Back to our regularly scheduled posts, the second day (and night) of Copenhagen was just as great as the first. In many different ways, of course. We took ourselves on a pseudo-guide of the city our first day, but noticed an advertisement for free guided tours every morning. Since we were doing this trip on a budget and still wanted to learn all about the city’s history (many significant buildings aren’t clearly marked, or have plaques that blend into the wall, so it’s easy to miss many historical sites) we decided to take the city of Copenhagen up on its offer. At 9 or 10 we geared up and made our way to the City Hall. Our tour guide was a brilliant young woman whose name I cannot remember (Rachel? Rebecca? Something with an R). She’s from the UK but fell in love with Copenhagen while studying here, so she elected to make the move and share her love and knowledge of the city with tourists every day.
Aside from the rain and wind it was a great tour. We revisited some familiar sites-Nyhavn, Amalienborg-and discovered new parts of Copenhagen, as well. My favorite part of this entire tour was probably when we stood, soaking wet with rain lashing at our eyes, by the Royal Danish Playhouse (Skuespilhuset) looking across the water to the Operaen. If you understood that last word then congratulations, you can read Danish! Though we didn’t venture inside the playhouse or opera house, the structures were marvelous and have definitely inspired me to return and watch a performance…maybe two or three.
From the Playhouse we could also see a spire within the community of Christiania, a free town within Copenhagen that was established in the 1970s. Unfortunately I don’t remember many of the details, but it sounds like a great place to visit. They are more focused on sense of community and working to live together, rather than exist as part of an urban center. If you want to read up on it (something I highly encourage if you’re interested in visiting Copenhagen or learning about different lifestyles) Copenhagen’s tourist website has a nice introduction to Christiania’s way of living.
By the time we made our way toward the hostel we were absolutely drenched. Unlike most of the showers we experienced in Oslo beforehand, Copenhagen’s rain was not letting up. And I’d forgotten to pack an umbrella. Of course. We took a quick detour so I could buy an umbrella, dashed back to the room to change, and rushed to the Central train station for help determining which side of the street we should wait on for the bus to the Carlsberg factory. Since none of the staff were helpful (sorry Copenhagen, this is the one negative experience we had) we picked a side at random and prayed for the best. Luckily we picked correctly and were on our way to the factory in a matter of minutes!
*for future reference, if you need to catch the 26 bus to the Carlsberg factory wait on the side of Vesterbrogade leading out of the city center. Pretty straightforward but can’t be too careful
The Carlsberg factory was phenomenal; much like the Guinness factory in Dublin, Carlsberg’s facility led us through the history of the beer, the brewing and fermenting process, and ended with a free pint. Sadly we got to the bar too late and they were done serving, but I like to imagine it would’ve been a great beer. They also had most every bottle design on display, with limited edition brews, anniversary designs, original to present-day, and foreign beers created under the Carlsberg name. Sara was in heaven-Liverpool jersey and all-and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Carlsberg draft horses in the stables. When we finally wound our way back to the main street (after Siri led us on quite the detoured path) we decided on a quick bite to eat before hitting the town that evening.
We knew we wanted to experience Copenhagen’s nightlife, but had no idea where to begin. Strecker’s was a great pub to catch a game and some live music, but Sara and I also wanted a taste of the more upbeat, party scene we had heard all about from friends who visited before. So how are two girls with no knowledge of the capital’s bar scene supposed to find the best places around?
We found a list of great places ranked by locals and tourists alike, figured out which ones were closest to our hostel (and easiest to return from, since we hardly trusted our navigational skills during the day), and whittled it down to a few options. Butcher’s was on top of the list but, after reading reviews that said the lines were ridiculous unless you were on the guest list, decided on Zefside. A great bar tucked into the side of the street just past the National Museum, Zefside had the perfect balance of a laid-back vibe with energetic patrons and bar staff. The bouncers were great, teasing us for being Americans as soon as we walked up because “nobody shows ID here unless they’re asked. You girls are so prepared!” Sadly you learn to prepare your ID when you still get carded at the movies for R-rated films. Descending a narrow flight of stairs brought us to the bar where we charmed our way into free drinks from men in suits finishing one last round before heading to the next venue. After assuring them we would find them later Sara, with whatever power she secretly possesses (I think it’s in her hair like Rapunzel) managed to attract the one other American in the bar by bringing up her job with the NFL. Seriously, put her next to a red-blooded American man and have her rant about video editing and the debate to bring a team to LA and said man will be hooked. It’s amazing.
We talked with this American and his friends-all Irish or Scottish-for a while and discovered it was their last night in the city, as well. Turns out if you work for an oil company and are in their fast track program they pay for you to fly around the world for work and fund your trips to Denmark for bi-monthly classes. I clearly went into the wrong field (sorry mom). Anyhow, they were a great & lively group of men, much easier to get along with than the first bunch, so when they asked us to join them for the next bar we accepted. As it turns out they were on the list for Butcher’s, with a table reserved & bottle service, so it was a weirdly perfect coincidence.
Consistently spilling champagne thanks to the uneven table aside, Butcher’s was incredible. The DJ made sure music constantly shook the space in dance worthy vibrations, the gents kept the Moët & Chandon flowing, and I got to dance with my best friend in the happiest city in the world. Though, for the record, I still do not regret refusing to dance on the table. Next to Sara (or anyone really) I am the silliest dancer and would like to keep my lack of skill on the ground level, thank you very much.
After a brilliantly inebriated blur of an evening Sara and I rushed to check out of our hostel, leaving our recluse of a roommate behind in favor of brunch with a fellow Theta. Olivia was finishing up her semester abroad and, after leading us to a gorgeous & quaint French cafe where we recovered with steaming hot tea and delicious food, she gave us a quick tour of where she’d been studying all semester. Sadly we parted ways far too quickly, as she needed to catch a train (she lived an hour outside the city) and we had to make our way to the ferry terminal. But it’s always wonderful meeting up with familiar faces in a new town-if you’re ever traveling and know somebody in the city you plan to visit, reach out to them. Even if you haven’t spoken in a while, it’s amazing what reuniting with somebody can do-especially in foreign places.