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Last updated : Nov 2009
Copenhagen, Denmark
Rating: (4.8) (14 votes)

Copenhagen, Denmark
July 13th, 2001

Pros : Free Bicycles
Cons : Long wait for Train Tickets

We arrived in Denmark by sea, which was a surprise since we had booked train tickets from Berlin to Copenhagen and nobody had mentioned anything about a ferry.

We left Berlin Zoo Station at 10:20am and reached Hamburg by lunchtime. In Hamburg we changed to a Danish train and headed for the German coast. At the coast the train trundled straight onto a ferry for the 45 minute crossing to Denmark. There was a frenzy of activity as all the passengers, ourselves included, left the train to explore the boat's restaurants, shops and amusement arcades, and wandered around the upper deck trying to catch what were to be the last rays of sun we would see for a while. The train reconnected with the Danish rail tracks and we arrived in Wonderful Copenhagen at around 7:00pm.

Finding the youth hostel proved to be a bit of a challenge as we hadn't expected it to be located half an hour outside of the city in a housing estate, tucked behind a couple of tower blocks and some terraced housing. The sky was grey, it was cold, long pants were the order of the day, and we felt like we were in the North of England. We decided to claim our beds in the dorm and then go and eat. In the dorm a family of three had completely occupied all 6 beds and were happily munching on fried chicken and chips (that's fries for you Bermudians) giving the room that familiar greasy stench of K.F.C. So much for the hostel rule of "No smoking, eating, drinking or farting in the rooms"! We dumped our sheets on one bed hoping that the family might tidy up while we went off in search of some local food.

Since we couldn't find any restaurants serving local dishes a "pint of Carlsberg and a Danish-bacon-butty" wasn't on the cards, so we settled for a Mexican.

On our return to the dorm order had been established in the room, we could see clearly which beds were available. Whilst we made our beds the "chicken-munching-man" went over and opened the window... How nice of him to air the room for us, we thought... He then proceeded to hack up a huge lump of phlegm and spit it from the open window, and immediately close it - Lovely!!

We have now been on the road for 100 days. we are both still sane and are not at each others throats, which is a good sign.

We only had one full day in Copenhagen so had to cram as much into it as possible. Our first port of call was the train station to buy tickets to Malmo (Sweden). We waited one and a half hours to be served. Twenty minutes seems like an awfully long time for one person to spend at the ticket counter - We would like to know what some of these people were asking for... maybe a ticket to Pluto via Uranus!?

We made it to the meeting point of a Copenhagen walking tour just in time to meet our guide, Richard, a New Yorker! This tour was not as guelling as the Berlin tour. For one and a half hours we wandered around Copenhagen looking at the pretty buildings and trying to shelter from the wind and rain-showers that were to plague us the whole day. Obviously the "Wonderful" in "Wonderful Copenhagen" has nothing to do with the weather.

During the tour Richard gave us lots of background information on Denmark, the Danes, and Copenhagen. The most interesting of which were:

- The City has free bicycles... Yes, FREE bicycles. This works a bit like supermarket trolleys in England. On certain streets there are rows of bicycles chained to a railing. You deposit DKK20 to release the bicycle. You cycle to your destination (which must be within the city limits), chain the bike up and get your money back. For those of you with criminal minds... No, they are not worth stealing.

- Danes like to smoke and drink. Unlike the other Scandinavian countries Denmark does not tax beer and fags as heavily. You can get beer almost anywhere, consequently, Denmark aslo has a very high number of alcoholics.

- Income Tax Rates start at 52%! So you Canadians can stop complaining right now!

After the tour ended we set off for a boat trip on the canal. The 1 hour trip took us around the canals and into the harbour. As we sat huddled together with our rain-gear on looking at the sights and trying to avoid the spray, it brought back memories of white-water rafing down the Grand Canyon... such were the waves! Still, we got to see the Little Mermaid's backside ... (it is a statue).

In the 70's a bunch of pot-smoking hippies started squatting on a plot of land, slap bang in the centre of Copenhagen. This land is owned by the Ministry of Defence, and despite several attempts to remove the hippies, the community grew into what is now known as Christiania. They now have a legal right to live there rent free, but are expected to maintain the buildings within the area. The individuals make money selling art-work, bicycles, furniture, metal ornaments and soft drugs! Yup, hash, cannabis, grass, pot... whatever you wish to call it. The hash market is just like a fruit and veg market, but instead of apples and bananas there are several types of drugs on display. They even sell ready-rolled joints for those people who want to try one, but don't know how to roll their own. The cakes in this place are very popular as well!

It is illegal to buy or sell drugs, but not to possess them for your own consumption, but the authorities seem to tollerate the existance of this market and turn a blind-eye. As we wandered through the smokey haze listening to the Jazz being played, everyone did seem very mellow.... Even the Rotweillers were not muzzled or on leashes and seemed to be chilling-out!