Day 5 - Located right opposite of Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Saviour), it is Christiania which is commonly known as Freetown Christiania. I was told that it is the happy town, which is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood. I would definitely go back in my next trip and see more of this happy town. Christiania is definitely an interesting neighbourhood to visit and worth exploring ;)
Walking across a few busy streets from the Central Train Station (after a short break at the Hard Rock Cafe, that resides beside the famous and lovely theme park - Tivoli), a short walk takes you to the nearby Canal, dug across the city, to let the sea water come in. Something that is must - a boat ride in the canal, that takes you across the various landmark locations in the city - like Christiansborg Palace (the seat of Folketing, the Danish parliament), Danish Royal Theater and Tycho Brahe Planetarium, and then out into the open sea. A cool Danish guide, who was with us, filled up with historical bits - the three dragons of Scandinavia... standing for the larger Denmark of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (no, Finland is not Scandinavia!), the whims of an emperor who wanted his own ' Venice' and had the canals dug up and the myths of Little Mermaid, immortalized by Hans Christian Anderson, the favorite son of the city. The little trip took us across the old Port and Red Light district of the city... Nyhavn!
The thing i try to do in my trips is to walk round the city on my own. trying to get the essence of the new place and the thrill of getting lost in a new city. This time, my walks led me by the famous Rosenborg Castle (partly occupied by the NATO and houses the Royal Treasury), the Amalienborg Palace (the residence of the Danish Queen and the royal family) and the Christmas Market... After the night stroll, the quest of 'Authentic Danish Cuisine' led me to this little Danish Restaurant. The trip that was thoroughly sumptuous - consisting of varieties of pickled Herring, Smoked Salmon and Mackerel and a mail course of local preparation of roasted lamb - left a deep hole in my pocket.
When the website mentioned Cabin Metro as basic, I did not realize it would actually give us a chicken coop with a bunk bed. The bathroom was a joke and we burst out laughing when we saw it. The plus point is that it's situated 700 metres from the Ørestad Train Station, while Copenhagen Kastrup Airport is 5 km away.
Day 4 - We went on to the Christiansborg Slot that serves as the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. I was told that the palace is the house of Denmark's three supreme powers, namely the executive power, the legislative power and the judicial power. This makes it the only building in the world that houses all three branches of government of a country. There is a viewing platform in the Tower, the tallest in the city, was made accessible to the public. Besides that, Dana told me that the interior of the Tower was refurbished as a restaurant. I definitely going to make sure I will save up enough to have a nice dinner in the Tower when I next visit Denmark! LOL! Anyway, we ended the day with a pint of local beer at a pub near the Nørreport Station. I love to get a beer and sit outside the pub catching up with my friend, and watching people from all walks of live passing by.
Carlsberg Breweries A/S
Day 4 - After filling my tummy in Strøget, I am pumped to walk my way to the Calsberg Breweries. Calsberg Breweries was founded in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen and it also brews Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Somersby cider, Russia's best selling beer Baltika, Belgian Grimbergen abbey beers and more than 500 local beers. After numerous time trying to find my way (misread the map for a few times, the clumsy me), what is better than a bottle of cool Carlsberg beer under the hot summer sun?
Day 4 - I continued my journey to the pedestrian, car free shopping area in Copenhagen, Strøget. It is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe at 1.1km. As I was walking down the street, a pretty decent cafe called Royal Smushi Cafe hidden in the "back lane". I ordered a dish called Smushi, which I was told by the staff that it is the modern version of smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is the famous Danish open sandwich that is usually served with a piece of buttered rye bread and with cold cuts toppings such as meat, fish, cheese or spreads. I chose a dish with 3 serves of smushi with toppings: (front to back) meatball with herbs and stewed summer cabbage, potato with lovage & tomato, and Chicken salad in smoked cheese with radish and lemon sugar. Simply delicious! I paid about 138DKK (~ 28AUD), which I personally see that as rewarding myself for walking few hours non-stop since I left my friend's place. Haha. Not to forget, Copenhagen Jazz Festival (July 3 til 12) was taking place while I was there in Denmark! It is an annual Jazz event each July in Copenhagen where musicians performing at more than 100 venues in Copenhagen and over 1000 concerts. The festival is one of Copenhagen's most important public festivals! There are posters along the streets that say Lady Gaga is performing with Tony Bennett at Tivoli Gardens for the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2015. It's a shame I didn't get to go and watch that live! Bummer!
So, we were warned that it's not the usual 'touristy' thing that people go looking for. Plus you cannot take pictures here. But that's exactly why we had to see for ourselves why this place is famous. Freetown Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap and organic eateries, and beautiful nature. It is a society within a society. You could take pictures, just not in Pusher street, which is famous for openly selling weed. Look for the women blacksmith shop. I bought many souvenirs there.
First of all, I would like to mention how much this trip means to me. It is my first solo trip and most importantly, meeting one of my best friend that I met in Rome 4 years ago. It was a pretty spontaneous decision that I've made to just book the ticket and fly all the way from Australia to Denmark to visit Dana. So, my itinerary was not exactly well-planned but overall I enjoy this trip a lot and I would definitely be back for my second visit! :) After almost a day flying and transiting, I FINALLY reached the beautiful country, Denmark. Make sure you purchase the public transport card, Rejsekort (80DKK just for the card, which is about 16AUD) before you leave the airport. This could be handy to travel around, even taking train to other cities!
The Royal Library
Day 4 - Dana showed me the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen, The Royal Library. I only managed to capture the old wing of the building. The new addition of the library was also known as The Black Diamond that is situated at the Copenhagen harbour with stunning waterfront view. The library is the largest library in the Nordic countries. When I went into the library, the interior design of the old wing made me feel as if I was in the Harry Potter movie. So beautiful! There are cafes in the new wing where you could order a cup of coffee and enjoy the stunning waterfront scenic view. Great way to relax and take a break from work or studies. ;)
Day 4 - I headed straight to Nyhavn after the Gefion Fountain. Nyhavn, directly translate as New Harbour, is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen. I totally adore the colorful façades along Nyhavn that is full of Scandinavian charm! The harbour was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1673. Along Nyhavn you find restaurants, bars and also mobile hotdog stores. Opting for something light, I decided to grab the Danish hotdog - Fransk Hotdog (around 30DKK which equals to about 6AUD). It is absolutely brilliant way to serve the hotdog in a bun with one closed end that stops the dressing from spilling all over the hands! As a foodie, I am definitely a BIG fan of Fransk Hotdog. Haha. There are also several canal tours and bus tours available at the harbour where you could just queue up and buy a ticket to join the tour. A decision that I regretted not making on the day and was prompted by my friend Dana to do it the next day. LOL!
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.
Rundetårn (The Round Tower)
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.
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.
Canal and Harbor Tours
Day 5 - So glad that I took Dana's advice and get on the Canal Tour. Great way to see the city! The 1-hour guided canal tour was 80DKK (~ 16AUD) which was pretty reasonable. The informative tour guide speaks in 3 languages - Danish, English and German, delivered clear understanding of the city's development from its medieval infancy to todays cutting-edge destination. As the boat leaves Nyhavn, the Royal Danish Playhouse is on the left and diagonally across the water it's the cutting-edge Opera House floating on the manmade island. Another modern building nearby called Experimentarium City, is known as an awesome place for kids to get hands on experience.The Queen's palace at Amalienborg can be seen further downstream and reaching the Little Mermaid where the captain briefly stopped the boat to give us photo opportunity. Going further, we passed by one of the iconic attraction in Copenhagen, which is Church of Our Saviours. The gold-topped Vor Frelsers Kirke could be easily spotted from the boat where boat was slowed down for great photo opportunity! Turning out from the canals of Christianshavn, the glamorous yet ultra-modern Black Diamond (the extension of The Royal Library) can be spotted. On the return journey, the 17th-century building known as Børsen or the Old Stock Exchange (one of Copenhagen's oldest building) could easily be spotted with its four-dragon-tails-intertwined spire. Right next to it is the Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen's first palace built by Bishop Absalon and now serves as the home of the Danish parliament. Before returning to Nyhavn, the boat passed by the oldest bridge in Copenhagen - the Marble Bridge. Before hopping off the boat, the tiniest house in Copenhagen could be spotted on the left at Nyhavn.
Dome of Visions
Day 5 - Dome of Visions, the building that caught my attention the most throughout my whole trip. It is located right opposite of the Black Diamond, and offering the ideas of the possibilities in vitalising the space between buildings and temporary sites that always spring up when new buildings are constructed. Its construction is based on the ideas conceived by Buckminster Fuller, who is an American architect and futurist, in 1940s. The construction of the dome aims to challenge construction industry on balancing both daily life and ambitious climate goals when developing cities. Flexible plastic made up the surface of the dome that gives visitors a feel to stay in a greenhouse during the change of seasons, and thus giving a clear overall picture of the dome's ability to function as a residential and living room in harmony with the seasons and the power of sun.
Day 4 - I was absolutely stunned by the stunning Gefion Fountain. It is a large fountain on the harbour front in Copenhagen, featuring a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the legendary Norse goddess, Gefjun. It is just minutes walk away from The Little Mermaid statue. The fountain was donated by Calsberg Foundation on its 50-year anniversary to Copenhagen. The fountain was designed by Anders Bundgaard and was first activated on July 14, 1908. Right next to The Gefion Fountain is St. Alban's Church, also known as the English Church by the locals. The Anglican church was designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style. Inside the church, it was so stunning and beautiful! I took my sweet time walking along the harbour to Nyhavn. The waterfront view is just gorgeous!
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.
Danish Museum of Art & Design
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.
Day 4 - I decided to skip Tivoli Gardens since I have visited one amusement park already on my first day in Copenhagen. And thus I continued back to the city centre to meet up with Dana and spend some quality girls time instead! There's a lot of catchups to do after 4 years anyway. LOL. Tivoli Garden, locally known as Tivoli, is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden that was opened in 1843. It is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Bakken. However, it is bigger than Bakken and there are more rides available. It has been stated that Tivoli ranks the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fourth most visited in Europe. That gives me a perfect excuse to visit Denmark for the second time.
Church of Our Saviour
Day 5 - The baroque church, Church of Our Saviour or Vor Frelsers Kirke in Danish, is definitely worth the visit. Paying an entrance fee of 45DKK (~ 9AUD) offers extensive views over central Copenhagen led by its most famous helix spire with an external winding staircase that reaches about 90m to the top. The design came from the inspiration of Sant'lvo alla Sapienza's spiral lantern where its external winding staircase also turns four times in anticlockwise manner. I tried to overcome my acrophobia but as as I was half way through to reaching the external winding staircase, it just got to me with the stairs becoming narrower as I go higher. It's a shame that I decided to turn back and not pushing my way through up to the top for the magnificent view of central Copenhagen :(