Friday 5 February 2016

Barely Copenhagen

The places where you feel most instantly at home say a lot about your personality. I've been living in Spain for close to a month now and it still feels very much like a foreign country. It's not to say I don't enjoy it, it just feels foreign. On the other hand, as with my previous visits to Scandinavia, the moment I arrived in Copenhagen, I instantly felt at home. I'm not sure what it is, whether it's the people or something else but Scandinavian society just really seems to work the way I feel it should. It's difficult to explain. Anyway...


I went to Copenhagen for three reasons- 1) Denmark was one of the few countries left in Europe I hadn't been to, 2) Madrid might be cold but it's definitely not real European winter cold. I wanted to experience some snow before it got too warm and 3) the flights were cheap with Ryanair and I thought that would make up for the the higher cost of living in Denmark. I was so incredibly wrong.


Straight away after landing in Copenhagen, I already done goofed. Denmark doesn't use the Euro but the Danish Krone. At the airport, I intended to get out €70's worth of Krone but instead ended up getting out €700's worth. For a weekend. So that was a good start. It actually had some benefits because the €70's worth of Krone wouldn't have lasted me long. Like all of Scandanavia, Denmark is extremely expensive. The average monthly income for Danes is €3000 (about $5000), even after you deduct the 50% tax rate. I guess that's the price of living in a socialist paradise. Anyway, I digress.


I was excited to come to Denmark to experience some real winter and, hopefully, snow. There wasn't a lot of snow but being from Australia, even that was enough to amuse me. I got to walk on a lake that was frozen! That's amazing to me still! Also there was fog. Lots of fog.


Despite my complaining/loving the cold and superhating the cost of living, Copenhagen is pretty beautiful. The old town is, surprisingly, quite old and fortunately quite compact so I feel I got to see most things in a short time. As with my previous trip to Europe, I did some of the "free" walking tours around and thought it was a great way to see most of the important things. Oh, and I went to the Lego store!


I also got to see Christiania, the free "country" on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Christiania, a former WWII-era military base, has been occupied by hippies and anarchists since 1979. The inhabitants of the commune consider it an independent state, even though they rely on the Danish health and education system. Christiania is the oldest commune of its type and strangely, the Danish government seems to be okay with it. Not only do they allow the old hippies who live there to squat there for free, pretending it's an independent country, they actively go out of their way to accommodate their lifestyle. And by "lifestyle" I mean hippie drugfest. Because of the fact that they consider Christiania the worlds only law-free, anarchist paradise, the local inhabitants use this pretend legal status to set up one of the worlds largest outdoor drug markets. For obvious reasons, you aren't allowed to take photos on the "Green Mile" though.


On my last afternoon I also went to the Carlsberg brewery because a) I like breweries, b) I like Carlsberg and c) like their slogan says, it's "probably the best beer in the world".



Copenhagen has a real olde-worlde feel, yet feels extremely modern at the same time. More than any other place I've ever been, Copenhagen left me very regularly thinking "oh wow, we need that back home, that's amazing!". I think that blend of the old and the new was my favourite part of Copenhagen.

Oh, and the Metro trains are driverless


The people were also quite quite stereotypically Danish; tall, polite and blonde. Everyone rides bikes everywhere (like Amsterdam, there are more bikes than people) and everybody waits for the green lights to cross the road, all the time, on all roads. I got a death stare for crossing an empty street without waiting for the green light.


Anyway, that's my thoughts on Copenhagen. It was cold and expensive but also beautiful, full of friendly people and a blend of old and new. Would recommend if you don't mind selling a kidney on the blackmarket to afford it.



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