I arrived in Copenhagen at 10 am on a Saturday, after a 12-hour bus ride from Amsterdam.
I wasn’t tired, just feeling cold. In Copenhagen, it must have been at least five degrees lower than in North Holland. I didn’t dress for winter when I left Amsterdam, it was still a summer night in June .
My host picked me up at the station with a spare bike. No, I wasn’t going to take a bus or a tram. Cycling is the default mode of transport there. In fact, I didn’t get on a bus once during the five days I was in Copenhagen.
Around Copenhagen on a Bike
After freshening up, putting on more layers and a scarf, I headed into the city centre. It was only me and the bike I got given earlier. The designated lanes for cyclists are much wider than those in Amsterdam. One can cycle alongside with a friend, and there’s still room for overtaking. I wasn’t used to such luxury 😛.
It happened to be a long weekend in Denmark, and the streets of Copenhagen were quiet and sleepy. The clouds hung low, hardly moved. Likewise, I cycled slowly, watching windows and doors.
When I saw a square with stalls, a band and a crowd, I parked the bike for a wander on foot. By accident, I’ve found the popular Torvehallerne.
It’s a food hall with raw ingredients as well as cooked meals. A posh market. I have seen the concept in Amsterdam, but Torvehallerne has a different level of beautiful-and-expensive-looking products.
I walked around full of curiosity and amazement. Never anywhere that I have been I saw such well-groomed fish mongers. Their stores offer fish, prawn and other seafood of impressive sizes. The light, the see-through glass and the clean display are different to what usually found elsewhere. Somehow, there’s no fishy smell, just the deliciousness of cooked food.
I stopped at one of the seafood stalls, ordered some fish cakes, picked a stool to eat my late lunch and watched the Danes as well as the tourists. I wished I have ordered a beer.
After lunch, I let myself be lost a bit more, vaguely aimed for the tower of Vor Frelsers Kirke - Church of Our Saviour, next to Freetown Christiania.
When I finally arrived at the church, the queue was too long, so I left for a walk in the community centre of the infamous Freetown.
Though it’s only 4 pm, the light was weak on that cloudy day. I was taken aback by groups of rough-looking guys hanging around. There were ruins of houses and broken sheds. I saw graffiti of all sorts. Though some were just vandalising, others could be called arts.
In the very centre, one finds men with little stalls offering different kinds of drugs.
After four years in the Netherlands, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the sight or smell of weed, but the Dutch smart shops are a lot more established, hence less seedy.
All in all, I found the air on that particular afternoon uneasy. Behind the drug dealers, there were a stage and a restaurant, one of the best in town, apparently. If I had been with someone, I could have sat down for a beer and some music. Being alone, I preferred getting back on my bike and the governed part of Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Lakes
I was lucky that my stay was right next to one of the Copenhagen lakes. The three rectangular lakes make up a tranquil and lovely water border for the city centre.
In the morning of my second day, I went for a long run looping around all three lakes. The weather was glorious, and the path was busy with joggers, runners and swans.
This one got off the water and walked crossed my path
The Beach and the Blue Planet
The day before I left, I went for a much longer bike ride, from the centre through water area surrounding Freetown Christiania and towards the sea.
On this beach, you can see the long bridge that links Denmark to Sweden, the inspiration of The Bridge TV show. It’s the North Sea - the code word for "too cold for swimming", but the sun managed to warm up the sand, so I had a nap.
If you keep cycle along this beach, following the path in-between the tall grass, you will come to the Blue Planet - an aquarium. When you are there, come in for a wander. It’s not the biggest aquarium, but its rooms are full of wonders.
A Boat Ride
On my last day, I took a boat tour before the leaving for the airport. An hour around the water ways of Copenhagen. With the help of a tour guide, who spoke three languages (English, German and Danish) one after another, I’ve learned a lot about the landmarks of the city: the little mermaid, the old-new library, the royal family living quarter and their ships, etc.
I also learned that the weather there was unpredictable. We started with a bright sun light. Within the hour of the, we got soaked, blown to pieces with the cold, wet wind, then were bone-dry again before we left the boat.
Despite the rain, I enjoyed the leisure of moving slowly on the water and watching the world above. Wrap up if you decide to go, though. You never know what would happen.
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