As I’ve lived in Asia for the past 25 years of my life, it’s not always easy or possible to find the time and money to make a trip to Europe. Luckily for me, this summer presented the opportunity to spend a month traveling around Europe while supporting the facilitation of various meditation and personal development weekend workshops with a close friend.
Our first stop was Copenhagen, Denmark. I’ve never been to this city before (or not that I can remember, anyway), and it was an incredible re-introduction to Europe and the beauty of some of the old cities around the region.
Getting Around The City
I arrived at Copenhagen Lufthavn at about 7:30 in the evening, tired and jetlagged after the 16 hour journey from Singapore. I really didn’t want to contend with the idea of trying to find my way into the city centre by means of public transport. However, I know this is always the best way to get my bearings, so I opened up the instructions given by our Airbnb host, and made my way towards the Metro and Train stations in Terminal 3.
In the terminal, it’s simple and quick to get Train and Metro tickets from easily-found red ‘DSB’ ticketing machines on the ground floor. Depending on which station you’re heading to, you choose a 1, 2 or 3 Zoner ticket. I was heading towards Nørreport, where our flat would be for the night. The Metro comes to the airport every couple of minutes, and is super efficient. None of the trains have conductors – they run 24 hours automatically. This city definitely has one of the best public transport infrastructures I’ve ever seen! All trains from the airport go in the same direction, so it’s easy to figure out where to go and which train you need to be on. Nørreport station is an interchange, so if you need to get to a station that’s not on the Metro line, you can change to the Train there and continue on.
The ride into the city only took about 20 minutes or so, and the sunset was absolutely stunning! In Singapore we can’t see a lot of open skyline, so being able to see for miles and have the late summer sunset was a really special treat.
Once I got off at Nørreport, I needed to find a bus to the flat in Nørrebrigade. Instructions from my Airbnb host said cross the street and take the 5A straight down the road. I felt a bit lost at this point, so I asked some local Danish people for their advice and direction, which they happily and helpfully gave to send me off on my way. Everyone is incredibly friendly and welcoming! At least three people helped me out, showing me where to get on the bus, how I could use the same train ticket I just bought for the bus also, and then how to find the apartment I was looking for when I arrived at the right location.
The Airbnb apartment was located directly opposite a graveyard. At first I thought this was a little morbid, but it actually turned out to be an incredibly beautiful green garden. Apparently the locals run, cycle and have picnics here, and it’s a really vibrant place. It’s a wonderful place to get some peace and quiet, and sit listening to the many birds. The air is loaded with the sweet scent of fragrant pine and spruce, and there are flowers and lovely old trees all throughout the space, provided plenty of secluded benches and grass patches to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air from.
Our hosts were originally from Greenland, and showed us amazing pictures of the town they are from, and the lights of the Aurora Borealis spread across the sky above their homes. It’s always great getting an Airbnb and having the chance to speak to new people! They had some amazing stories about how they met, and the things they get up to in Copenhagen.
We went to get some coffee just down the road from the apartment in the morning, and did some people watching. It’s amazing to see how many people cycle around the city, using all of the cycling tracks provided on the sides of all the roads. There’s very little traffic, and it feels like a calm and relaxed city as a result.
In many of the coffee shops we visited in Copenhagen, we found that it’s a common and popular thing to have shots of straight ginger juice. I always rave about the health benefits of ginger, especially for digestion (and not to mention it warms you up!), and it was a real blessing to see this. I would highly recommend an early morning ginger shot to get you going – it’s like fire in the belly but it certainly does the trick of waking you up and getting the body systems going!
There’s tons of amazing artwork and architecture to see around the city. The combination of the grand old buildings and the modern day graffiti work makes for a particularly interesting landscape. It’s definitely worth walking down by the river to see all the boats go by.
We decided to walk through an area of Copenhagen called Freetown Christiania, in Christianshavn. It caught our attention because a few of our local friends highly recommended we go and check it out, due to it’s almost Burning Man-like vibe and philosophy. It used to be the military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde, and still holds 17th century reinforced defence ramparts. The north part of the area used to be an old Naval base.
Christiania is unique because it is viewed as a commune by civic authorities, and they refuse outside intervention or takeover. It is operating somewhat as an independent state. Their beliefs center around environmentalism and shared resources, and they are governed by an internal board of community members. There has been much discussion in the past around whether or not to take Christiania back under Copenhagen rule, but an agreement has been made with the city through which it can operate somewhat independently.
Because Christiania has rejected outside influence for so long, there is a lot of cannabis stalls right inside the front gate, on a street known as Pusher Street. The community has strict rules against taking any photographs in this area, as this is still completely illegal, and it seems wildly bizarre to see this happening openly along the side of the street.
The houses are made for the people, by the people of Christiania. The resulting effect is rather surreal, as the houses are made up of all kinds of odd bits and pieces. There was a concert happening as we walked in, and it was quite busy in the main central area, but when we walked out around the river, it was peaceful and serene with lots of people enjoying the sun by the water.
There’s plenty of places in Copenhagen to find peace and quiet! Many picturesque areas, and lots of beautiful things to see. I’m definitely going to have to make time to go back again one day!