards changing at their little huts. Shocking to see such lack of discipline – they’d never get into the British equivalent! Moving, smiling, I don’t know! Plus their trousers looked like pale blue tracksuit bottoms.
Anyway, a few foreign embassies later, we arrived at the museum to find it wasn’t free on Sundays as we’d thought but given the distance covered, went in anyway. Tripadvisor had reported/warned that it contained many chairs, this was certainly true. It gets a little annoying after a while to be looking at reams of chairs with (obviously) ‘do not sit’ notices; hence the room at the end where you could try some of them out was welcome and fun. Not often (yet) that you get to sit on a chair made from recycled plastic bottles which has upholstery but no frame. I can happily report that it took my weight! We had a beer and cake in the peaceful garden before heading back towards the boat. Overall we didn’t think too much to the museum, I found there was too many ceramics for my liking and Spouse didn’t like the way current designers had been allowed to play around with/express their thoughts on the exhibits (I found this part somewhat confusing but different in a good way).
We really didn’t want to walk back but no taxis were around and we set off. It was a long way back and when we finally got to the boat we had been out for six hours,at least five of which we calculated we had been on our feet. I mused to myself that we often do this on our city trips; there is always so much one wants to see that one tends to forget to treat oneself kindly, squeezing everything possible out of the time available. We did the same in Lisbon and Boston, shuffling back to hotels with blistered and (in one case) bloodied feet. It’s a strange touristy compulsion which takes us over on these trips…
Anyway, we had less than an hour on the boat before setting off (in a hastily booked taxi) to our first evening activity, Copenhagen Ice Bar. A gimmick, we know, but an experience nevertheless. It turned out to be a pricey experience and, of course, a chilly one. There is zero atmosphere and people are let in and out on timed tickets but the cold forces you to jiggle a bit to the loud music and the cocktails (served in glasses made of ice) were good. It’s supposed to be an advert for the Icehotels but Spouse pointed out that this would be enough to put most people off, if you can bear to stay until your timeslot ends you’re doing well. For a one-time visit, it was cool (sorry).
We then crossed the street to try out a restaurant serving Danish specialities, Puk Restaurant. This was a wonderful, cozy basement (as many cafes in Copenhagen are) with a front-of-house lady who took no nonsense from the clientele, but was simultaneously helpful and added to the relaxed atmosphere. We had the Danish tasting menu which was a great experience and saw me eating things I’d never had before, like picked herring and dripping. Having studied in Russia in 1993 I’m usually game to taste most things. We had a bottle of fizz and a good time.
Monday morning dawned too quickly and we packed and paid up, taking breakfast on the open-air sundeck on the roof. We watched a barge pootling slowly along the canal, with men fishing out numerous muddy bicycles and a chair as they went. By the time we left the boat they had quite a hoard. We saw them again later and were told by a local that it’s customary for people to throw their old bikes into the canal when they get a new one, hence this clean-up operation. This seemed out of character to the Danes we had encountered so far.
Our morning destination was Tours CPH where we had booked a two-hour segway tour of the city. We had arranged that morning with Seamus, the owner, that we could leave our luggage in the shop, which saved us an early morning walk to the left luggage at the train station. Seamus comes from Dublin and has been running his Segway/Electric Bike tours since 2009. They consistently get top marks on Tripadvisor (yes I do tend to get a lot of tips from there!) and I can only concur. After 10 minutes familiarising ourselves with the Segways, coincidentally in the little square outside Puk from the night before, we set off. Our crash-helmets had radios in so we could hear Seamus’ commentary and driving instructions as we went. We set off on the road (driving a crazy vehicle on the wrong side of the road in a foreign city!) and soon blended onto the bus-lanes, which unlike here in the cycling city of Cambridge UK, have their own traffic lights and times to stop/go separate from cars and pedestrians. The Segways can get into parks, alongside lakes, through little backstreets etc, it’s a really good way to cover ground and we saw lots of new places plus recovered a bit of the ground we’d walked the day before, this time with the historical commentary from Seamus. I think this was probably the highlight of our trip for both of us. On the way back Seamus pointed out useful places where we could get lunch before heading for the airport and made sure we knew the way to the Metro.
We had half our lunch at a pavement cafe, where I joined in the Copenhagen way of having a blanket on my knee (seeing blankets on every outside chair made me very happy – not something which would happen here, I fear they’d unfortunately disappear quite quickly) and half from a traditional hot-dog stand, where I finally tried the famous red sausage hot-dog with everything on it. Yum!
Time to trundle back to the airport, via a couple of gift-shops. Free wifi in the airport. I like this city!