We finally made it to Copenhagen around 18 hours after our supposed arrival time (10am Danish time) and were met with light fog and a bumpy landing. However, as we stepped into the airport, with its walls of glass, the winter sun broke through the clouds as if to welcome us and had the decency to stay out for the remainder of the day.
In typical Scandinavian fashion, most things were really straightforward – from no lines at passport control to the baggage being ready right away, from sign posts for everything (including how many minutes walk away you are from the departure/arrival gate) to a cheap and quick train journey into Copenhagen Central station. If you wanted, you could probably switch off your brain and just let life happen to you here – even the doors open and the toilets flush themselves.
I knew I was going to love this city on exiting Copenhagen Central station when the first thing I spotted was the Tivoli theme park. There’s not many cities with a historic theme park at their heart and this one greets visitors with fake Alp-like mountains (see below – more of my favourite photos below).
It was literally a five minute walk to our hostel, but we managed to take a wrong turn and found ourselves on a shady street corner where drunks congregated and we overheard the negotiations of a drug deal. We were in the red light district area of Vesterbro, the many sex emporiums and our local, Bar Spunk, gave it away, but even here we still felt pretty safe.
As we couldn’t check in on arrival, we found ourselves having brunch at a local restaurant, Apropos. It was the trendy kind of place you would seek out, and after our 5am start the brunch buffet went down a storm.
Although it was only 12am, I was keen to get out and see the city assuming that later my energy levels would drop. Carrying my overloaded plate back to the table, I felt my arms shake and was worried I could at any moment drop it. Sleep deprivation has such a strong effect on my muscle strength.
Anyway, after a short rest, we ditched our bags and headed out with our new camera to explore (you should see an improvement in the photos today). While there is quite a bit to see in Copenhagen, the fact that it is compact makes it very easy to fit a lot in. We managed to see the main square, with the Town Hall, Christiansborg where the Danish parliament is, Nyhavn (the iconic multi-coloured harbour), Amalienborg Slotsplads (where the royal family live), Churchill Park and the Little mermaid statue. We then crossed Sortedams as the sun was setting to Norrebro and had drinks and dinner in this up and coming neighbourhood before walking back to our hostel. I think we must have covered about 6 miles all in all so by the time we reached the hostel we were absolutely exhausted. Saying that, I struggled to sleep last night but that’s another story.
– Everything seems to be easier here than in London
I guess you could say where doesn’t feell that way but it’s strange for a capital city to feel as calm as Copenhagen. Although it’s part of the most densely populated country in Northern Europe everything here feels spacious – the streets, pavements and even the space between tables when dining. This, along with the more relaxed pace that people seem to operate, the abundance of water and green spaces and the culture of taking a coffee break (in part to warm up) gives Copenhagen a very tranquil vibe. It now makes sense that many people I spoke to suggested they come here to revive themselves by drinking good quality coffee and reading/writing. It’s beauty is also restorative.
– The food and cocktails scene is thriving
Literally everything I have eaten here so far has been incredible. I decided to give the diet a complete break this weekend and I’m glad I did as the sweets are to die for. Like London, the cocktail scene is thriving here and most bars offer a wide selection of hot and cold options. I’ve yet to try one, but Elaine said her hot toady cocktail was to die for.
– Bike thieves must be less of an issue
Theft of bikes and prams here must not be much of an issue as across the city they are left outside without being locked up. I read that sleeping babies are often left outside in the prams too, but haven’t witnessed this yet. I wonder if because bikes are so common here, whether they are not worth stealing. Elaine pointed out that even without the thieves, if you left pyr bike unlocked in the UK or Ireland you’d probably get drunk youngsters taking them for a spin for a laugh and not thinking to put them back again. I wonder if drunk tourists do this in Copenhagen?!
– Rough sleeping and alcoholism are more common than I had expected
Having visited the other three Scandinavian countries, I wasn’t prepared to see as many rough sleepers and alcoholics here. Although I remember a few in a couple of Swedish cities I’ve visited, it was nowhere near on the scale that I’ve witnessed here. Like the numbers keep rising in London, this suggests to me that Copenhagen may have it’s own crisis. I did wonder whether there had been an increase of rough sleepers from other parts of Europe, but the majority of people I’ve seen look very Scandinavian. For a country with such a proud social care record, I wonder how much of it is an after effect of the recession. I’ll definitely be looking into this on my return.
– It doesn’t appear to be particularly disability friendly
Like Luton airport, the walk in the airport from arrival gate to luggage collection felt at least 2kms long if not more and there was no assistance in sight. As I was exhausted and carrying a heavy bag, I really felt the distance in both airports. In Copenhagen itself, I’ve not seen much assistance for disabled people as many of the buildings seem to be quite old and inaccessible. I’ll hopefully be able to clarify whether this is the case by Monday.
Below are some of my favourite pictures so far:
1. The love locks at Nyhavn
2. Outside the Town Hall – delighted to be here
3. The rough sleepers outside the Town Hall looked less delighted
4. Granola is just one of the lovely cafés I’ve enjoyed a delicious coffee in
5. Our local, Spunk bar
6. The Little Mermaid statue
7. My lovely lady at sunset in Churchill Park