Copenhagen 2021: Part 2
Honestly, right now I feel like I could write forever. I love this new pen so much. I’ve been sleeping better too. Maybe I’ll write some poetry later. Not like there’s much nightlife after a certain point at the moment. Maybe I should find a nice place for dinner that’s on a quiet street with outdoor seating, where I can sip my drink and write what I will.
Or, in this case, finish my lunch and then cycle in the completely opposite direction for half an hour until I end up lost on a council estate with a surprising amount of wall art, and having to cycle all the way back into town in a tour de force of navigational skill. In the end, I think it’s taken me an hour to ultimately end up what should have been ten minutes down the road, if that. I had been trying to reach the Torvehallerne, a trendy food market by Norreport station. When I’m out I town I like to write in cafes, because you can eat cake and drink tea and justify it as a business expense (“research purposes”). In this case, I found a stall that served “London Fog” - Earl Gray (why so much Earl Gray in this city) with lots of foam, milk, and cinnamon. Not as sweet as you’d expect. But then, I’m already sweet enough, right?... The silence says it all.
I have a few things to finish up from yesterday quickly. First, the nightlife in Copenhagen is not easy to join in with if you’re by yourself. I now know this from experience, as last night I tried to do exactly that in the meat market. It’s not actually a meat market anymore; it’s an old industrial district that’s been revitalised as a trendy dining and nightlife scene. But no dice. It was too late in the day by that point, and I wasn’t keen on having a sit-down meal at 11pm. Instead, I thought I’d try one of the bars; there’s more than enough of them that I thought at least one would have people I could chat to.
Maybe it was just bad luck, but even something as simple as that wasn’t successful. How many bars do you have to drink at and try to make friends, until you realise you’re just drinking alone in different chairs all night? Ironically, if I hadn’t given up and gone to find a takeaway, I wouldn’t have met anyone at all. There was an almighty queue for falafel wraps, which gave everyone an excuse to make small talk as we waited. In the end I spent perhaps just over an hour talking to two friends called Ida and Elida, who were happy enough to chat over a beer, but clearly weren’t interested in any more interactions whilst I’m here; or ever again, presumably. They both really enjoyed knitwear.
Secondly, the old man above me in the bedroom was clearly quite sick to his stomach, as he got out of bed every half hour or so for the toilet. His coughs sounded just as bad, and his short, sharp snoring sneaked down the side of the bed to make the whole night uniquely disturbed. I swear to God, after this trip is finished, I am going to bed every night with a newfound appreciation for simple silence. I found myself wanting to tell him either to hurry up and die or get it all out of his system at once. I may have accidentally jinxed it, and when I came back this afternoon, he wasn’t here anymore. Be careful what you wish for.
Well, lucky for me, I did meet people! He’s from Bristol and the others are from Switzerland, so Ida’s assessment of Danes (“unless you’re already their friend, they aren’t interested in talking to you”) hasn’t been disproven yet. I met them whilst I was visiting the Rudentaarn (“Round Tower”), which offered impressive views of the city. I could imagine how the city must have looked before all the skyscrapers and industry took up the skyline, when that tower was the tallest point in the whole city. I bet you could see farmland easily. We’re going to meet up later for dinner and drinks (at least I hope there’ll be dinner, otherwise I’m in the same hungry position as yesterday).
Copenhagen is so damn pretty; I can’t get over it. It’s like when I was walking around Paris. If you get lost in the centre, then you find some beautiful side-streets that feel at once empty and alive. I always love finding quiet corners of cities, like an area has been forgotten about, but stunningly maintained. It’s like any room in a palace, that you can look at without accessing. I wish I was more of an alcoholic so I could legitimately visit all these tiny bars peeping out from basement windows. The colour design of this city is blessed as well. God damn. Ugh. Copenhagen. Can’t say a bad thing about it.
OK, I now have one bad thing to say about it. People here are very shy. You want to go out in the evening to meet people? Better make sure that you’re already with a group, or you’re being introduced to a group by mutual friends. Want to try joining a table or speaking to someone at the bar? Forget that. I only managed to talk to anyone yesterday because an incredibly drunk man, who just so happened to be called Alexander too, thrust a shot of sambuca in my face whilst I was trying to order. I then spent an hour or so try to make conversation with anyone who would humour me. The night ended with a girl staring at me unblinking across from me, unwilling to engage in any form of conversation, but not leaving either. Her expression was flat and unreactive. Eventually, she got up and left in silence, on a route so straight and uninterrupted that I genuinely start to think she would never drop out of sight. Bizarre. Oh, and there’s lots of weed at night. And my jumper now smells of cigarettes. Sadness overwhelms me. Time to go see the Little Mermaid.
I’m sat next to the Little Mermaid right now. The statue is lovely, obviously, though understated. It’s hard to fully appreciate it however as there are an ungodly number of tourists crowding it. Mostly old people. If I were to give an artistic interpretation of the scene in front of me, I would describe it as a damn mess. The subject of the statue is quite clearly from a different era – 1908 to be exact. The Mermaid has been sitting on her rock for over 100 years waiting to catch a glance of her prince. Ironically, she is now swamped by anyone but. The other side of the water from her is a noisy combination of industry and warehouses, with what must be a stadium somewhere nearby too judging from the music blowing across the water from massive speakers. Even tour boats pause to ogle at her. It’s such a contrast of subject and context, of the Little Mermaid and everything else. A fairy story in a world that’s long grown up. And yet she still waits for princes after 100 years. How much must have changed in that time for her. Not even a friend for company. I think it’s a very sad statue. They should let her see her prince again. The Little Mermaid needs her happily ever after.
It feels like Autumn today. Outside of the sun, it feels just too cold to be comfortable. In the sun, it feels slightly too hot to wear a shirt whilst cycling. I feel I need to re-assess whether Danish people (Copenhagen really) actually are ‘mature’ with their drinking. I know I’ve been caught out by everything shutting early (thanks covid) so maybe that’s what’s given me a false impression. Since yesterday, I’ve seen a gin bus full of people raving at about 2pm, and a bunch of disembodied screams of joy from open loft windows. Why can’t I be there too?! Clearly, I’ve been spoilt by Sofia.
I arrived back at Amalienborg just in time to see the changing of the guard. Their uniforms were quite muted. I guess I was expecting more red, but it was mostly blue and black. Do you think that all palace guards from across the world have competitions to see who is the most impeccably dressed, the most disciplined? DO you think the Horse-Guards have beach volleyball matches with their bearskins on? Is there a summer version of their uniforms? What am I even talking about anymore, this is dumb.