July 2019. Ideally one would spend more than a day in such an important world capital. But when you miss your flight from London and lose two days out of a carefully planned itinerary, you make the best of it.
We were lucky enough to snag an AirBnB a half block from one of the canals. Lined with gravel paths, art and trees, the canals provided a bit of nature right in the city. One could even rent a swan boat and paddle around. Restaurants along the route cozily provided blankets for patrons, in the Danish spirit of hygge, poorly translated as comfort.
The girls set out early to find a bakery with Kringle, the toilet-seat sized Danish pastry we learned to love living in Danish bakery-dense Racine, WI. Alas, despite finding a street lined with bakeries, none of them had Kringle, quite the surprise. They are very popular in Wisconsin, and in fact, you can order them from Nordstroms! Someone needs to tell the Danes here. We settled for a very satisfying lunch with an award winning beer.
Then we walked to the number one photographic spot in Copenhagen: Nyhavn, or New Harbor, built in 1670-73 by Swedish prisoners of war. In its heyday, it handled cargo and fish catches, and was known for beer and ladies of the night. Its most famous resident was Hans Christian Andersen who lived there for 18 years in #67 and #18.
Nyhavn was very pretty with old wooden ships in the harbor and multicolored buildings dating from the 17th and early 18th centuries lining the edge. The buildings on the north (sunny) side had restaurants with umbrellas along the dock where people could dine.
But when we saw the number of tourists, we took our photos and edged back out to the street. We had planned to take a boat tour of the harbor, but a whole line of people was standing waiting for the 2 o’clock boat and it was only 1:15. No thank you.
So we taxied to the number 2 photographic spot, The Little Mermaid, some twenty minutes away along the waterfront. This iconic landmark is a small unassuming bronze statue sitting on a large rock in the larger harbor built after Nyhavn. It is based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen. I had no idea the statue had been vandalized so often, mainly as political protest. The one in the harbor is a copy of the original.
From there we taxied to the Design Museum. I typically prefer historical museums, but have developed a fascination for industrial design by working with these designers in my professional life. I also developed a passion for Danish mid-century modern teak furniture while living in Racine. I especially enjoyed the museum’s Danish Chair exhibit. I had read a travelogue called “How to be Danish,” funny but useful. The craftsmanship of the Danes and their chairs was captured in a joke: Two old friends who had met the year before crossed paths again. The first, an entrepreneur in construction talked about the shopping center and apartment building he had just finished, and the new deal in the works. When he asked his Danish friend what he was doing, the man replied, “I told you last year that I am working on a chair.” The Danes have a passion for their craftsmanship.
I also enjoyed a special exhibit celebrating the 100th year of the Bauhaus Movement, having studied it in multiple design classes in college. Even the furniture placed around for visitors to rest upon was modern, and in one case, included the famous Wassily Chair designed by Marcel Breuer that was also on display. It was a treat to sit in it.
By the time I got to the end of the exhibit, I realized I had lost the rest of the family, so backtracked to find them. There they were, at the beginning of the Bauhaus Exhibit, coloring with all the other children visiting the museum. I needed a rest, and so joined them, finding calm and joy in my inner child for the next 20 minutes.
I would have liked to visit Freetown Christiania, taken a harbor tour by boat, rent a swan boat, and gotten up the nerve to rent the ubiquitous scooter or bike, but these will have to wait for the next visit to Copenhagen.
For other essays about my summer 2019 Europe trip see:
If you like this essay, please leave a comment. You may also enjoy my book, Manifesting Paradise, available on Amazon. Receive my posts automatically by filling in your email address in the “follow” box at the top of the right column.