Tag Archives walking tours

Adventures in Copenhagen: New Friends, New Food & Secret Neighborhoods

Standing in rainy Copenhagen  | The Girl Next Door is Black
Brrrr! It is chilly and rainy this time of year in Copenhagen. It’s been on average low- to mid-40s, with a bit of a wind and rain everyday.

The Danish guide from the walking tour we took earlier in the day, Magnus, also led that evening’s four-bar pub crawl. The group of about 15 included a few familiar faces from the earlier tour and represented several nations including England, Australia, Columbia, Trinidad, Peru and, of course, Denmark.

Also in our group: two progressively drunker American dudebros. Later in the night, one of the dudebros stumbled in front of a politi (police) car and started to give them lip, which they didn’t find amusing; neither did I and neither did Magnus as he warned, “They don’t like that.” Sigh.

 

Friends at the Saloon Bar Copengahen, Denmark | The Girl Next Door is Black
Fun Times!

The next morning jet lag hit me hard. We gave in to the Danish spirit of “hygge” and slept in before starting the day. On the agenda for our afternoon: a free walking tour of the neighborhood Christianshavn and the very unique “freetown” Christiania.

Before the walking tour, we stopped for lunch at a fantastic indoor market, Torvehollerne, the largest food market in Copenhagen, where vendors sell food and goods from around the world.

Open-faced sandwiches, or Smørrebrød, are popular in Danish cuisine. It’s not just the taste that’s important with these buttered, rye-bread based sandwiches; presentation matters, as well.

When we met up with the tour group, we noticed the Columbian girls from the previous night’s pub crawl and greeted them. Magnus, the wonder guide, led this tour too.

Scenes from Christianshavn

On our way to Christiania, a freetown within Christianshavn, Magnus explained some of its history. Christiania is like a hippie commune; the less than 900 residents live a bohemian lifestyle with few rules. One notable rule: no cars allowed.  Magnus warned us that by appearance you’d think it’s the kind of place one might avoid: dilapidated buildings; people wearing disheveled, stained clothing; graffiti-covered facades; overgrown flora and an overall sketchy vibe. There are also shops, restaurants and an annual Christmas market within Christiania. Magnus assured us “it’s safe”; probably one of the safest areas in the city.

Within Christiania you’ll find the “Green Light District,” also known as “pusher street,” a small area where dealers openly sell marijuana and hash; no questions asked and no harassment or involvement from law enforcement. As long as no hard drugs are involved, everything is copacetic. Anyone caught with hard drugs has the option of either  going to rehab or permanent banishment from the town.

I didn’t take very many photos in Christiania, partly out of respect for the culture and partly out of fear of being kicked out embarrassingly. Photos aren’t allowed within the Green Light District at all.

We were still in Christiania by nightfall when we got caught up in sudden rainstorm that sent everyone scurrying for cover. Once the rain ended, we carefully found our way out of the sparsely-lit, creepy-in-the-dark, maze of Christiania.

Our evening concluded with a French-influenced dinner at Grill Royal.

Mussels / Moules at Grill Royal Copenhagen Denmark | The Girl Next Door is Black
My big pot of mussels

 

15 Things I Learned About Denmark On A Walking Tour

We arrived in Denmark yesterday afternoon and took it easy our first evening, after a grueling 9 1/2 hour flight. I look forward to one day being able to fly first class on the regular; flying economy on long flights is the pits. Sleeping is more like a series of stiff, fitful and not quite satisfying naps.

Strøget in December, Copenhagen Denmark | The Girl Next Door is Black
Strøget, is one of Europe’s longest and oldest pedestrian streets. It’s lined with shops, eateries and bars.

For dinner, we dined on hand-crafted burgers at Halifax, a gastropub in Indre By.  I once belonged to a burger club, so I’ve tried my fair share of burgers – Halifax makes a respectable burger. We noticed the Danes around us lingered for awhile after their last bites, enrapt in conversation. The staff appeared nonplussed by this. Tipping isn’t a custom at restaurants.

Scandic Palace Hotel Copenhagen, Denmark | The Girl Next Door is Black

This afternoon, my friend and I took a free 3-hour walking tour of central Copenhagen. Our tour guide was Magnus, a true Dane with blonde hair, blue-eyes and a strong jawline (along with a slightly sarcastic sense of humor). He shared his knowledge of his home country and I learned the following:

1. For years Denmark has held the title “Happiest Country.” Magnus seemed pretty happy, I must say. Certainly proud of his country.

2. Interestingly, Denmark has one of the highest divorce rates in all of Europe.

Denmark is known for its Pølsevogn or sausage stands where they sell hot dogs and sausages with toppings like mustard, ketchup, diced onions, pickles and a remoulade.

3. It also has one of the highest individual tax rates in the world at an average of 55%.

4. Taxes pay for things like college education, which is free for all citizens up through the PhD level. In fact, you get PAID to attend college. The money can be used for rent (you get more if you don’t live with mom and dad), books, food or even beer if you like.

5. The Danish greatly value the concept of “hygge” (hew-ge), which loosely translates to a feeling of being relaxed, satisfied and unhurried.

6. There is no minimum wage. The average hourly rate is US $50.

7. The standard workweek is 37 hours.

Friends Selfie in Copenhagen | The Girl Next Door is Black
Copenhagen selfie!

8. Danes get minimum five weeks of paid vacation!

9. Copenhagen is one of the world’s most livable cities with biking a popular mode of transportation.

10. Life in prison in Denmark means 25 years. Prisoners get rooms with beds and are allowed TVs. Once released, the government helps reintegrate former inmates into society.

Baresso Hot Chocolate Copenhagen Denmark | The Girl Next Door is Black
Hot Chocolate with light, dark and white chocolate and cream from Baresso was perfect for the chilly, rainy day.

11. Denmark is also one of the safest countries in the world.

12. It’s legal to drink on the street in Copenhagen.

13. The Danish like being on time, but not early.

14. The Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and Queen of Denmark are all female.

15. Denmark has a whole lotta pigs so pork is a very popular dish.

Frederik’s Church

I don’t know if it’s the air, the sense of chill or just being on vacation, but my friend and I both agreed that we are really happy today. We like Denmark so far!

Black girl in Copenhagen | The Girl Next Door is Black