Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Taste of Scandinavia

It's the end of May and I have just completed my third academic year working at the UoE! I can't believe I have been here three years, time just seems to fly these days. To celebrate another year finished, I decided to venture on a city break to Copenhagen, Denmark with my good friend Gosha. Since my trip to Lanzarote, life has been super busy so I really did not have a lot of time to prepare for this trip; however, I was continually impressed with Denmark from the moment I stepped off the plane. We arrived early Friday morning and while standing in the line for train tickets to the city center we met a student from Baltimore, Maryland. We got to chatting and he so graciously helped us navigate our way to our hotel and gave us a few suggestions on places to visit during our stay. 

Some of the words that come to mind when I reflect back on Copenhagen include sustainable, clean, and friendly. I think most people have this stereotype in their heads when thinking of Scandinavia, but it really does come across that way. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we ventured out for some sun and sights of the city. The architecture had a mix of old and new building designs with lots of water fountains all over the city. 

The city also has many canals running parallel to the streets. I think this helped create a sense of a clean and fresh city.

I have been to my fare share of bike friendly cities, but the built in infrastructure in Copenhagen made cycling seem effortless. In places like Amsterdam, you can feel almost like you are being attached by cyclists, but in Copenhagen they seem to always surround you but never in your way. The streets have excellent bike lanes with their own stop lights. A positive example for any city trying to improve their cycling options! 

We also noticed that the Danish culture had a calm, cool sense of relaxing; even on a work day! The pics below show an office complex with workers out on their lunch breaks. The companies in the building provided these sun chairs for their employees to enjoy during their work day. 

 Danish professionals on their lunch break

People were also unexpectedly friendly and welcoming with excellent English. At one point on my trip I was reading my map, when a couple cycling on their bikes stopped to ask me if I needed help. They went on to explain in detail how I could find my destination with a few recommendations on the way.  All I could think in my head was "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." 

There are also unique sculptures all over the city.  

This was one of my favorites

Looks like sand, but it is stone.  

Gosha and I made our way to the picturesque part of the city called Nyhavn. The colored houses from the 17th century along the canal were absolutely stunning in the light. 


 It almost felt like we walking on a movie set. 

I also loved all the unique shops in the city.  They had character unto themselves. 

Typical Copenhagen architecture.  

By the way, did you know LEGO was invented in Denmark? We stopped into the flagship store in Copenhagen to see some of the creative LEGO's on display.  

The mural on the wall of Copenhagen is entirely made up of LEGO's.  

Giant LEGO people 

and of course a LEGO replica of Nyhavn.  

I mentioned before the city was sustainable. Everyone seems to commute by bike. The city also has crepe stands on wheels.  

And for those who do have cars, the city provides places to plug in your hybrid cars for a re-boost. Why is the rest of the world not like this!?  

Copenhagen itself is quite small, and can be seen in a few days. So Gosha and I decided to do a day trip across the water to Malmö, Sweden. The train ride was around 30 minutes and I would definitely recommend this side trip for those visiting Copenhagen. 

 Welcome to Sweden! 

We got off the train and landed in another clean, picturesque city square. 

With more fountains... 

Living in Edinburgh I really do miss having colorful buildings. Malmö definitely offered colorful streets. The city was quaint and charming, with a cozier feel than Copenhagen. 

Gosha and Me in the town square

Oh and you guessed it, bikes are just as popular in Sweden as they are in Denmark! 

We both loved the charm the old city had to offer.  

There were also many parks and a botanical garden we visited.  

Canals were also quite present as the city is also on the waterway 

I loved this cafe in the botanic gardens. They had converted an old glass greenhouse into a place to eat and enjoy the gardens.  

There were also many places to eat and enjoy the outside gardens as well.  

A community garden 

Reminds me of the Netherlands

 The train station was also quite interesting. They had chess boards set up for people to come and play, or just be entertained by those playing. I don't know how to play chess, but watching these people play in this setting made me want to learn. 

There were also many little restaurants inside the train station. One of the national dishes includes a dark brown bread with salmon or prawns on top. You could find this dish anywhere in the city, including the train station.  

I have seen many cool places in my travels throughout the years, but one of the coolest places I have ever visited is the free state of Christiania. This old military base was taken over by hippies in the 70's and is an independnet community in the heart of Copehagen. You are not suppose to take pictures, so unfortunately I don't have too many to share. However if you google image Christiana you can get a better idea of all of the "free living" that goes on here. 

This is a view of the "commune" from one of the hills. It is very a colorful community. 

The houses are painted with so many colorful murals.  

The family homes are nestled in the woods on the lake. It was so beautiful! 

Christiana attracts tourists in the same way Amsterdam would, but the community here presents itself in a family oriented way. There were playgrounds and green spaces throughout the "compound". I also felt that there was very much a love your neighbor feeling; the same way I envision Woodstock goers back in the 60's. I think for the straight and narrow people out there, you may have an uneasy feeling walking through the community, but for those free spirits, like myself, make sure you don't miss out on this once in a lifetime experience. 

Gosha and I were also in love with the food. Every meal had fresh, local ingredients. One of our favorite meals was our Sunday brunch. I think the picture below explains why!  

After Brunch we headed to the Carlsberg, Brewery which was only a 30 minute walk from our hotel.  

They had some cool antiques throughout the tour.  

And of course the famous Carlsberg Horses 

The bottle archive was quite impressive. Over 16,000 bottles in total!  

Gosha enjoying her Carlsberg.  

The best thing about Breweries is tasting the finished product. I am not a big beer drinker, but did enjoy my free glass of brewski!  

Scandinavia was truly a holiday I will never forget. I definitely want to travel back to explore more in the future. 
Until next time, I will see you on the internet. 

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