( Mike’s travel notes from Newstalk ZB’s Jack Tame Show.)
Copenhagen has earned a reputation of being the capital of cool. Why so?
You’ll often hear Copenhagen referred to as Scandi cool or Nordic cool, primarily because its such an eminently engaging, attractive, compact and human-scale city. Its considered by the world’s urban planners as the marquet specimen in metropolitan living, its adored by the greenies for being such a clean and low-carbon city. And Danish design remains uber-cool and creative. Lets not forget, this is the country that gave the world Lego.
Alongside Vancouver, it is also regarded as one of the world’s most livable cities. But the cost of living is pricey, right?
Danish taxes are sky-high, so yes, hotel rates and restaurant bills are pricey. But you can off-set those necessary evils, by lapping up the spoil of free admission attractions. Particularly the ancient cathedrals, art galleries and the state-run museums, which span all manner of interests. The Museum of Erotica is a one of the most popular. It’s not sleazy, but you’ll need a broad mind. The museum lays out in chronological order how erotica has evolved over the centuries, from ancient India and Ancient Rome to the present day. Special attention is paid to a number of subjects – including the early pioneers of erotic photography and the always popular Marilyn Monroe exhibit. There are twenty five galleries in all, portraying “art, kitsch and love” in varying forms – from erotic paintings to postcards, photos, films, magazines, sculptures, and plenty more.
Another great free experience is Amalienborg palace, which has been home to the Royal Family since 1794. The daily Changing of the Guard is a colourful affair which takes place at noon, and the palace is famous for comprising four symmetrical rococo houses.
The Stroget (Pron- Stroll-uh) Declared a car-free zone in 1962, the mile-long Stroget, is Europe’s longest pedestrianised shopping area. Consisting of four inter-connecting streets, this is where you’ll find the city’s landmark retailers, , the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory, fantastic home design stores and candle-lit cafes.
The hippy hangout of Christiania. This is like a relic of the free love, give peace a chance movement of the 70s, which led to the development of this semi-autonomous commune in the heart of the city. Home to a thousand residents, they even have their own currency. Their biggest money-earner is the Christiania bicycle, which is manufactured within the commune. It’s a bit of a wacko place, but worth a look.
Tivoli Amusement Park. Tivoli is a study in visual stimulus. It certainly was for Walt Disney. He holidayed here with his wife in 1950, and went home so inspired by Tivoli, he was determined to give Americans a similar pleasure park, which is what he produced in Anaheim.
Tivoli , which first opened in 1841, is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. It is the second most visited in Europe – after Disneyland Paris . It is graced by manicured lawns, entwined with millions of flowers and even more millions of fairylight bulbs, interspersed with performance arenas, beer gardens and amusement rides.
The old waterfront of Nyhavn. This five hundred year old harbour is one of the world’s most mimicked triumphs in urban regeneration. Fifty years ago, Nyhavn had become a derelict cesspit, overrun with prostitutes and drug-dealers. The old tall wooden townhouses and warehouses were restored, brightly painted and the district is now a famous entertainment and hospitality hotspot. Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour can trace its makeover to the Nyhavn success story.
Carlsberg and the Little Mermaid. Take a harbourside walk to see where the Vikings once raised their flags, and to size up the Little Mermaid statue , placed in honour of Hans Christian Anderson. The Carlsberg brewery boss, Carl Jacobson was infatuated by the Mermaid, and he commissioned the statue. First unveiled exactly one hundred years ago, Danish sailors consider her a good luck charm. But she’s had a lot of bad luck, at the hand of vandalism. She has been knocked off her resting place, splattered in paint, and decapitated multiple times. So she has been moved further out from the shore. By the way, the Carlsberg Brewery tour is very popular. Founded in 1847, the original brewery still stands, with its famous stone elephant entrance gate. The Danes consume more beer, per capita, than any other country in the world, which the Mermaid statue can testify to.
Easy to get to? Best time to go?
May to October are the optimum months for a visit. Emirates, who have just won the big Skytrax gong , the Airline of the Year award, fly direct from Dubai to Copenhagen.