I possess an insatiable desire to travel, and as soon as I return home after a trip, I immediately start planning the next journey. So this weekend I headed to Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. In a masochistic moment I booked an early morning flight, which meant that I had to travel through night-time London to get to the airport. No matter which place I had to go to, the bus stop, the night bus, the train station and even the train itself, I was surrounded by loud party-goers on their way home. I was relieved when I finally got on board the plane. The engine’s humming was music to my ears after the noises of the youngsters, and, whilst I was relaxing and enjoying the flight, I looked forward to my visit with excitement. On arrival, a heavy rain welcomed us into the country. But I did not want that to deter me, so I set out on my sightseeing trip with firm determination. I wasn’t even bothered by my less than suitable outfit consisting of a flowing skirt, ballet flats and a hat, but, of course, no umbrella. As we say in Hungary, I’m not made of sugar.
Where else could I have started, if not at Copenhagen’s most famous landmark, the statue of the Little Mermaid? I couldn’t help feeling flushed with elation as it appeared in the distance. Although I am not particularly obsessed with the major tourist hotspots, I must admit that even I fall under the magnetic charm of such sights. There is something truly magical about seeing something you’ve heard a lot about. The places that have evoked such emotions in me include The Statue of Liberty in New York, the Eiffel Tower, Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, and the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. And now the Little Mermaid. I was slightly surprised by how small the statue actually is, far smaller than a real-life person. But this makes it even more powerful in my eyes. The rain showed no sign of wanting to stop, and within the first ten minutes of being out on the streets, I was sopping wet. But I pressed on, despite the slight discomfort of walking in wet shoes.
I walked towards the Amalienborg, the home of the Danish monarch. On my way there, I encountered several examples of the simple elegance of Danish architecture. I’ve always preferred elaborate, complex designs, but this no-fuss style was refreshing to see.
Even the Royal Palace seemed to blend into the surroundings. If it wasn’t for the stern guards standing by the gates like their colleagues in London, I might not have realised that it was a palace.
Then, “for something completely different”, I continued towards Nyhavn. I passed by a row of design shops, giving me another chance to marvel at the refined taste of the Scandinavians – as well as the slightly steep prices typical of the city.
Nyhavn is one of the most crowded areas I’ve visited in Copenhagen, and understandably so. The charming, colourful houses of this old harbour now mainly function as restaurants, presumably overpriced and geared at tourists. Nevertheless, I was absolutely seduced by the area, even in spite the crowds.
From there I walked past Christiansborg Palace and the Old Stock Exchange. The former is built in a similar style to the Amalienborg, but the latter is an imposing, lavish building. It was touching to see a series of rainbow-coloured flags on its tower, in honour of the Gay Pride event that was taking place in Copenhagen this weekend.
Then I crossed over to the neighbourhood of Christianshavn, home of Christiania, a free-town community of artists living independently of the Danish government. It included houses resembling garden sheds, a row of stalls selling folk art products, as well as places encouraging the consumption of marijuana. Some of the characters I encountered there were rough and slightly scary, and the whole area felt like a makeshift camp for the homeless, but the artist in me was attracted to this lifestyle of freedom, above the binding constraints of a ‘decent’ life.
Returning to the mainland, I walked along the waterfront towards the Town Hall. On my way I got the chance to take in slightly more ‘mundane’ buildings, which, nevertheless, still displayed the typical architectural features I marvelled at earlier. I love leaving the tourist tracks and seeking out areas that only the locals would frequent, because it gives me a fuller picture of what it is like to live in a certain city. As someone who likes to call herself a citizen of the world, I am always looking for a place where I would be happy to live. Copenhagen did seem like such a place. It is tranquil, stylish and liveable, if expensive . And I couldn’t help noticing how good-looking Danish men are. I practically fell in love with someone new on every street corner. Blue eyes, light hair… just my type of guys…
But back to the architectural beauties of the city… The area near Central Station was another jam-packed tourist hub. If you are into fun-fairs, you must visit Tivoli, one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe. But, as I am not too fussed by such establishments, I preferred to move on. As the area is so popular with tourists, international brands inevitably begin appearing along the busy roads of Vesterbrogade and Stroget, the main shopping street. I don’t really see the point of spending hours browsing the same items that I could also find at home, so I paid more attention to the detailed façades of the houses along the way. Although, I must say, I wandered into the Lego store with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a child… And I was baffled to see a model of Tower Bridge made entirely of Lego bricks. Coupled with the never-ending downpour, I felt at home immediately…
I eventually left the buzzing shopping streets and turned to a quieter path again, heading towards Rosenborg Castle. After the all-day hustle and bustle of the city, the quiet and almost empty King’s Gardens were a piece of heaven for me. The castle, resembling the castles of fairy tales, put me in a dreamy mood. If it wasn’t for the rain, I would have loved to sit there for hours and let my imagination run wild.
I headed towards the Botanical Gardens, and intended to walk further up, but by that point the rain was falling in torrents, and I didn’t want to risk catching a nasty illness, so, with a great deal of regret, I took a detour and hopped on the metro towards my accommodation.
I stayed at a private flat rented out on Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.co.uk/), a service I regularly use. It is the middle ground between the exuberant prices of hotels and the risks of couch surfing, because these spare rooms in residential apartments and houses are relatively cheap, but the involvement of money still serves as a guarantee. And the level of service is often miles above that provided by hotels. The rooms are impeccably cleaned, and the hosts often provide little personal touches, such as a kettle and tea in the room, or maps and guides to the city. Of course, it also means that a guest has to be considerate of the rules of the household, but as long as mutual respect is given, this can be a pleasant experience for both parties.
So, at the end of a long and wet but still highly enjoyable day, I went to bed in my cosy room to get some rest before another early morning flight back home. Little did I suspect the difficulties that I would face on my way to the airport only a few hours later, and the amazing miracle that God performed to set everything right… But I will tell you all about it tomorrow. Stay tuned!