Flying again with AirBerlin, I arrived in Copenhagen on the 23rd of July. The airport itself was dark and dingy, with a navy blue theme and low ceilings, and feeling a little overwhelmed having to navigate yet another new language, new currency and information signs for public transport, (I’d been in nine countries, heard eight languages and dealt with three different currencies in eight weeks), I wondered how this city that I’d always wanted to visit would measure up. I found the luggage collection area, and as I waited for my backpack I got the train ticket I’d been advised by my couch surfing hosts to buy. It asked for a total of 140 Danish Kroner, and I nearly died – until I worked out the conversion rate and realised the ticket was the equivalent of $AU24. I thought it was still expensive however would last me the three days I was in the city. Their notes were of such a seemingly large value, however their 50 Kroner note was about $AU4.50. The coins had holes in the centre of them which reminded me of the Japanese Yen.
It was bucketing down with rain in Copenhagen, which meant I was now entering my third week of rain over four countries. I talked with a guy from New Zealand while I waited for my hosts to arrive at the train station and take me to their house, which happened to be a boat! I struck it lucky with this family, for they were lovely people and wonderful hosts. I met Tomas and Christine, and their boys Villads, Skjold and Storm and was immediately welcomed into their home. I had a small room to myself and a key to the communal bathroom on a boat a few doors down.
Even though it continued to rain, I was determined to see the city I’d wanted to visit for so long. I don’t know why I felt a special urge to see Denmark, I just had – and long before Mary became the Princess. I headed out for a few hours, bought my customary purchase in each country – a patch of their flag, and saw a statue of Hans Christian Anderson and saw a number of brightly painted Asian Elephant statues around the city. The Elephants were decorated by different artists and placed in various locations for a number of weeks for the public to see. It was good incentive to walk around the city and find all the Elephants, before they were to be auctioned off and the money donated to a fund to help save the Asian Elephants. I became obsessed about photographing as many of them as I could find.
The next day Christina loaned me a pair of wet weather pants, a rain jacket and umbrella, and her 10 year old son’s gumboots that fitted me perfectly. I was kitted out for a day of sightseeing in the rain. I laughed when considering the Danish summer is like a Melbourne winter, and ensured I got photographs of myself decked out in my borrowed gear. Even though it rained constantly all day I enjoyed myself because I stayed dry. I saw girls walking around in little shorts and skirts and fancy gumboots – which made me shiver with cold – yet I guess it was much warmer than their winter weather. I am so glad I came in summer for I don’t know that I’d have enough clothes to keep me warm in winter in Denmark or any of the northern European countries for that matter..
The Little Mermaide statue is a main attraction in Copenhagen and of course I went to see her. I had been warned that she was little, and she was. Life sized at best. I took the customary picture, then took a picture of all the tourists milling around her – one who was nearly washed into the ocean when she slipped on a rock trying to get close to the Little Mermaid. It was a difficult day to get colourful pictures, with the sky a bleak grey and me wearing all black wet weather gear, however I managed to find a nice spot with a red building and green lawn in the Kastellet. I put the camera on self timer as I was sick of asking other people to take pictures of me and stuffing them up. How hard is it to take a nice picture of someone people? If you’re not confident then just say so, and I’ll ask someone else – or better yet, do it myself!
I saw the Tivoli, ate a traditional Danish hotdog with pickles and fried onion pieces as a crunchy topping, and had their well reputed home made icecream. I sat in a beautiful Marble dome church and dozed in the quiet for half an hour, which also gave me time to warm up from the cold outside, and made my way to Amalienborg – the Queen’s Residence. The guards were doing their walk back and forth to stretch their legs thing, and I amused myself wondering how heavy those black furry hats really are.
Standing next to the residences, trying to shield myself from the wind tunnel in the street while I read my map I heard a sharp ‘Oi!’ and looking at the guard saw him indicating I had to move away from the wall. What did I do? I didn’t even touch the bloody royal building and anyone could clearly see I was struggling to read my map flapping about in the windy cold summer gale, geez. Maybe they were on extra high alert after the recent bombing in Norway, but he didn’t have to be so rude. I wondered if he got his knickers in a knot because I’d been staring at his geeky looking hat for so long and felt the need to assert himself.. Who knows?!
Nyhaven was next, with the canals and boats and pretty coloured houses lining the streets, before I got to the main shopping strip of Stroget and found the tourist shops to buy my flag patch for Denmark. I then headed back to Vesterbro and the houseboat for another home cooked dinner with the family.
On my last day in Copenhagen the family took me on a personal tour of the city via the waterways, on their speed boat. The youngest son Storm, who was three years old, got to sit on his dad’s knee and ‘steer’ the boat. I found it hilarious to watch him pull his beanie over his eyes in an effort to shield them from the wind and continue to hold firmly to the steering wheel as if he could see where he was steering us towards. We went to Christiania, an area that draws many tourists because marijuana and all by products are freely sold without intervention from the police. A whole community has grown from what was originally a few squatters in disused army barracks.
It wasn’t as unruly as I expected, with little stalls set up to sell the drug and signs everywhere stating ‘No Photos Allowed’. There was a small supermarket and a few workshops where people sold the goods they made. A few people wandered around obviously affected by the stuff, but I only saw one guy drinking alcohol as well. My favourite place was a little stand where you could leave and take items of clothing for free. Like an Op Shop only everything was for free. I got myself a nice woollen jumper for the UK, and a skirt and singlet top. Bonus! It was a happy ending to my time in Denmark.
Photos from Copenhagen can be seen here. Enter ‘europe’ if asked for a password.