In the house I grew up in Columbus, OH, we had a big picture on the wall behind the living room sofa. I remember it being sort of impressionistic with colorful buildings, a canal and some old ships. The inscription at the bottom said Copenhagen. When I was planning my trip, I knew I’d have to make an effort to get there, and happy I did.
So I heard from a few Danish people that many Americans think Denmark is the capital of Sweden. I felt so bad, and I feel an obligation to do my part to help clear this up. Denmark is a sovereign country in Scandinavia along with Sweden and Norway. This is their flag…Finland is sometimes thrown into the Scandinavia mix due to geographic location, but strictly speaking, it’s just those three countries. Denmark is a constituional monarchy similar to the UK with all the real power resting with the prime minister. It’s part of the European Union, but they do not use the euro which means they kept their currency… the Danish Kroner.I hear they’re quite proud of this fact now that euro is in trouble. Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark. Stockholm is the capital of Sweden.
In the UK, I discovered a tourism company called Sandeman’s New Europe. They offer “free” guided walking tours in English of several major European cities. It’s actually donation based, and just about everyone gives something. I usually tip the equivalent of five dollars since it’s a 3 hour tour that gives you loads of ideas for things to look into further. You don’t need to register beforehand. Just show up at the designated meeting point and tell them how you learned about the tour and where you’re staying. I joined the Copenhagen group on my first full day in the city, and felt a lot better getting around afterwards. Between the tour, and walking around on my second day, I took all of the following photos.
A characteristic of Copenhagen that really blew me away was the number of cyclists. I’d say there are just as many bikes on the road as cars. Scenes like this are quite common… just parking lots of bikes every where. Really awesome to see.
I also made a brief visit to Christiania. I was told not to take any pictures in this area and to watch myself due to its seedy nature. I think the closest description in the US to this place is a hippy commune. The area is known for its artists, libertarian views, and marijuana. It started out as a very peaceful group, but I hear has acquired a criminal element in recent years. The residents don’t consider themselves to be a part of the EU, and there’s even a sign saying “You are entering the EU” when you leave Christiania. I wish I could have taken some photos because there was some cool artwork. I felt a bit out of place walking through there without a big joint in my hand, though. There are loads of police officers standing just outside the boundaries of Christiania, so I wasn’t really worried for my safety.
For my three nights in Copenhagen, I stayed in a small independently run hostel. This is very different from the usual for me, but I think was good because I ended up meeting more people. They had free yoga, but the space for that was under construction while I was there, so no yoga. I wouldn’t have been able to wake up by 7:00 AM anyway to do it. I loved the small cozy vibe of the place, but it felt a bit cramped at times. The owner was really chill though, and I admired the fact she combined a cafe with her hostel. Nice touch, however, the cafe also served as the common area and was crowded in the mornings and most evenings. For beds, they had these cubby hole cubicle style beds. Those are my legs.There were two dorm rooms in the hostel… mine had 8 beds and the other had 12 beds. Each cubby hole had a curtain you could close to create a private space.
I had to climb up to my bed on those 2×4’s which made me feel like I was 12 years old. Nothing like hostel life to make you feel young.
At this point, Denmark was just starting to reveal itself. I broke away from my usual practice of only staying in hostels and actually Couchsurfed. It was definitely a positive experience, and I’ll write about it in my next post. I’ve been on the road for three and half months, but keep making changes and reevaluating things all the time. Probably a good thing.