Saturday 26 July 2014 – Copenhagen, Denmark.
El and I booked this weekend away to Copenhagen a few months ago, well before I decided to New Zealand to visit my family, it is El’s birthday and we wanted to do something different, and go somewhere that neither of us have been before. We both have a thing for Scandi-noir TV shows and with The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen (which I haven’t seen) all set in or near Copenhagen, it seemed to be a logical choice of location for a long weekend.
To make the most of the time away I had booked us on the 7:00am flight from Stanstead, which meant a 5:00am check in and a 3:30am alarm call. Ridiculously early! I am pretty sure our taxi driver had been up for most of the last 24 hours as he was nodding off on the way, I was a little concerned, but kept my concern to myself until we made the airport. I know how he felt, but I wasn’t driving.
Stanstead was madness at 5:00 am, there were a whole bunch of flights leaving early in the morning and the airport was pretty packed and rather chaotic. I was very pleasantly surprised at the smoothness and efficiency of the check and boarding process with EasyJet. I had expected long queues and therefore grumpy passengers, but we were through quickly and sucking down coffee before we even knew it. Good flight too, well done Easy Jet, a good start to the holiday.
After clearing immigration and walking ten miles to collect our bags we caught the train from Copenhagen airport into Central Station.
Our hotel was a five minute walk away and we found it easily enough, We are staying in a Best Western in the centre of Copenhagen – and as we found out near the red light district. Our neighbour was Lady Love “the best strip club in Copenhagen”. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our room was ready even though it was still only 10am, and even better it was not streetside.
Once checked in and after a wee rest we set out for our first walk, and to hunt down some food. Copenhagen was different to how I expected it, the streets were grubbier than I thought they would be and lots of people were smoking and leaving butts everywhere, there junkies and street drinkers outside the station and there was graffiti on most streets. I am not complaining, it felt a bit more lived in, a bit more London like in some ways. Not the straight up Scandinavia I expected.
There are also street defibrillators on some of the walls – just in case the excitement from Lady Love was too much.
It was hot and sunny out, far hotter than anticipated, and I am so glad I made the last minute decision to pack shorts. We didn’t have much of a plan for the walk, just heading in the direction of the Christiansborg Palace in the hope to find a fountain that featured a lot in the TV series – Borgen.
Our first stop was Kobenhavns Rathus (Copenhagen Town Hall) which had a massive atrium in the building. It was nice, cooler than outside too.
We stopped for lunch after city hall in a place called Oscars that possibly catered for a different kind of clientele later in the day, but the food was lovely, the beer cold and the service pretty good. We were pleasantly surprised at the price of food and drink, we expected it to be mega-expensive. It was not cheap, but found it to be not a heck of a lot more than what we would pay in central London. So no complaints at all. We avoided the obvious.
Next up was the national museum of Denmark, which was quite interesting, time had us skip all the general museumy sort of stuff and stick to Danish history which was quite interesting – and they had Vikings which was the fun bit.
I really liked the rune stone display, I had always assumed that rune stones had mysterious, spiritual messages of wisdom passed down from the Gods, but apparently they are a lot more prosaic – commemorating the death of a family member, or just letting people know that so and so passed this way. This head stone from the 10th century is from someone named Sser remembering his brother Asgot. It is the only rune stone found that mentions Thor or any of the pre-Christian gods.
There is a lot of Christian era artifacts in the museum including some excellent old crosses, like this very early copper cross from the 12th century and found in Orting.
There are also some partial remains of an old Viking long ship, though it was impossible to photograph it.
The Gundestrup cauldron was my favorite piece in the museum, it is estimated to be over 2000 years old and was found in a peat bog in 1891. Where it comes from and what people made it is still being debated today. It is stunning…
From the museum we crossed another of the numerous canals to get to the small island that makes up the Christiansborg Palace area.
There are loads of bronze/copper statues around the city, all nice and green with that aged bronze look – love it.
The architecture in this, the old central part of Copenhagen is all low rise and what I would call standard European Scandinavian, basically what I expected to see, and there is nothing wrong with that. Visually the city is pretty, yet functional.
Though the palace itself has one of the many towers that dot the Copenhagen horizon.
The main roads are massive boulevards but there are very few cars around – however there are loads and loads of bicycles, and excellent riding lanes as well. It is such a good move for a flat city, and one of the reasons why Copenhagen is considered to be a ‘happy’ city. I took a few bicycle photos as we went.
It was also good to see that parts of the city’s heritage are being maintained.
Wecrossed back over the canal on the Hojbro (High Bridge), and spotted this unusual underwater statue named ‘Agnete and the Merman’ near where the canal tour boats depart.
We had a quick look at Hojbro Place, which seemed all rather busy with fellow tourists,
So we ducked down a deserted side street instead.
This eventually lead us to the main shopping street of the city, which was pretty much full of the same shops you see in London – and about the same amount of people you would see on Oxford St. Basically it was horrible…
We followed this back towards our hotel and once the beer/wine fridge was discovered in the lobby, settled down in the courtyard for a cold drink.
After a rest and some research into eating houses we decided on a couple of restaurant choices for the two nights, both were recommendations and seemed quite close so we decided to walk to Pate Pate and book a table for tomorrow and then walk onto the next one for a meal – if we could get a table. What we did not count on was that most places are closed on Sunday nights, including Pate Pate, so a quick change of plans and we took the last two seats at Pate Pate – sharing the four person table with a Swedish couple 🙂 The food was fabulous, reasonably priced, but delicious. A recommend if you are in Copenhagen!
We had a walk around after dinner to see if we could find the other restaurant, but we could not find it at all. Pate Pate is in what appears to be a recently revitalised part of town, old fishing shed and shops by the look of it. It was very busy, loads of small eating places and bars and very ‘Shoreditch’ cool. Loved it.
There are some massive engineering works going on in the city centre at the moment, I am guessing they are building a new transit link of some sort as the works disappear into the train station. The hoardings had some quite interesting street art in places. Interesting for a town with so much graff and mindless tagging there is very little street art around.
The sky was still light when we got back to the hotel, so we grabbed the bottle of duty free red and sat in the courtyard for a while and stared at the sky.
A pleasant end to a lovely day.