COPENHAGEN, DENMARK• We started our first full day with a nice breakfast and a mosey over to the City Hall Plaza to meet with our tour guide. Bryony, a transplant from Britain, was a delight to follow around the city and learn from. The tours with Sandemans are free, but at the tour’s conclusion, you pay what you like. This was my second time using this company (my first was in Amsterdam) but both have been great experiences.
The tour started with some discussion of a famous local who used to harass people in the square by digging at them to think deeper about their lives. You may have heard of him. Kierkegaard was known to say “Life can only be understood forwards, but can only be lived backward” I like this thought but also think Kierkegaard would have irritated the hell out of me. Sometimes I don’t feel like deep thinking, you know what I mean?
Here are some more facts we learned;
98% of the Jewish population of Denmark survived the war because Sweden took them in for safety until they could safely return home.
Way back when (I don’t remember numbers, sorry!), the water wasn’t safe to drink, so people drank 3% alcohol beer all the time. As a result, there was a rule that no laws could be made past noon because everyone was a bit too tipsy to have good judgment!
Jørn Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House attended the Copenhagen Royal Academy of Arts. Apparently, his inspiration for the building came from a peeled orange from his picnic lunch one day.
The city had been destroyed three times. Two started from house fires. One of them was started by a seven-year-old, according to his parents. Since he was so young, he was not put to death for knocking over a candle, which wouldn’t have been the case had it been an adult who was so careless. The third time the city was destroyed was during the Napoleonic wars.
After the fires, buildings were erected with corners like this one, to help aid future fire fighting by helping hoses more easily make their way around “corners”
Following our three hour tour, we enjoyed a late long, luxurious lunch and at a special place called Barr. After that we walked through Christiania. Christiania is an enclave of pot-smoking hippies. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea – it’s a special place. Our AirBnB host told us we should not take any photos because the drug use is illegal and the people within the enclave are very protective. During our tour with Bryony, I asked if that was true. She elaborated that you can take photos, but not in the area with the guys who wear their black caps low because they are the dealers and it will piss them off. It is not legal to sell in Copenhagen, but for some reason, these guys can do it.
I don’t know. I didn’t write the facts, I only share them with you with loose accuracy.
None of us found it very interesting. It appears to be just a colony of slackers. We were surprised though that the “guys in black ballcaps set low on their heads” are actually wearing black caps! (We thought it was a generalization).
We rested after our long meal and walkabout, but in the evening we took what ended up being a very long walk, to find a bar that was definitely worth it. Curfew was a speakeasy type place with a charming bartender named Martin. Martin is a Slovakian who came to Copenhagen for school and stayed. He became a bartender first by cleaning glasses and learning as he went. Watching him work was fascinating and Libby accurately, in my opinion, noted that it’s basically a performance.
I love to wander a city and shoot pictures. Back when Libby and I went to Croatia, I did go out late one night by myself and felt perfectly safe. I’m not sure I’d feel the same here in Copenhagen. We were warned many times to be wary of pickpockets and to NEVER leave your drink unattended because someone could slip a drug into your drink, but that generally, the city is safe.
We walked home from the bar along some busy streets (it was 10:30 or so and the sky was still rather light!), with shawarma in our hands (the place was called Shawarmish. SO good!). There were many people out as we made our way through one of the many squares. I saw some men walking towards us. They were not coming to us but rather, our paths were crossing. I watched one of them watching Libby, and sure enough, right as they passed, the gave a leering “hello” to her. Libby is slim, fashionable, adorable, and blonde. Men respond to her. I do not have this problem and I’m grateful for that. Libby certainly doesn’t like it, but she’s learned to ignore it.
Point is, a wonderful city so far, but not one I’d wander at night alone.
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