Saturday 29 December

Today started well with a Danish guy totally embarrassing himself in front of us, poor bloke. The weather was foggy with misty rain and we were walking towards the Christianshavn Metro station where we were to be met for a walking tour of Copenhagen as booked on Expedia. We spotted the spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke which is extraordinary in that the spiral stairs go around OUTSIDE the spire. As we took photos, a friendly guy said to us “I will run up there and blow away the fog for you!” and then he promptly tripped over a bicycle rack, flipping right over, legs in the air. We asked if he was OK but he was up and sprinting away, his embarrassment making him go faster.

When we got to the Metro station, no one turned up to meet us, we called the number on our voucher but the guy who answered doesn’t deal with bookings and every one else were off for Christmas. We’ll claim back the money when we get home.

So we went on our own walking tour, along the canal, down Badmandes Straede to Christiana.

The ‘free state of Christiana’ began in 1971 when some squatters took over deserted military barracks and established a commune. According to my guide book, the community has its own infrastructure and system of government financed in part from its cafes and handicraft stalls. Pot smoking was legal there until 2004.

As we got closer to it, we spotted graffiti and a white guy with dreadlocks. The main entrance is two upright wooden poles with a cross pole on top, like in old cowboy movies. It was not long after 10am and all was pretty quiet. We saw derelict painted vehicles, a painted skateboard ramp and tatty makeshift buildings gaudily painted. Some bloke saw us messing with our cameras and in a friendly way warned us not to take photos down Pusher Street (the Main Street) as our cameras will be taken. When I say ‘street’ I’m not using it in the usual sense. There were no vehicles, it’s more like a festival site and a small one at that. Past the sign that strictly forbade photos and running (it causes panic) but said you must enjoy yourself, were a few blokes around a fire in an oil drum.

I appreciate with nothing open and in the drizzle, it wasn’t looking its best. There were lots of unopened food stalls and brightly painted picnic tables with dirty canopies. There was a small stage and lots of graffiti. Generally it was run down and rather than a place full of interesting people, looked like a slum full of down and outs. We were told later that at Christmas, all the people of Copenhagen that were alone were invited to celebrate Christmas there and around 1000 turned up.

Next we walked to Slotsplads, past more interesting spires on Borsen (old stock market) and Holmens Kirke and went on a boat trip around the canals. I’d thought before that parts of Copenhagen reminded me of Amsterdam and it turned out there’s a good reason for this. Christian IV had been to Amsterdam and decided to copy it, getting some Dutch over to help.

The canal trip lasted 75 mins and was pretty good, although the guide was rather quiet and for a while there were a bunch of gobby French lads behind us who rattled on all the way through the English bits.

I had the great idea of returning to the Magasin du Nord and being a Saturday in sales, it was heaving. After battling past shoppers we eventually found out that the Hans Christian Andersen rooms are permanently shut. Gah!

So we walked back down through Christianborg Slot to the National Museet and spent a good few hours there until closing time. There was a lot of foreign stuff in there including Egyptian and Greek stuff, but we were more interested in seeing Danish stuff. It went from pre history to 2000. There was a small bit on Vikings, but I’d have liked some more, helmets, swords and LOADS of burial stuff. Vikings liked to get buried in big logs. There were remains of a Viking boat, but not enough of it to be seaworthy.

The more contemporary displays were interesting and showed the British and American influences in Danish youth in the 60’s.

The museum shut at five and we went for a meal. As prices are so dear here, we’ve been having a cheese spread sandwich in the mornings and then just one other meal later in the day. The more value for money meals (and cheapest) are the all you can eat buffets. So we went to a pizza and salad place that was 79k (about £7.90) but get this, we had a glass of fizzy water and each cost 39k!!!

Later on we went to St Pauli’s Bar (Bodega 54) that was recommended to us by a Danish friend, Naja. Unlike many of the tourist bars in this area, this was down to earth and played punk and psychobilly music. It was just a 10 min walk for us away from the city centre. The music was good, we heard Rancid, King Kurt and The Clash to name but a few. It was dimly lit but there were lots if candles. I learnt afterwards that the Danes are well into their candles as it makes homes look cosy, even in the summer.

There was a lone guy next to us that we got talking to. He was telling us that the rest of Denmark was pretty much the same as Copenhagen only smaller. He was getting quite chatty until he accidentally knocked over his full glass of Astra beer. I don’t know if it was the embarrassment or the fact that the beer cost 36k, but he quickly shot out of the pub, saying ‘no more beer for me!’ He then returned sheepishly having forgotten his gloves.

The landlord of St Pauli’s asked about Glyn’s Rancid t-shirt and invited us to come sit at the bar and chat. I had a pint of a Danish beer and almost passed out when I was charged 50k for it. Mind you, Glyn was given a free coke and I was given a free sample of the beer and a shot of Bloody Mary that had one hell of a kick to it.

We were asking about the punk scene in Copenhagen and there’s not a lot here but they do have gigs, mostly bigger bands, not really small pub gigs. The landlord was lovely but talked quite fast and I missed some of what he said. We mentioned that we’d not seen any alternative people about and he said they’d been moved to a house out of town. I’m not sure if I quite got that right, sounds a bit odd. One of the bar staff lived in a squat and I’m not surprised given the price of stuff around here. The wages are not better that those in the UK and people are taxed from 39-50%, I don’t know how people afford to live let alone go to the pub!

Another member of staff, a friendly guy half Greenlandish, half Icelandic and born in Denmark chatted to us a while. His accent amazed me, sometimes he sounded Irish and at times sounded northern English. He told us that Cocksparrer recently played and there were nazi skinheads on one balcony and anti nazi skin heads on another balcony, so 400 police turned up. It’s no wonder they don’t have many gigs here!

He also told us about the kids being evicted from the Youth House to a place far out away from the city centre (this is what the landlord was on about earlier). Protests are allowed in Denmark so long as they are announced. So they had one every Thursday until the police’s yearly budget ran out in 3 months.

St Pauli’s was a great place to hang out and a few people chatted to us. There was good music, but not so loud that you couldn’t chat. The landlord was very chuffed to have foreigners and asked how we knew of the place. I’d like to have stayed a few hours longer but I’d have to spend all our holiday fund plus more if I’d drank any more beer there. (Note, ALL beer and drink prices in Copenhagen are ultra expensive compared to home, this is why I stuck to water the rest of the time. Mind you, water was super expensive too!)

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About the author

Having only one cat, Claire is currently failing at being a mad cat lady, but she does have a mad cat, Bod. When Claire isn’t chasing cats and other animals with her camera, she works as a Graphic Design Manager.

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