Copenhagen: welcome to bikeland!
When I bought the cheap tickets to Copenhagen a couple of months in advance I didn’t know what I was embarking myself on to. Copenhagen was always this pretty, neat city I used to see on instagram, a distant place I was learning about back in university through the writings of Jan Gehl, an important center of architecture & design, a place that in my mind took the form of an incredibly educated & evolved place.
Everything turned out to be true. Well, except the weather. Everywhere I looked up the internet, people were either complaining or mocking the gloomy, fluctuating, too frequent rain showers so that’s exactly what I was expecting, however during the 4 days I spent there I only experienced a few random rain drops and otherwise just warm sunny days. I guess Copenhagen liked me, then? 😀
I loved Copenhagen from the moment I set foot out of the bus and into the chaotic mid-day near the Central Station. We decided to walk all the way to our airbnb host (cutest apartment I stayed in so far, taken right out of IKEA’s catalogue), which meant more than 1h and a half of slowly discovering the city at a first encounter. All this while trying to not get run over by a bike loco, because yes, it seems that Copenhagen has more bikers than pedestrians.
No worries, early next day we became one of them, this time struggling to keep our bike lane, not be too slow and overcome the stress of finding a free parking spot in the sea of bikes when stopping somewhere. Man, these people are biking like their life depends on it! Oh, and the best part? We didn’t have to worry about pedestrians or cars. The first ones know their place (hehe), while the other ones don’t really seem to have any priority in most intersections (or they just willingly give it all up in favor of cyclists).
Need I tell you how awesome it was to hire our own bikes? I can’t think of a better way to experience Copenhagen than this! We’ve seen so much of this wonderful city until it became overwhelming for our brains to acquire more information, yet we still missed a LOT! I’m not sure you could ever truly discover Copenhagen unless you lived there. Even then, it would be hard to keep up with all the changes, installations and innovations that seem to be developing ultra fast.
We joyfully speeded on the elevated Bicycle Snake over the harbour until my eyes were filled with tears from the cold wind and later on slowly pedalled on the promenades, stopping now and then to relax and soak up the sun and the views on the warm wooden water banks. We wandered the streets and the parks, randomly discovered hidden beautiful architecture, visited the Danish Design Museum, tasted delicious local smørrebrød (or fancy half-sandwiches, if I may), binged on way too many pastries, almost panicked on top of Church of Our Saviour’s tower due to my sudden overwhelming fear of heights, stopped to photograph my feet with every other colorful flowers (too many cute flower shops by the road, what can I say), window shopped an exaggerated amount of design stores (they’re everywhere!) and discovered I absolutely love rhubarb (especially the dessert at the Royal Library cafeteria.. madre mia, I would fly back just for that! Totally recommended!).
Copenhagen is truly beautiful, simply as that. Overall, its streets seem like taken out of a glossy, extremely well curated design magazine, while the people right from a cool clothing catalog. And although we ventured in less pretty areas as well, they were still neat and you could see (or at least sense) that something was being done to improve them. On the other hand, it did feel a bit too chaotic, too random on a first impression. To me, Copenhagen seemed a city “in between”, continuously changing, continuously transitioning from A to B, a place where time doesn’t stand still. Which is not a bad thing at all, it’s just different from what I’m accustomed to.
What I loved most (besides the bike part)? Seeing the people fill up the streets, taking advantage of the great weather and bits of sun, simply enjoying life. This is something I don’t see enough of in my home country, but it looks like things are slowly starting to change for the better.
Money-wise, it was a hit to my savings. Although everyone told me beforehand it was expensive, I never imagined it was THAT expensive. However, I never felt “ripped off”, no matter how much I paid for something, which I suppose had to do with the fact that everyone I made contact with was friendly and helpful and respectful and smiling and patient, from our airbnb host to the guy at the local supermarket. Funny enough, the cheapest paid thing to do in Copenhagen was to rent a bike…
How many bikes can you spot in the pictures below? 😀