Copenhagen, Denmark. The first stop on my semester-long adventure through Europe. Why Copenhagen as my first stop? Well, I picked this northern European city for two reasons: 1. To visit friends studying there and 2. To see Denmark before the frigid winter sets in. And judging by the 50-degree temperatures in the middle of September, I am very thankful that I followed the second reason.
I am currently studying abroad in Barcelona for a semester, where the temperature has not dropped below 70 degrees. I show up to class drenched in sweat while my friends in Copenhagen have already broken out their coats and scarves. The discrepancy of weather is just a small glimpse into what these next four months are going to look like. This semester is going to be a balancing act between exploring my backyard in Barcelona while also taking advantage of traveling through Europe while I have the chance.
About 500,000 out of the approximately five million Danes call Copenhagen home. It is a city large enough to be considered metropolitan, filled with culture but small enough to feel safe and to navigate easily with its simple metro system. Bikers control the city and outnumber any other form of transportation, which adds to and creates the culture. Every street I turned and every building I saw was beautiful, the entire city was completely picturesque.
My time was mainly spent in Christianshavn and Norrebro, two out of the 10 districts of Copenhagen. Our first stop was to rent a GoBoat on the canal. A group of seven of my friends and I rented a boat (the boats hold up to eight people) and we had two hours to explore Copenhagen by water. Seeing Copenhagen from this angle gave us a unique perspective and laid a good framework before we started our official sight-seeing tour of the city.
Saturday morning, we got breakfast at the Saint Petersburg Bakery, the oldest pastry shop in Copenhagen, located in the Latin Quarter. It is a Denmark staple known for their pastries, specifically their homemade cinnamon rolls, which are sold exclusively on Wednesdays. After a delicious breakfast, we walked to Kings Castle and walked around the Rosenborg Castle Gardens. It is a scenic castle where the Queen lives two days a week.
The next stop was to see arguably the most famous and well-known part of the city, Nyhavn. This is the picture of Copenhagen everyone sees and posts pictures of. Colorful houses line the canal with cafés on the bottom floor and outdoor seating. People fill the streets but do not crowd them, which shows the quaint nature of the city. The true energy of Copenhagen is extremely vivid and impossible to ignore while walking along the canal.
Sunday, we saw a more unique part of Copenhagen, or any city for that matter: Freetown Christiania (Christiania). Christiania is a “free state,” individual from the city, where there are no laws. It is inhabited by 700 adults and 200 children, pictures are not allowed and it is like no place I’ve ever been before. The buildings are painted vibrant colors and there is an art shop on every corner. All the citizens are free-spirited and have such passion for their unique home.
A wonderful start to my four month European tour, Copenhagen exceeded my expectations. The cozy environment, or hygge as the Dane’s call it, matches the city’s layout and personality exactly.