Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Copenhagen, Mark of the Danes

We left Amsterdam at 10am and didn’t arrive to Copenhagen, Denmark until 12:15am. The day consisted of 3 different transfers, including a three hour layover in Hamburg.

Needless to say, we were incredibly tired when we finally arrived, and all we wanted to do was go to bed. Instead, we had to find our hostel late at night. We hopped on the bus, got a little bit of help from the bus driver and made it to our hostel called Sleep in Heaven without getting lost. Woohoo!
When we walked into the hostel, the music and cool atmosphere made me think this was going to be a good place. I was pretty excited….and then the conversation went something like this.
Bryan – “We need to check in under the name Wokich.”
Receptionist – “What was the name again?”
Bryan – “Wokich.”
Receptionist – (a quisitive look) “Hmmm….I don’t have you scheduled until next weekend.”
Bryan – “Are there any beds available for tonight?”
Receptionist – “Sorry, we’re full.”
A look of panic came across our faces, and I thought I was going to have to cry again (last time I cried was going from Paris to Rome). She was quite helpful and called another hostel to see if they had beds available.
Luckily, there was room for us at a place called City Hostel. However, we liked Sleep in Heaven so much that we decided to reschedule for the following two nights and then booked it across town for one night at the other place. Before we left, Bryan asked if we should be worried about walking across town so late at night. She said there were no worries and that Copenhagen is “ridiculously safe.”
It’s nice walking around cities defined as “ridiculously safe.”
It took us about a half hour or so before we arrived, and at this point we were miserably tired.
City Hostel consisted of 68 bed dorm rooms, so they had plenty of room for us. Overall, the hostel was not my favorite for several reasons, and I was very happy we left the next morning.
We walked through the doors of Sleep in Heaven and the sound of Fleet Foxes gently made its way to my ears. Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite bands, and it felt like a little bit of home since they are from Seattle. I loved this hostel.
We ate Muesli, bananas, and strawberries for breakfast and then explored the so called city of Copenhagen.
Bryan had once been to Copenhagen, so he was excited to show me one of his favorite cities of his one month tour of Europe 12 years ago. We explored a bit of downtown which again consisted of incredibly wide streets where cars are not allowed, and then we headed to a church called “Our Savior” simply because it had a big spiral where people could climb to the top for a view of the city.
The journey to the top was full of humor, to say the least. They did not think about tourists when they built it, and we spent the majority of our time waiting for other tourists to come down as there was only room for people going one direction. The further to the top we got, the more steep and narrow it became. At one point we waited 20 minutes for people to come down and were scooted as far as we could to the side in order to give them room on the steep stairs.
We all had a good laugh about the situation and met a lot of people along the way. Meeting people is easy when one does not have a lot of space between one person and the other.
When we finally made it to the top, the whole thing felt a bit shaky and then the guy in front of me asked if it felt like it was moving. It sure was. We quickly snapped a picture as there was only room for one person at the very, very top.
After leaving the steeple, we decided to check out a little place called Freetown Christiania or just simply Christiania. Christiania is a sort of commune like place founded in 1971. Christiania has its own laws and currency. Denmark will tell you Christiania is part of Denmark, but Christiania disagrees with this. The whole thing was quite interesting to me and walking around was even more so.
There is an open cannabis trade (No hard drugs allowed) in Christiania and is sold on a street called Green Street or what used to be called Pusher street. We walked through this street and were not allowed to take pictures as there were no picture signs everywhere. Cannabis is illegal in Denmark, but the Danes have not been able to stop this from happening since cars are not allowed and Christiania have people watching for cops.
After walking through Green Street, we went to eat lunch at a little local cafe which was by far my favorite sandwich I have eaten in a long time. It had whole wheat homemade bread, Cajun Chicken, leafy greens, some sort of spicy sauce, and quality tomatoes. Maybe I was just starving for some healthy foods, but it was sure good.
Bryan and I debated whether or not to include this story as it feels a bit mean writing it, but figured I might as well share it. Here’s your ugly stereotypical American.
We were waiting in line to order our food, and a woman about 100 pounds overweight interrupted the people in front of the line to ask what she was supposed to do in order to get food. She didn’t know if the other person would speak English, so she decided to speak loudly and immediately grabbed the attention of the surrounding area. Why oh why did she have meet every stereotypical description of “Americans,” I thought. She had been waiting off to the side for awhile, so we offered her the place in front of us in line. Bryan was trying to diffuse the situation before she started arguing why she shouldn’t have to wait in the line.
She ordered nachos and asked for “hot salsa, or hot sauce.”
“Would chili sauce work,” asked the woman behind the counter.
“No, hot salsa,” said the southern lady, probably not realizing that “salsa” is Spanish for “sauce” and there’s not a jalapeno for 100 miles.
Bryan told her that the chili sauce would be fine.
After we sat down at the table waiting for our food, the southern lady heard us talking and said “do I hear Americans over there.” She then asked if she could sit with us, and while we said yes, I felt a bit embarrassed because of what happened earlier and sort of didn’t want to be seen with her. (I know, awful of me to think).
Then, she started talking about how McDonald’s was so expensive in Scandinavia, how her dad almost shot a cat but then decided not to and ended up having the cat for several years, and how she hadn’t left the district by her hotel as she was just there for a cruise and had been stuck for several days.
Overall, the lady seemed nice, but it’s always hard to meet people who reinforces stereotypes of Americans. It’s often thought that we must be loud, fat, obnoxious, stupid, gun-toting militarists who are ready to declare our country greatest in all things when people hear we’re from the USA. One guy actually told Bryan “You’re clever for an American”.
I think we have done a pretty good job at helping people understand the United States is pretty darn big and diverse and generalizations like this are not a good way of thinking… then we meet someone like the lady at the cafe and the stereotypes are reinforced. Danielle from the blog A Mr and Mrs Live with the Swisses said it best when she said “nobody notices the quiet, normal sized Americans on the train, because you are being quiet and blend in to the crowd. :)
After leaving the cafe we walked around Christiania where all the locals live. All of the houses were unique with lots of character. They were not the typical looking houses so it was fun to see. There were many families, young and old, and it seemed like a nice quaint place to live.
The next morning we decided to rent bikes since Copenhagen was a lot like Amsterdam as in most people commute on bikes and there were also street lights for bikes.
We made our way to the history museum of Denmark to learn more about the Stone and Ice ages, but Bryan was more excited to learn about the Vikings from the Danish perspective. The museum itself was full of information and artifacts from those times, it was actually pretty impressive. However, I think Bryan was a little underwhelmed with how little they had about vikings.
We were thinking about heading to a small town in Sweden since it was only a half hour away, but we decided against this as we had to pay extra for our bikes. Instead, we sat a usual danish hangout spot on a bridge and enjoyed the views.
We then went to see the famous Little Mermaid statue. Bryan had once seen the statue and told me it wasn’t as big as he thought, so I was prepared for a small statue. However, it was worth seeing as it was placed in the water around cool looking rocks.
We rode our bikes back to the hostel after eating a Donor Kebab and met a Dutch guy who ended up playing pool with Bryan. It was nice hanging out in a hostel that played good music and had comfy couches. One of the things we miss about having a home, a comfy couch.
Next stop, Hamburg, Germany.

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