One of the things that I love about travelling is arriving with no expectations, because the exploration and discovery that ensues always seems to blow my mind. Copenhagen was no different. I had a vague idea of scoffing my face with Danish pastries on the street and bumping into a person who possessed similar features to my nana, or who shared her maiden name; but it didn’t happen like that. I’d like to think that it was quaint and a little bit magical.
My first day of adventure was a self-guided walk of following my intuitive nose. I’ve come to learn that these are the best tours. I found a small market that epitomised the essence of the collectables in Nana’s old house. The background hummed jovial sentiments from a scratchy old record player. I pawed through the silverware and crockery, purchasing a teaspoon and teacup and saucer set, that begged to come home with me.
With Nana-isms carefully wrapped in my bag, I passed a self-confessed ‘Happy Wall’ installation. The autumn-coated sea air pulled me along a canal, over a bridge and into a bakery in Christiania. I gorged on a pastry that speckled my clothes in golden crumbs. I felt like I was in my element, or maybe it was ‘home’.
Copenhagen felt like a surreptitious Scandinavian secret. I hadn’t anticipated the cute houses on cobbled streets, safety boasted by stands of padlock-less bicycles, long boats cruising, and an elegant dress sense that would rival the high streets of Milano or Paris. I also hadn’t accounted for happening upon Our Saviours Church and climbing the steep spire in a short skirt, whilst clambering around impatient tourists, to make ocular memories of the cityscape. Push ‘n shove is not an appropriate tactic when you’re on a ledge, way up in the heavens.
In a complete contrast of city silence, I found myself in Christiania Town, an old naval base that has since been inhibited by self-governing locals. At first it was the chit chat and chat-up lines, coupled with colourful characters, a hodgepodge of hippy houses doused in colour or murals, and buskers entertaining dancing crowds. As I passed one residence, a man popped his head from out the doorway.
“Do you want me to change the music?”
“Ahhh… It’s okay, thanks!” I smiled.
I didn’t need the sign to tell me that I’d entered the ‘Green Light District’, as the distinct aroma tickled my nostrils, but I did need the sign to tell me ‘No photos’. There was no way that I would even contemplate disturbing the piece of peace. Besides, it was better to sit and people watch over an organic vegan buffet lunch. Outside Christiania Town, police cars lay in wait – like a cat watching sparrows feast, from beneath a shrub.
I doubled back and decided to spend some money on a canal tour, that was moored in front of the famous pastel coloured buildings of Nyhavn. It once was a Red Light District and home to Hans Christian Anderson, now it was a promenade filled with boozy tourists soaking up the afternoon sun. I was curious about the canal tour and really just wanted to sit down for a bit and let Copenhagen come to me. Funnily enough, the boat steered out into the middle of nowhere and through the canals I had already been along. The guide did stretch his arm out to show a palace, if you craned your neck at the right time.
I got reacquainted with the lay of the land, by walking away from Nyhavn and up to The Little Mermaid statue. I passed one massive royal residence that looked like it was straight out of a Jane Austin inspired film, a fountain with statue horses parading all over it, a boat on the harbour occupied by nude dudes, and a crowd huddling around Arielle with lenses zoomed and fake-smile selfies performed on slippery rocks. The Nude Dudes cruised by and photobombed holidaymaker’s The Little Mermaid evidence snaps, with their wayward peckers.
There was a busy bar on a pier, Toldboden, with patrons that were catching the last golden rays of the sun. Hungry, I walked in and found out that it was because there was a beer and fancy fish ‘n chip meal deal. You didn’t have to tell me twice!
I would’ve stayed out longer, but the sun was casting long shadows and I was still miles away from my hostel. I made a fantastic decision to leave, because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have walked with an adorable fashion designer from New York City. She owned a women’s label called Mignon, “like the steak”, who designed “Beautiful clothes for beautiful women.” Another of my most treasured travelling moments is to meet interesting people in interesting places. It was refreshing to swap stories and share my adventure with someone who was genuinely interested.
Copenhagen was proving to be a wee gem. I still have a couple of tales to tell, before moving on to a city that I had no desire to go to. Until then, X