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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

Copen-healthy-hagen

DENMARK | Monday, 13 March 2017 | Views [707] | Comments [2]

Copenhagen (5th - 9th Jan) 

My flight from Amsterdam landed an hour after Rachel's flight from London. When I exited the terminal she spotted me and came running to hug me. It was like a scene from a movie! We were so happy to see each other because the last time we were together was when we went on holiday to Cyprus in June last year. She was the only friend from UEA that I'd seen after I finished my second year. It was so good to catch up with her because I'd Skyped her barely twice since I'd left. It's not because I didn't have time, oh I had too much time on my hands. No, it was because the wifi in my guesthouse room is really weak and more honestly, because university life is much busier making it harder to find free time to Skype. So it felt like utter relief to talk with my UEA best friend because she brought a part of my UK home with her and we had a lot of memories to relive.  

While we chatted away excitedly, Rachel was taking in her surroundings with admiration and awe. 'It's so easy to get around here!' she exclaimed. The metro trains were short, fast and high-tech; nothing compared to the long, overcrowded and insufferably hot conditions of the London Underground. I had experienced the same excitement when I boarded a double-decker train in Berlin; it was an other-worldly feeling because I'd never seen such modern trains before. We arrived at our station in 20 minutes and found Generator Hostel in another 15. Rachel had gone to Dubai a couple of weeks prior to our trip and it's safe to say Dubai and Copenhagen are two very different cities. Thus ensued frequent 'Wow, look at that!'s or 'This is so cool!'s from her end. It was amusing to watch because Copenhagen was the 8th Western European city I'd visited during my Christmas travels and there were many similarities between here and Berlin, for example. Her enthusiasm throughout our trip was refreshing and in those moments where she felt uncertain, I stepped in. 

It was the first time she was staying in a hostel and I'd given her a briefing on what it would be like, but it's one of those things that you have to experience yourself. Mind you, this hostel was the biggest one I'd ever stayed in; 5 floors and an enormous lounge with multiple rooms. We didn't even need to go out every night because there was always something fun going on every evening. The first night we arrived, we watched a group play giant Jenga, another play darts and we just soaked up the atmosphere. Rachel got really lucky with her first hostel experience because out of the five that I'd stayed in, this was by far the best. We snuck into a photobooth and took some truly horrendous pictures and then proceeded to sit in a dark room with two huge screens displaying sports. When we checked in we found out that there would be a free 3 hour walking tour the next morning starting conveniently from our hostel. We spent the rest of the evening catching up and groaning about how disappointing it was that the other 6 beds in our 8 bedroom dormitory were occupied by British boys. We felt highly let down that they were staying during the same dates as us because we wouldn't be sharing stories of our different countries and becoming more, you know, culturally aware. It was especially sad for Rachel who felt like she hadn't even left the UK.  

The next day was the coldest day Copenhagen had experienced in over a year. The – 6 degree weather was already challenging enough without having to walk outside for 3 hours in a row. But we'd signed up for the walking tour and it was too late to leave the group now. On the contrary, our guide was great and the tour was very educational. As I mentioned in my first article 'Christmas in Berlin', the best way to start a spontaneous holiday is to go on a free walking tour because you learn about the main attractions and get a hold of your bearings. Rachel had done more research about Copenhagen than me, which was a relief for a change. The poor thing couldn't handle the cold (I wasn't much better) and we both rushed to the nearest café during the short break in the middle of the tour. So far we had seen the City Hall, the Tivoli (an amusement park that was currently shut during the winter) and the house where Hans Christian Anderson (author of many famous fairy tales) used to live. The tour continued down the iconic Nyhavn street which is made up of colourful houses, apart from the white residence of the Prime Minister of Copenhagen. Nyhavn made a stunning transformation from a red light district to a popular tourist destination filled with fancy restaurants. In fact, if you go further into the harbour from Nyhavn you will find yourself outside Noma, voted the World's Best Restaurant four times.  

The tour continued along the riverbank where we saw one of the most modern opera houses in the world. Unfortunately the architect declared it was his worst ever work, and indeed it did look like a toaster. The tour ended in the centre of the palace grounds and after we bought tickets for a Pub Crawl, we rushed to the Marble Church for shelter. On the way there we swore we saw the Royal Prince's wife and twins in a black SUV. We defrosted in silence for almost 30 mins before venturing out again to find the Little Mermaid. Our guide had told us it was voted second on the list of 'Most Disappointing Statues' but it was a must-see in Copenhagen. With my scarf wrapped all the way up to my eyes, we walked what seemed like forever to the rocky shoreline where the mermaid sat gleaming on a rock. It was...small. We took an obligatory selfie and headed back to the hostel to rest before our Pub Crawl. I must give a shout out to the Danish 7/11 supermarkets. They sold the healthiest food I had ever seen sold in any 7/11 (much healthier than Singapore) and we frequented our local one at least twice a day. Rachel was in love because she's a health and fitness nut and I can't complain about her good habits rubbing off on me. Granted, Copenhagen was an expensive city but eating in the 7/11's were still cheaper than eating in a restaurant.  

The Pub Crawl was more like a Pub Walk because 3 of the 5 destinations were on the same street! I found this really funny because you usually walk for 10-15 minutes to get to the next pub. It was a fun night and there was a pole in one of the bars. One of us danced on it and I'll leave you to guess who. After a post-crawl meal at 7/11, we hit the hay and woke up to dull day. Rachel really wanted to visit the street food market on Paper Island but unfortunately it was closed during the winter. However, there was an open indoor market and we decided to go there for lunch. On the way we had quite a disturbing experience. We saw a large crowd marching down the middle of the road towards us holding signs protesting against Muslims and refugees. My normal reaction would have been anger, but the police cars and vans surrounding the crowd made me more nervous than anything. When we reached the end of the street the police were not letting pedestrians walk through the same way we had come. They beckoned us to pass them and that's when we saw several people dressed head to toe in white overalls with masks on their face jump out of the back of one of the police vans. Rachel and I were pretty scared at this point because they looked like they were the biological warfare version of a bomb squad. After watching for a while we decided we needed to get out of there and we arrived at the indoor food market. 

I was blown away. Two huge glass warehouses stood side by side, draped in fairy lights. It looked magical from the outside, but even more so on the inside. Copenhagen is a healthy city; people travel on bicycles to work and are in generally good shape. The street food inside matched the dietary requirements for this lifestyle. We were on the hunt for Smørrebrød, a traditional open-faced sandwich topped with the freshest of ingredients. Of course, this stall had the longest line but it was totally worth it. After spending a couple of hours inside, we decided that the protest should have cleared up and we headed back to our hostel. That evening we played darts for the first time and met a few of the people we'd seen on the Pub Crawl. For a recovery day, it wasn't bad at all. 

On the 8th we headed to Christianshavn, a rebellious small area on the other side of the Port of Copenhagen. This area did not follow the laws that the rest of Copenhagen followed and had demanded their own independence for years. They even had their own flag; red with three yellow dots. According to Wikipedia, the three dots represent the ''o's'' in ''love, love, love''. We spotted a large green wall painting  and an archway which indicated the entrance to Christianshavn. When Rachel took a picture of the art, an animated woman demanded that she delete the picture because she was in it. This should have been the first warning of what we would find inside.. The whole residency looked like a rainbow had fallen over it; there was colour everywhere. We were lucky because the 30-year ban on photography inside Christianhavn had been uplifted in recent years. We found the main market in the middle of the area and every stall was selling marijuana. The drug is illegal in Copenhagen but as I mentioned, this little area did not like to follow the rules. We soon realized that this was a major pull for the Danish and we noticed we were surrounded by red-eyed single men. After this epiphany, we left. 

I had messaged a Danish girl that I'd met during summer school last year about our visit and she said she'd definitely meet us when we came. She told us to come to Bastard Café, a very popular board game café. It's exactly what it sounds like; a café serving drinks, comfort food and an entire wall of free board games! It was like a dream come true. Rachel and I spent four hours with my friend and her boyfriend playing various Danish board games. It was the most fun I've had at a café and we didn't notice the time flying by. We thanked them for a wonderful evening and left in great spirits.  

We'd both received discount cards for a canal tour during the free walking tour. After checking out, we headed to the Nyhavn Pier and boarded a heated boat. It was really lovely to be warm inside while seeing the sights through the windows of the boat. Nevertheless, we occasionally braved the cold in the front of the boat to get better pictures. We managed to see a few more attractions such as Paper Island, the Black Diamond (Royal Danish Library) and the Circle Bridge (designed by an award-winning architect). We left the boat at the Royal Palace to see the guard change which we were told would be a special version because the Danish Queen was home. The soldiers marched in, followed by the band, dressed in blue with huge black fluffy hats. It reminded me of the guards outside Buckingham Palace. They played three or four songs and it was the longest guard change I'd ever seen. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to an expensive lunch because it was our last meal in Copenhagen and my last meal on my Christmas holiday. I felt really sad that my 18 day trip was at an end and also really apprehensive about starting work again. But all good things must come to an end. My flight left an hour after Rachel's and before I knew it, I was back in Brno. 

The End.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Tags: copenhagen, healthy

 

Comments

1

you girls look similar dears !

  poongothai Apr 4, 2017 9:05 PM

2

Asian persuasion

  swathi Apr 5, 2017 5:47 AM

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