Travel – Copenhagen – day 1

Posted by jerry on July 17th, 2005 — Posted in Travel

Four days in Copenhagen!

After four plane changes and about 30 hours travelling Canberra-Sydney-Bangkok-London-Copenhagen

I arrived in Copenhagen at 0830am. The sun was well and truly high in the sky and I looked forward to pacing out the city and attempting to stay awake until evening in order to reset my body clock. The first minor glitch was the failure of my baggage to arrive from Heathrow – I filled out the form and was assured it would arrive in the afternoon – they just didn’t say which afternoon! I didn’t know then that I would have to wait some 40 hours for my luggage to arrive from London, but luckily I had a change of clothes in my carry-on bag. So no real drama.

The 71 Nyhavn (new harbour – built in 1750) hotel is a converted warehouse, originally built in 1804. The solid timber beams criss-cross the lobby and span low across the room. The building has had a varied history, having been a hospital and later, a women’s prison, before being converted in 1998 into a hotel. The rooms are comfortable, if compact, and the bathroom is an exercise in boutique chic. Okay, so you couldn’t swing the proverbial cat in it, but who spends much time in the room when there is so much to see in this delightful city. A quick shower (which soaked the entire bathroom/toilet) and change and I’m ready to face the day.

Everywhere I looked it seemed that most of the buildings had been built in the 1780’s and were still very much in use. All were painted in bright colours and the place looked like a postcard.

Nyhavn street

First stop was an ATM machine just up the street on Kongens Nytorv (square) on the corner of Bredegade and Nyhavn – select the English option, insert card and pin – the usual stuff. The machine promptly spat out the card as though it caused a bad taste. Bugger! At least I had a little Australian money, so I went to a currency exchange and got some kroner. As I walked back, I thought I might just try the ATM at the bank over the road – and it worked! Phew! I had visions of trying to live very cheaply, or at least of having to pay large amounts for conversions. But all is good. Time to celebrate with some coffee at one of the hundreds of street cafes in the Nyhavn district (pronounced new-houn).

It’s easy to order coffee, for two reasons, first it is called ‘kafe’ and pronounced very similar to the English, and secondly just about everyone speaks English as well as I can. I was greeted with a shortened “Hej” (pronounced “Hi” but with a glottal stop straight after so it’s a cut-off sound) and as soon as I responded in kind the waitress switched to English… I think the Danes must be more protective of their language than the French – and that is saying something!

And so for a wander up the cobbled street to the main Kongens Nytorv square, and, following the map – I had an idea to check out the National Museum – I crossed a couple of canal bridges and passed in front of the Parliament buildings on Vindebrogade – more spectacular baroque facades and the strangest spire covered with intertwined animals on the roof, before crossing another bridge onto Frederiksholms canal street and walking right around the museum the wrong way until I found the entrance – only to be informed by a sign that it was closed on Mondays. *Sigh*.

So I followed Frederiksholms until it came out on Nytorv – a different square, where some market stalls were set up, and then onto the pedestrian streets that comprise the main shopping area. I found a bookshop (book=’bog’) and found a Danish language course for my daughter.

Nytorv Square

Back to Nyhavn for some coffee and a chicken salad, and whiled away part of the afternoon taking in the ambience of an unfamiliar country. I checked back with the hotel – still no bag – then an hour’s doze in the afternoon, before heading back out for dinner and some great jazz music. I found that this week coincided with the famous Copenhagen Jazz Festival – what luck!

The Danes must be a sober lot – at AUS$10 for a pint of the local brew – but who could wish for better ambience. From the depths of Canberra Winter to midsummer in Copenhagen, sipping a pint of Tuborg by the Nyhavn canal.

At mid evening the sun hangs demurely in a perfect blue sky, while the row of picture-box eighteenth century buildings form a perfect backdrop. Even after the band had packed up there was plenty of light to wander the quietened streets and photograph those eccentric architectural details that are part of the magic of this place. In fact the street lights come on at about 10.30pm and the sun rises again at about 2.30am so there is plenty of daylight!

And so to sleep.

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