Notes from the Road: Copenhagen

Our whirlwind of two days in Copenhagen began with high class. Get this: The taxi we grabbed from the airport was a Tesla! Even our Airbnb host was surprised when we rolled up in such an expensive car. We spent our first evening settling into our cute flat and planning the next couple days.

Day 1: Walking all over Copenhagen

With rain in the forecast, we got up bright and early so we could jam as much as possible into our first day. The city’s subway system isn’t very extensive, but they are currently building new stations and lines. They were actually building a station right behind our flat, but since it wasn’t done yet we decided to walk into the center of town. On the way, we grabbed breakfast pastries (not Danishes, unfortunately) at a convenience store and made it to City Hall with about half an hour to spare before the start of our free walking tour.

On the walking tour, we learned about the royal family, the many fires that have changed the landscape of the city over the years, and Hans Christian Andersen. 

A few fun facts: 

  1. The Danish monarchy is the oldest continuing line in the world, meaning when Queen Elizabeth II visits, she must bow to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. She doesn’t visit very often. 
  2. The Fire of 1728 left 20% of the population homeless. It started in the apartment of a restaurant manager and his wife, but the couple blamed it on their seven-year-old son, likely to avoid punishment. 
  3. Hans Christian Andersen—or “HC,” as our tour guide called him—originally wanted to be a ballet dancer, actor, and musician. He wasn’t very good at any of those things, so a friend suggested he become a writer since he was good at telling stories. He didn’t know how to read or write, however, so he went to school, overstayed his welcome while visiting Charles Dickens, and eventually became a writer. He lived in the city’s red-light district for 20 years. That area, which we also visited on the tour, is now Nyhavn Harbor, which is known for its iconic colorful buildings and large wooden ships. 

After the tour, we went to see The Little Mermaid statue, which was commissioned by the son of the founder of Carlsberg beer and has been a Copenhagen icon since 1913. We had to walk pretty far out of the way to get to it and the crowd surrounding it was insane. It may have been because we were tired and hungry, but we weren’t overly impressed.

Next, we grabbed a hotdog in a baguette from a street cart and some ice cream at a market made out of recycled shipping containers, then ventured into Freetown Christiania. This area used to be an abandoned military base until squatters took over in 1971 and formed a community with its own rules. It is now completely separate from the Danish government. We were surprised by how big it was! We learned about 1,000 people live there (it’s also where musician Lukas Graham grew up). We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but it was interesting to walk around, check out the work of local artists, and generally see how this group of people lives. 

By the time we left Christiania, we had walked nearly 10 miles. We decided to take scooters home, grabbed dinner at a grocery store, and spent the evening on the couch completely exhausted. 

Day 2: A more relaxed approach

It rained most of the morning, which we took as an excuse to sleep in. Once we got going, we took a bus (I wasn’t going to walk again!) to Torvehallerne, a covered marketplace with tons of food stalls. I love these types of places because there is something for everyone! For lunch, Riki got pizza and I got fresh calamari and fries. Despite the multiple pastry stalls, I never found what we call Danishes, but Riki got an amazing cinnamon roll, and I had a delicious lemon meringue tart for dessert. 

We then headed to the water to catch a canal tour. It was a cool way to get a different perspective of the city, even though we covered many of the same sights that we had seen on the walking tour the day before. The crazy thing was that the tour guide seamlessly told us what we were looking at in Danish, English, and German. It was so impressive! 

After the tour, we went to the Botanical Garden. We quickly realized, however, that we were really tired, so we walked around a little bit then headed back to the flat. We grabbed dinner and a couple of cans of Carlsberg (“probably the best lager in the world”) from a grocery store and spent the evening relaxing and packing everything up for our early flight out the next morning. 

Ellie going through a security gate made of Legos at CPH
Ellie going through a security gate made of Legos at CPH.

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