After spending quite a bit of time in Sweden and Norway, I’ve finally made it a little further south in Scandinavia. The past 5 days were spent in Copenhagen, yet another city where people feast on cheese, bread, and spend every moment possible in the sun for fear that in 5 hours (or minutes) the weather might change. What a big difference a short hop over the border was as well. I’ve been staying in Lund the past 2 weeks, which is in the south of Sweden. Presently, I’m about a 40 min train ride to the center of Copenhagen.
How would I describe Copenhagen? Friendly, cultural and open minded. The people in Copenhagen were remarkably friendly. Locals were eager to help us as we fumbled over our gigantic map. The city seemed to be filled with events of all kinds including art, opera, food, and Pride festivals. My boyfriend made several attempts to interact with them through Swedish and mixing in an attempt at their Danish words. And consistently, we were met with a curious facial reaction as the Danish people tried to understand him. Ultimately, both stared puzzled at each other and ended up speaking in English.
While, I really got good vibes in the city, I must say Danish isn’t a pretty sounding language. Either way, I wasn’t persuaded there for the sweet sounds of language.
As far as transportation is concerned, there seems to be a solid mix between people who bicycle (this is definitely a bicycle friendly city), ride the bus or metro, those who drive, and those who walk. You can get around by walking, but it all depends how far you really want to walk. The weather was amazing the days we were there though, so we ended up doing a ton of walking.
So, why did we go? Ultimately, we were in pursuit of the food festival Copenhagen Cooking. During the next couple weeks, there will be special events all about food in the city. Foodies, Farmers, Wine Makers and Restaurants offer incredible deals for people to sample or indulge in some of the local tastes of Scandinavia or Europe. Copenhagen has some very highly rated restaurants, with top notch service to accompany, but this time, we were more interested in seeking out what the festival offered. We kicked off the food festival with a very traditional summer specialty: the herring long table. Basically, we sat at a long wooden picnic bench where we dined on smørrebrød (pickled herring on rye bread), schnapps, and beer. There are loads of smørrebrød restaurants in Denmark, but we got to dine right on the canal. Later that evening, we went to an outdoor event in Gråbrødretorv which offered great deals on wine, seafood, and live French jazz.
The area seemed a bit flooded with French and Italian restaurants so we left after our seafood bites and wine and headed off to find a more unique, hidden gem to dine. However, the city is littered with tons of restaurants boasting loads of award winning gastronomic delights and we ended up walking in circles for nearly 2 hours hunting down a place to eat dinner.
The bonus of Europe is that people eat so late. Hours in Denmark seems to sharply contrast Sweden and Norway in this way. Denmark doesn’t close down on Sundays and restaurants stay open and filled with people until quite late. We were fortunate in this way because we didn’t actually end up sitting down until 9:30pm for dinner – really late for us as well. We landed in The Red Box, which was actually the restaurant on the ground floor of where we were staying for the weekend. This restaurant offers Asian/French fusion cuisine and we were impressed not only by the combinations of food (dill, potatoes, and asian flavors??), but also the design and service of the restaurant. Excellent, delicious, and I HIGHLY recommend visiting if you’re in Copenhagen.
What was the most interesting thing? On our last day, we visited the infamous “freetown” Christiania. Almost a city within a city, Christiania has been a controversial self-proclaimed autonomous community for decades. Initially, the objective was to create a self-governing society where every individual is responsible and respectful to the wellbeing of the entire society. However, the spirit of the area has altered to become apart of the hippie movement, squatters, and anarchism.
Either way, there are areas within that are functioning harmoniously and beautifully. However, Pusherstreet of the Green Light District (photos prohibited) is lined with drug dealers and the sharp smells of weed and hash fill the air. Graffiti decorates the buildings and people of a wide variety of cultures wander about. There seems to be a wide divide between how some of the people are living vs the others, which leads to wonder, Can a “freetown” with a society that’s self-governed really satisfy the needs of all without infringing upon or depriving the wellbeing, unity, and harmony of the collective whole? If I exist thinking that my actions really only affect me or that if it shouldn’t matter what you do, how far can I really go in helping others or myself? Either way, it was an interesting, though provoking place.
Overall impressions? I looooved Copenhagen! I can’t wait to go back. Further, it excited and motivated me even more to journey further south in Europe.