This time last week myself and two good friends, Íde and Mairéad, were basking in sunshine in a place called Paper town in the heart of the Danish capital, Copenhagen. It resembled an atmosphere similar to the Port of Cork with an industrial type surrounding yet it’s one of the most popular places for Danish to grab a beer and food. There’s an impressive food market inside with everything from Korean and Thai food to Western and obviously Danish food to choose from. It was an afternoon well spent but let me go back to the beginning before I get side tracked again.
Many people asked us, why Copenhagen? It’s not a place you hear too many people going to. The decision to go to Copenhagen stemmed from the girls having thought about going there a few months back but instead opting for Prague coupled with my travel philosophy of why not go there.. so the decision was made and flights were booked in April. Our journey began at 6 am last Thursday morning. We flew from Dublin so left Cork with plenty of time. The two hour flight was a relatively pleasant one and when we landed our first impressions of the city were very positive. We hopped on a 15 minute train from the airport to the heart of Copenhagen and with Mairéad leading the way we reached our hotel which was in a fantastic location. The room itself was small for three people but comfortable, clean and with complimentary snacks! The staff in the hotel were also extremely helpful and friendly as was almost every Danish person we encountered.
The first evening was low key, tired from traveling, we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant and went for a stroll through the city. The wide open streets and the cleanliness were two things which struck me. There’s a vibrancy to the city yet with a chilled atmosphere. We were already hooked.
Friday morning we ventured out for breakfast followed by a boat trip in Nyhavn. In hindsight, this was a fantastic way to begin exploring as it gave us an idea of the layout of the city and later helped us navigate our way through the streets and various sights. The thing I loved most about Nyhavn was the array of brightly coloured buildings which are lined down the strip of land next to the water. It’s so striking. An unusual wall in the area also caught our eye. This wall had large gaps where it looked as if windows had been removed. In place of the windows were hundreds upon hundreds of bright orange life jackets. Not only was it beautiful to look at but it was one of the many examples of how people in Copenhagen use their buildings in such a diverse way. The balance between contemporary and traditional is definitely something which adds to the charm of the city.
After our boat trip we headed for Rosenberg castle. Only a short walk away, this castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and although a quick visit for us, it was certainly worth seeing. Onward then to the incredible Tivoli Gardens, a quirky almost antique like amusement park right in the hub of Copenhagen. You could be casually walking down the street only to see giant roller coasters and swings tossing people into the air. Now, for those of you who know me well and know how much I like my feet to be firmly on the ground this was still an incredibly enjoyable experience. The surroundings are nothing short of magnificent. It’s like Alice and Wonderland meets the orient. Lane ways reminiscent of scenes from Harry Potter, food stalls, restaurants, music, rides for young and old and a fantastic stage where concerts are held. I did conquer my fear somewhat by going on one small roller coaster which was deceptively scarier than it looked but Íde and Mairéad went on almost everything. I was very impressed with their nerves of steel or at least their ability to remain calm… but that might have been Íde a little more than Mairéad 🙂
Exhausted from it all we headed back to the hotel that night and got a decent night’s rest. Day two had plenty more adventures waiting for us.
Like many European cities Copenhagen is no stranger to bicycles. There are hundreds of them and seeing as our hotel had them for rent we decided that Saturday we would make like the locals and hop on some bikes. Now bare in mind I haven’t been on a bike in about 14 years let alone in a busy city where people casually cycle on motorways alongside cars, buses, mopeds you name it. First off, I could have done with being slightly taller. My toes just about reached the ground and I was slightly thrown off by the fact that the brake was only on the left hand side. Mairéad again led the way and although we had to take a few pit stops to regroup every now and then we eventually got the hang of the rules of cycling in Copenhagen. There were a few false starts and a little beeping from both cars and bicycles alike but it all added to the hilarity. We ventured to Old Town, eventually managed to lock our bikes and headed to the top of a church which had an amazing view of the city. By the time we had climbed to the top the wind had picked up considerably but nonetheless it was a beautiful view. Afterwards we sat in the grounds as a wedding took place. We admired the laid back, effortless style of both the men and the women. They have the balance between smart and casual down to a fine art and the bride strolled in as if she were heading to the supermarket. The ease of it all was refreshing. From here we walked down the road to Christiana, an area in Copenhagen where things are a little more relaxed shall we say. As we wandered in the direction Íde was approached by a man offering to take a picture but what we soon realised was that he actually wanted my ipad. When Íde politely said no thanks to the offer for the picture his reaction was less than positive. Thankfully, he continued on his way and nothing further came from it. Cue the food market I mentioned at the beginning which was packed with people but easily one of the highlights of the trip.
With only one full day left in Copenhagen we still had plenty of things to see. One of the main things I wanted to do was visit the grounds of Bisbejerg cemetery which was about 20 minutes outside the city centre. I know a cemetery is not something you would normally do as a tourist but those grounds are the home to 2 rows of beautiful blossom trees. It doesn’t sound like much but they really are amazing when in bloom. It took us a while to find them and my heart sank when two Danish people told me I had just missed the right season to see them. It turns out the blossoms only last for a number of weeks but it wasn’t a total disappointment though, we embraced our inner fairy and found a replacement in willow instead of blossoms. Next on the list was a skate park called Superkilen, this was an interesting excursion to say the least. Outside of the fact that we stood out like sore thumbs it allowed us to see a different side of the city. It wasn’t quite what we expected but it was interesting to see a more raw, urban side of the city.
One of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen is The Little Mermaid connected to Hans Christian Anderson. Despite her fame she was the last on our list and to say she nearly finished us off after what was an eventful day was an understatement. Tucked away on the very tip of the city the symbol of Copenhagen didn’t disappoint. Still busy with tourists she sat perched on her rock despite having been through her fair share of travel and distress in recent times. She felt our pain. We bonded. Tired and with the reality that our time in Denmark was ending we headed back to the hotel before heading out for one last dinner.
Our time in Copenhagen was definitely one of the best trips I have had in a while and I think I speak for all of us when I say I would go back in a heart beat. There was so much to do and plenty more we wanted to do too. The variety of shops was great also with a good mix of Danish brands and familiar labels from home. The people exceeded our expectations. The cafés and brunch options were perfect to set us up for our jam packed days and the weather was mainly good. I had been warned that Copenhagen was an expensive city and it wasn’t cheap by any means but no where near as bad as I was expecting or no more than any other capital city. All three of us have come home with fresh eyes, fond memories and all I can say is thank you Copenhagen, you beast…