Tuesday, June 18, 2013

København (Copenhagen), Denmark

Actual date of this event: 14-16 June

For months and months, Luke and I wanted to visit Scandanavia. It was one of our top places to visit, but it had to be done in the summer months because of its location. Once we found out we were moving to London, we decided that Copenhagen would be a perfect first trip from London.

I had done my normal research - had all of the "sights" listed and located on the map, and we were ready to go. Copenhagen is the opposite of tourist town. There are the tourist attractions, sure, but it is so easy to get lost in the hippie-esk vibe that surrounds you. So I don't really have a play-by-play of our trip like I usually do, so I can only give you some highlights.
Cycle Capitol of the World
One of the first things you notice in the city is the number of bikes. Copenhagen is an extremely bike friendly city and something like 33% of commuters ride bikes. Every street has its own bike lane which is practically the size of the vehicle lanes. Bike stands are located on every block, with each location holding hundreds of bikes and each slot is filled. Many people do not lock up their bikes, so it was a good sign of a fairly safe community. We tried to rent bikes on Saturday, but were spending an hour trying to do so, so we gave up. It would have been fun though!
 above right: stairs have bike ramps

DKK (Danish Krone)
Everyone knows that things in Scandanavia are expensive. I knew that going in, but it wasn't something I really understood until I got there. One scoop of ice cream in a cup was about $5. One beer at a pub was about $9. A 6-pack of cans from a convenient store was about $13. Which brings me to my next point...
Thankfully, public toilets were free!!! I could not believe my eyes! We were in the most touristy area of the city, and I saw the words, "Staffed facility. Free of charge." I had to take a picture of it. The only place we ran into an issue was in the train station, where it was 5DKK (approx 90¢).
Canal Tour
Copenhagen is a "Venice of the North" city because of its many canals. A few of the canals were modeled after Amsterdam (another city similar to Venice). We decided on Saturday afternoon to do a canal tour which wasn't too highly priced (range from around 40-75DKK [$7-$14]). It was nice to sit down for an hour and still enjoy the sights. Plus we got to ride on a boat, which we love to do and haven't done in a very long time!

 above: about to go under a bridge
 above: The Little Mermaid Statue because the author, Hans Christian Anderson, was Danish
 above: the graffiti doesn't even phase me any more - I look at it as more of art now
above: going under an even smaller tunnel under a bridge
Copenhagen is located on the Øresund which connects the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The weather changes very quickly similar to Aberdeen. The clouds and the sunshine are beautiful, but the storms are feirce! We had terrific weather on Friday and most of Saturday, so much that we got red faces as we stayed outside most of the time. As soon as we stood up to get off of our canal tour on Saturday, the rain began to fall along with thunder and lightening. We had to hide under some trees for about 45 minutes until the leaves gave out. We got pretty wet, so we ducked into a pub where we happen to meet two Americans who live in London - go figure! It also rained most of Sunday, so we went in and out of some cafes as we moved throughout the northern area of the city.
 above: these trees were pretty good coverage for about 30 minutes
above: we did a lot of coffee and beer breaks to get out of the rain
above: Kristin was in Copenhagen the same weekend, so we hung out on the rainy Saturday night
Open Containers
Because things are so expensive in Copenhagen and alcohol is ridiculously expensive, we learned very quickly what the locals do: buy beer from a convenient store and drink it on the go. We spent a good amount of time on Friday and Saturday sitting along canals with a 6-pack just people watching and soaking up the rays. We even got a 6-pack to enjoy during our canal tour. This is what people do, and I like it!

Christiania is a self-governed community located in Christanhavn. In the early 1970's, a group of people squatted on the land and never left. There have been many meetings, discussions, arguments, and agreements between the city of Copenhagen and Christiania over the past 40 years. The community has had their rough patches, which has led them to create their own sets of laws - No Weapons, No Bulletproof Vests, No Hard Drugs, No Biker Colors, No Violence, No Private Cars, No Sale of Fireworks, No Stolen Goods, and No Use of Explosives. The people won't leave - it makes for one of the best tourist attractions in the city. It is probably one of the best attractions I have seen of all of my travels, but I also really like unique things. Why I found it interesting? It's old. It's a hippie village. It's full of graffiti art. It's colorful. The beer is cheap. Not that this is my kinda thing, but there is a street called Pusher Street that is home to the Green Light District. Pictures are not allowed, and you aren't even allowed to use a mobile phone while in the area. We saw two markets with large bags of hash that had lines of 15 people waiting to make their purchase. There was also a bakery, where if you don't fancy a smoke, you can get a sweet treat. Don't worry folks, Luke and I didn't take part - we just watched. How do they get away with it? Well, technically, they don't because it is still illegal. The police don't go there due to the strength of their community. If the police come close, the Christianites stand their ground.
above: the land has walls around it, but there are multiple entrances inside
above: there is even a beach in Christiania
above: Christiania has there own brew; and their flag is red with three yellow dots like above
Other Stuff
above left: Central Train Station
above right: we had a late check in on Friday, so we kept our bags for a few hours. Luke was about 5 feet long, hehe
Tivoli is a large park in the center of the city. During the summer months, it becomes an amusement park. It cost about $20 to get in, so we did not do that.
above: Stroget, the major pedestrian street, home to lots of shopping and restaurants

above: Christiansborg Castle, Parliament building
above: old Stock Exchange
above: the steeple of the Stock Exchange is three dragon tails twisted together to represent the union between Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (so says our canal tour guide)
above: Nyhavn, the popular and extremely picturesque harbor
above left: Fredriks Church
above right: Amalienborg Castle, winter home of the Danish Royal Family; we saw the changing of the guards as we walked up. This picture shows one of four palaces that surround a central square
above: Gefion Fountain, located at the southeastern entrance of the Kastellet, which is a star shaped park in the northern part of Copenhagen
above: 10pm sunset on Friday night (the summer solstice was only 7 days away)
above: small area south of Langebro bridge where you can go swimming; there are a few areas in Copenhagen where you can go swimming in the canals and harbors
above: Church of Our Savior, the steeple has an exterior staircase that you can climb. The views would have have been perfect, but Luke and I were soooo lazy on this trip, so we chose not to climb it. Plus it was warm (65°F) and I didn't feel like sweating.
above: the Round Tower, again we chose not to climb it
above: side view of Rosenborg Palace
above: One of The Lakes along the northwestern area of the city, this was right before a downpour on Sunday
above: My luggage for the weekend. It is so nice having a small backpack and that's it!

Luke and I totally took advantage of doing nothing this weekend, although we came back exhausted! We had some beautiful days, and we were thankful for that. We enjoyed ourselves, but this would have been a perfect trip to do with more people. If you plan to go to Copenhagen, I recommend a.) renting a bike and b.) going with a group as it would be lots of fun!

Havn means harbor in Danish.
The Danish speak English very well, so we there were no language barriers.

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