The Most Expensive Free City
Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
26Trip End Apr 30, 2012
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Where I stayed
Once again, the train ride to Copenhagen made the director's cut for its slightly interesting performance.. On the train, there are these cups that have various cafe drinks labeled on them: Cappuccino, Expresso, Expresso, ect.. Upon further inspection, Bridge and I find tin-foil mounds at the bottom of these cups, much like an Alice and Wonderland kind of experience.. You carefully pull back the tab of the tin foil and out pours powder concoctions of the drink identified on the front of the cup.
Walk 22 minutes to hostel (luckily no rain, thank you Irish ancestors) and then we layer up and grab our umbrellas to start our hunt for the Ariel, the little Mermaid.. For all those who don't know (including me about ten days ago) Copenhagen was the city where Hans Christian Anderson created all those infamous childhood stories--the little prince, thumbelina, the little mermaid, beauty and the beast (I recommend wikipedia the rest of them to save time on my end).. And in this city, there lies a statue of the little mermaid in the harbor which Bridget and I were determined to find. After an hour and half of wandering around, checking out the local attractions, we finally stumble upon the marble mermaid (and small--which makes sense since "little" is included in the title).. Since there was a tour bus parked right in front of Ariel, she was also adorned with a plethora of asian tourists snapping excess photos
**I would like to note that while searching for the statue, a nice couple approached us (apparently having a map in front of you with your head looking towards the heavens is a cry for SOS) asking what we were looking for.. I swiftly reply, "For a husband, have you seen any walking around?" and he says "Oh you're looking for Christian Anderson?"… No matter what country you're in, sarcasm is the universal language
Since Denmark is quite an expensive place, Bridge and I decide to live off of breakfast with a midday snack and thus anticipate dinner over-enthusiastically. I drag her to this place on the harbor, that according to trip advisor was moderately priced, so we dodge in around 4:30 (once again, the level of how pathetic we are is rising) and are greeted with a lunch menu that has questionable Denmark-style sandwiches… Bridge says she will take the tomato one (which is the only choice on the menu that does not have a viking style meat lathered on top) but since I have this issue where I cannot order the same plate as someone else (immature is the word you are looking for) I choose a dish that says it has lamb pieces with asparagus and onions--which doesn't sound too daring… As our anticipation tanks fill up with tea, we finally are each greeted with a 2X2 (inches) piece of bread, hers with several tomatoes and one piece of mozzarella on top, mine with two asparagus, 1/19 of an onion (diced) and about 1/4 a pound of cold-cut thinly sliced lamb (comparable to proscoutto)… After about a minute of cutting the 2X2 into 1 inch cubes and attempting to savor our over-priced meals (I was too weak, I had to scoot the meat off to the side), we start discussing how far away the local grocery store is and where we can find some candy.
An important part of the story is that it was only I who took the buffet challenge, while Bridget coached me throughout the entire event (dabbing my forehead, reorganizing my plate so that I could maximize the food:surface area ratio, and of course taking pictures)… Nevertheless, she was doing this noble task (probably just as, if not more difficult as me shoveling sugar in my body) so by the time we left the restaurant, her tank was riding on empty so we went hunting for her second meal.
PS… shower head was broken, so as I was attempting to screw it back on, the knob bounced off of every wall and magically in to the toilette… I took a deep breath, withdrew the screw, and borrowed my laces from my tennis shoes to install a makeshift handle for the shower head--which would later fall to its demise after 10 minutes of Bridget being in the shower…we are only working with half of my mom's genes, so we only got a china-made version of McGyver which spared her at least a good shampoo wash.
Wake up, open the window, still gloomy so we layer up while mentally preparing for the wind and rain… I personally summoned images of beaches and humidity, using visualization to avoid hypothermia.
We run off once again to our free walking tour after breakfast and are shown the beautiful harbor city in 3 hours, learning all about the Denmark Vikings, the citizen's grand attempt to save all the Copenhagen Jews during WWII and how the Denmark Prince met his Princess (it was a local bar situation, where he picked her up in Sydney, just a normal girl falling in love with the prince… I think the story might be more enchanting than Charles and Kate). Our guide was Filip, who took us to his company's headquarters after (conveniently located in an Italian restaurant) where we were given discounted food that tasted much better than previous Denmark meals except half the cost and twice the size (excluding my dessert buffet from this competition, no contest there).. We were joined by a solo traveler from Munich who just finished her final exams (she is an automotive engineer in the city where BMW was founded and currently dominates the market…smart girl).. Filip and two of his colleagues (one from Portugal and the other from London) sat next to us while we dined and we had a splendid conversation about different cultures, focusing on views of Americans… They all agreed that our country became much more attractive the minute Obama took office, saying that they were all cheering in the streets when Bush finished his term.
After lunch, we walked over the river to a little Island which is home to the "Freetown Christiania". Here's a little history:
Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune.. The people of this commune have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and biker's colors. Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash and skunk weed were sold openly from permanent stands until 2004, it nevertheless does have rules forbidding 'hard drugs', such as cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy and heroin. The hash commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees (thank you wiki).
To say the least, both Bridget and I walked into the gates of this controversial town and attempted to act like we knew exactly where we were going, avoiding looks of buyers who could see tourist written on our foreheads.. We did one big loop in about 10 minutes and saw enough illegal bargaining to sentence about 100 people to jail.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the famous library, about 7 stories tall and containing isles and isles of endless study zones.. Both Bridge and I let our Inner-nerd dance around this place, envious of all those hovering over books and notecards, doing something productive while we just took pictures.. It was a brilliant piece of architecture and made both Bridge and I contemplate reading a book in Danish.