Chilling in Copenhagen

The top of the Round Tower in Copenhagen – windy windy windy! Stunning vistas of the city. There’s a building height restriction so everything is uniform. The streets curve gently and you can see their meandering from up here. There’s a sense of deliberate purpose in the city. Very neat and deliberate, economy of resource and motion. The air is clear and the naked eye can see a distance of at least 10km! Well the giant bridge to Sweden is 10km away and I can see it. There good weather today, the sun is out! One does not take the sun for granted in Europe.

This temperatures of 7 and 8 degrees Celsius and crazy winds are not what I am used to. It’s colder than London. Truly chilling.

Copenhagen has nice streets which are quiet and ordered. There’s a lot of funky shops hiding curiosities and knick knacks off the main streets. Little streets all at right angles and each a treasure trove of bakeries and indie merchandise. I also have no idea where I am. And my prose is also going nowhere.

Time to try a kanelstang: a traditional Danish pastry. It is very pretty and visually appealing! Upon closer inspection and slow consumption I come to the conclusion that it is made up of soft chewy layers of bread with butter cream and what must be a wonderful cinnamon paste in between those layers. Then twists of dough as the top layer, and toasted almond flakes and lashings of icing sugar to finish. The dough is a great background for the sweetness that makes up much of the flavour… If it wasn’t cinnamon I don’t think I would have liked it. It’s good! But I think it’s the kind of thing that my not-too-sweet tooth can only take once it a while. Icing sugar isn’t really my kind of thing.

Also every other cashier or counter staff is a pretty Scandinavian girl. Oh dear.

The town hall is an enormous brick edifice with a bell tower whose tones can be heard clearly in this pure Danish air. It is huge and fills and dominates your field of vision and mental consciousness even from a distance. Whoa! I should think it is a building which represents the earthy sensibility and solidity that characterizes the city. But there also shiny classy sleek and supermodern steel and glass buildings which smack of technological advance and clean lines. A most interesting mix!

People in Denmark ride fixies. Very unlike the UK, where flat bars and roadies are common on the roads. Is this representative of a general city vibe? Denmark is more laid back and people cycle at a comfortable pace. They wear their coats and scarves and pedal along in a serene and I should think very enjoyable manner. Like they are enjoying their ride. Whereas in London you see a lot of cycling gear… Tights and helmets and cleats and arm warmers. And everyone cycles like a madman and very aggressively. To keep up with the rush hour roadie pack I need to push and sooner or later they will lose me (here comes my excuse: I’m not on a slick roadie like they are and I’m not used to this cycling on London roads. But I think it’s just that I’m weak). Well London is the big city after all… But the bike is simply a means of transport and everything is going zoom zoom! Well. Something to consider.

There’s a guy singing Ain’t No Sunshine. With no accent. Belting it out on the street. Epic.

Amalienborg Palace… The winter home of the Danish royal family! Nearby are the canals of Copenhagen. Ships ride in the water, and in the distance I see that distinctive matte grey paint that clearly denotes a warship: the guns on the prow confirm it. Frigate? There’s another military patrol boat nearby. Danish parks are laid out in very precise fashion. This is a land of precision and constancy. Like how all the buildings have tall windows spaced perfectly evenly from each other. But the pace of life here is a bit too slow for me I think, I prefer it in London.

This is the home of Lego. The Lego is everywhere, in every toy shop. And the variety! The amount! Oh man! I love Lego shops. Come to think of it Lego is very Danish – uniform bricks put together in precise configurations to build something elegant. At least that’s how I conceive it. Meanwhile I continue to lose myself in Lego fandom, and mourn my limited luggage space and student budget that luckily prohibits me from buying anything major… Mum will certainly scold me if I buy something big and clutter up my room.

Christianborg Slot (castle in Danish) is the classiest European royal castle. Nicer then Windsor and Versailles! Very elegant and airy without the stuffiness of opulence. I like the flooring! Wooden flooring of so many patterns. No wonder we have to wear shoe covers… So as to not spoil the floor? It is also quite modern! Very well kept. The queen’s personal library is the coolest library I have ever seen.

On the way back to the airport I help a Norwegian couple with their luggage. Talk to them a bit. They’re visiting their daughter in Denmark after a holiday in Turkey. As I get off the man gives me his email address, and tells me if I am going to Bergen (did I spell it right? Anyway it is the ‘gateway to the fjords’) to shoot them a mail… So that they can host me. Whoa!

To spend my last bits of kroner I buy… Starbucks. Because I want chocolate, no matter how terrible. Starbucks girl gets my name right. Spells it z-a-c-he the way I spell it. Without being told! First time ever Starbucks has spelt my name correctly.

I also try this Danish thing, rye bread with dark chocolate chunks inside, with crushed nuts baked into the bread. Strange combination! It’s decent I guess. But I think chocolate doesn’t really go with dense rye bread. It’s a chewy bread kind of thing… chewy bread with melting chocolate inside. The greatest example is a well done cinnamon bun absolutely LADEN with dark chocolate chips.

Denmark is a very nice place! Nice austere landscapes. Austere isn’t what you would think is nice but to my city-boy, tropical jungle eye, this autumn landscape of windblown grass and bare trees in soft muted colours is quite majestic. A very lovely time spent relaking in Copenhagen with it’s very picturesque skyline and spires. Did you know many European monarchs can trace their bloodlines back into the Danish royal family? Our good King Edward VII himself married a Danish princess – Alexandra of Denmark, if my memory serves me correctly. And they’re related to the Russian tsars and the king of Norway and the king of Greece and it goes without saying (though I am now saying it in order to emphasise the volume and enormity: repetition! Careful use of repetition is essential in writing) the king of Denmark.

Okay I’m going to go back to London, hope the Tube isn’t jammed, and make myself a gigantic plate of my custom bolognese on crack. Will update further.


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