3 Weeks of Biking: The Danish Part

SO! It took a little planning and a little patience, but in early August Jana and I were finally able to set out on our summer adventure: biking from Copenhagen to Oslo. And I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best journeys ever! Wait and see.

…yes, yes, it was in August, and now it’s November,  but I was BUSY people.

On the way to Kiel, I shared the compartment (and a beer and a sip of Whisky, this is Deutsche Bahn, you have to put in a bit of effort to enjoy it) with Sergej, a friendly traveller and a cat. Seriously, is there anything better than someone spontaneously asking “Hey, can you watch my cat for a moment?”

The kitty reminded me very much of Toothless, the dragon.

I was reading this memoir by The Minimalists and can recommend it.

Jana’s journey didn’t go quite so smoothly, because she had to travel on Saturday and her train was PACKED.

Then there was this little hiccup where we forgot to actually buy a bike ticket for the way from Kiel to Copenhagen. Note to self: Don’t do that again, no matter how nice Danish conductors may be about it.

Denmark! What should I say… I think I’m in love. Hiking was already fun, but the biking in Copenhagen is just ah-maaaa-zing.

If I were one for puns, I would say I was blown away.

But I would never do that.

In Copenhagen, we were hosted by the lovely Megan and her husband Johan (who had to go on a business trip and is therefore, sadly, not in the photo).


They sent us on our way with great ideas of what to see and do and we got right to it. First stop: Christiania.


This freetown is in the middle of Copenhagen in an area of former army barracks and home to about 1000 inhabitants. You can read more about it in the Wikipedia article (which sounds much more dangerous that it felt), but I will include this tidbit here, because is explains the color scheme in the photos below: The colors in Christianaia’s flag were used because pots of yellow and red paint were found in the barracks shortly after occupation and the three dots represent the three i’s.


For those who haven’t noticed yet: Copenhagen is super cool in a laid-back “What are you even talking about, this is how I have always been, can we please go eat a pastry now” kind of way. And it has been pretty green and clean and liberal for the past few decades, so go figure.


The pastries ARE good. Eat at least one every three hours. This is a close-up of a kanelsnegle.



Cinnamon buns and swirls galore, and the Danish bread is close enough to the dark German breads, that we nominated it to be our official bike tour bread for the next three weeks to support the vast amounts of peanut butter we would eat. Decent bread is the one thing I miss when I travel and the one thing that is hard to get in most places that are not Germany. Unless it’s Denmark apparently.


And EVERYONE is on a bike. Students, people in suits, old people, children…



See? Denmark was being sweet and flirty and playful from the start and had us wrapped around its fjords in no time.


Now, let’s take a little tour around Copenhagen.


This is the historic castle, now seat of the parliament, because the Danish royal family doesn’t like it quite so posh.

It has a charging station for electric cars.

The day turned into night. And the night was beautiful.

We had an AMAZING dinner at a little Thai restaurant.  And when we got home,  Megan had baked the best ever brownies. Livin’ the dream people.

Day two had us walk up to this little spirally church tower in the morning.



The view is amazing!



We went as far up as we could go. This is where the staircase ends.



Inside the tower are the old bells…



…and some modern art installations:




Someone is really into tea cups.
Then we went to an interactive art installation, a collaboration of Marina Abramović and the royal library. The building is called the black diamond:



We listened to selected pieces of Danish literature, while spending time in room, where the originals were kept behind glass.



Naturally, I fell asleep. To the Medical book from the 1500s and its descriptions of symptoms, which was weirdly soothing.


Also a must: A boat tour around the harbor!










Need I mention, that the Danish sailors are super cute, super handsome and super friendly…? A wave from one of them way up in the rigging is almost as sweet as a kanelsnegle.
Also, the water in the harbor is so clean, that they allow regular fishing there and you can consume any fish you catch there without having to worry about lead, oil or whatever other harmful substances can be found in OTHER harbors.
The little mermaid was quite popular and I did appreciate the reversed perspective.


The bridges are quite low, so watch your head.




Some Danes were happily waving and skinny dipping while our boat went by, because Danes dgaf. Admirable. Here are my life goals.

We also saw this powerful art installation by Ai Wei Wei at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, made entirely of life vests salvaged from refugees who arrived at the Greek island of Lesbos:


Then we headed “home”, picked up some fresh peas along the way, and tried (and failed) once again, to eat some Smørrebrød, but it was a beautiful location.



We spent our last evening cooking one of my favorite recipes of all time, banana curry soup, for Megan while talking travel adventures.


The next day, the biking began! We were on our way to Helsingør.



We took a break at modern art museum Louisiana,  which features some pieces by big names, such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Hockney.


And some more Abramović was on display,


I have wondered why I am so fascinated by performance art recently and came up with a few reasons: The process is limited by time and space, so that it does not create a finished “product” that can be sold, it’s not a commodity. It focuses on human consciousness and experience, especially borderline experiences where ethical and physical limits are tested. It questions the rules, the status quo and encourages exploration. It has the potential to be disturbing and powerful and transformative.







I did it, I went through the door. It was a weird experience, as it is designed to be. You cannot avoid brushing against the naked artists and you have to chose which one to face. I also wondered about the young artists, who chose to be part of this project during their studies. I think it may be quite an experience.


One other piece was for visitors to participate in and sit across from each other without speaking, wearing noise cancelling headphones. The idea is to not communicate, or not in the usual ways. Of course, people always communicate. It was a truly interesting experience.


That Abramovic is a contested figure goes without saying. Her “borrowing” from “other” cultures is without doubt problematic (I read her memoir earlier this year).


Moving on! We made it to charming Helsingør and to our first campsite.



This is also where Hamlet’s castle, the impressive Kronenburg, can be found. Seriously, that is one massive castle.






There is a Shakespeare festival… so  I have more than enough reason to come back some day soon, very soon.

And then it was time to take the ferry to Sweden!



But not without a glimpse at Danish royalty: HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark.



Really, they’re just like you and me, they hang out on the boat, too.

Find the Swedish part here!

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