Day 70: Last Day in Copenhagen

Today we explored on foot.  First stop was the botanical gardens, which were free to explore.  We visited the various biomes and oogled at the carnivorous plant display.

The cactus exhibit is only open an hour a day (I guess the cactus are resting the rest of the time) but we were lucky to be there in that hour.  We spent way too long looking at the impressive and comical variety, and became hopelessly hooked on cactuses.

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Next we wandered around the pedestrianised core.  This collection of streets, which used to be jammed with cars and traffic are now a lively centre and destination.   The gentle curve of the streets allow the views to continually reveal them selves.  That coupled with the small details like paving stones and seating make for an enjoyable experience.

We visited the Lego store in its country of origin, and of course made little Lego Caracters of ourselves (as best we could).

It was windy and cloudy – perfect day for museums.  A number of museums and galleries are free in the city. We picked the National Museum to brush up on our Viking history.

We checked a palace, a few of the shops to look at local art, and also went to a fancy new market hall where everything was woefully expensive.

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Day 70: Sunny Saturday in Copenhagen

Another beautiful day in Copenhagen.  We started by riding across the city to Freetown Christiania, an autonomous neighbourhood.  It started in the 1970’s as squatters in the military barracks and has grown to a community of 850.  We wandered around what appeared to be a vibrant, artistic and well cared for community. It was striking how peaceful it was – with no cars around all you could hear were birds.  There was a green light district – a cannabis market – in the centre, but we weren’t allowed pictures there. We had lunch in another great little vegetarian place in Christiania.

We checked out the street food market, a large warehouse building near the water with food stalls set up inside. They weren’t selling food yet, but we browsed around the stalls.

Unfortunately we had to return our bikes and did the rest of our exploring on foot.  The city has enough detail that it was interesting for the whole 40 minute walk to the core, but bikes are definitely the way to go.

While the prices of everything else has made us wince, the bikes are pretty reasonable compared to Canada.  We checked out a number of shops and got inspired to pimp out our bikes this summer.

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We checked out the Superkilen park again, this time it was jam packed with people.

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We headed across Dronning Louise’s Bro – the most hopping bridge we’ve ever seen.  It’s an unusually popular hangout with people lining the sides soaking up the sun, chat and listen to music.  When the traffic got reduced to a single lane in each direction, the extra space became filled with people.  The photograph doesn’t really capture the vibe, but this place is incredible – it’s the place to be in the city.  More wine and a picnic in great spaces – this is the way to enjoy Copenhagen.

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Day 68 & 69: Hello Copenhagen, Happy Birthday Darren!

Day 1 in Copenhagen, we got a little taste of the city, and we’re hooked! Darren met up with Jan Ghel – an architect / urbanist who spearheaded observing public space and how people respond to their environment.  His work is evident in the amazing spaces in Copenhagen and all over the world.

We got ourselves some bikes.  There is a free bike rental, but you need to sign up a week or so ahead.  The second best option is Buddha bikes.

Unfortunately, I had to spend most of the day waiting for a package to be delivered – our replacement camera!  It didn’t arrive so we had to go pick it up, but get this – we biked to the airport and it was easy and enjoyable! It’s not often you can say that!  We were riding along with the wave of commuters from one end of the city to the other.  We’re in heaven here – seeing and being part of this scale of biking is amazing.  You can move fast! The light sequences (the green wave) are designed around bikes, allowing them to pass through without stopping.  If you do catch a light there is an advance warning for the green, so you can get ready and start peddling.

On the way back from the airport, we stopped at a beach.  Flat, sandy, with golden grass, deep blue waters and windmills – love this Danish Beach.  Back in the city we stopped at the popular but unlikely hangout spot,  a hilly patch of grass at the corner of a busy road and the a bridge surrounding a reservoir.    Here we had wine and watched the sunset.  We’re very happy to have the camera back – more photos to share.

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The next day was Darren’s birthday – not a bad city to spend the day.  We grabbed coffee at a cute little place described as “your friend’s living room”. We enjoyed the sunny patio while we were there, because I don’t think we’ll be back. It was nearly 20$ for 2 coffees and a square.

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Next we explored the Superkilen park, a kilometre long wedge (kilen means wedge) that unifies the neighbourhood of Norrebro.  The area is one of the most culturally diverse and the park is an attempt to rehabilitate the area.  It has symbolism and items from many different cultures – a Morrocan fountain, neon signs from Russia and Qatar, a bull from Spain.  The park is divided into the red square (which has since faded from vibrant red), the black market (with lines converging around seating and trees), and the green park.  Beyond all that though it’s just an amazing space – it’s playful, interactive and inspiring.  There’s a large spiral shaped swingset, a boxing ring, bar-b-q pits, a hill, a skate park and more!

Next up on the birthday agenda: observing streetlife.  We set up along side a busy mixed use street and counted and observed people – part of Darren’s ongoing Gehl inspired research.

Then we grabbed stuff for a picnic lunch and headed back to the Hilly corner location from the night before.  After a couple weeks of pretty chilly windy weather where we’ve been travelling, it was finally sunny, warm and just plain perfect.

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We biked around some more and were lured into more public spaces.   They were amazing and very successful – patios packed like it was the warmest day in summer.  There’s something similar about the Canadian and Danish culture – we can inject the same life into our spaces – designing with people in mind.

We we rode to the other side of the city and took a ride over a whimsically windy bridge – designed that way just for the enjoyment of the riders.

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On the other side of the canal, we settled in with a few Danish brew (there may be a reason Danish beer isn’t world renowned).  We sat by the water in a place that used to be a railyard and watched kayakers, swans, and people. Highlight, we saw a swan fly! They are “wild” here in the sense that their wings aren’t clipped.  It took off for about 50 meters, running along the water before it was finally airborne.

The birthday boy had requested flavourful food, and the tiny little Indian restaurant delivered.   I hope Darren had an awesome birthday – I know I had fun celebrating with him.