Charismatic Copenhagen

I’m resisting the urge to use the W word about Copenhagen as it feels pretty cliched, there’s a lot to this charming City that is more than a song title! We camped outside, approximately 20km from the centre but with an easy walk to a station. Very close by was the Arken Museum of Modern Art and a small marina with big boats. The museum was closed but there were plenty of outdoor exhibits, some of the favourites are below, I particularly liked Gormley and Gormless, Nick particularly liked me locked in a bird cage!

Our first day in Copenhagen had the weather against us but rain makes for great colour, said man with camera. We wandered around central Copenhagen first to the Radhaus (Townhall) where there was an oversized football for some reason. From there, through the meandering colourful back streets towards the Parliament Buildings and on to The Library Gardens. Very different buildings and surroundings, the glass windows of the library itself were gorgeous, as were the grounds. The Parliament, to be expected, grand and austere. A quirky photo exhibition outside though, showing representative pics of a day in the life of a working parliament, was actually really interesting. Can’t imagine our parliament opening themselves up to that type of natural depiction!

Heading waterside we passed Borsen, the C17th former stock exchange with its stunning twisted tower. Looking closely at its base we saw the figure of Pluto (the dog) gazing out, do you see it too or was it our waterlogged minds?! Copenhagen is a city of many towers, of all shapes and designs, scattered amongst a wonderful array of architectural styles (damn, I used the W word!) There is a distinct preservation feel too, with many old structures well kept and lots of original features, doorways, carved and painted facades etc. Lovely to see.

As the rain eased off, so the music started. Yes, we had without knowing it, come to Copenhagen for their Jazz Festival. There was music everywhere, pop up stages, music drifting through doorways of venues and some pretty cool buskers getting in on the act down in Nyhaven. Nyhaven is the iconic photograph area where it seems, whatever the weather, people hang out. The waterside is strewn with cafes and bars and smart historic wooden boats. The new stunning opera house stretches out over the water towards the Euro2020 fanzone! That wasn’t our destination however, we were heading to Tivoli Gardens for an evening of kitsch entertainment. (Sonia, I can hear your “urgh” from here!)

Tivoli Gardens, a C19th amusement park frankly, but with well kept sprawling gardens and water features. It’s a densely packed area that has evolved over the years but still has vestiges of its former charm, hanging on to its old fashioned amusements such as donkey derby and knocking over tin cans with a beanbag while incorporating roller coasters and rides that make you ill. The super carousel reminded me of the one at the end of Southport Pier that Guy worked on one summer! (Maybe not quite as luminous!) I was up for the roller coaster but Nick said something about a height restriction so we didn’t try it… Hmmm…. Tivoli Gardens comes to life at dusk and the Tivoli Band struck up on the main stage (Glastonbury, who needs it?!) with a couple of pretty useful singers. It felt quite surreal being amongst so many people again. The fireworks were spectacular but very late as it wasn’t dark enough until 11.30pm which meant we had to, like teenagers, run for the last train to get back to Jigsaw. Having left her for 13 hours we did feel guilty but she was OK after Nick took her for a run around the campsite in the wee early hours!

Copenhagen has its very own self governing counter culture/commune in an area called Christiania. It’s now an alternative community, formed when an ex military base closed and it was taken over by squatters c1971. Since those times it’s less squatter and more just a different way of life for many people in a wide variety of properties. Some are quirky minaret topped and some are sections of old warehouses. Some look a little like tin shacks and others are being fixed up with double glazing. One of the old warehouses has been pretty gentrified with a smart roof terrace. Seems anything goes. There’s no roads through it, just walking paths, bikes and overgrown gardens. There’s lots of graffiti as you’d expect, I liked the spliff smoking tree in one of them (below) Anyhow, it’s a fabulous place to wander around, take in the views and aromas and wonder how life takes us where it does.

After the Christiania assault on the senses we headed back to Nyhaven to soak up the atmosphere over a drink and watch the world pass by, in the direction of the fan zone for the big game. Tourist boats were full, tall masted yachts kept the chap raising the bridge busy and the cool young things (and some not so cool old things) sunbathed by the river on any small patch of concrete they could find. They did remind me of seals on a beach to be honest, basking!

So you see why Copenhagen isn’t just “W”. It’s relatively small and compact, has a very laid back feel, was bustling in a calm way, has a beautiful and a wide array of buildings, facades and towers and we really enjoyed it. We know there’s a lot more to see but we had a wonderful time! 😉

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