Last time I recounted my Norwegian trip, Sara and I were drinking tequila & Red Bull with a lovely Dane who looked about 6 years older than he actually was—don’t worry, he was 19…and guessed that I was his age. So there’s that. When we made it to port the next morning we were greeted with sunny & rather breezy Danish weather. All in all, it was gorgeous. We squeezed our way onto the buses provided by DFDS and caught the metro to København H, or Copenhagen Central Station. As we rolled our suitcases past Tivoli Gardens the ever-illusive sun disappeared behind dusky grey rain clouds, and our stroll down H.C. Andersens Boulevard became a mad dash to reach our hostel.
Five minutes, two near-misses with cars, and a broken umbrella later, we stood in the lobby of Danhostel. If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to stay in Copenhagen, Danhostel is the place to go. Roughly $30/night secured two beds in a 10-person room (we were “upgraded” to a 6-person dorm when we actually arrived) with an en-suite bathroom. It’s an enormous building right along one of the canals, and is a fairly central location for touring the city & nightlife. Since check-in wasn’t until later we left our suitcases in the luggage room, dried ourselves off as best as possible, and set off to see what shenanigans we could get into.
Last time I was in Copenhagen was at the very end of my Baltic Sea cruise with Nick. Rather than dash to the airport from the cruise terminal we decided to book a hotel room and explore our departure city for a day. It was beautiful the first go-around, but at that point I had been focused on preparing for my senior year of college—which started the next day. This time I was able to use my vague recollection of city navigation and enjoy the few days Sara and I had in the capital of the world’s happiest country.
One of my favorite walks through Copenhagen is Nyhavn (New Harbor), the picturesque canal with candy-colored homes & restaurants, fringed by sails and wooden masts of the ships safely anchored in harbor. From Nyhavn we turned toward the coast, gazing out to the new opera house and taking a quick detour at Amalienborg, the Danish royal family’s winter home. We managed to catch the changing of the guard &
stole borrowed a lovely policeman’s cap as we posed for photographs with him.
Now, anybody who knows me or Sara knows when we are having a crisis we default to laying on the floor with a cider or ice cream (or sunflower seeds…), singing along horribly to Disney playlists & watching Tangled/Frozen/The Little Mermaid/any Disney film really. Hell, I enjoy that when I feel perfectly fine. In short, Sara and I love Disney. So we couldn’t imagine passing through Copenhagen without visiting the statue of The Little Mermaid. Bear in mind, though, this is a tribute to the original fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen which ended quite differently from Disney’s rendition. If you aren’t familiar with Andersen’s story, a great link to it is below. The very abridged version, though, is that she gives up her voice and home for the prince who winds up marrying another maiden; the day after their wedding, the little mermaid dies and becomes sea foam. Yes, she dissolves into sea foam after cutting her tongue out for the prince who loves her like a child. It’s much more depressing than Walt’s vision. Anyhow, here’s the link to the full story: http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html
The statue of The Little Mermaid looks out into the harbor and, eventually, the Baltic Sea where I like to imagine she first saw the prince in the story. It’s a gorgeous bronze statue, erected in 1913 by Edvard Eriksen. There are always tourists snapping photos since it’s a major attraction on the tour bus routes, but if you’re willing to wait about 10 minutes there are breaks in the waves of people.
By the time we made our way back to Danhostel we were able to check in & search for a pharmacy for Sara, who started feeling a bit under the weather. Strange roommates aside—one guy kept his hood up and did nothing but watch cartoons the entire time we were there—it was a great room, clean and fairly modern. After settling in we wandered down side streets in search of a pub or restaurant that wouldn’t be an enormous tourist trap. Imagine the very pleasant surprise we found in Strecker’s Pub, which had another footy game on and featured live music later that evening. We tucked into our suppers, complete with a Carlsberg, and decided we would hang around for the first few songs. As always seems to happen, a few songs became an hour and then two; somewhere in there we were joined by a Dane named Tord, who looked older than us and actually was (only by a year but I’ll take that over somebody my brother’s age…sorry Ross)
By the time the night was done and the duet had packed their instruments away, Tord, Sara and I were sufficiently buzzed. One thing to bear in mind about many northern European countries: while sober, many locals will come across as reserved or quiet. Not the case when you’ve gotten a few drinks into them. Tord kept begging us to grab some beers at the local 7-11 (imagine how successful 7-11 would be in the States if they sold alcohol) and come back to his place. We finally placated him by promising to call him the next day, navigated our way past Københavns Rådhus, or Copenhagen City Hall, and crashed in our hostel room. Not even the snores of the man who slept with his jeans unzipped or the fluorescent blur of cartoons from a laptop screen could keep us awake.
Copenhagen, thank you for welcoming us so warmly into your city. Stay tuned for stories of the second day (and night)…