13 December 2014
When you stay with locals, they will offer to give a free general guided tour of their area. This was exactly what Solveign and Rebecca did on this day, except they are not from Copenhagen.
These two women, in their early 20s, are from Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. Solveign moved to Copenhagen to study nursing while Rebecca was just visiting – mainly to welcome me and explore the city together.
Being avid travellers themselves, my first Denmark adventure did not start with a train ride and I was glad. The morning was 4•C cold and of course it would be a good idea to take the metro in the winter but by not taking the train, I discovered most of the tourist attractions are within walking distance.
Moving around Copenhagen on foot (and on bicycle) is the best option because you get to walk (or cycle) through the back alleys and see different sights of the city.
If I had taken other options, I wouldn’t see the many ducks and swans gliding across the lake, locals doing their morning jog in the cold, Jehovah’s witnesses spreading their beliefs at the Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise Bridge) – a popular hang out place for “hippies” in the summer, so I was told -, and the Nilen statue.
I enjoyed walking the streets of Copenhagen. The road was clean and the atmosphere was extra cosy during the winter. After a 20-minute walk or so, we arrived at Torverhallerne, an indoor food market where visitors can get a quick bite to eat.
Note this: eating in Copenhagen can be very expensive and if you are travelling on a tight budget, you may want to consider this place and sample the many foods and drinks for free. I had my first gløgg here. If you are wondering what that is, it’s a mulled wine and if you don’t know how to pronounce it, just say hot wine like a Chinese tourist did. That will put a smile on Danish people’s face.
When in a foreign city, make it a point to search for a higher ground to get a general view of the city. In Copenhagen, the Rundetårn (Round Tower) is not to be missed. The 17th-century tower located in the inner city was built as an astronomical observatory but today, people go up the 42m high tower to get an overall view of Copenhagen. Adult entrance fee is 25DKK.
After admiring the scenery from above and taking pictures of buildings and their rooftops, we explored the shopping streets and Christmas Market. Copenhagen is an amazing city to shop and the Danes are sure proud of their local products. From clothes to kitchenware and homeware.
That 20 minutes of walking and stopping and walking again finally brought us to Christianborg Slot that houses the Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court.
Opposite Christianborg Slot was a small jetty where the canal tour boats come and go. I wanted to pay a visit to the famous Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid) but Rebecca suggested we do the canal tour since it will sail there. Note this: the canal tour cost 40 DKK per person. From October to March, the boat will be covered and heated but visitors can opt to sit outside.
The tour started from the jetty and passed by Christianborg and arrived Nyhavn to drop and pick up passengers, sailed towards Christianshavn and made a big turn to the little mermaid, back to Nyhavn, and to the jetty. I wasn’t keeping time but it almost felt as if the tour lasted for an hour.
During the boat ride, our tour guide mentioned about Christiania (in Christianshavn) and we viewed the self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood from afar. After the tour ended, Solveign brought us to the Freetown Christiania by bus. I didn’t realise I had circled Christiania in my Lonely Planet as my to do list until Solveign pointed it out. I read about it online though, which was a week before I flew to Denmark.
Christiania is probably the most interesting area in Copenhagen. This is where you see a different life of Copenhagenites. This is where the people go to buy cannabis and smoke weed in the open. Mind you that cannabis is illegal in Denmark but in Freetown Christiania, the community has their own set of laws – the Christiania Law of 1989. The community is very protective, hence no pictures are allowed in the pusher street.
After spending almost an hour walking around (and smelling weed), Rebecca and I agreed that we should never go to Christiania alone, particularly at night. There was just something spooky about that place. We headed to a bus station and parted with Solveign because she didn’t want to go Tivoli Garden.
It was 5pm or 6pm when Rebecca and I reached Tivoli. There was a very long queue at the ticket counter but a guard told Rebecca about another entrance, which not many people knew. So we made a big turn and reached the other entrance and true, there weren’t many people.
Entrance to Tivoli is 90DKK per adult. Tivoli is a popular amusement park in Copenhagen. I am not fond of theme park but in Tivoli, I enjoyed watching people, the Christmas decorations and lights. Had my gløgg, saw 100 choir girls marched in a Saint Lucia procession through the garden, the musical fountains, and walked home satisfied.