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Copenhagen – It’s a Tivoli World

September 12, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Once you step out of your plane, train, or automobile and into the bike filled streets of Copenhagen you will realize once and for all why this capital city of Denmark is loved by more than just it’s local Danes. Overlooking the Øresund strait with Sweden just minutes away, it is a cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. This is where old fairy tales blend with flashy new architecture and world-class design. This “friendly old girl of a town” is a place where there’s always something going on for everyone, and you may feel like you saw it all in one day but the fact is you could keep discovering for months.

If you look back into the history of Copenhagen, they had quite a time building the city, and suffered through failure after failure. During their final invasion during WWII the idea of a fortified city was thrown out and replaced with one of the finest examples of urban planning anywhere. They called the plan The Finger Plan and Copenhagen is one of the few cities in the work to develop a long term growth plan and actually stick with it. If you place your hand over a map of Copenhagen with your palm as the city center, you will see where the plan got it’s name.

Copenhagen is separated into nine districts, each with their own individual personalities and charm. The central and most popular district is Indre By, which translates to inner city in English. This historical heart of Copenhagen was the original city from where all the neighboring districts began. The area is dotted with historic buildings, church spires and narrow streets, but the most famous spots include Strøget street, Nyhavn, and Tivoli park.

Tivoli is the world famous theme park in central Copenhagen. It is a garden build around a lake stemming from the old fortification of the city, It was opened in 1843 by its founder Georg Carstensen, just outside the city walls. Since then Copenhagen has grown up around it, and today the world famous gardens and amusement park, is literally a magic and green oasis smack in the center of the city. In the summer Tivoli hosts their Friday Night Rock event, which holds a concert every Friday evening of the summer months, and we just so happened to be there on one of these Friday nights. So we gathered around with hundreds of other people for the Mads Landger concert and had a ton of fun! The park is especially beautiful at night when the lights and lanterns in every color of the rainbow, lights up everywhere.

You cant go to Copenhagen without visiting by the colorful buildings of Nyhavn. This symbolic street is the picture of Copenhagen. The “sunny side” of the canal is filled with outdoor cafes, and for any self respecting Copenhagner, this street is top priority on the first day of Spring. However on any sunny day it’s the perfect place to grab a seat by the canal, relax, and watch the street performers do their thing.

Strøget, also located in Indre By is Copenhagen’s main shopping area. It is a set of connected pedestrian streets in the heart of the medieval city and is claimed to be the biggest outdoor pedestrian shopping area in the world. However, the area gets much more interesting if you venture into the narrow streets and squares, since it hides some interesting shops, restaurants and old traditional bars hidden away. One of the most visited shops on Strøget is Royal Copenhagen. The flagship store of the world famous Royal Copenhagen porcelain factory traces its history back to 1775. While the shop includes a couple brands the most prestigious is Flora Danica, china created for royals and still used by royals (The White House) today.

While spending a good portion of a day on this street we noticed statues of artisically painted elephants scattered about and found out about another one of the city’s summer events. The Elephant Parade in Copenhagen is a charity event to raise money for the Asian elephant foundation, and local artists are invited to paint an elephant to be auctioned off. One hundred of these artistic animal sculptures are scattered around the city waiting to be bought for charity ane adding a little more color to this already bright city. Pretty neat little event if you ask me!

In the Østerbro district you will find one of the most famous things to see in all of Copenhagen, the Den lille Havfrue, or The Little Mermaid Statue. The statue in the water was designed by Edvard Eriksen in 1913 to commemorate a tale of the Little Mermaid by Christians Andersen. The unremarkable statue is a whole 3.3 feet high and was meant to evoke the feeling of Ariel’s longing and melancholy, not impress tourists. However if you read into the famous fairy tale writer Christians Andersen who also gave us the stories The Ugly Duckling” Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, and The Emperor’s New Clothes, you find that this statue was placed there in honor of Christians Andersen on his Birthday, which is now celebrated as International Children’s Book Day. Today a statue of the well liked Christians Andersen can be found in Central Park.

Christianshavn is another must see district in the city. What once a working-class neighborhood is today a trendy part of the city with its own unique identity. People from all walks of life, live side-by-side among cool cafes and charming 19-century houses along picturesque canals. The district Christianshavn is an artificial island, erected in the swampy area between what is now the Inner city and the island of Amager. It was designed in the image of Amsterdam, with a canal cutting straight through the center. It was from here that Danish merchants expanded trade over the seven seas. In the beginning Christianshavn was an independent city, which was eventually swallowed by the quickly expanding capital, but to this day retains a unique atmosphere. The people who live here first refer to themselves at Christianhavners, then Copenhageners.

Inside the Christianshavn district is a self- governing so called free town by the name Christiania. This area was established in 1971 as a city within a city on the site of a military barracks as an alternative to mainstream culture. The city of Copenhagen has tried several times to put an end to the free lifestyle area, but somehow the people have fought back and won each and every time. The funky area is interesting and quite humorous to walk through, with songs stating their rules of no weapons, violence, running, or photography. We got a few pictures at the front but quickly hide the camera when the people in front of us were told by a local they would smash their camera to pieces if another photo was taken… Despite what you may think it’s completely safe to walk through and tourists make their way through the tiny area all day long to see this unique hippy place.

The beautiful Vor Frelsers Kirke or Church of our Savior is also found in the Christianshavn district. The gorgeous 400 step spire of the church can be climbed to see panoramic views of the city. Rumor has it that that the designer threw himself out the tower when he discovered the rotation of the stairs was the wrong way, so that sword fights would have to be fought with the left hand. However the spiraling stairs was meant to symbol the ascend into heaven so we’ll just assume that the rumors were fiction not fact!

Copenhagen is a place you can’t write about without mention of the food. This city is a foodie spotlight. Some even say it’s one of Europe’s most exciting food destinations. The city is filled with Michelin star restaurants, among them most famously is Noma… Where a reservation is about as easy to get as dinner with the Queen. However, with $$$ Michelin stars around the city there are many other places to enjoy the fine dining of Copenhagen. If your not into fine dining your definitely not out of luck for Danish delights. The affordable and delicious smørrebrød, which are open-faced sandwiches topped with anything from salmon to berries and cream can be found at, at least, one cafe on every block. The pastry shops are another thing you can’t miss during your visit here. A kartoffelkage, which is a thin cinnamon pastry topped with creamy icing is a treat even the locals indulge in… Daily! In the mornings you’ll see locals stepping out of their little neighborhood bakeries with a kartoffelkage and a coffee in hand as a daily ritual. The most well known bakery Which has locations scattered around the city is Lagkagehuset. Lunch at a hotdog stand isn’t only a theme park thing in Copenhagen. The delicious organic hot dog stands are adorned by the locals and scattered throughout the city for a quick bite. So whether your indulging in a kartoffelkage for breakfast, enjoying a smørrebrød for lunch or sitting down for a fancy Michelin star dinner it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the culinary delights of this delicious city.

While traveling through Scandinavia, I have come to the conclusion Scandinavians are all good looking, fashionable, smart, and personable… And if that wasn’t enough already their amazing culinary skills should top it off. Everything from the unique candy land architecture in St. Petersburg and a walk through Stockholm’s Gamla Stan to the Tivoli roller coaster rides in Copenhagen was a dream come true. Our trip through Scandinavia was nothing but great times and incredible experiences in some of the most unforgettable places.

Until Next Time,

T+C

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