The Christiana Freetown is well known to both the local danes and tourists who visit Copenhagen. A place where they have their own set of rules and laws independent from the rest of Copenhagen, and where weed is completely legal.
I wanted to visit Freetown Christiana on my second day in Copenhagen, but I didn't want to do it alone, so I signed up for a free short afternoon walking tour.
Since I stayed near the Tivoli Gardens, I planned to head over to the gardens that same morning. Unfortunately, the gardens were closed for renovation and were only said to open the day AFTER I left Copenhagen. Imagine the heartbreak when I found out.
Accommodation: Urban House Hostel
Booked for a 6bed dorm - got upgraded to a single room due to lack of beds
+ SUPER near the main train station, nice bar, nice communal lounge area, good shower Facilities
- Not very spacious, the beds in a 6-bed dorms were very squeezed together
The single room was pretty luxurious though :)
The Tivoli Gardens were on the top of my list of places to visit, along with the freetown but sadly, my evident lack of proper planning meant that I didn't get that opportunity. There is a down side to having a "just wing it" mentality.
But also an upside.
In the spirit of just winging it, I headed from the gardens and just walked till I found myself at yet another harbour - with nobody in sight - and a nice view of colourful houses and empty benches for me to sit and stare into space.
What I WoreOn a sidenote, when I was taking pictures, the wind was so strong, it blew my camera off a ledge and nearly into the water. At that moment I had a horrific shock of my life. My immediate thought was not "my camera!" but "OMG MY PICTURES FROM YESTERDAY!"
White Denim Skirt: Forever21
Shoes: Carlo Rino
There must be something wrong right there, right?
After recollecting my thoughts, my stomach rumbled, and I made my way towards the main shopping district (where we were suppose to meet for the tour) and grab a bite before the tour started.
The very awesome thing about Copenhagen is they have all these book cafés around. Cafés that sell books and food, I would love to spend an ENTIRE afternoon just chilling in such a place. I know my sister would LOVE to.
The tour started of at the centre of Copenhagen, and the tour guide brought us along a short walk through the modern parts of Copenhagen, explaining the different architecture, telling us various stories of Copenhagen, and fun facts.
1) The green tower above is on the 20 dollar bill
2) There is bridge that has the song with the tune of London bridge but instead of falling down its going up (it sounds very cute in danish! Like I would want to teach my kids that song!)
3) The tower up on the right above, has a person who plays the organ and there will be tunes/chimes coming out, one time when he was bringing a tour group around, they heard the harry potter theme song!
So I was wishing that we would get to hear it too, but sadly, we didn't.
The district of Christianshavn used to be a merchant town that thrived because of capitalism back in the day, which is pretty ironic since the Freetown - located within this area - is now a place that doesn't believe in capitalism.
I loved walking through the alleys and streets of the district. They have walls that are uneven, very old merchant-town-esque architecture that I really appreciated. It was a stark difference from the modern buildings just one bridge away.
Eventually, we found ourselves entering Freetown Christiana. It was definitely an eye opener, and I believe its a very important part of Copenhagen. It's nice to see the everyone embracing the fact that the people living in this freetown have different believes and just, accepting that and not forcing them to conform to the majority.
In the freetown, you see a lot of self-made sheds, many people selling weed, "shop doors" made out of leaves and strings tied together, and countless of no photography signs. It's an experience i really appreciated. And because I did not know much about the history of this freetown, going on a tour provided just the right amount of background information.
See the red flag with 3 dots, that is their own flag! On the other side of the sign below, it says "you are now entering the EU" because they believe they are a Freetown and hence not part of the EU.
At the exit of the free town, you were able to take pictures, and thus most pictures of Christiana Freetown online are pretty much identical. But trust me, its completely different from what you see inside, its... a very interesting environment.
Definitely one of those places you'll only "get it" when you visit it.
Since the Christiana was located near to a food market I wanted to visit, I was hoping to have a snack there after the tour, but low and behold, when I arrived at this sign board, it said the market was only opened from Friday to Sunday. It was a Thursday.
Note to self: It pays to do a little more research. Thankfully traveling alone means you only disappoint yourself, and its super easy to have a change of plans!
I made my way through the merchant town, and back towards Copenhagen's city centre, but not before passing by some gorgeous canals, and lovely sailboats just parked casually on the side of it.
These sailboats don't look like they belong to anybody, but of course since it looks a lot like a residential area, it must be!
I think its just lovely to be able to see a different side of Copenhagen than what is being offered in the main part of the city. Taking sometime to walk around in the residential area (despite my hungry stomach) was something I enjoyed, where else would you get to see sights like these, and to know people actually live in such places. Where just right out of their window is a perfect view, serene and calm, then across a big bridge is a shopping area with BikBok, H&M and Macdonalds!
7 May 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark
I mentioned previously that I chose to stick along water bodies of Copenhagen because I wanted some peace and quiet away from the shopping areas, and people. Though, walking along the canals, rivers and lakes of Copenhagen gives you time alone, it does not mean you miss out on the fun and vibrance of the city. Being the capital city of Denmark, you can easily find excitement in the city when you want to. If human interaction is your thing, but you still want to enjoy the architecture of the city and its urban design of the canals and buildings, a short walk to Nyhaven would do the trick.
But before I talk about that, lets continue where we left off the previous time.
After visiting the little mermaid and having the harbour winds in my face, I strolled on past a gorgeous warrior statue, pretty vines surrounding side alley ways, and pretty european architecture, I found myself caught in a drizzle that seem to be heading towards a full on rain, with no umbrella. So, I headed for the Danish Museum of Art & Design for some shelter (also to use the toilet!)
When I entered the Danish Musuem of Art & Design, I noticed they were exhibiting a series on fashion history in on part of the museum and I was immediately intrigued. After some deliberation, I was fully prepared to pay the 10euros value for the museum, when the lady at the counter told me it was free for STUDENTS! Imagine my joy!
So of course, I took my free ticket, and happily skipped into the exhibition rooms.
Even though the fashion exhibition was rather interesting (not better than the V&A, obviously, but I know I shouldnt be comparing) it was a rather small one. I was rather more excited over the part where they showcased works of various children toys, furnitures, interiors, playroom designs, basically everything related to a kids room.
Maybe it was because i've never seen any exhibition like it, but man, the danish people really do such great minimalistic design! I wanted to just bring all the furnitures back home to the children room I will potentially have in the distant future haha!
I didn't take too many photos in the Museum, but I will definitely recommend visiting it, especially if you're a student! It was pretty interesting to see everything in miniature form, and to read about how the designs for danish children products evolved over the years.
Naturally, after the rain stopped, I went along with my journey and made my way back to the canals and found myself at Nyhavn.
On one side of the bank, there are shops, alfresco dining areas, musicians, baskers, people sitting down talking, enjoying the free live music. And on the other side of the bank, you can be an observer, witnessing the action but not being part of it.
There were several baskers along the river singing english songs and trying to get tourist to join in on the basking activities, and of course, people did.
I had a fun time watching and having lunch on the side of the "happening" bank, and then headed over to the "less happening" side to admire the boats (ok, more like creepily peering into each one to see if there were people inside), and taking some photographs of the colourful buildings.
I adore the colourful houses along the canal, I think the burst of colour really adds to the atmosphere bringing it to live. I think this would be the perfect place to chill with friends after a long day. Especially if you visit here on a weekend night, I can imagine it would be filled with fun, laughter and great music.
At the end of Nyhavn, you find yourself near another harbour. Deep waters with houses and buildings that seem to be floating, along with the widest sidewalks with almost nobody.
I can imagine having a nice date at a restaurant along Nyhavn, and then a wonderful evening /night stroll along the harbour and waters nearby. It would be such a lovely time to talk, perhaps with some snacks in your hand (because how can you not have snacks!), and enjoy the night breeze.
After turning the corner along the sidewalk, I passed by empty tables and benches for which I presume were built so that people could have picnics beside the waters and not have to sit on the floor? And together with those benches - TRAMPOLINES. Yes. Trampolines in the middle of the street.
I'm pretty sure i'm right in assuming the benches and tables are for families to sit and eat whilst their kids run around hopping from one trampoline to another, because a whole bunch of kids came and started hopping and bouncing, even younger adults who saw went in and join in the fun.
If I wasn't alone, I'd have dumped my stuff with my friend and jumped right in as well!
Of course when I took these photos, there was a worried father shooting me awkward/judgemental stares. I imagine him thinking, "Why is this asian girl sneakily taking photographs of my children like a creep?".
So to prevent myself from being called out as being a weirdo or a perv, I directed my attention to the architecture along the canals.
It was great that I could admire the architecture of Copenhagen without having to be right at the street where the buildings were on. Doesn't it look so much better from afar with the waters in the view.
By the way, fun facts: the spiral on this building was suppose to be a crocodile, or alligator, crawling downwards, but really, its head, looked a lot like a dog. From afar though, it looks pretty impressive!
The building was the old stock exchange building in Copenhagen, but as of now, it isn't a fancy bank, or mall, as of now, it houses working offices, and is on the market for a couple of million euros if I'm not wrong. Macdonalds wanted to buy it over, but they were denied.
Can you imagine if they turned it into a Macdonalds?! It would be the fanciest yet!
Sticking by the waters of Copenhagen really does give you a good mix of tranquility and fun when you want either of it, you'd easily find it.
2 May 2015 Nyhavn, København K, Denmark
I'm back from a 10-day trip to Scandinavia (and then a short 4 days in Switzerland)! Now it's time for me to put a rest on the flying about and start revision for finals. Sigh.
Even though I'm on my year abroad, and my grades don't affect my GPA back home (THANK GOD), I still have to make sure I pass the year and not do too crappily. Guess it's time for me to play catch up with school after all the traveling around the entire year.
Before that, here's a short round up of my Scandinavia trip and 5 fun facts I discovered in my time there!
ONE: There are significantly LESSER people aroundWhen I stepped into Copenhagen (the first stop on my trip), I was surprised at how empty it was. Somehow there were just not as many people around. It was such a refreshing change from London. As I moved up to Sweden and Norway, the number of people out and about seem to decrease even more! Maybe this is why everyone is so happy - No squishing and bumping into people makes everyone smile a little more.
One of the girls I met told me "It's not just white people here", and she meant it in the nicest way possible. That was true! Tall, short, white, black, asian, young, old, it was quite an equal mix everywhere I turned. It could be because the cities I visited were more touristy and cosmopolitan, but that was definitely a nice observation :)
TWO: There are ALL types of people
THREE: The minimalistic lifestyle IS REAL - and very attractive might I addI thought the whole minimalistic vibe wouldn't be as evident, or that it was merely a stereotype. But no, minimalism is REAL. You see it in their streets, their houses, interiors, stores and the way they dress. White, navy, grey, black, most of the people are dressed in Neutral shades, and the interior design of places are so minimalistic. Understated, but very classy. Clean and Bright. I just loved admiring the way everything was designed!
FOUR: There is NOT A TRACE of a language barrierI knew Scandinavians spoke english, I did not worry about the fact that I knew nothing about their language, but, the fact that EVERYONE could speak english, and SUPERBLY well, was unexpected. I would usually expect the younger generation to be really good, but in scandinavia, even the older people spoke good english. Moreover, they have signs in English too. It made getting around from place to place so effortless, I did not feel out of place, it was just...wonderful!
FIVE: People say "Hi hi!" or "Hey hey!" instead of just saying it onceBy far this is my favourite fact. FAV. Not to mention, everyone is so incredibly friendly!! Walking along the streets, or every time I stepped into the hostel, a café or a restaurant, I get warm smiles and a nice "hihi!" I loved it! Of course I would just say Hi once back. Anyone else who does it might come across a bit pretentious... I don't know, but the scandinavians totally pull it off. It is so freaking adorable the way they great everyone!
Thats a short roundup! Of course, the usual facts on how scandinavia is really expensive holds true, but these are just some other interesting things I discovered on my trip there. I'll be posting more details on my travel adventures soon, so do check back! :)
Photos are from my Instagram feed.