Apart from visits to Amsterdam and Cork to catch up with the friends I made on previous trips, I rarely return to a destination I have travelled to before. So, heading back to Copenhagen, the Danish capital ten months after first visiting was something out of the ordinary for me. My first visit, in the autumn, was brilliant! I fell in love with the city’s sights, the food and the relaxed yet stylishly-designed bicycling Scandinavian way of life. I even managed to venture out of the capital to the fantastic Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on the coast near Humlebæk and further north on Zealand to the imposing Kronborg Castle (aka ‘Hamlet’s castle’) at Helsingor. Even before I took my flight back to the UK, I promised to make a return trip to see the city during one the summer months; basically, on the premise that I could take a dip in the clear (yet freezing cold) waters of the Øresund Sound.
On landing at a grey-shrouded Malmö Airport on, what was supposed to be, a gorgeous August summers day I had a feeling this trip was going to be a bit of a challenge. It suddenly dawned on me, as the minibus sped over the Øresund Bridge, but for the plan to swim in the sea (an activity that looked decidedly unappealing in the current weather conditions), I had planned to see and do absolutely nothing in the city I had been looking forward to returning to. On my previous trip I had spent 5 days waving the Copenhagen Card I had bought in the faces of those at the ticket offices of all the major tourist attractions I was keen to see; leaving me on this second visit lost as I perched on a bollard near the Rundetaarn, with my suitcase at my feet as I wolfed down a (yup, you guessed it) Danish pastry from Netto and nursed a cup of strong coffee to wake me from my early start…and stupor at foolishly coming back to a city I had already seen…done…conquered! After polishing off my cinnamon swirl and worked towards the bottom of the coffee cup, I heard a noise. Drums. Was that a fife?! I turned my head to see the passing of the Changing of the Royal Guard on its way to the Amalienborg Palace playing a merry tune. A real surprise on this quiet cobbled back street, but it put a smile on my face and from that moment I was invigorated and resolved to make the most of this second visit to this fascinating European city! At the very least, I could always just make the next two days a mission to find and capture a photograph of myself with the awesome Sofie Gråbøl, star of the acclaimed Danish crime thriller, ‘The Killing’!
What followed were two brilliant days, exploring parts of Copenhagen I missed out the first time. I did make return visits to the superb street food market at Papirøen (Paper Island) allowing me to sample great Colombian and Indian dishes as well as take in the new art exhibition and sculptural works in the building next door.
As soon as the sun came out the next day, I immediately rented a bicycle, anointed myself a ‘Biking Viking’ and sped my way to Amager, where after a 10 minute ride to the south east of the city you come across the most amazing beach. Backed by dunes and a park, Amager has bathing available at two specially designed sea baths and clean, clear waters that look almost Caribbean! I knew when I wanted to swim in the waters off Copenhagen that the sea would be clear, but never did I expect it to look so tropical nor so beautiful. Needless to say, the water was very refreshing and offered a real cooling off from the bike ride and heat of the city. I would highly recommend a visit to this part of the city on a warm summers day.
So, should you take the path well trodden? I would say ‘yes’…and especially if you are lucky enough to have a local friend to show you around sights you might not usually consider! Nevertheless, on this second visit, without a local friend, I saw this city a little more clearly. I saw the people who live in Copenhagen that bit better and I was genuinely surprised (and a little dismayed) to find they weren’t the cheery folk I met on my first trip. I guess because the first time I spent much of the time wrapped up in a sense of wonderment at visiting tourist attractions that were new to me as well as being greeted by the effervescent folk manning ticket offices who are used to directing hapless travellers to the correct places and are keen to engage in a conversation that allows them to show off their city in the best possible light. On the other hand, in my experience on this trip, the average Dane, generally did not want to engage in polite small talk and often seemed quite reserved. And, for me, it was that element of the trip that would seriously make me consider whether or not I would repeat offend in the future.
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