A day out in Copenhagen!September 16 in Denmark
After yesterday's evening out we allowed ourselves a relaxed get up and spent a little time planning the day ahead. We were conscious of not leaving Poppy for too long, so didn't set off until nearly 11am to explore Copenhagen in the daylight.
For a capital, it is relatively compact so despite the excellent cycling provision, we left the bike behind. Passing row upon row of stately terraced mansions, the three gleaming, golden onion domes of Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church stood out. It was a sunny morning and the light showed them off well. A few streets further on was
the front of the Marble Church, pale stone columns rose up and the solid square building supported a large copper green dome. Copenhagen is filled with food for the eyes such as these sights. It was exciting to discover them but they were far enough apart not to compete with each other.
The first port of call (pardon the pun) was Nyhavn canal. Trees grew around the basin and at its head, low wide tour boats, many of them electric, were being loaded with sightseers. The sides were lined with beautiful wooden boats, their masts reaching skyward. The area was pedestrianised and bordered by tall town houses, their facades painted in earthy reds, yellows, blues and greens. A uniform row of classy cream restaurant gazebos ran along the sunny side and people sat out soaking in the sunshine where they could. At the other end we discovered two glass and metal geodesic domes, with a small door sign announcing 'free art'. We ducked inside the first, which gave us access to the main space, which just blew our minds! The dome, including was made of large hexagonal and pentagonal panes of glass, some of them mirrors, some painted like colourful galaxies of mainly purple, blue and black. The wavey mirrored floor tiles tessalated so wherever you looked, yourself and the galaxies were repeated ad infinitum. We lay on our backs and grinned like kids in a sweetshop!
Next on our city adventure was one of the most amazing towers we've ever seen. We'd caught a glimpse of it when driving in yesterday and had been excited to climb it ever since. At 95m Vor Frelsers Kirke tower wasn't the tallest we'd been up, but of its 400 steps, the final 150 spiralled around the outside of its spire, with only a golden banister separating climbers from the drop! After a short queue we were off up the wooden staircase clinging to the square walls inside the tower. We squeezed by those descending and passed a few floors with fenced off artefacts such as white stone cherubs and a bizarre eagle whose spread wings supported china teapots and cups! We weren't to be distracted though and after a while emerged onto the outside viewing platform. From here, bronze plated steps worn smooth by the footfall, curved round and up the narrow cone. Holding onto the rail we ascended the final 150 steps. It felt incredibe to be in the open air looking down with a cooling breeze and the sun shining on the tiled rooves below, making their colours pop! The steps finally petered out into a point and we were both lucky enough to stand on the final step. It would have been very difficult for larger groups because there was so little room to squeeze past each other.
By this time our tummies were rumbling and we quickly covered the short distance between the church and an area of Copenhagen called Christiania. An ex military baracks, Christiania has been described as a social experiment. In the 1970s hippies took over the area as a squat and despite several attempts to evict them, a community grew up that perseveres to this day. The 750-1000 residents live lives based on an anarchist society. Over the years, relations with Copenhagen's successive councils have brought changes such as the community paying installments to purchase the land; there is no individual ownership, despite attempts by the outside authorities to impose this. Christiania pays tax and in return gets services such as waste disposal. Regardless of the police squads patrollng several times a day, Marijuana is smoked freely. Depending on the political climate, the outside authorities sometimes allow it to be sold on 'Pusher Street' as a way of keeping the drug trade in one place within the city. When in the past they have stopped the sale, the market was driven into the outlying areas with associated violence between rival gangs. After several deaths from overdose, hard drugs are not tolerated by the Christianites. Passing a large mural and a busker singing American Folk, we entered this semi autonomous area. Art and graffiti, covered the walls and furniture from reclaimed materials was scattered around. Beyond a couple of cafés and art galleries our course was diverted by a police cordon. They had evacuated and sealed off a central area and were searching it, looking underneath wooden planters and shifting stalls where residents had been trading. We continued to a market selling clothing, jewellery and nik naks with food vans around the outside. We bought chips, a veggie burger and falafels in pitta and took them to the brightly painted wooden picnic tables in the main eating area. A mix of tourists and Christianites sat around and weed scented the air as we ate. A small flock of sparrows perched eagerly on our table, darting in and pinching our fries whenever they saw a chance! Dogs roamed loose but behaved well and we appreciated the free spirited, creative vibe.
On the way back to the van we dropped into the Overgåden art gallery. The guidebook had said it sometimes hosted photography displays and Vicky in particular was interested in seeing these, but sadly there were only two exhibitions, one of abstract painting and the other of sewn silk images. We are sure many people would have appreciated them, but they didn't hold our interest and we left before long.
After making sure Poppy was doing ok and resting our tired legs we made our way to Torvehallerne. Literally translated as Square Halls, the two glass panelled market halls had a modern, clean cut and orderly feel to them. One focussed on meats, fish and eateries, while the other sold artisan chocolates, loose teas and specialist foods. The space between them was occupied by more traditional fruit and veg stalls. We looked around and being at the tail end of the day, perhaps our hearts weren't in it, but three adjectives to describe the Torvehallerne came to mind; pretty, pretentious and pricey. Let's just say we weren't enamoured!
Call us lightweights but cutting back through the Botanical Gardens, we found we didn't have the enrergy to visit the palmhouse or the butterfly gardens that were advertised and instead made our weary way back to the van. The road we were parked on hadn't been too busy but we expected this to change on Monday morning. Will hadn't got much rest last night so we decided to drive out of the city to somewhere quieter.
We had really enjoyed Copenhagen, so much so that we'd exhausted ourselves exploring it. A slight downside is that although the bike lanes are brilliant, most of the roads still have vehicles flowing along them and the pavements are just a bit too narrow for you to walk side by side and pass oncoming pedestrians, meaning one of us was often trudging behind the other. It is a very clean city with a quiet liveliness to it and lots of exciting and beautiful sights to see. Although a little more expensive than many European cities, it is a great place to visit and comes close to the top of our list, although it doesn't topple our favourite capital, which is still Ljubljana in Slovenia.Read more