Cornucopenhagen

Last weekend we went to Copenhagen for three days, without children. The reason for the trip was that we’d managed to book a table at Noma, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post later. Here I’m posting a selection of photos (the full set’s on flickr) of interesting or amusing things we noticed while wandering and floating around the city.

The day we arrived it was pretty cold. The canals were still full of ice. Our hotel was quite central; in the old harbour of Nyhavn. That’s the hotel on the right, and our room was on the 4th floor, facing that white boat.

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Nyhavn is one of the most photographed parts of Copenhagen, for obvious reasons:

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But once we’d dumped our bags in the hotel our immediate priority was lunch, and I’d decided in advance that our first culinary experience in Denmark should be a spread of their traditional open sandwiches, or smørrebrød. Restaurant Heering was just a few hundred metres along the road, and we enjoyed a selection of tasty and filling rye bread treats, topped with roast beef, herring and brie, among other things. The two tall glasses in the centre contain schnapps.

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Suitably fortified we headed along the main shopping street (Strøget) to check out the latest in Danish design in houseware shops like Illums Bolighus. Copenhagen is both a great and a terrible place to go shopping. They have many many sexy and desirable objects, and many many outrageous and extortionate price tags. I was quite taken by these wooden “Howdy Owl”s, but the smallest one cost €100.

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Realistic (well, apart from the colour) piggy banks.

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Foreign words which sound amusing in English! Apparently in Danish this means “Final sprint”.

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There are handy street signs directing you towards the coffee.

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Another very tempting item was this combined hat and face-warmer. The copy notes that it has a “high hipster factor”.

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Another almost-purchase.

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Tired of ice cubes melting and watering down your whiskey? Use drink stones instead!

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Once we’d wearied of looking at things we’d no intention of buying we headed for the Rundetaarn, or Round Tower. This is Europe’s oldest functioning observatory, and to get to the top you walk up a wide, gentle slope, constructed so as to make it easier to haul up wagons carrying the heavy astronomical equipment.

The official site’s promotional video also extolls the virtues of the slope as a playground for large pink space hoppers:

Here’s a view of the passage on the postcard I bought:

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Halfway up we stopped in the adjoining library, which has been converted into an exhibition space and which happened to be hosting some kind of event. We grabbed a free glass of wine and browsed a while.

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This was my favourite piece. I think it’s made from some kind of vertebra.

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At the top it was windy and raining, so I only had time for one rather dribbly and smeary shot of the cityscape.

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Outside the town hall we met a couple of horny guys.

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The next day we took a boat tour which allowed us to get a better idea of the layout of the city and see some of the main sights from the water. I’d like to specify that we took the Canal tour. Despite many similarities between the two towns this was Copenhagen, not Amsterdam.

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The new opera house.

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A statue of a half-fish woman drew a lot of attention, for some reason.

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Boats and churches. This spire was also visible from our hotel room.

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The spire is closed for the moment, but during the summer months you can walk up it. On the outside.

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The library, known as the “Black Diamond”.

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At left, a church whose spire is composed of the tails of four dragons, representing the four Scandinavian nations. At right, the Prime Minister’s offices. The main disappointment of the trip was that we didn’t run into any of the cast of the three Danish TV dramas (The Killing, The Bridge, Borgen) we’ve been watching recently.

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If boats aren’t your style, other kinds of guided sightseeing are available.

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On our way towards Noma we detoured through the famous hippie commune Christiania. They don’t allow photos inside, so all I can show you is the mural near the entrance:

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And the exit. The area itself is more or less as I expected it to be, except for the fact that it’s so full of cafés and sandwich shops. It’s not exactly gentrified, but it’s certainly learnt to cater to the tourists.

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In a nearby street we saw an example of the famous Nordic attitude to sleeping babies: wrap them up warm and leave them outside while you go indoors for a drink.

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And finally, Copenhagen is full of castles and royal residences. We didn’t have time to go inside any of them but we passed through the gardens of Rosenborg castle on our way to the train station.

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