Day 6: Oland - Copenhagen (II)
Copenhagen Travel Blog› entry 11 of 13 › view all entries
After the moose sanctuary we had a nice lunch break in a tiny restaurant in the woods, before starting the long drive to Copenhagen. The drive into Denmark's capital was like entering another world all of a sudden. As I said before, Sweden doesn't have much that resembles a highway, and the route we'd taken through the forested Småland province consisted of mainly twisting (but well-kept) back roads. So crossing into Denmark via the 4-lane Øresund bridge, the largest border crossing bridge in the world, into Copenhagen, the largest city in Scandinavia, seemed like crossing into another world.
We checked in to our hotel, and quickly wandered into the city.
As our hotel was just outside the centre we had to cross the infamous Christiania district to get to the town centre. The Christiania district is the place where a hippy 'Freetown' was established in the early 70s. The area apparently welcomes busloads of tourists every day, despite drug busts and gang wars that apparently happen on a daily basis here. Having lived and worked in Amsterdam for most my life I am familiar with the sight of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the seedy lower end of society, all from the safe distance of their tour bus.
But I must say, while there isn't an awful lot to see in Christiania (no gang wars when we walked there), it does have a nice atmosphere and certainly reminded me of some of the more bohemian areas of Amsterdam.
Once inside the center I did recognise some landmarks from the previous time I was in Copenhagen, 14 years ago. Though I must say I don't remember much of the actual sightseeing I did back then. Like the other Scandinavian capitals I have visited, Oslo and Stockholm, Copenhagen is instantly likeable. It is larger and certainly more cosmopolitan than the other two, but has the same laid-back atmosphere.
As we only had one evening we did the 'grand tour' at top speed. We walked around the old centre, Slottsholmen with all its museums and royal buildings and through the Latin Quarter before heading to the north of the center to have a look at one of the world's most famous tourist anti climaxes: the statue of the Little Mermaid.
Walking back south we settled down at a waterfront restaurant at the overpriced but oh-so picturesque canal street Nyhavn. Well worth its money for the location, as it is a great place to sit down and just watch the world go by while the sun is slowly setting.
After dinner we went to the southern end of the centre to have a glimpse of the famous Tivoli gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. I would have liked to have gone in, but wasn't interested in any of the rides (we'd done two theme parks already this week) but unfortunately there was a hefty entrance fee, even for those who just want to enter for a stroll and some pictures.
We ended up in the Vesterbro area, which is filled with nice bars and restaurants, most of which were disappointingly empty on a Tuesday night. This was the last night of the trip, so we sat down at a nice bar to reflect on our little whirlwind trip. We basically agreed on two things: taking the car wasn't the best idea in hindsight, as the distances were greater than expected, with progress being rather slow, and driving in these countries quite boring. And secondly, next time we should spend more time in Copenhagen, as this really looks to be a great city and is now marked high on my list of future city trips.
We continued to talk and drink for another couple of hours, sitting nicely outside, keeping warm under the heaters. I like the way how the smoke ban in Scandinavia has resulted in an outside culture.
I wouldn't know how this would work back home though, the recent smoking ban in The Netherlands has resulted in a revelation of what us Dutch are really like: we're a bunch of whiners. A change, *any* change results in people complaining just for the sake of complaining. In most Scandinavian countries the smoke ban has been in effect for a few years, and smoking outside has become a way of life. One of the bars we went to in Stockholm didn't even have an indoor area - I loved it. And I don't even smoke!
So I wonder what will happen in Holland though. Can't see restaurants offering blankets to patrons sitting outside, because these will probably get stolen. And the heaters too, if they don't get demolished first.
Around midnight we took a bus back to our hotel for a good night's rest before undertaking the long drive home tomorrow.