I took an easy train ride from Stockholm, through Malmo, and then over a gigantic bridge that spans the sea between Malmo and Copenhagen. I had no idea what to expect from Copenhagen, but somehow I knew I was going to enjoy my week in the home of Carlsberg. It turned out to be one of my favourite cities in Europe and the first time I stayed in a hostel with triple bunk beds.
Copenhagen was a fascinating city with an interesting mix of old and modern architecture in addition to many parks areas and canals.
The bike lanes were also the best I’d used in Europe. I was able to skateboard on them anywhere I wanted in the city without having to go on the actual roads at all.
Apparently, there was a study done about the Copenhagen bike lanes and the conclusion was that it was actually faster to use the bike lanes to bike to your destination than to drive within the city.
Copenhagen also had what I consider one of the best modern art museums that I visited in Europe, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Set a bit outside of the city on the coast, the building is at first unassuming by appearing to be a diminutive house, but when you enter it opens into a vast underground exhibit area.
In the surrounding grounds, there was a pond with a small forest and various sculptures perched around some walking trails.
There were also some large open lawn areas with more sculptures and installations overlooking the sea. It was a beautiful place.
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After being in the Copenhagen for a few days I could notice some contrasts between there and the Stockholm, most notably the liquor laws. Stockholm’s laws were more conservative than the redundant Canadian laws, forcing you to buy alcohol from specific government-run liquor stores that close around 7 pm on weekdays, 3 pm on Saturdays and are completely closed on Sundays. Furthermore, it was illegal to drink outside of establishments, and the latest almost all bars and clubs stay open till was 3 am. In contrast, in Copenhagen, you can drink on the streets, buy alcohol from the corner store and party all night if you want to.
An interesting thing to note is the bottle deposit is so high on beers cans and bottles in Copenhagen that anytime I was sitting in a park enjoying a beer with some friends there would be at least five people coming up to you to ask for your empties, which was great because you never had to concern yourself with finding a garbage can to dispose of them. Win for the Danish.
During my week in Copenhagen, I went to three music festivals. The best one was a free festival the city put on in the middle of a park called the King’s Garden that had a castle on a hill.
Everybody was chilling on the grass drinking beers and enjoying one of the nicest days of the summer while music blared from a stage set up underneath the castle. I met some friendly people and ended up being invited over to somebody’s house for some after party drinks.
One of the most compelling aspects about Copenhagen was the existence of Freetown Christiania. Christiania is a place that exists in the city center of a Copenhagen, which is a self-proclaimed republic that stemmed from squatters living there since the 1970s. Christiania is its own world.
There were only about 800 official residents living there that have built themselves all kinds of strange houses and have even built their own schools to teach their children their own curriculum.
Street art was splashed everywhere all over the buildings and there were numerous small cafes and restaurants around that only accept cash.
The part about Christiania that most people come for though was the open selling and consumption of marijuana. There was a street called ‘pusher street’ that was lined with at least 20 stalls selling all kinds of hash, marijuana, and edibles.
Here you can buy a joint, light it up, smoke it and nobody will bother you. It is fascinating that such a place existed right in the middle of one of the most modern cities in Europe. Still what happens in Christiania was technically illegal so the residents had established two rules for visitors. The first rule was no running because if people are running the residents assume it’s a police raid and they will start to run away as well. I later met some Danish dude that told me if you are caught running in Christiania you will receive quite the beating. The second rule was no photos, which was unfortunate because there are many cool art installations and works littered around the streets of the self-proclaimed republic.
Still, I was able to sneak a photo or two, but there was one instance where I took a photo of the entrance sign with a resident in the photo and he came up to me and made me delete the photo from my phone.
In the end, for me, Copenhagen was an ideal blend of south Europe and Scandinavia. It was a clean, organized, well thought out city that has a little bit of everything for everybody where you didn’t have to look over your shoulder to go drink a beer. I actually looked into immigrating there, but unfortunately, I would have had to learn the Danish language, which, according to one of my Swedish friends, takes the Danish more time than any other group of children in the world to learn their native language.