9 Jul 2011

Copenhagen

I have now been a few times to the Danish capital for short stays and every time its charm works on me.


There is always something about cities that have water as a major and integral component of their layout that adds not only light, gentle movement and beauty to them, but also induces a sense of peace and calm, at least locally, that is always welcome in a crowded place. I realise that the above image is fairly trite and picture postcard-like but I did not have a camera with me and was there mainly on business and so with no time to get involved with taking pictures. Hence my heavy reliance on images found on the net to illustrate this article, plus a couple taken with my telephone. But I will spare you a picture of the mermaid sitting on a rock: that sculpture which seems to have come to symbolise Copenhagen, and which I find totally uninteresting.


This map shows something of the water that is so much a part of this city, which is actually not so big (just over 1 millions inhabitants I believe, for a total 5.5 millions inhabitants in Denmark)) but which seems quite a lot smaller because it is so spread out over several bits of land often surrounded by water. Copenhagen is neither Venice not Amsterdam however, and the solid parts are clearly in a majority and contain fairly extensive parks. The motor vehicle is there, but well under control. Pedestrians rule some streets but the real ruler is the bicycle. In fact you are probably more likely to get hit by a bicycle when crossing a street than by a car. They are everywhere and some travel fast. They also come in all shapes and sizes, some with added parts to contain children. What also strikes me is the apparent confidence that the owners of Copenhagen's bicycles have in their fellow citizens. They are not systematically tied up with locks when parked! Although the newer and smarter ones do get stolen I am told.




Copenhagen is also now linked to Sweden, and the town of Malmo, by this impressive bridge, and you can go over it by train, even directly from the Copenhagen airport. This airport is a joy when coming from the relatively shabby and badly signed and served (by which I am referring to the appallingly slow, complicated and inefficient links to city centres) airports of Paris or London for instance. In Copenhagen, as in Hong Kong, you walk almost straight from plane to train and then into the city centre in 15 minutes. Just compare with London or Paris! The Copenhagen airport is a bit of a shopping mall, but at least the food is good in places, with an excellent sea-food bar. And, when you basically hate shopping and usually flee shops at all times, it can be a useful place to buy a few clothes as you may have nothing else to do, apart from reading a book that is.



Café and restaurant life is pretty good in Copenhagen. No shortage of good places and excellent design to go with them. It even boasts a restaurant that has been named the world's best. But I hate booking restaurants more than a day ahead so I will give this one a miss (even if I could afford it) as I think one has to book months ahead here. There is a relaxed but cared for style about this city that somehow appeals to me. Maybe I have Danish ancestors or something? And the colours on the buildings are often bright, which works in the winter to cheer one up and also matches the sun (when it is there). Maybe I would find the Baltic weather a bit drab if I lived there, but I have been very lucky on each of my visits, whether in winter, summer or spring.

The wine bar scene is pretty good too, but more of that in another article. One can also wathch rugby games in several pubs, and there is a very good custom motorbike producer, called the Wrenchmonkees. The musuems are excellent, both the exceptional collection at the Carlsberg foundation and the Copenhagen Museum of modern art where you can admire lots of that wonderful Danish painter Hammershoi, about whom I have already written here:
http://morethanjustwine.blogspot.com/2010/12/painting-of-hammershoi.html

Go to Copenhagen: its a very civilised, beautiful and lively town.