Time with Mom! I was excited to leave the Czech Republic after an awesome week spent with friends, but I was extremely excited to be able to fly off to Copenhagen to spend four days with my amazing mom, Sara.
I've visited Denmark before, but my time spent in Copenhagen last year was abbreviated, in that the only weekend I was meant to spend in the city I visited Munich instead. So as much as I want to say I've "seen" Copenhagen before, I really can't. This was my chance to really see the city and get a feel for what it's all about.
I started my time by meeting up with some friends from my time in Denmark last year and enjoyed an amazing dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Norrebro district of the city. It was great to see my colleagues from last year again and to spend the night with them catching up over a great meal. They were a real blessing last year during my week in Denmark and their subsequent week in Wisconsin, and I'm happy to have stayed in touch with them since that time.
The following day I spent my morning doing a walking tour of Copenhagen to get a better sense of some of the history of the city, Denmark, and a layout of the land. As I've said before, walking tours are the way I always like to spend my first few hours in a city. Copenhagen, as one of the tourist hubs in Europe, has a rockstar walking tour set up, and led one of the better walking tours I've been on overall. Following the tour I spent another couple of hours wandering Copenhagen and revisiting some of the areas I've seen before, such as the Nyhavn Canal, quite possibly the most photogenic district of Copenhagen.
After spending some time in the city, I met up with my mom for the remainder of the day and we headed back into the city to walk around during what I can only imagine will be one of the only sunny days we'll have in Denmark (it rains A LOT here). My mom has never been to Denmark before, but she was excited to see the city. She will be traveling to London as well, following Denmark, but I think she is most excited about her time with me. We spent the evening getting dinner on the Nyhavn Canal and enjoying the people watching of all the tourists and locals of the city.
Our second day in the city was spent walking around the rainy streets, visiting museums, churches, and the free city of Christiania throughout the day. We were staying a little out of the city, but public transit in Copenhagen, like the rest of Europe, is highly accessible, cheap, and easy to use. Someday I hope the U.S. will get on board the "public-transit-systems-are-cheaper-and-better-for-the-environment-than-millions-of-cars bandwagon," but I won't hold my breath. Denmark is also a close second behind the Netherlands when it comes to biking culture, and we were in constant fear throughout the day of stepping into the aptly named "lane of death," the strip of pavement between the road an sidewalk where Danes ride through the city.
Christiania was an interesting place to visit, a free city within the city of Copenhagen where laws and government of the city don't apply. This town was set up long ago, but it still famously exists today as the "place where everyone goes to get high" in the city. We decided to have a walk through it just to explore like many other tourists are doing. Unfortunately pictures aren't allowed, but I did snap one outside of the gates of what it looks like. Imagine a run down, trash filled city of hippies back in the 60s and that's Christiania.
Our third day was spent driving to the famous Hamlet castle (or at least the castle that Shakespeare's Hamlet was based off of, Kronborg). Kronborg sits on the coast of Denmark at the narrowest gap between it and Sweden, Denmark's everlasting rival. In the past, this castle was used to force all sailors to pay a fine in order to enter through the narrow passage and into the Baltic Sea. Denmark made considerable amounts of money from this passage throughout history, but the fee was finally abolished in the 1800s when another country, the United States, refused to pay the fee upon entrance. Typical Americans...
The castle itself was amazing, standing high above the water and open to the public for tours. It has been very well preserved through its history, and still holds performances of Hamlet every year. They even filmed the 1960s version of the Hamlet movie inside the castle, and almost every room within it is still decorated as it would have been several hundred years ago. Upon leaving the castle, we drove back to Copenhagen via the scenic route, along the coast all the way back to the city before heading across the bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden for an evening out in Malmo, the first town in Sweden you enter after entering the country. Malmo is actually a fairly large city, ranking as one of the biggest in all of Sweden. It was just like most other European cities though, fond of its old town squares littered with outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Our final day in Denmark turned into a very sunny day which we decided to capitalize on and spend enjoying a canal tour through the Copenhagen canals. Though it lasted just an hour, we got a good sense of the waterways within the city and saw up close a few of the different sights we had still yet to visit, namely the Little Mermaid statue which, as its name implies, very little. My Mom and her friend who was in Copenhagen for a conference enjoyed seeing the statues from afar and walking around the city after the tour. We visited the famous Tivoli Gardens in the afternoon and spent the evening getting dinner there as well.
Overall my second trip to Copenhagen was a success. I was able to see a lot of things I didn't get to see the first time around, and spending some time with my mom made the trip up here worth it. I'm off to the Baltics after this as I found a $11 flight to Lithuania from Copenhagen that I couldn't pass up.