Copenhagen in a day

Danish Windmill

Danish Windmill

I’m not one to shy away from a walking challenger. I pretty much blasted both Paris and Rome in two days each on foot. And then there was that little stroll from Monaco to Newcastle in 2007.

So today I took on board the guidance I’d been given by my hosts and pinpointed the things to see. Using the very handy tourist map, I set off into town.

Briefly, I located the Amalienborg Palace, Little Mermaid, opera house, Royal Palace (complete with guards wearing busbies), canal area and then moved into a different “sector”. I have to say I wasn’t too impressed with the opera house, and I know a lot of Danes aren’t either. Frankly, it looks like a vaguely modern building surrounded by a 1970’s concrete car park. It’s certainly not a patch on similar structures in Sydney, Singapore and (yes, I mean this) Gateshead.

Mermaid and me

Mermaid and me

The Little Mermaid is a strange kind of tourist attraction. One statue amongst many in the town, I don’t know why it gets so much more attention, but it’s nice enough. I just made it there before a day-trip bus arrived and it became surrounded by foreigners in scarves and gloves.

The canal area is modelled on Amsterdam, at least I think so. If it’s not, it’s very close to it aside from the houses not tilting forwards at the top. All gaily painted and pretty with expensive restaurants on the ground floor.

The “sector” I mentioned above was Christianshavn. Copenhagen is divided into different zones, or sectors. Call them what you will. They’re all very different and the fact you’ve crossed from one to another is often incredibly obvious without any signposting or anything.

Lovely Danish church

Lovely Danish church

Christianshavn is to the east of the “City” area, and historically a place for dossers and the like. It’s certainly not a bad area, from what I saw of a part of it, but not quite as classy as the City. There are some nice bakeries, and a serene coastline around the southern end which seems popular with dog-walkers and joggers.

I made my way back round into the City and through it to the Nørrebro area. As I approached the bridges which lead into this sector, a police van loaded with what looked like riot squad zoomed past at fill tilt, blues and two flashing and screaming. Then another. And another.

I’d say by the time I was 200m into the area that fifteen or more of these vehicles had gone past me. In the direction I was headed.


Danish flag

Danish flag

As I said, you can spot the difference in areas quite easily. As soon as you’re over the bridge into Nørrebro, the atmosphere changes. There are a lot more immigrants (mainly Asian and South Asian), the shops are cheaper, grafitti and damaged shop fronts are more common and the restaurants are a lot more varied.

I plodded on, checking prices of falaffel and kebabs until I saw a parade marching towards me. I crossed over to get out of the way and watched a group of maybe 30 people chanting anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Semetic slogans. Obviously a reaction to the whole Gaza Strip thing ongoing.

A hundred metres or so further on I saw where they’d started from, easy to see by the now-reduced collection of police vehicles. Right by a Jewish cemetery. I guess they’d decided to take their frustrations out on the dead. Very tough of them. Oh, and a McDonalds, as the Bangladeshi guy running it was so obviously an American in disguise.

Frankly, it seemed more an excuse for a bunch of kids to throw things and cause a disturbance than a genuine political statement. The fact they were all grinning as they walked past took the edge of any claim they could have about the seriousness of their complaint.

I doubled back to one of the restaurants I’d seen and settled down with a cheap falaffel and an expensive Coke. Good falaffel, but not a patch on the one I got in Eilat!

Frozen streets

Frozen streets

As night fell, I walked up into Linda’s neighbourhood in time to catch up on email and have some dinner. Another of her friends came over and we had Persian rice, mixed veg and wine. Really nice!

Afterwards, we’d arranged to meet a bunch of Couchsurfers for drinks. We arrived late (Linda organised it – she was allowed to be late) and we then struggle dto find anywhere we could sit and talk. Everywhere was noisy and jammed full. Eventually, we settled on a place that was more of a café than a bar, but which happily accommodated the dozen or so of us as we drank and chatted.

I went to pay my final tab only to find that none of my cards would work in their reader (they did say they took Visa), so I had to wander off to locate an ATM. Annoyingly, I therefore ended up having to withdraw far more than I needed. Ah well, all changed at the airport later.

We all parted company around 2am as the smaller bars closed. Some drifted on to other clubs, but I was bushed and walked to a train station with one of the guys I’d been chatting to. As ever, it had been a mixed bunch with Danes, Brits, Dutch and even a Greenlander cropping up.

Around 3:30am I arrived at a small hotel near the airport. The overnight staffer was the chap I’d been in the pub with the night before and he swung me a free room so I could get 2-3 hours’ sleep before my flight.

What a star!

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