Travel

Copenhagen

Life is not life without a polar bear on the piano, another on the guitar and a third on the violin. That is unless you find yourself in Copenhagen on a frigid November weekend staring at three benign polar bears playing music (because it is the food of life, dear knucklehead) to drown out the chattering of your teeth. It was 2015, I was going to turn 35, and my husband had decided that it had to be in a nation that declares itself the happiest in the world.

There we were in a smart city, where the people are smart enough to reduce their carbon footprints by cycling everywhere, the bars and cafes straight out of the pages of slick magazines, where not a speck of rubbish dots the streets… heck, even the streetlights are smart – yet in that smartest of all smart cities, the shower of our hotel room was not quite so sharp. I had expected something akin to the technologically advanced loos of Southeast Asia, but no this idjit here, it sprayed water all over the bathroom. We changed rooms thrice in the matter of a morning which meant that we cadged up a whole lot of bonus points. You can never have enough points if you rely on them as much as we do.

After we had found our point of reference in the city, the Magasin mall at Kongens Nytorv, we walked around the city doing almost nothing touristy. That would include not visiting the 19th century amusement park, Tivoli, or entering the palaces and castles. Not eating bugs at Noma for a fortune. I would like to point out here that The Little Mermaid is poof, bloody underwhelming. Instead we walked and walked, taking it all in. The turquoise towers and spires, girls on skateboards swishing by, bikes just about everywhere and then those trendy bike carts, hip cafes and brewpubs in working class districts such as Nørrebro, the business district of Ørestad with architectural marvels like the Black Diamond Library…During the course of these rambles about town, I loved looking up because oh those vintage street lamps, dangling from wires above the streets like pretty earrings.

In Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront, where Hans Christian Andersen lived during the 1800s and where old townhouses in peppy colours line the canal, people queued up for boat rides. We queued up for piping hot churros and chocolate at Rajissimo, a chain of cafés in Copenhagen which serves homemade ice-cream, coffees, waffles, basically all kinds of fried dough, and tells you ‘to be good to yourself’. Who am I to bypass such wisdom on an icy evening?

After, we sat outside by the canal at one of the old bars, wrapped ourselves in blankets kept outside on the chairs and sipped on chilled draft beer. When we moved inside to try out more varieties of local beers, three giggly girls who manned the bar shared stories with us of the curiously oriental décor of the bar. In Nyhavn, on the evening of my birthday, we also almost entered a strip bar mistaking it to be a Chinese restaurant.

The one touristy thing to do in Copenhagen which is quite unmissable is the Carlsberg Beer Factory. Its brewery dates back to the year 1847 when the founder J C Jacobsen, a Danish industrialist and philanthropist, started brewing beer using new scientific methods in the Carlsberg laboratory.

The story of the Jacobsens is worth exploring and you will also find yourself quaffing free pints of icy beer apart from gaping at the brewery’s astonishing collection of beer bottles, apparently the world’s largest, numbering about 16,600 different kinds. The numbers might have gone up. They are vintage beer bottles, hundreds of years old. I spotted Thomas Hardy’s Ale, said to be produced only once a year and first made in 1968 to commemorate Hardy who spoke of a strong Dorchester beer that would be “the most beautiful colour an artist could possibly desire, as bright as an autumn sunset.”

Now Carlsberg’s ambassadors are tall and muscular. Jutland horses who are part of the staff. Louise and Laura, Jern and Oda Brit…they have names labelled outside their stables with their lineage — their far (father) and mor (mother) listed out too — for they have stellar genes. They could easily play the role of warhorses for which they were originally bred but they have made the switch to tamely carry beer around the city in old carts during special occasions.

A dream birthday trip that included a helluva spat when I stomped off to see The Little Mermaid by myself. Now I wonder what we fought about but I remember taking the train by myself to the Langelinie Promenade and caught her photo thus on a dull rainy evening when the bent of my mind did not allow me to be partial to an insipid little mermaid waiting for her prince to show up.

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Copenhagen airport
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Sights from a Danish bus window

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The castles and palaces of Copenhagen 
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The hotel room that is worthy of a mention because it earned us points and an upgrade

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Nyhavn
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‘It’s bloody cold. Can we just go inside?’
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In a Nyhavn bar

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A birthday night dinner

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Carlsberg Brewery

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J.C.’s son Carl Jacobsen
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Carl Jacobsen at work in his lab
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Carl Jacobsen and his crew at the brewery
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The Carlsberg gardens reveal the Jacobsens’ enthusiasm for art
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French sculptor François Jouffroy’s ‘The First Secret’ (1839)
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The brewery’s collection of beer bottles

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Deserted train stations in the Ørestad district
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In the Ørestad
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A blurred bit of The Black Diamond in Ørestad
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Magasin du Nord on the grand old square of Kongens Nytorv
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The Little Mermaid
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Three musicians 

 

56 Comments

  • Nemorino

    Somehow you managed not to go to any of my favorite places in Copenhagen, but I didn’t go to any of yours, either, so I guess that makes us even. (The closest you got was taking a picture of the statue of Ludvig Holberg in front of the old theater.)

  • LivingOutLoud

    Hello Dippy-Dotty Girl,
    I feel cold just reading about your adventures in Copenhagen. I love the way you were able to look back on it humorously. Especially when you talked about a smart city with stupid showers. I can’t imagine a place with no trash or waste in sight. It sounds so nice. I also really enjoyed your photos. That Orestad statue is kind of creepy 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

    <3 Alana

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hiya Jim, thanks. It is surely a city worth it and also because you can hop across from here to Sweden in a bus. I loved that. I will put up a post on that soon. The polar bears are one of my favourite memories there 🙂

  • lifeofangela

    I’ve always loved the idea of Copenhagen. Bikes everywhere, gorgeous castles and palaces, and of course the Little Mermaid. I was somewhat thrown when I first heard about the original story. I still love the Disney version 😀 It’s a bit more optimistic ?

  • Osyth

    Well done you for going with the flow in a city that prides itself on being laid back and relaxed and kind of calming. That horse has my heart with her flaxen mane, the bears are wonderfully bizarre and I feel quite as though I know the architecture which in places is reminiscent of New England (unsurprising I guess given the Scandinavian influence in the US) …. but my favourite moment is your admission that you spatted about something you can’t even remember and took yourself to see the fabled Mermaid only to be entirely underwhelmed by her moping form. Your picture by the way belies your truth. Oh! And how can I overlook Hardy’s words on the perfect Ale …. thank you for sharing them – I do so adore old Tom xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      It does remind me of New England too. The churches, the wooden houses (at least some),…I would point out to Adi from time to time when in Vermont that the houses reminded me of the ones we saw in Norway during our drives there. Especially when I spotted the random black wooden house which strangely enough has always wooed me.
      The horse 🙂 They were stoic girls and boys, almost close cousins of the Clydesdales in their exquisite beauty.
      Only if you knew that we spat often upon silly things, though I do not mind it because Adi is more loving after! And our spats lead to horror stories like how after our engagement, the ring was tossed out of the balcony, and we returned to the same place to get another solitaire and the woman serving us remembered us because I had shared a chocolate bar with her the first time. I wanted to disappear when she asked me the why and wherefore of another ring.
      And, I do wish we could try Old Tom’s Ale. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for it next time in a bar somewhere! xx

      • Osyth

        I love the black wood houses. You should visit Concorde sometime … there are some gems there. And Salem too. Heavens, what a dreadful story – the ring. I can feel your cringing and reddening cheeks from here. But as old Will said ‘All’s well that end’s well’ xx

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          Old Will did seem to be uncannily right about things 🙂 I did not know there was a Concord in the States. I see it is in Massachusetts, so I shall try and look it up when we venture that way. Salem is on my list because of its history of course. Thank you for the recommendations. I am putting it into my new grey journal. xx

          • Osyth

            It’s the birthplace of the revolution (war of independence if we are being proper) … every year there is a special holiday in Mass and, I think Virginia called ‘Patriots Day’ – I invite you to join me next year and I will school you in confounding our American friends in our Englishness 😉 xx

  • travelgarb

    Great pictures. I’m intrigued by how you changed your room so many times AND got points for it! The only tourist attraction visited was the beer museum – hmmm. Was it after this visit that you walked into a strip club, failing to realise it wasn’t a Chinese restaurant? :p

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you, and that is the thing. If you have got to change room that many times, the points better be good. Yeah we could not let beer go by so easily, and who knows, you might have a point there!

  • Mad Hatters NYC

    Going to a destination that claims to be “the happiest in the world” for one’s birthday is certainly a sensible idea. Kudos to Adi. The mix up with the Chinese restaurant and the strip club cracked me up. As for the spat you mentioned toward the end of this post, I’m sure you cannot remember because it was travel stress induced. There’s no better way to test a relationship than through travel. It tells you so much about yourself and your companions.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Ahem, if I could write a post about our penchant for fighting, Lynn… I have a neat collection of travel fighting tales — though we are calmer now, so the doors of our present apartment are safe, and we do not end up seeing things separately on our travels anymore! xx

  • iwannabealady

    A city with interesting scenery, like architecture, is almost always enough for me when traveling. Of course, I like to do other things, but I’m much like you walking about with my head tilted back and a camera to my eye. This sounds like a great place for that. Besides, I’d just love to be able to ride my bike everywhere. I think heading in for that beer was an excellent idea, eh?

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Lyz, a camera is always fitted into my mind’s eye, to capture for as long as those grey cells can hold them. You would love the biking culture, I believe.
      Oh yes, touring that beer factory was time well spent, if not anything for chilled beer and beery history. It was beery beery good 😀 xx

  • lexandneek

    Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen! Like the song in the movie about Hans Christian Andersen. I am traveling the world in your blogposts! Didn’t know that the son of the founder of Carlsberg beer donated the Little Mermaid to the city. Such a beautiful and famous statue! Lex would have loved to tour the brewery. I would probably want to keep warm in the Chinese/Strip Club restaurant though 😛 – Enjoyed the post! – Neek

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank ye Neek, I am yet to watch the movie. I am also touring it through yours! And boy is it a pleasure. The world has much for us who want to see it.
      The Carlsbergs were a philanthropic lot and their history is quite interesting. I was gripped by it.
      Hahaha I agree that the Chinese strip club might be a bit more entertaining than the brewery! xx

  • oldhouseintheshires

    Oh another place I’ve always fancied; something about Danish interiors and coloured houses. In your post, it just looks so cold! Brrrr. I love just wandering around a city and finding little nooks and crannies. Another lovely post. I will get there one day! Xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      It was as cold as it looks Sophie or a bit more 😉 You and I like to explore a place the same way then. Just let it filter in slowly. Thank you, and of course you will, it is just a hop and a skip away from you. xx

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          Easy Jet has these fantastically inexpensive tickets to Copenhagen. About 25 quid from Luton for both of us — the last time we checked earlier this year. We are off to Rome tomorrow! 🙂 Delhi and Calcutta after. Are you off anywhere for the Christmas markets in Europe? xx

          • oldhouseintheshires

            Wow that sounds amazing! Because I have to stick to school holidays -for me, I’d take the kids out in a flash! -it’s always very expensive. I’d love to go to Rome; never been. Bath has a lovely Xmas market but I hate it because it’s so busy trying to get to work! I’d love to go to the huge brocante market in Lille in September. We are home from Christmas. You have a wonderful time visiting your family. Take care. Xxxx

          • Dippy-Dotty Girl

            It is expensive Sophie. We inevitably end up broke with just the two of us. Do make it to Rome sometime? It is out of a dream. Bath’s Christmas market must be something. We have not been there during this time of the year…there must be enough of a crowd there then. Lille’s brocante market sounds alluring.
            Home is frankly the best place to be for Christmas. We used to always arrange our trips a couple of weeks before or after Christmas to Europe. This time I am going to miss home so, our Christmas roast and cake…but well, we have decided that next time we are going to be home.
            And thank you for the wishes, Sophie. It has been long it seems that I met my parents and Adi’s, not to mention our friends too 🙂 You have the bestest of best Christmas at home. xx

  • Amielle

    What a beautiful place! I love the hotel photo you included, as well. Sometimes, when your hotel room feels super comfy like that, it’s hard to get out of bed! Haha. But thinking about it, if the places I will go to will look as beautiful as the places you went, I’d be up by 7 am!

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