Thursday, July 6, 2017

Copenhagen Day 2–In Which There are a Great Many Bikes, We Visit the Free State of Christiania, And The Little Mermaid is, Well, A Bit Boring Truth Be Told…


I will admit to struggling at first with this sign that greets you in the baggage claim area of Copenhagen airport.  Really? 31 times around the earth? I did the math. That would mean that every last man, woman, child, baby, pensioner and invalid in the city would need to bike at least two kilometres EVERY DAY. I dismissed this as impossible and put it down to bragging, until I stepped outside the station in Copenhagen.


Well, alright, MAYBE it’s true, I thought to myself.

Then I stepped on to the street where, at 10pm, there were more cyclists than cars. By the next morning I was converted. Coming from my home town of Victoria where a tiny speck of a bike lane has just been installed at great disruption and cost (don’t get me wrong – I love the idea of bike lanes and fully support their installation, just not the way they did it in Victoria) it was refreshing to see a city where everyone rides their bike all the time, everywhere, in bike lanes that are slightly raised above the level of the road, and slightly lower than the sidewalks. It makes it very clear which is which, and everyone coexists just fine without huge concrete curbs and excessive signage. Also, the bike lanes always flow with traffic; if you want to go the other way, you take the other side of the street, or a different road. There are no bike boxes or complicated turning rules. The other difference here is that there is no street parking at all on major roads where there are bike lanes and sidewalks. All parking is relegated to side streets. The parking is also a mish-mash of everyone and anyone, residential and business, and no one cares if you park facing the other way or don’t actually live there, you just park there and everyone gets on with their lives.

Anyway, that’s my rant about bike lanes.

We began our day finding something to eat in a café which was great…

This was me before I got the bill:


Then we got the bill:


And this was me after:


25% tax on EVERYTHING. That’s how they do it here folks.

So it’s 7-11 hotdogs from now on. No, I’m serious.

After recovering from this episode, we made a bee line for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, which I always love to do in a new city as it really helps with understanding the layout etc. Plus, It was good for 72 hours, and plus, Zoe and Terra were free so that made up slightly for the $90 lunch. I also tried to rationalize the expense as covering last night’s dinner (which we never had), and also breakfast as it was close to noon when we finally ate.

The bus tour took us past the obligatory stop at the Little Mermaid Statue where we all piled out and took some pictures. I was surprised that there were so many little mermaids and at how tiny they were:


No I’m just kidding. There was only one. Actually there are two but I’ll show you the alternative one tomorrow.


I will admit she does have some whimsical appeal and is actually bigger than I was expecting but still…I’m not sure she’s worth all the hype. The statue is of course based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, who may well be Denmark’s most famous celebrity. The real story is much different than the Disney knock off; in the real one, she doesn’t get her man, and eventually turn into sea foam. Well she’s almost the right colour for Sea Foam here.

It was more entertaining watching all the other tourists take pictures:


Anyway, back on the bus we finished the full city tour stopping at this fountain and that square where there were more funny tourists entertaining me:


This may be one of my most favourite pictures ever.

The weather was a bit sketchy: sunny one minute and pouring the next but we got off anyway for a wander through the Free State of Christiania which is an area of Copenhagen that was once just abandoned military barracks until a group of citizens broke in and squatted in them. That was in the 1970s and today the place is home to about 1000 people who live by their own set of rules which appeared to me to be like this:

Rule No. 1: Smoke as much pot as possible
Rule No. 2: Sell as much pot as possible from appealing stands with all varieties of pot on display for all to see.
Rule No. 3: Abhor hard drugs and make a point of saying so at every turn.
Rule No. 4: All residents must make at least one piece of public art out of recycled bits and pieces per year.
Rule No. 5: See Rule No. 1

The girls and I were unsuspecting at first and I thought it was going to be a bit more than a glorified dispensary hippie megastore but I soon realized that our feelings of ‘meh’ were mainly because basically, we could just as well have been walking around Hornby Island, or Saltpsring Island, or anywhere in BC, and we all felt like we’d already seen all this many times before.

Still it was an interesting way to pass the time. I was taking pictures left and right until Terra pointed out that there was a ‘no photos’ policy:

Rule No. 6: None of this is really happening and there will be a‘no photos allowed’ rule to support this.



I may have sneaked a few more but I did stop.

Back on the bus it was a bit rainy.


We were a bit tired so we picked up some groceries for dinner and breakfasts and headed home for a night in of watching Downton Abbey from the beginning. So good!

Days are long here in Denmark at the 56th parallel but I was so tired that I fell asleep to the sound of birds still twittering away and sun coming through the window.

Planks for kneeling,



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