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Copenhagen, Denmark: bikes, burgers, and hygge

Copenhagen, Denmark: bikes, burgers, and hygge

By on Apr 30, 2015 in Denmark |

When we started planning to live abroad for six months – we originally looked to Europe before deciding on New Zealand.  We didn’t think we’d even make it to Europe, let alone Thailand.  But things fell into place, we found a great deal on a flight to Copenhagen and off we flew from sunny, warm Thailand to the somewhat sunny, not quite as warm Copenhagen.  After we got over the shock to our senses (we’re not in 100 degree humidity and we still don’t speak the language), we settled in to our week in Copenhagen.  Denmark is known for being one of the best countries to live in the world.  Why?  It’s not the warm weather (although it did warm up while we were there).  Free health care, beautiful architecture and design, sustainable solutions, easy to use public transportation, bikes everywhere…you get the point.  While it may have been a fluke we ended up in Copenhagen, we became really excited about spending a week in this fairy tale city.

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After hopping on the train from the airport, we made it to Norreport and walked the few blocks to the AirBnB we rented for the week. On the way, we passed this market with some serious bike parking. This is pretty normal in Copenhagen. During the week, the bike path is filled with a rainbow of bicycles (don’t worry all the hip riders are wearing fitted jackets in some shade of black, grey, or blue). Due to Copenhagen’s primarily flat roads, biking is the transportation mode of choice.


After four months of traveling – jet lag finally caught up with us in Copenhagen, but that didn’t stop us from getting out and exploring. On one of our explorations, we wandered through the cobblestone roads of Indre By to stumble upon Christiansborg Palace. No big deal – just a palace in the middle of the city. We wandered through the open gate and walked to the stable area behind the palace


The temples in Thailand felt old, but the cobblestone roads and older buildings in Copenhagen give off a different sense of history.


On Thursday nights, the NY Calrsberg Glyptotek was open late so we venutred across town. This museum is directly across from an amusement park in the middle of the city – it made us think of Denver. The museum is primarily sculpture. These broken ears and noses were eerily placed together.


Camouflage in ancient times? Yes. This marbled statue is a shout out to all our friends back home who love camo – that is if you can see it. (ok – terrible, I know)


The museum was full of beautiful statues – that doesn’t mean we didn’t have some fun. We have a few pics trying mimic the faces and poses of statues in the museum. There were definitely some creepy pieces too. There was one ghost like statue at the top of stairs that looked like the ghost of christmas future coming to lead you to your doom. Gulp. This shot reminded me of the villain in Return to Oz. Never seen it? It’s an amazing cult classic from the 80s about Dorothy’s return to Oz. Princess Mombi is a beautiful woman who swaps out her head everyday – keeping the same head every day would be tacky. This statue looked like it could take his pick from the heads next to him.


More wandering through Copenhagen allowed us to see the brightly colored buildings along the canals.


Copenhagen is known for being the home to Hans Christian Anderson. What does this have to do with a picture of an army guy and a wall? On the way to try and find the Little Mermaid story (I favor Disney’s version over Hans Christian Anderson’s – who turns someone into sea foam! Seriously!) we made a few wrong turns and ended up in Kastellet – a star shaped 17th century fortress. We passed this statue leading up to the fortress and it made an impact. Inside the fortress, we walked up a path to walk around when we were stopped by some soldiers who held a hand up and spoke to us rapidly in Danish. While we were very excited to be mistaken for locals, we had no idea what they were saying other than we shouldn’t go any further. There were some other soldiers doing some kind of drill near us. We decided to play it safe and found a different way around the fortress.


On the way to the fort, we walked by this church reflected in the water while giant geese walked by us on the grass.


After winding our way around the fortress, we found a way out (without running into any more soldiers). There is so much art in Copenhagen. This lovely statue was just outside the fortress, close to the Little Mermaid.


And then – there was the Little Mermaid. One of the “Things to See” in Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid statue. On one of our earlier adventures, we stumbled upon a park in the city which is actually a graveyard and saw Hans Christian Anderson’s grave – when in Copenhagen? We figured we should also see the statue inspired by H.C. Anderson’s fairy tale *the statue also has a lovely birthday. Here she is in all her glory.


We couldn’t help but laugh at the graffiti at the bottom of railing. Kind of sums it up *I THOUGHT IT WAS BIGGER*  Also enter in a thousand perverted jokes here.  It may be true about the statue – we thought it would be bigger, but it was still neat to see


Another beautiful statue on the other side of the church


This statue was in the park on the walk back to our apartment.


Everywhere we looked – there was something magical to see. Tour boats drift down the canal centers, passing by old buildings and bicyclists.

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When we saw Toy in Thailand, she suggested we try hotdogs in Copenhagen. At the time, we gave her a skeptical look. In Copenhagen – we understood. You have to try a hotdog – that is if you’re a hot dog eater.


And of course a visit to Copenhagen isn’t complete without a visit of Christiania. Free town is a self-sustaining neighborhood in Copenhagen started in 1971 by some people who took over abandoned military barracks. There are no cars inside. The area is self-governing referred to as a type of commune.


What happens in Christiania, stays in Christiania…it should be their motto. Once you enter through the gates, there are lots of amazing art and graffiti pieces. And almost immediately, you see signs indicating no cameras allowed. It’s was a unique experience walking around free town, but it was a bit strange seeing the crowd directed by people in masks and lines of people waiting for their turn to order marijuana where it’s illegal, but used to be legal hence the no cameras allowed. Maybe it would have been shocking if we weren’t from Denver where there are weed shops on every corner. Instead – the lines of people outside a camouflage tent where deals were done through a slat and overseen by mask-wearing security guards was a little weird.  Not quite what we were expecting.   It was a cool place visit but was definitely one of the more bizarre things we’ve seen on our journey.

Our week in Copenhagen went by quickly.  That didn’t stop us from trying some of the best burgers in town – we were staying next door to Halifax which had delicious burgers that were ginormous.  We also popped into the markets down the road and enjoyed strolling down cobble stone roads.  The other thing we learned about while in Copenhagen – hygge.  It’s hard to find a direct translation.  Basically, it explains the cozy, organic sweaters, the sleek, well-fit clothing, the cuddly scarves, the fireplaces in bars, long-drawn out dinners.  It’s enjoying nice things in life whether that be nice things, a pleasant setting, or good friends and good conversation.   It’s our take-away from Copenhagen – hygge, enjoying life.