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Copenhagen April 24, 2013

Posted by clairical in Travel Log.

In all of the excitement of visiting a new city every weekend, many of the details and memorable experiences tend to blur together. Did we visit Budapest first, or Bratislava? And which city had the covered flea market with a basement full of smelly fish? And where are we off to next?

Fortunately, Copenhagen was a deviation from the typical traveling experience in many ways, making it the most memorable trip so far, if not the most enjoyable. One of my favorite parts about visiting Copenhagen was the city night line, a train that operates solely at night. I had been on a night train before, but I had slept in a chair. This time I would be traveling in a couchette, a bunk bed in a room for 6 people with 3 tiers of beds on the two walls.

I suppose that sounds much less exciting to you, but after struggling to fall asleep on a middle chair and trudging about the next day like a zombie, a couchette is a little piece of heaven.

Another refreshing change in Copenhagen was the currency – Danish Kroner (DKK). I really enjoy looking at how countries split up their coins and cash. 7.5 DKK is equal to about 1 euro, which made for some fun math when trying to figure out how much something costs. At first I thought I must have mistaken the exchange rate as everything in Copenhagen, from food to museums, was extremely pricey. But that’s just how the economics work in Denmark. Apparently, this price inflation is due in a large part to some of the more socialist politics in Denmark. We ran into some local students on the metro who told us that they actually got paid a stipend to go to college, which they got to attend for free. My first meal in Copenhagen cost around 15 euro. It was a bowl of soup

After the pricey dinner, our group was worried about the price of touristy attractions and such in the city. We were shocked when we arrived at the National Museum of Denmark and discovered it was free. The museum was extensive, and we didn’t even sort through all of it. But the highlights included a mummy of a priestess, figurines from the Disney movie Hercules scattered throughout the Greek pottery exhibit, and a display of historic toys, including dollhouses several feet tall and as intricate as the mansions they resembled.

Not all the sights in Copenhagen were as reasonably priced, but the Rundetaarn was well worth the money. The Rundetaarn, as the name implies, is a round tower with a spiraling ramp that ends in an open-air roof. About halfway up was an exhibit on trees, which was possibly the most boring exhibit I had ever seen, excluding the tree fort, of course. At the tower top is a marvelous 360 degree view of the city. I assume the binoculars are for show only as they ate my kroner.

After the tower, I was convinced by the other members of my group to see the little mermaid, which is possibly the most underwhelming attraction in Copenhagen. For starters, it’s basically just a statue of a girl sitting on a rock a few feet offshore. For another, it’s on the water, so the wind is about 10 times worse than it is in the heart of Copenhagen, where it’s fairly strong to begin with. I was so cold; I could have seen a real mermaid and the walk there and back still wouldn’t have been worth it. I even forked up enough kroner to buy an over-priced hot chocolate from a hipster coffee shop in an attempt to warm up a little bit. I will say, that hot chocolate was absolutely delicious.

The next day, I slept in a fair amount before embarking on a canal boat tour. I highly recommend this experience to anyone visiting Copenhagen. The boats are covered and heated, which is worth the money in and of itself. The tour was a little over an hour and took us around the canals and into the harbor. We passed by the Black Diamond, an addition to the local library; a military boat converted into a museum that once accidentally launched a missile; a section of the city modeled after Amsterdam; and the little mermaid statue, which was still underwhelming. Along the way, the tour guide entertained us with historical facts and tidbits, such as a story about a guy who was unable to become a belly dancer because his face was too ugly and his feet were too big. Again, if anyone is planning on visiting Copenhagen, a boat tour should be the first priority.

The rest of our last day we spent wandering around the city, just taking in the sights. We saw the outsides of a castle with a quaint little park next to it. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guards at a palace, which was a spectacle mostly because of the ridiculous hats they wore. We even did a little window shopping, which included a Lego store with a dragon coming out of the walls, floor, and ceiling.

That afternoon, on the train back to Metz, I really felt that I had seen a good portion of the city. It’s nearly impossible to see all that a city has to offer in one weekend, but if I could redo that weekend in Copenhagen, I still don’t think I could have squeezed in anything more. And that’s how I knew I had really carped the diem out of Copenhagen.

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