Copenhagen 2021: Part 1
You remember that in the first year of university, where the fire alarm in halls went off three times in one night? Yeah, I didn’t miss that. I’d forgotten what it’s like to live in a large dorm with a ton of drunk students coming in and out at night. Standing outside at 3am after a whole tiring day was not my preference, for sure. I can’t believe I walked two hours into town to see some jazz, only to arrive too late and have to walk all the way back. Four-hour late-night stroll was not what I had in mind. And all those smug bastards on their bikes passing me by at 1am... smug bastards. There were a surprising amount of weed stands by the club, though. I guess I forgot it’s legal in Denmark.
First things first, I need to find myself a bike.
I’ve bought two pens that I much prefer. Black ink instead of blue biro. Writing is only as enjoyable as the pen you’re writing with, in my opinion. Moreso than this, it changes my handwriting style. A good pen forces you to slow down so as not to blur the letters. Just compare the writing yesterday to this one; the style is as distinct as black and blue. Part of the reason for the swift change is that I’ve just been to an antique book fair inside the annex of the attached church. I wasn’t expecting much when I went inside, but I did find some lovely botanical diagrams that, aesthetically, only compliment journals with neat black handwriting. Rushed blue wouldn’t do. I was also interested in the original prints and watercolours from the 19t century, nut I think I made the right choice in the end.
Copenhagen is far more enjoyable by bike, unsurprisingly. I can get anywhere in under ten minutes! Now I get to be the bastard on a bike at 1am! We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve been able to see more of the city than I ever would have otherwise on foot. People seem generally nice here – keep to themselves to themselves, at least from what I’ve seen in the last five hours. The place I’ve settled at to write this is a particularly appealing restaurant called ‘Maven’. Coincidentally, it also happens to be part of a church. Black and red bricks, up thick buttressing to a tall tower capped with green copper. The asymmetry makes for some dynamic shadows over where I’m sitting in the shade. Smart, old-fashioned lampposts stand by cobbled streets, half-obsessed by the foliage of straight, evenly placed city trees. There’s soft lounge music playing from the speaker.
Aside from a few passers-by and the occasional car, it is the only soundtrack I have. In this private part of Copenhagen, I feel like I could write a masterpiece.
The waiter here, Jonas, asked about my journal. When I said I was a travel writer, he implored me not to say that tipping is unnecessary in Denmark.
“All the Lonely Planet guides saying you don’t need to tip... it means no one ever tips!” He’ll definitely be getting one, as he was nice enough to talk with me for a good while about things like the specific tea they gave me; it’s Earl Grey, but it tasted so much better than usual that I had to ask about it. Loose-leaf From A.C. Perchs. Along with the cheese from France and that pastry in Macedonia, I think I’m almost ready to open my own bespoke bistro. Anyway, time to move on. It feels nice to be able to write things on the same day again.
At least the hostel has food available all day, that’s a nice feature. A shame I only decided to grab five apples. That’s fine, I’ll just finish up today and head back out.
When I finally decided to leave that little moment of tranquillity, I took the advice of another of the staff and cycled towards Nyhaven and Gammelholm. That was the street that always appears on those quintessential ‘Copenhagen’ pictures. There must be thousands of images of those multi-coloured buildings, so I’m sure no one'll mind if I take a few more. Also, for what it’s worth, those Danes can do a decent fish and chips. I’m happy to have been proven wrong on that point. Of course, what follows fish better than one monstrosity of an ice-cream? Three massive scoops (raspberry sorbet, Daim, and coconut/passionfruit) topped with marshmallow cream, all barely balancing on top of a waffle cone. I love being an adult! It was a colourful accompaniment to a colourful canal. Not just the buildings either. Accordions and clarinets competed for the attention of the crowds.
Hundreds of conversations took place over wine, or fish. Old friends sat at the edge of the water, their legs dangling over the edge of the quay as they talked about the past (I like to think). The sun certainly helped tailor the mood. A beautiful blue sky persisted from earlier in the day, and the weather was warm and inviting for those inclined to step outside. Clearly most people were, as the streets on both sides of the water were packed with tourists and locals alike. A few sailing boats stood indefinitely moored, never moving and never breaking the ambience. Altogether, it was a beautiful moment to share. Copenhagen is growing on me in case you hadn’t noticed. Can’t imagine how I’ll feel by Monday.
Afterwards, I made an effort to visit Nørrebro, since Jonas had earlier recommended it, but instead, I dozed in the King’s Garden in the last of the afternoon warmth. I could almost convince myself I was back in London, in a quiet part of St. James or Hyde Park. I knew that if I stayed too long I’d never get back before dark, and after several wrong turns and using half-remembered directions, I was on a motorway cycling towards the hostel. I stopped on the way to take some photos of graffiti that appeared hemmed in by new and prospective developments. There wasn’t a large amount of wasteland left, so hopefully it isn’t bulldozed.
And there we are! Day one in Denmark done. Almost. Still need to find some actual dinner tonight. This hostel isn’t very inclined towards a social scene, so I still need to make some friends. Then again, today was so nice, maybe Copenhagen is worth experiencing by myself on purpose. Only time will tell which idea is better.