City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark

27th Feb 2014
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 1/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Carlsberg Brewery
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 2/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Danish Museum of Art & Design
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 3/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Grand Canal
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 4/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 5/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Nimb Brasserie
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 6/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
The Round Tower
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 7/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
Stroget Street
Photo of City Charm: Copenhagen, Denmark 8/8 by Nishiraj Baruah
University of Copenhagen

Denmark’s capital Copenhagen runs on paddle power, but it doesn’t mean it is out of gas.

It was Christmas and the Nordic nation was dressed to the hilt. Shopping malls were lit up in twinkle-twinkle lights, window signs announced festive discounts, gift boxes were being filled up for effect, and the little boutiques sold posters and books on Xmas tales. It is in the middle of this festive warmth and freezing weather that we arrived from a 6 hour Emirates flight in Copenhagen from Dubai.

A tourist gotta do things touristy and our first tour of Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is by rickshaw, a popular way for sightseeing.

The next morning I decided to hire a bicycle. n. A very Eco conscious city, it has the highest density of bicycles in the world. If you are a pedestrian, it is the speeding cycles you need to watch out for in the street and not cars. In overcoats, boots, mufflers and caps, the residents paddle on with a mission. Well-marked cycle routes make it easier. Our own Atlas cycles also make their presence felt. The latest cycles are loaded with tech, solar powered and equipped with GPS. And somewhere on the side of a busy street, there is a meter that indicates the number of cycles that have passed by on any given day. No wonder, instead of multi-level automated parking, what you have are double-decker cycle stands.

The cityscape is dotted with amazing architecture and well-ordered streets. The pace is unhurried and people are warm, friendly and helpful. Fluent in English, the Danes are also a fashionable lot. Certainly a great place for a tourist. I would love to live here too. After all, free high quality education, medical facilities, paternity leaves are some of the perks – possible because as our guide says, “Danes love paying their taxes.”  Even immigrants are a happy lot. “It’s a lovely country to be,” says one Pakistani watching a Bollywood movie on his car video.

This museum displays various arts and crafts by Danish and international artists. Few of the famous Danish artists displayed here are Arne Jacobsen, Jacob Jensen and Kaare Klint. Founded in 1894, it was shifted to its current location the defunct Frederick's Hospital (after some renovations) and has been an inspiration to many budding artists and craftsmen as it houses decades of artistic treasures. From decorative arts to industrial design. This museum also organizes some brilliant temporary exhibitions. This museum has the biggest library of design and database of all the furniture made in Denmark in the last century. It is a great way to understand the history and craft of Denmark.
Photo of Danish Museum of Art & Design, Bredgade, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
Almost every city has (or should have) a place from where you get a glimpse of the entire city. There is something magical in watching the whole place in oneness. Like everything somehow knits itself together. All the parts fall in to complete the puzzle. The Round Tower gives a similar view of Copenhagen. This observatory built in the 17th century was built on the command of the famous King Christian IV. Today, this tower not only serves as a public observatory but also is a venue for a lot of cultural events like exhibitions and concerts. Not to mention the incredible view one gets from above and the architectural nuances of the structure.
Photo of Rundetårn (The Round Tower), Købmagergade, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
One of the oldest and eminent institutions for higher education in Scandinavia, The University of Copenhagen is well renowned for research. We stop to take a look at the marble busts of the scholars in front of the University of Copenhagen. “If you want to end up as a head there, you have to study very, very hard,” says our guide.
Photo of University of Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
The next day, we decided to explore Copenhagen through its waters. It's harbors and idyllic canals provide a magnificent view of the city. I took the Grand Canal Tour. You get lost in the unforgettable views of the Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Black Diamond Library, the Little Mermaid, bridges, warehouses turned apartments, houses in metro sexual colors; ships in the harbor, and so on. And then comes the warning. “Look out, ladies and gentlemen,” a voice implores over the speakers, “mind your heads!” We look up to see a bridge so low and narrow that the sides and the roof of the boat are but inches away from it. We promptly bend our heads.
Photo of The Grand Canal, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
With nothing much to occupy my taste buds, I let my tongue loose and fool around. In a trendy restaurant called Nimb Brasserie at Tivoli, the top five most visited amusement parks in Europe. With a view of the lovely Tivoli gardens, Nimb Brasserie is the largest restaurant of its kind serving classic French cuisine. The restaurant provides a relaxed atmosphere with different sections that will give you a very informal and cozy dining experience.
Photo of Nimb Brasserie, Bernstorffsgade, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
A hot spot for businessmen, the traveler, the playgoer, the lovers, the fashioniasta and the Urbanite. But instead of chilling on cool cocktails, I end up playing the DJ, more to help the solitary man who was doing everything from mixing our drinks, to taking our orders, clearing the tables to playing the music. He has a Bollywood section as well, and we all want to dance. But with the likes of Lata Mangeshkar and Md. Rafi at their sentimental best, we are left with no choice but to drown our sorrows with a drink.
Photo of Marchal, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
Without a shopping experience, I never get a complete feel of a place. Mostly, I pick up statement pieces that are unique and large in size. I went ahead to explore Stroget,the longest pedestrian shopping street, where the biggest stores of some of the major Danish brands such as George Jensen, Royal Copenhagen and Illum’s Bplighus are located. Shopkeepers are warm, greet you with a smile, a hue and singsong Danish. When I respond in English, they are quick to say “oh, sorry!”. If a store doesn’t have a size, they will not insist with a ‘this will fit you’ or ‘you’re looking perfect in it’ line. Instead, they will direct you to the next store. Stroget is the longest shopping street in Europe. Danish urban planner and architect, Jan Gehl was instrumental in the formation of this 100,000 sq.m of area. Along with the shopping, the street is also visited to experience some local music and performing arts.
Photo of Strøget, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah
Carlsberg Brewery is where my actual shopping experience begins. Less than 2 km from the Town Hall Square, it is the 5th largest brewery in the world. It has the world’s largest bottle collection and houses a souvenir shop. I pick up a bulky outdoor grill that looks like a football, retro looking chiller, an artist beret, an old poster, a beer bottle holder, a napkin holder and so on. My bags are full and I’m ready to pack up. Carlsberg was founded in 1847 by J.C.Jacobson. Its signature beer is famous all over the world.
Photo of Carlsberg Group, Ny Carlsberg Vej, Copenhagen, Denmark by Nishiraj Baruah