I still feel a little baffled that I managed to visit Copenhagen without seeing their key attraction. In my defense, it might be one of the most overrated attractions in Europe, along with the astronomical clock in Prague. Having said that, here’s what I managed to cram into the four days that I spent there, en route to Sweden.
I purchased my flight to Copenhagen from Edinburgh when I found a ticket for only $36 (booked 4 days in advance) as compared to the nearly $200 it would have cost to fly directly to Stockholm, where I needed to go for a convention. With the $160+ I saved, I bought a bus ticket from Copenhagen to Stockholm for $30, and got to check another country off my list, while having amazing adventures.
I arrived in Copenhagen at 9:30 pm and was one of the first off the plane. When I got to Immigration, I had a pleasant surprise. With my new UK passport, the officer didn’t even take it. He simply saw it and waved me through. Yeay. From there, I used my usual savoir faire to quickly find the right train into town, and was at my host’s apartment by 11 PM, before they were even home. When I was on the Isle of Lewis and Harris in Scotland, I had run into Ashley and Josh of The Way Away. They were staying with friends in Copenhagen, and I was invited to crash on the couch. I happily accepted.
Tobias and Emelie, the couple we were staying with, invited us to the Sandemans free waking tour the next morning. Luis was a wonderful tour guide, although Tobias was able to add some extra information as a local. We covered all the key places in the center of town. As usual, I’m not going to spoil the tour, but there was one incredible fact I want to pass along. The residence of the royal family in Copenhagen is called Amalienborg. In the center of the four palaces is an equestrian statue called Rytterstatuen. That statue was sculpted by Jacques Saly, who managed to charge a price more than all four palaces, and the church down the street, combined!
The walking tour also covered the Danish culinary scene, which happens to be quite similar to German food, although there is also quite a bit of Scandinavian influence as well. On the break in the tour, I grabbed one of the local hot dogs with all the trimmings.
Actually, the walking tour ended about 1 km away from The Little Mermaid, but everyone else had already been there the day before, so we went to Papirøen (Paper Island), where we got to see Denmark’s street food warehouse. Unfortunately, Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities I’ve been to, and the cheapest meal in Papirøen runs for about $10. Not exactly what I’m used to for street food.
Next we went to a Haveforeningen. That could be translated into “garden community.” Essentially, if you live in the city but don’t live on the ground floor or have a garden, you are entitled to have a small tract of land on the outskirts of town. Each garden is roughly 30′ by 60′, and owners can build a house using about 15% of the land. That’s about a 270 square foot house. The utilities are shut off in the community during the winter months, but tiny home living has a near and dear place in my heart. For as little as $10,000 for a plot, this is a great way to spend the summer!
In the Haveforeningen we met Tibor’s mother, and Josh and I cooked an all-American dinner of hamburgers and fries. It was definitely a wonderful night, and we had homemade ice cream before going to the little community meeting hall where they were playing mini lottery games and eating chocolate-covered marshmallows.
That night, I stayed at the Generator Hostel, since I had already booked the night there and couldn’t cancel the booking. As far as hostels go, it was really nice, and HUGE! The Generator chain are opening up all over Europe, and even opened up one in Stockholm the week I went there. For a town that’s way overpriced, this was one of the cheapest hostels available.
The next day was one of my only “relax” days of July. I spent the morning walking around the city center, and then went back to see Tobias, Josh and the gang. It was also raining hard that day, so I just stayed inside.
That evening, I met up with Mia as my couchsurfing host for the night. It turned out she was working in an ice cream store for the day, so I got a complementary dish! Yum. From there, we went to a bar with Ashley, Mike (another friend of Josh and Ashley’s) and Mia. Then I went with Mia to another bar to meet another of her friends, and finally in the wee hours of the morning we made it to the outskirts of the city where she lived.
I had just a couple hours of sleep, and then got up early to meet up with Tobias, Emelie, Ashley and Mike at a series of lakes north of Copenhagen where we spent the day canoeing! I could write a whole blog post just about that (and I probably will soon), but the highlight of the adventure was when we came out of the long connecting canal and into the big lake, where we found the wind was a lot stronger than we had expected and we got blown up onto the rocks. Other than getting a little wet, we were fine, and we continued to have a wonderful time!
That night I stayed at Tobais’ again, and the next day we all went out to Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world. I had an absolute blast, especially on the Tornado roller coaster. If you want, you read read all about the park in a blog post I wrote for Perspective Travel here.
That night, we all went to Christiania. What a community! This self-proclaimed “autonomous” region of Copenhagen has nearly 1000 residents, and also has the one weed-selling street of Denmark, a country where marijuana is illegal. While that might be a big draw to tourists, it wasn’t for me, as I mentioned in my last post. A bigger aspect of the community is the artistic side of it, and this is what intrigued me the most. When we went, there was actually a free concert in the center of the neighborhood.
But I didn’t get to stay until the end. All too soon, I had to pick up my bags from the house and head to the bus station to catch my ride to Stockholm. Oh, I shouldn’t say bus station, since Copenhagen doesn’t have one. Instead, there’s a street where buses fight for a spot to park, and you just have to guess where to stand to catch yours. I almost missed mine when the bus had to park at the far end of the street for lack of space.
Overall, my stay in Copenhagen was fantastic. Sure, it was far more expensive than I could have imagined, and honestly the most expensive city I’ve been to in my travels. If it weren’t for the help and advice of the friends I met there, I would never have been able to explore as much or as long as I did. The only problem is, I didn’t see it all. I have yet to see the city’s prime attraction. While everyone says it’s the most overrated attraction in Europe, someday I’ll have to return to Copenhagen to see The Little Mermaid.