Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Here it is New Year’s Eve and I should be busy thinking about this past year and what will happen in 2013, but I’m bursting to share my Copenhagen experiences! There is so much to tell, and so many pictures to share (yes, probably half my photos are of bikes, people on bikes, or bike infrastructure)! So I’ll start off with a summary of the trip, and expand in forthcoming blogs. 

The Good:

  • We had a lovely apartment in Norrebro (I wish I could type the o with the / through it but I couldn’t figure out how. So I apologize to the Danish.), found on Airbnb.  Ida, our “hostess,” (who used to work as a bike messenger) met us when we arrived, showed us around, pointed the direction to the closest grocery store, and left. She had decorated for Christmas, and left us some treats. The apartment was European-small but cozy, with two balconies that must be great in the summer. The apartment was close to several bus stops and two S-tog (metro) stations, and at least four different grocery stores. Oh, and two bike shops!
    One of the balconies in our Airbnb apartment.

    One of the balconies in our Airbnb apartment.

    The other balcony - how nice to have a corner apartment!

    The other balcony – how nice to have a corner apartment!

    The kitchen. Loved the electric kettle.

    The kitchen. Loved the electric kettle.

    I loved this little kitchen nook.

    I loved this little kitchen nook.

    So sweet of Ida to leave us Christmas treats! We loved the Pedernodder, which she said are a favorite Christmas treat, and we did see them everywhere. And brought some back...

    So sweet of Ida to leave us Christmas treats! We loved the Pedernodder, which she said are a favorite Christmas treat, and we did see them everywhere. And brought some back…

  • OMG there were bikes EVERYWHERE!!!!  Our eyes just about popped out of our heads when we walked out of Copenhagen’s Central Station to catch the bus for the first time – a sea of wheels, frames, seats, and baskets. Every bike had at least one basket, and many had both a front and back basket. And they were all “comfort” bike styles, very few with drop handle bars. And none of them were locked to anything! Yes, you heard me – the ring lock was all they used! Unbelievable!

    Just one of the bike lots around the Central Station!

    Just one of the bike lots around the Central Station!

  • Rosenborg Slot (castle) was a definite highlight beyond the bikes. The castle itself was a detailed museum, and the Royal Treasury was staggering. I’ve never been that close to a crown before, let alone three, let alone all those precious gems and all that gold. Oh my goodness, be sure to visit if you go to Copenhagen!
  • Just about everyone spoke flawless English, even in Sweden. The only person who did not was the older gentleman working in the gas station I wandered into on Christmas Day. I don’t know how they do it, although Danish sounded like a hard language to learn. Luckily, it looks a lot like German, so I was able to guess our way around based on that.
  • There were fireworks every night. Seriously – we could hear them, but not always see them. One night they were in the abandoned lot across from the apartment! But they are clearly private citizens, not anything organized by the city.

    Across the street from us!

    Across the street from us!

The Bad

  • The Mechanic had some minor health problems that unfortunately kept us from doing some of the stuff we had planned. On Christmas Day, I did the (unguided) walking tour we had wanted to do, to see the city highlights since everything was closed. We almost didn’t make it to Malmo, Sweden, either. He’s not 100% yet but got well enough to enjoy the rest of the trip.
  • The sun set at 3:45pm. Not only is that early, if you include the fact that several days were overcast, well, it truly was dark the entire day. It really confused our bodies at first!
  • The fireworks every night. I began to feel like I was living in a war zone.
  • There is soooo much to write about! I’m going to have to blog steadily for a week to share everything I want to!

The Ugly (stuff that isn’t bad, but wasn’t great, or was simply unexpected)

  • The shower in the apartment was not exactly what I’d expected. Basically, you shut the bathroom door, pull  a shower curtain over the door, then pick up the hand unit and shower over the sink and toilet. It wasn’t terrible, just unexpected. I’m sure it might have upset some, but I’ve done similar showers elsewhere in Europe. I had just forgotten, in the last 6 years, what European standards can be.

    Our shower

    Our shower

  • Everything really was closed for three days over Christmas – the 24th, 25th, and 26th. Yikes! Luckily there were a few places to find food (like the gas station and a coffee shop), but the city really did shut down to celebrate.
  • Bike helmets – contrary to what some would have us believe, Copenhagen cyclists DO wear helmets! At least a third of the cyclists I saw were wearing them. And every bike shop (and we saw many) sold dozens of them. Not what I was expecting at all!
  • There were open flames everywhere! This was actually pretty cool, but again, unexpected. This would never work in this country. Shops had small pots of fire on their stoops, there were fires in Tivoli and at the Zoo, and in other unexpected places. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen in this country, yet the Danes calmly and safely went around their business. Ah Europe.100_8260

I really want to talk about bikes, so I’m saving that for another blog post or two or three. Then there is the great bus and metro system; that’s another blog. Then bike fashion, then European cars, then bike infrastructure…  I may have to set up a Flickr album with photos, if anyone is interested in seeing more than what I blog about. But to sum up, we had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back. But this time, when the weather is warmer!

While I continue to sort pictures of bikes, I want to wish you all the best for a joyous, healthy, and happy 2013! May your biking days be many and happy, and if you don’t bike, well, you should try it! (Have I taught you nothing this whole year?!)

Cheers!

See also:

Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions

Copenhagen Part 3: Bicycle Infrastructure

2 thoughts on “Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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