An Expensive Week in Copenhagen, Denmark
Monday, J and I arrived in Copenhagen after a short, two-leg plane ride from Croatia.
A smooth trains (108DKK/$16.5 each) took us to our stop in the White Houses neighborhood of the Frederiksberg district. The air was cold and damp, a refreshing departure from the dry heat of Dubrovnik.
It drizzled on our short walk through the neighborhood to find our apartment rental.
Tracks from here to infinity.
An old man emerged from the main house. He was friendly, though he sounded exactly like Werner Herzog. In a meandering way, he explained our garden house and bicycles.
The space was perfectly sized: a large room with kitchenette and separate bathroom and a ladder leading to a small sleeping loft under the gabled roof. Every wall was full of curtained windows overlooking a backyard full of green hedges, cherry trees, vegetable gardens, and worm-hunting birds.
We grabbed our rickety bikes and headed towards the old center of town to find scenery and expensive cinnamon rolls.
Our garden house.
Outside table under the cheery trees.
J in the doorway.
What happens to eggs on a bike.
My bike only had coaster brakes, and it took some mental adjustment to use them.
Everyone bikes in Copenhagen, and nearly every street has a dedicated lane between the sidewalk and car traffic. The variety of bikes is fun to see: hipsters on their fancy road bikes, families with child seats, three wheel bikes with front mounted bins for cargo or kids, mopeds, hi-tech public bikes, delivery bikes, people riding together on dates, people talking on phones or drinking beer.
The only downside of riding bikes on the first day is that the scenery passes too quickly.
Mother and son.
Small lane house.
J on the hill.
Battery of bridges.
Boat and building.
So many bikes.
Old woman on a walk.
The old Carlsburg elephant gates.
Everything is expensive in Copenhagen, as a 25% tax is included in all the prices and bottled drinks have a steep deposit. It makes it painful to buy anything, especially compared to the cheap prices of Croatia. This has limited our desire to eat out, though luckily groceries have been pretty reasonable.
Late in the evening, we bought groceries and made dinner at home. The sun set around ten, but it was still light for a while longer.
Tuesday was overcast, so we decided to go on a long walk. We passed through a lot of the same scenery as the day before, stopping to look at J’s school and house from her time studying abroad.
I was surprised by the amount of canals and water in Copenhagen.
House number gate.
My old nickname.
Something has survived.
Free bike station.
Measuring fart noise.
One of many ZUSAs.
Human cargo bike.
Old theater over the road.
Central train station.
Succulent pigeon breasts.
Date night, boat style.
Keyhole party redux.
Baskets of pavers.
Laying some pipe.
We had a delicious early dinner at a small local restaurant in Christianshavn. If was staffed by only two men, a cook and a waiter. The only dish of the day was slow braised veal with mashed potatoes and asparagus. We shared that with a meat and cheese platter, beer, and wine. The atmosphere was the perfect level of Danish hygge, or warm coziness.
After the meal, we stood outside with our phones to figure out if it was customary to tip. There was no consensus, so we walked away.
It began to rain.
Wednesday morning it rained heavily. During a break, we took a short walk to a nearby lake, through a quaint neighborhood full of gardens and trampolines, and bought more groceries to eat at home. Rhubarb was cheap.
Snack platter for a rainy day.
That evening, it began to rain again.
Thursday morning, in the drizzle, we switched apartments.
We hopped on the metro for a short ride without buying tickets. Before we arrived at our stop, we noticed ticket checkers moving up the train. They were a few rows away before we exited the train. Phew.
Our next apartment was a tastefully remodeled one bedroom unit in an old building. The floors were very creaky.
An unusually old Ford Taurus.
Nearby, a Corsair.
After all these years, J still brushes her teeth weird.
We dropped our bags, geared up for the rain, and walked to the hip meat packing area to eat lunch.
Meaty the cow.
Believe in KØD.
Old warehouse door.
Next, we BOUGHT TICKETS (another 108DKK/$16.5 each) for our next destination: the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Located directly on the shore of the Øresund Sound in Humlebæk, 35 km/22 mi north of Copenhagen, the museum is a beautifully designed building of brick, concrete and wood. It sits atop a grassy hill with views of the sea and Sweden, and it feels a bit like the headquarters of a Bond villain.
We spent the afternoon admiring the artwork and building.
I pray to thee, my green knoll.
I felt unusually tired as we walked back to the train station along a sidewalk full of brown slugs and snails.
It rained steadily Friday morning. J and I went for a walk, ducking under canopies when heavier bursts of rain fell. Our cheap umbrella had issues with three of its bones and it inverted easily.
We decided to escape from the soggy reality by watching Jurassic World in a garishly painted multiplex near the central train station.
Matinee tickets were 80DKK/$12 each. Popcorn and drink 55DKK/$8. Bathrooms were free.
Other than a class of middle school students and their two chaperones, we had the theater to ourselves.
Jurassic World is clearly the second best in the series despite its issues.
Chris Pratt’s character is wooden without any emotional growth and the non-dinosaur villain is equally one-dimensional. There is no real sense of geography to the park, nor is there any reason for it to be full of people. And like all monster movies, there’s a lot of running and stupid decisions.
But there’s enough intrigue and action to keep it interesting, especially when you are keeping dry.
After the movie, we lunched on expensive gourmet hot dogs from a cart and stopped to have beer and people watch at Nyhavn Canal. Sun peaked through the quickly moving, dark clouds.
Tudor? I barely know her.
A few sculptures shy of the apocalypse.
Another view of Oz.
Old department store.
All over town, people walked around with open containers of beer. It added a festive atmosphere to an already celebratory city.
The rain continued Saturday. We took a short train ride into town and explored some sharply-designed indoor food markets. We had hipster coffee and pastries and lusted after all the expensive and beautiful food for sale.
Now that’s what I call smørrebrød!
Suddenly, a downpour of hail. We ducked into the doorway of a building and waited for it to pass.
For a view of the city, we spiraled up the brick ramp to the top of The Round Tower. The 17th century tower and observatory is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. On the descent, we examined the historic tower toilet and browsed an exhibit on Danish tattoo culture.
Interior tower swirl.
On the shore opposite the massive opera house, we watched people compete in a Red Bull sponsored cliff diving competition. I don’t know how high the building was, but the divers had four seconds of air before hitting the water.
Grand Copenpest Hotel.
Cliff dive view blockers.
Afterward, we walked across a bridge to the same side as the house, explored some beautifully restored military buildings, stylish new apartments, and old wooden boat house along the canal overlooking Freetown Christiania.
J and I noted how idyllic this area was. Kids and families played in large grassy lawns between the apartments, people enjoyed their balconies and kept their blinds open. Some apartments had canals built in for easy boat access. All ages of people hung out by the waterways having picnics, drinking, and chatting. Pleasure boats tooled up and down the canals, and the boat people waved to the bank people.
Old maritime buildings.
Smoke if you got ’em.
A view inside some sleek apartments with their own dock.
I was feeling exhausted again.
We bought some snacks and sat in the grass by the opera until cold winds blew in. We walked home.
On Sunday, we walked across the pedestrian drawbridge to Ørestad, through food trucks, a flea market, and sat near the swimming platforms. Despite how cold and dirty the water looked, buff lads and lasses were diving into the water from a tall sagging platform. Two men were filming footage of the swimming hole for official purposes.
We acquired ice cream cones from nearby and moved to a shady bench to watch kids on scooters nearly collide with adults on skateboards and other kids playing basketball. I guess that’s expected chaos at a combination skate park and basketball court.
Another cool apartment dock.
A long, bike-only bridge.
When we left the park, I realized that my exhaustion was from being sick. Source: headache and tickle in throat. I wanted to lie down immediately and take a nap.
J and I parted ways. I walked back to the apartment for some steam and a multi-hour nap. She went biking around on hi-tech public bikes and discovered the hostel she had stayed at her first night in Copenhagen many years ago.
On Monday afternoon, we left for the airport.
I felt like the weather, prices, and a slight cold kept me from enjoying Copenhagen as much as it deserved. I’d enjoyed it though, and I hope to go back with a better bike and sunnier weather. There’s not much I can do about the prices.