Eimi arrived in Copenhagen on the 11th and we quickly hit the streets to get her first Korv. Copenhagen is an absolutely beautiful city to walk around. The inner city is all pedestrian only and the narrow cobblestone streets make it feel like you’re walking through an ancient maze. The parks are beautiful as well.
Something I’ve noticed in general about Europe is that people seem less concerned about liability. If you want to injure yourself it’s your own damn problem. There were a lot of places to climb in parks, one of which really reminded me of Husky Rock at University of Washington, and the playgrounds are debatably more fun as an adult. The second day we rented bikes and on the way back to our airbnb we took a detour down a random bike path. There was a sort-of skate park with a huge banked turn and a hill that I could barely make it to the top of after building up a bunch of speed. After zipping around for a while we continued down the bike path only to find more fun things. There was a line of some 20 rings hanging from chains, the first and last having a block underneath such that you could reach them. I’m 6′ tall and athletic and I had to step on the block in order to reach the rings without jumping and I could barely make it across the line of rings once. There was also undoubtedly the largest swing set I have ever been on. It took super long to get moving and once I did it reached a point where if you jumped off the swing you could get SERIOUSLY injured. Wahoo!
We started our first full day in Copenhagen by getting these incredible pastries from a local bakery. We then headed through the city center towards Christiania, which is a place that deserves some explanation.
Christiania, aka Freetown Christiania is “a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents” in one of the boroughs of Copenhagen. For hundreds of years beforehand it was a military barracks, but by 1971 it was abandoned by the military and in that same year homeless started staying in the abandoned buildings and some of the locals in neighboring boroughs started using part of the space as playgrounds for their children. Later that year the area was proclaimed to be a self-governing and economically self-sustaining state. It sounds like the free-state has been in constant flux and conflict for most of its history. In 2011 an agreement was met with the Danish government to start a foundation that now owns Christiania independent of the Danish state. Still the future of Christiania sounds precarious. The hash market funded crime seems to be a source of constant issues.
It was not immediately clear when we were actually in Christiania, which gave me a bit of concern because of the rules against taking photos and overall change in law. We parked the bikes and walked around the corner only to realize we were on the appropriately named Pusher Street. Rows of stalls lined either side of the street. They each carried the same products: hash, pre-rolled joints with hash in them, edibles/cupcakes, and bud. This place reminded me of what I imagine some people feared Colorado would look like after legalization. Dirty streets with sketchy vendors provide marijuana from sources that are questionable to say the least. I asked them if they all got there product from the same source, to which they answered: absolutely not; of course I realized too late that they were going to give that answer regardless of the truth of it. I have a feeling that they do, given the striking similarity of every single vendor stand. The marijuana stands have been an enduring source of controversy, getting repeatedly taken down and then restored after police raids.
Despite the grubby feel of the marijuana industry, there were many signs discouraging drug use and emphasizing that here or there is a drug-free zone. After seeing and reading enough I got the impression that marijuana was not included in this notion of drugs and that there was a distinction between weed/alcohol and hard drugs. I actually just checked and back in the 70’s heroin was permissible, but after a number of deaths in the community, it and other ‘hard drugs’ have been banned.
Around the corner was an area with open seating in the center of a bunch of food stands and a bar. We grabbed a drink and did some people watching. There is a crazy amalgamation of grubby people and well-kept tourists, millennials and families with young children. Christiania seems like it should be a bunch of rebelling young but there are many families and older folk that live there as well. There are tons of wacky and cool looking make-shift buildings. Along the water out-of-commission boats are roped together to create floating communes. At the very least, one can say that Christiania has a lot of character.
The indoor food court area called Street Food that I had visited the previous week with the fam was close by to Christiania, so we enjoyed some food on the water afterwards. We were fortunate enough to come to Copenhagen during jazz week, so each restaurant had another band playing. We loosened up the knees to some incredible energetic funk at Street Food.
Late Thursday we took a bus to Hamburg, Germany, but of course we had to hit the climbing wall while waiting for the bus.