A Weekend in Copenhagen


The colorful houses of Nyhaven in Copenhagen. (MIRANDA POWERS/ THE OBSERVER)


By the time I had arrived at Gatwick Airport on my way to Copenhagen I was already ready to return to my London flat. My travel companion, Izzi, and I were off to a late start causing us to miss the train we needed to take to the airport. As a result of this, we were forced to spend a bit more money than we wanted on a cab to get us to the airport. Both of us were stressed over the journey so far; we worried the trip wouldn’t be worth it.

But, after a horrendous beginning to what was seeming going to be a terrible trip, our flight and trip to our Airbnb thankfully went without a hitch. Eager to start exploring Copenhagen, we quickly unpacked and set out on foot for the center of the city. We had no plan, other than to find a cafe and eat danishes. After an hour of searching, we came to the conclusion that danishes are few and far between in the country full of Danish people, so we settled for bagels.

After eating something for the first time in 18 hours, Izzi and I spent a couple hours roaming around the walkable city, stopping in vintage clothing stores, galleries and churches. We finally made our way to NyHavn, the picturesque street of colorful houses along one of Copenhagen’s many canals. We sat and admired the view from across the street for nearly an hour while snacking on waffles topped with gelato. I couldn’t help but smile at the situation. I had found myself with a new friend in a foreign country, eating delicious food, and I had gotten there (barely) without the planning or guidance of an adult.

With a new sense of confidence and spontaneity, Izzi and I decided to pay for a boat tour. After all, it was an hour long, and only half the price of the waffles.Though it had been chilly and a little cloudy that day, neither of us were prepared for the rainstorm that surprised us 10 minutes into the tour. With no raincoats or umbrellas, and unable to hear our guide, the two of us burst into laughter from the back of the boat at how ridiculous the tour was. When it was finally over we nearly sprinted off the boat, clothes and hair dripping, to the bus station, where the 1A bus picked us up and dropped us off two blocks from where we were staying.

Exhausted from our busy day of walking and lack of sleep from the night before, we dragged our sloth-like bodies down the street to the mini-market for the bottle of white wine, cheese and crackers that would be our dinner. After inhaling my meal, I fell into a deep sleep that was not disrupted until the next morning at 9:30 a.m. when my shrill alarm shattered the serenity of my sleep.

After struggling to tear myself away from the couch I had called my bed, Izzi and I got ready for a day of seeing everything Copenhagen has to offer. We began by stopping at a cafe for pastries  and coffee. It was unseasonably warm for the Northern country, nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so we were able to sit outside while we ate. I sat and enjoyed the breeze while watching other travelers exit the train station across the street, pulling their luggage behind them. It was a beautiful day and I didn’t want to waste any of it. Izzi and I first stumbled upon Ørstedsparken, a beautiful park with a lake, bridges and copper busts that’s nestled between Copenhagen Central Station and Rosenborg Castle.

A view from the garden leading up to Rosenborg Castle. (MIRANDA POWERS/ THE OBSERVER)
A view from the garden leading up to Rosenborg Castle. (MIRANDA POWERS/ THE OBSERVER)

After walking through the park, we made our way to the castle where we strolled through the castle gardens and toured the four floors with an information guide. The Botanical Gardens, separate from the castle, sit across the street, so  when we finished our tour we took time to walk through them. In the center of the Botanical Gardens was a greenhouse that Izzi and I raced through due to the humidity inside in addition to the warmer temperatures outside. We took a few minutes to sit on a patch of grass looking up at the glass building with white-painted iron and acknowledged that we would rather stay outside than go in again.

At this point, Izzi and I were beginning to get hungry, so we decided to go to the food market we had heard about on Papiroen (Paper Island). Though I was growing ‘hangrier’ by the minute, Izzi and I made a quick stop at Rundetårn, a cylindrical tower with a ramp spiraling all the way to the top. On the way up the cobblestone ramp I admired the minimalist design of the building which also held a library where Hans Christian Andersen had spent a great deal of time. The view from the top of the tower was beautiful and we would have stayed longer if our stomachs weren’t grumbling. We were so hungry that on the way to the food market we bought a box of strawberries from a man selling them on the street. Though he only accepted cash, and we didn’t have enough between the two of us, he handed me the cardboard container overflowing with plump red fruit with a smile. I had had better strawberries, particularly ones with fewer bruises, but I couldn’t help myself from admiring our own spontaneity.

When we arrived at the food market around 5 p.m. we were surprised to see just how crowded it was. Thousands of young people filled the island that used to act as a storage location for magazines and newspapers, hence the name Paper Island. After pushing our way through crowds and losing each other once or twice in the chaos of it all, we settled on Japanese street food and were pleasantly surprised both by how delicious the spicy noodle dish was, and by the fact that we were able to find two open lawn chairs along Inderhavnen, the narrow waterway that eventually opens up to The Sound, to sit in when we were finished.

For the first time that day we sat, relaxed, and just enjoyed the moment. By the time we left and made our way to the next location on my list, Church of Our Saviour, it was closed. Disappointed that we hadn’t been able to climb another tower for yet another amazing view, we started our way back to the apartment. It wasn’t long before we came across one of Copenhagen’s many CityBike stations. Though Izzi decided to take the bus bake to where we were staying, I decided to immerse myself in Danish culture and rent one.

I very quickly realized that I had overestimated my biking abilities, but I had already spent the 30 Danish krone to rent the bike for an hour. The great thing about the CityBike is that it had a navigation system with a helpful screen that showed the route I needed to take home. However, the bad thing about the CityBike is that it kept telling me to make left turns across busy streets where I didn’t have the right of way under any circumstance. Getting back to the apartment took a bit longer than it should have, but once I did I was glad that I had at least tried to bike like the Danish do. Though, it would have been nice to have a helmet.

Somehow it was already our second and final night in Copenhagen. We thought the best way to end our trip was visiting the famous Tivoli amusement park in the heart of the city and ride the swings at sunset. We were a bit surprised by the expensive entry price to the park, and then by the price of each ride ticket, of which we needed three, but we decided it was worth it. It was our last night in Copenhagen after all. Eager to find the ride that stretched taller than the Rundetårn we had climbed earlier in the day, we rushed through the streets of the park twinkling with colored lights. The view from the top of the ride was breathtaking. I smiled at the whole 360 degree view of the city from so high up. In that moment I knew I would never forget the view from the ride as being one of the most beautiful and humbling moments of my life. I was so small in such a big, beautiful world, of which I had so much more to see.

To top off the night we stuck around the park for the Saturday night fireworks display at 11:45 p.m. Bursts of color and sound filled the space above the great lawn as techno music played and park visitors “ooooed” and “ahhhhhed.” When the show was over and Izzi and I made our way back to the apartment, we talked about how sad we were to be leaving the following morning. Copenhagen is a place that we both decided we want to return to, and we stayed up until 4 a.m. reflecting on the amazing time the city had shown us. We found the people all to be so helpful and friendly, even though we were strangers who didn’t speak the language. Everyone there seemed to be beautiful and happy, which we attributed to all the biking that must keep them in great shape and keep up the release of endorphins. I personally decided that I could hypothetically move to Copenhagen one day.

On Sunday morning we packed up our things and double and triple checked our bags to make sure we had our passports and short-term study visas. We stopped at a cafe we hadn’t seen before on the street to the train station, an area that had come to be so familiar to us in such a short time. We made it to the airport easily this time and had plenty of time to get to our gate before our flight. I was in disbelief that my weekend in Copenhagen was really ending. Our flight was quick and smooth and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the same terminal we had been in 60 hours before. However, this time we were saying how strange it is that leaving London makes it seem so much more like home.