Part of the reason I chose to finally explore Europe was due to promises I had made to reconnect with old friends and travel companions. After completing my short stopover in Norway, it was time for the first of many reunions. My flight from Norway sent me on a direct route to Copenhagen, a city I used to dream about. I considered studying abroad there, but after taking a look at the price tag and winter temperatures, Sydney Australia came out victorious. This time around, I only had a few days to spare, a friend with an open couch and temperatures looked promising. I originally met my friend Christian in Vietnam, he was stuck in Da Nang due to a motorbike accident while I was just passing through. We spent two short days together but somehow, his was a connection I remembered and didn't hesitate to contact him when planning my route through Europe. Despite his busy schedule, Christian was more than willing to host me and even took the time to come meet me at the airport upon my arrival.
I wasn't sure how long I should, or would want to spend in the city, so I was hesitant booking transportation onward. That was, until I discovered the Forever Now Festival in Berlin, beginning only a few days after my arrival in Copenhagen thus cutting my visit a bit short. I decided I was okay with this as I could still fit a lot into my two days, and didn't want to be an inconvenience to Christian for too long, like I said he was busy. My visit landed in the middle of the week which meant that Christian was busy with both work and school, but he was kind enough to give me a set of keys, transportation card and rough idea of what to do. My first morning I squeezed in a quick yoga flow before heading out the door to see what the city had to offer.
Christian doesn't live too far from the city center so I decided to walk rather than hop on a bus, passing through Christianshavn on my way to the city center. I decided to leave Christiania for another day though, instead setting my sights on the Osterbro area. I had heard that "The Little Mermaid" is a hyped up tourist attraction, but When In Rome, right? On my way there I stopped at the Royal residence (Amalienborg) and as time coincided caught the changing of the guards (along with 10,000 other irritating tourists). It's weird how a daily routine, when advertised on Wiki or in Lonely Planet, can become a highlight or must see for so many people. I honestly thought people might run each other over trying to get the best photo...of guards, changing. While in the area I also made a quick stop at The Marble Church (Marmorkirken) which, for a church, was impressive.
Having had enough of the tourists crowds my stop at The Little Mermaid was very brief, just long enough for a quick photo before moving on to the Kastellet (Frederikshavn Citadel), a really beautiful, star-shaped citadel. The grounds were quiet, green and [mostly] free of people so I spent some time exploring before my stomach finally sent me on my way. I couldn't make up my mind for lunch so instead stopped by a mart and bought everything that looked delicious, resulting in a picnic at the Royal Gardens (Rosenborg). Done being a tourist for the day I spent my afternoon wandering the streets and coffee shops of downtown, before settling myself at Pauldan book cafe. I only had a coffee, but all of the food I saw while there looked amazing, I guess I should've went back [next time].
My second day in Copenhagen started much the same as the first, but this time I gave Christiania a few minutes of my time. This neighborhood is a 'free town' sitting on what used to be military barracks, operating on it's own time, rules and way of life. There really isn't anything to see, rather a visit is about the experience, varying by how much you want to immerse yourself into it all. My short walk through was enough for me, I had a few character sightings, spotted an out of place looking older couple and a 'market' reminiscent of those in Chiang Mai and the rest of SE Asia...moving on.
I kept walking (as one should do in Copenhagen, unless you have a bike), eventually winding up at Slotsholmen, otherwise known as Castle Island. The area is chock full of museums, but seeing as those aren't really my cup of tea I entertained myself with a good dose of people watching - this area was teeming with tourist buses. The one place I chose to stop was The Parliament building (Christianborg). The highlight here is the tower (tallest in Copenhagen) which is free to climb and offers great views of the city. My stomach was already growling so I made my way back to the city center and indulged in an incredibly cheap falafel lunch. The weather was nice so I spent some time wandering the streets and shops before heading towards the National Museum. Seeing as it offered free entry I thought I'd give it a try, but mid afternoon on a full stomach, in a warm building, meant only one thing. I would have much rather napped than feign interest in anything within those walls. I wandered through a few floors, taking in what I could before calling it a day and returning to Christians place to meet up with him and his girlfriend.
We walked through Christiania again, same as my morning visit but a bit more crowded, intending to stop for dinner at a Thai restaurant there, but ultimately changing our minds after noticing the prices. We all deemed it probably wasn't worth it, to be fair after visiting Thailand I'm pretty skeptical of most restaurants in highly concentrated white cities. Instead, Christian insisted I should try the icon that is Cheungs, according to him the original fast food in Copenhagen, before the Turks came in and invaded with their Kebabs and Falafel. I was immediately intrigued, a burger joint serving things "Danish style" but owned and operated by a Chinese family. Instead of a typical beef patty the burger consisted of a slice of pork, topped simply with some picked red cabbage, it was delicious. To accompany my meal we bought a bottle of Faxe Kondi which tastes like Sprite, but is completely different to those who grew up with it.
Suddenly my visit to Copenhagen, a city I had long heard about and was curious to explore, had come to an end. For me, two days was enough time, at least for an introduction which really, is what this whole Eurotrip was about. An introduction to the region, seeking an experience different from what I knew in Asia, and gathering an idea of where I might want to return to in the future. Two days may not have been enough time to really experience the city, and I definitely would have enjoyed more time to connect with Christian (or any other locals) but those things will have to wait until next time.
Deemed one of the happiest countries in the world, this small nordic country is full of life. From winding canals to notable architecture, you'll be entertained. Oh and bikes, don't forget about the bikes.