18th January 2015
Having landed at Copenhagen Kastrup airport mid-afternoon, Izzy and I made quick progress in finding the way out towards the metro, and with our 36 kroner tickets in hand we were soon flying through subterranean Denmark en route to our hostel.
After a breeze of a check in and dropping off our bags, we headed out for a spot of exploration and to find something for dinner. Little did we know we’d find our way straight to Nyhavn, the infamous old dock with colourful buildings adorning it’s length, all steeped in history and rather beautiful.
From there we managed to get totally lost looking for the recommended eating area, and ended up stopping by for a burger at an American themed eatery. It was lovely, and gave us the chance to get used to the strange currency and realise that everyone we met spoke perfect English. We made it back to the hostel before too late and got an early night in.
We woke up pretty early and enjoyed the delights of Generator Copenhagen’s buffet breakfast, with a plan to meet a tour guide in reception at 10am to head off on a free walking tour around the city. We hoped to get a feel for the history of the beautiful city and also orientate ourselves a bit better!
Wandering out with Magnus, a tour guide for Free Walking Tours Copenhagen, we were soon on our way through the city. First thing’s first – it was cold. Very cold.
We visited some beautiful places on the tour, including the Royal Palaces, the courts, the Town Hall and many more. One of my personal favourites was the final stop of the tour at the Marble Church, a breathtaking round building constructed entirely from marble…
The tour was brilliant and Magnus did an amazing job of immersing us all in Danish history and teaching us all about the culture. He made a very beguiling case as for why we should either live or study there, and with such a safe and pretty city with such nice people I see no reason why I shouldn’t seriously consider it!
Anyway, excuse my gushing, I’ll continue. That night me and Izzy decided to join Magnus and another tour guide, Luis, on a pub crawl, both to sample the city by night and to meet and socialise with other travellers who we’d met on the tour. It was a lovely evening, with free popcorn all round, and we met people from Canada, London, Bristol, Australia, Germany and more! We even got talking to some of the Danish Royal Guard!
The next day we were up early once again, headed out to visit a rather niche store, the Playtype concept store. Playtype are a Copenhagen based type foundry, and their concept store stocks various products and prints bearing typefaces they have crafted. We passed by Tivoli on the way, a compact amusement park in the heart of the city which was sadly closed for the winter season. Magnus had mentioned that this is where Disney apparently got his inspiration to begin designing Disneyworld.
Anyway – back to Platype. As over-excited graphic designers, we arrived half an hour before the shop opened, so we opted to stop next door for some tea and coffee.
After this we could finally step inside, and an array of beautiful gifts and keepsakes greeted us.
I winded up eyeing up the above set of prints, picking out the “O” one with such gusto and admiration that the lovely lady running the shop said I could have it free of charge. We then conversed with her for a while and racked up some local recommendations on where to eat and visit whilst we were there.
After eating cookies in bed and an early night, we headed off early once again for a visit to the Danish Design Museum (click here to read my blog post on this, it was too much to fit into one!) and for a tour of an area of the city called Christianshavn, which ended in a more interesting ‘city within a city’ called Christiania (or Freetown Christiania). This kooky little area, formerly a restricted military zone, was reclaimed and repopulated by hippies in the 1970s and has since become a haven for creatives and those who prefer an offbeat lifestyle.
It was a strikingly different place, but equally as fascinating and beautiful as the rest of the surrounding city. As photography is restricted in certain areas of the town, I only managed to get a few photos, but I would highly recommend a visit if any of you just happen to be passing through Copenhagen.
Another structure I found particularly interesting on Christianshavn was the Church Of Our Saviour (or ‘Vor Frelsers Kirke’ if you’re our tour guide), with it’s counter-clockwise spiral staircase spire and funky carillon (a series of many church bells that can play any number of melodies) which rang out every hour on the hour. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of the church but a quick visit to Wikipedia won’t leave you disappointed.
Throughout our trip, of course, we tried to make a point of stopping to sample the local cuisine. I had a ‘smørrebrød’ (open sandwich) with beef, homemade horseradish, onions, pickled cucumbers and ‘sennepssovsen’ (a Danish sauce made with mustard), and also a dish akin to the Danish national dish, ‘stegt flæsk med persillesovs’ (fried pork steak with potatoes and parsley sauce).
On our last day in Copenhagen, me and Izzy visited the Rundetaarn, a round tower which offered beautiful views over the city. Naturally we stopped for photos!
What stuck me the most though was the method via which one ascended to the top – a spiral ramp! I found this wide spiral incline very fascinating, as I’ve never seen anything like it. I went to the tower expecting a daunting climb up a grimy stone spiral stairwell, not a slowly curving floor, which you can make out in the photos below.
We also took some time afterwards to track back through the city, nipping back down to the docks to see the modern architecture of the Opera House and National Theatre before taking one last stroll down the docks of Nyhavn.
For our final evening we opted to head north and visit Nørrebro, another district within the city, where we stopped for a traditional Danish hot dog (which is topped with mustard, ketchup, sennepssovsen, pickled cucumber, onions and fried onions) and a drink.
So that was our four days in Copenhagen, a beautiful city full of lovely people, where the hygge (feeling of being comfortable, click here to read more about this beguiling concept) flowed in abundance. We then moved on to Stockholm, which you can read about in my next blog post here. Also remember to check out my blog post on the Danish Design Museum (the link will open in a separate window).
I would absolutely recommend the city to anybody who is considering a visit, and I will definitely be back to Denmark, be it for another holiday, (hopefully) for a placement later this year or maybe more permanently…
Update: I’ve recently (September 2015) visited Copenhagen once again! Click here to view some scenes from my latest visit…