An Afternoon in Copenhagen

Still can’t remember the name, other than it sounded like something the Muppets’ Swedish Chef would say.

Further to my mention in the previous post: the reason I had only a quarter of an hour in Copenhagen first time around was due to a mix up on my part with regard to the efficiency of German trains. Specifically, I missed my connection in Cologne because I didn’t realise that German trains can go in several directions at once. Seriously. While I was sleeping, my overnighter train would have split into multiple parts, each heading in a different direction (in my case Copenhagen). Sadly, I missed this momentous event due to my confusion and instead had to doze on an uncomfortable bench seat and get into Copenhagen with just enough time to buy a sandwich before heading on to Stockholm.

Still, it’s an ill wind that blows no good, and my first real experience of Copenhagen had two major advantages over the one I would have had two years ago. First, it was longer, at eight hours instead of two. Second, it was in the company of two of my friends, who were coincidentally at the tail end of a week-long stay in the city and had just enough time to meet me off the train and show me around a bit.

Copenhagen Airport is as sleek and clean as any Scandinavian public service, though the odd choice of mingling arrivals and departures meant that a seemingly empty airport became very crowded where the two streams met. Still, despite not having any Danish and not knowing what I was doing, it wasn’t long before I was in possession of a Metro ticket and speeding my way into the city proper.

First admission: the big child trapped in my even bigger adult frame wasn’t about to do anything other than sit up front on the Metro, where a huge windscreen provided a view of, well, not much really. Copenhagen’s suburbs are neither high rise nor particularly interesting, and one subway tunnel tends to look much like another. Still, I got to sit up front, and that made me (and the other kids who joined me there) happy. Isn’t that what really matters?

Disembarking at Norreport Station, I was swiftly taken under the wing of my friends, who had the advantage of six days of exploring the city and proceeded to regale me with stories, many of which involved dogs or bicycles, and occasionally even dogs on bicycles. Under a sun only slightly less torrid than Dublin’s we headed south east through the main shopping area of the city, pausing only to grab some local delicacies, eventually landing ourselves a cafe table by the Nyhavn, or New Harbour, which is, in true European fashion, the oldest harbour in the city.

As an opening chord to a holiday, that kind of experience is hard to beat, and I wasn’t about to disagree with my friends’ determination to some day return to the city, either for a visit or a longer stay. We cooled ourselves off with cold beverages, then trekked the length of Nyhavn to the waterside theatre, where we sat again, watching the boats, kayaks and water taxis go by. I also broke open the confections we’d bought earlier and helped myself to one. Shamefully, I can’t remember the name, but it was a mass of marshmallow and caramel, heaped on a thin waffle and coated with chocolate and chopped nuts. Utterly delicious, dreadfully unhealthy and very, very sticky on a hot day like that.

My friends had their own flight to catch, earlier than mine, so too soon I was bidding them farewell with as much thanks as I could offer for their hospitality. After that, I hopped in a canal tour boat for a one-hour trip around the canals of the city. Copenhagen may be short on canals compared to Amsterdam and Venice, but it does okay for itself. The Little Mermaid might have been less notable than the crowds surrounding her, but the city had plenty else to offer, with the highlight for me probably being the twisted dragon-tail tower atop the old stock exchange. It looks like something out of a fantasy novel, and it seemed like a good omen for my trip to a land of myths and sagas.

When the tour was over, I was deposited back at Nyhavn and then roamed the city for an hour or so. The shops were closing up, but the summer spirit was keeping everywhere else alive. Food was needed though, and when an al fresco restaurant proved too expensive, I found myself something a little more to my pocket’s taste: Sunset Boulevard, a Danish spin on fast food, offering sandwiches and herby fries. The bread was very tasty, if a little rough on the soft palate of someone who wasn’t brought up chewing shingles, but for the price (Denmark is not cheap in any sense) it was very welcome.

After that, more roaming, before I headed back to the airport. Perhaps earlier than I needed to, but I had the advantage of knowing that I’d be coming back this way in a few days. The airport’s free wifi having been cracked, I at least had the opportunity to see if anyone had missed me (of course not) and check the status of the world while I was gone. Oh, and write this, of course.