Scandinavia has long been an area of the world that intrigued me. The people, the architecture and the culture. My first expedition into this once powerhouse of Europe was Denmark, where we stayed in Copenhagen for the weekend. We hopped on a flight from Gatwick south with Easyjet and two hours later we were in the city.
The main Kobenhaven airport is a short train ride from the city, with tickets costing us 36DKK (£4) each. The gf and I bundled ourself onto the train and arrived in under 30 minutes. Our accommodation was just around the corner, which was really easy to find. We decided to go with a flat from Wimdu. They are the quivalent to a Gumtree/Craigslist for property, listing homes available to rent throughout the year. Homeowners with a spare bed, or even an entire flat list their home on the site for rent by visitors. Whilst initially founded in Germany, the website now caters for pads around the world.
I picked a flat in the red light district of town. Yep – saucy. What is it with train stations being magnets for ‘ladies of the night’? It was located on Istedgade – pronounced ‘Ist-e-galle’, which is a long road that juts off from the Copenhagen Central Station. Because of this proximity, the area has long been frequented by unsavoury types, but we found it quite amusing. The road is littered with interesting characters and the occasional sex shop, but is also close to the uber-hip cafes of the far end of and meatpacking area of Kødbyen. It was fun to be in such a quirky area.
Our flat was nicely located above one of the streets sex shops, so there was a friendly looking inflatable sheep greeting us when we walked through the front door. I never did catch his name.
Our first night didnt take us far, we wandered down Istedgade and bumped into Mc Kluud, a kind of dive-bar with a pool room. We looked through the window and it didnt look much, but gave it a go.
The first thing that hit you is the smoke, I’d honestly forgot how it feels to have a drink in a bar that allows smoking. It wasn’t offensive, just strange. After a little my eyes adjusted, so we managed to nab two prime seats at the bar and got our first couple of Tuborgs. It’s pretty much all they sold, lifted out of a large wooden chest under the bar top. I sheepishly handed over a 100DKK (£12) note, realising i could be short changing the trendy bar man, but i was pleasantly surprised to be handed back 52DKK change. Who said Denmark was expensive?
We finished up the night in a quaint little restaurant just opposite called Strassen, where we tucked into our first Smørrebrød of the weekend. A collection of miniture open sandwiches, followed by a seafood risotto made with pearl barley? Strange, but very good. We topped off the evening with a night cap at Dyrehaven, after a recommendation from our new waiter friend.
On Saturday we ventured a little further into town, but not before stopping off at Bang & Jensen, a great little cosy cafe on Istedgade. Dish of the day: “Fish, with an abundance of eggs”.
We spent the day taking in the sights on the city, including a wander past the Tivoli Gardens by the central station. The Gardens are a theme park smack bang in the centre of the city, with rollercoasters and vom-inducing rides a plenty. Miss Hopes abundance of eggs did not sit well with the idea of roller coaster action, so we gave it a pass.
After a little rest back in the flat in the afternoon, we took off for a night around the trendy Meat packing district of Kødbyen, just a short walk from Istedgade. During the day you can expect to see meat and fish trucks doing their thing, but at night a raft of trendy bars and restaurants come to life.
We didn’t have a reservation, but managed to nab a barside table at Fiskebaren, one of the better seafood restaurants in the area. Following that we took off to Bakken bar for a night cap, surrounded by the once white tiles of an old fishmongers shop. Clutching ice cold beers, we stood in our scarves and coats as we watched the hipsters descend on in. We pretended to be cool for one hot minute.
On our last day we tripped over to the popular Kalaset on Vendersgade, a small quirky cafe just a few minutes walk north of Central Copenhagen. Kitsch radios and music players adorn the walls and people jostle for seating in this small, cosy space. We ventured over for the pancakes – a favourite of locals and visiting students. We opted for the blueberry with maple syrup – a timeless classic. They make a mean latte too.
Caffeined up the eyeballs, we hopped on a busy tour boat cruise which snook along the canals and rivers around the city. The friendly chap at Strassen suggested it as a great way to see the city, and the weather held up long enough for us to see the sights.
It took off from Nhayven, which is a colourful street of houses, originally a
Nyhavn, is a 17th century waterfront lined with colourful townhouses, wooden sail boats and touristy restaurants. The canal connects nicely with the central shopping area, which is just a few moments walk away.
After our bout of sea-faring scenery scoping, we headed into town for a last nosey around and a quick coffee before we headed back to the airport. A great relaxing way to end the weekend.
Copenhagen feels like a very contemporary city, welcoming, vibrant and full of friendly people. Don’t be worried by comments about Denmark being too expensive – it isn’t, and in my opinion was worth every penny.