Visiting Denmark's capital city was a must. As such we'd decided on a Saturday night out and a 'City Sunday'. Vicky had researched the sights in the Lonely Planet and Will had researched possibilities for parking. There was on street parking close to the centre that was free after 5pm on Saturdays through to 8am on Mondays. It was even next to parkland, meaning Poppy would be happy. It looked too good to be true and we set off with our fingers crossed and a backup in the sat nav, hoping we'd be able to find a space.
Copenhagen is located on Zealand's East coast, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. On the city outskirts we passed by a sandy beach and lagoon where people were relaxing and trying their hand at windsurfing. As we progressed the low rise blocks were well spaced and there were more grassy areas than we would have expected in a major city. Although cars were numerous, they didn't fill the streets. Instead, thousands of cyclists flowed along the wide bike lanes, giving way to pedestrians as vehicles gave way to them. We were beginning to like Copenhagen!
As luck would have it, we parked with relative ease alongside some embassy mansions in Østerbro (Eastern Borough). We had the road on our left side and the right sided van door opened onto a cycle track, but hop accross this and a walkway ran adjacent to the green parkland surrounding Kastellet (The Citadel); old military barracks built on a star shaped island within a moat. Brilliant!
We'd planned to eat in the van then head out for the evening, but our curiosity got the better of us and we set off to scope out the area before we ate. Maps.Me told us that the famous statue, Den Lille Havfrue, was just the other side of the Kastellet grounds so we skirted through the parkland around the perimeter. Weeping willows hung over the moat and Moorhens strutted in their dappled shadows. What a great way to start our exploration of the city! Arriving at the estuary the first point of interest was the Copenhill waste to energy plant on the opposite bank. A modern, metal and glass construction, it had a roof that sloped at about 25°, and provided a recreation space for the public. This roof was planted with vegetation and open for people to relax and picnic on in the summer and ski on in winter! We were too far away for a visit but it was intersting to see all the same.
From here we shuffled the short distance to Langelinje Pier where a crowd of foreign tourists had assembled to see Den Lille Havfrue or The Little Mermaid bronze statue that is one of Copenhagen's icons. A gift to the city from the Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg brewery, the sculpture was created by Edvard Eriksen and based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, who lived and wrote in the city.
Conscious of time, we made our way back, taking the more direct route, crossing the moat and cutting through the Kastellet barracks, along the uneven cobbled road between two imposing rows of regimented windows set into the earth red walls of long multistory buildings. Two armed soldiers passed us at the far end, off on a march along the grassy ramparts.
After a quick tea we got our glad rags on (well, Will changed his shirt) and we headed out towards Rundetårn, Europe's oldest functioning observatory tower. It was open the latest of all the towers and Vicky thought it might be a good vantage point to see the early evening lights of Copenhagen. Unfortunately our visit to The Little Mermaid and tour of the Kastellet had pushed back our timings and the clock was striking 8pm as we arrived, signalling that the tower was now closed. Never mind, we got to take in the atmosphere and get a feel for the city along the way. There were people out and about and the city certainly had life, it just wasn't in your face like in many major urban areas. Neon lights of advertising hoardings didn't assail your eyes from every direction, music didn't blast from bars, instead the self confident buzz of Copenhagen was there for you to seek out.
The weather forecast hadn't predicted rain but as we arrived at the tower, the heavens opened. The downpour came on quickly and was intense, so we ducked under the marquee of a nearby bar, whose space heaters gave off a warming glow. It didn't look like it would abate anytime soon so we nipped in and settled ourselves, organic Tuborgs in hand, on the high metal chairs at a black and red painted table bearing the name of the establishment; Lo-Jo's Social. It was a hipster place with various abstract murals and slogans on the walls and a decent vibe. We thought it was a nice touch to have a tapped demi-john for you to help yourself to water.
After the cloudburst had moved on, so did we. On the way we crossed the Sankt Jørgens lake and became mesmerised by the gorgeous warm white lights lining the basin. To complete the scene, a crescent moon hung low and large, reflecting back off the water together with the shining street lights. We joined a few others who'd stopped to take photos.
A little further on and we arrived at a bar whose drinks were supposed to be a little less pricey. Copenhagen is famous for beer, but recently there has been a boom in cocktail bars and Kassen (The Box) offered them at a little over £10. We knew it wasn't going to be a cheap night out but our spirits were lifted when the bartender told us it was 2 for 1 until 10pm! Yey! Vicky ordered two vodka based Red Pearl Necklaces with fresh orange and passion fruits and Will two bourbon based Happy Endings with fresh mint and the absinthe burned off. When living in a house we used to keep enough spirits to make cocktails ourselves, but can't afford the space and weight in the van, especially considering we each have very different tastes. It just makes coming out for cocktails all the more fun! Kassen was busier and noisier than Lo-Jo's, with standing room only. We were quite happy to prop ourselves against the bar and watch the concoctions being prepared! Will followed his first two up with a couple of Campari sodas and we made our way back to Poppy, the streets more orderly and quiet than those of many other capitals on a Saturday night. It had been a great evening and we were excited about exploring the city in the daylight tomorrow.Read more