Copenhagen, our first stop on this grand journey of ours. Home of Vikings, Nyhavn, Tivoli Gardens Ludefisk, and bikes, so many bikes! I began my love affair with bikes back in high school, which happened to coincide with my fear of biking in a land of cars and my search for any safe biking path to get me from point A to B. We were pleasantly surprised by the fact that google maps showed an impressively long green line denoting that our 12 mile trip from the Copenhagen airport to our Airbnb would be all bike paths! As we entered the central city of Copenhagen, I thought "Hallelujah, my eyes have been open to the truth!" We found ourselves in a land where every street is perfectly accompanied by a dedicated bike lane, every corner a bike stop light, allowing bikes and cars to co-habitate in a beautiful dance without fear of angry drivers screaming at bikers to, “ride on the sidewalk.”
Not sure what occurred the next twelve hours because the Jet-lag set in. In spite of a few hours of sleep on the airplane, utter exhaustion, and the fact that the sun was down, my brain was still convinced it was two in the afternoon. I was trapped on that horrid plane of existence where you can’t quite talk, move, or think… but you also can’t sleep! Just wasting time in the ether of fear that rest will never come and your entire trip will be spent as a biking zombie craving the sweet taste of a nap. Who knows when the sleep came, but it did along with the morning and sunrise. The jet lag made for a rough start, but the excitement and bike ride into downtown Copenhagen put that pep in our steps to kick us into gear for adventure.
Although the land was overflowing with bike lanes, we still had some adjusting to do with our biking skills. According to good old Wikipedia, almost 50% of commuters in Copenhagen ride bikes and you can tell. Those magical bike stop lights can quickly turn into a party with 20-30 cyclist gathered waiting for the signal to change, so through quick mimicry we learned the hand signals and habits of the Copenhagen bike commuter, and found ourselves at a beautiful canal lined by colorful old buildings (american perspective old).
A plaque informed us that we had stumbled into Nyhavn, a hot little port spot built in the 1600s and the spot that our buddy Andreas warned us was beautiful but expensive. He was right on both points, so after taking in the beauty and locking down our bikes we swiftly headed across the river to Christianhavn. Turns out Christanhavn we would later learn -thanks to a free walking tour brilliantly led by the Aussie Dan O- has some of the oldest surviving architecture in Copenhagen thanks to it’s ability to avoid the multitude of fires that destroyed the rest of Copenhagen several times over. This was due to the fact that it is an island located to the east of Copenhagen central. Beautiful churches and homes hundreds of years old stand side by side with massive Gattica looking Nordia Bank.
We stumbled upon a wooden archway connected by two totem poles bearing the word Christiania. Apparently, Christiania is a former military barrack that was squatted by hippies in the 1970’s and through the brilliant concept of squatters rights the city was unable to regain possession of the former military base. Now Christiania is an 85 acre anarchist community of 850 artists, free thinkers and weed dealers as we discovered walking down the aptly named Pusher street where we were approached at least half a dozen times over a 50 yard stretch about purchasing some prime hash. But beyond pusher street lays an amazing display of street art, Lady Blacksmiths, bike builders, music, food and beautifully crafted homes for the community, all surrounding a serine lake built specifically to act as a barrier for the invading Swedish, but now is a space for kids swimming and remote control clipper ships.
Abbie and I spent a while sitting next to the lake discussing how amazing it would be to be a part of this community, what we could offer, how we could take the ideas of the space and create them in our own world back in the states or elsewhere, perhaps one day we’ll be able to come back and stay for a while and learn how to create a little utopia on the edge of a bustling utopia!
We spent the rest of our time in Copenhagen seeing all the typical sights and spending way too much on beer and food: I spent 50krr $8, on a beer and then tapped out from drinking at bars, french fries in the states seem like an affordable side item but are ctually the price of an entree in Copenhagen, and pizza can be a risky and expensive mistake depending on where you find it. I suggest finding a nice affordable falafel shop, buying beer from the store (because drinking on the streets is legal!) and you’ll be okay.
Now we’re off to catch a train to Sweden and then a ferry to Poland. See y’all on the other side!