The chance to experience new architecture in this cutting edge design centre was the primary draw for me to København (see previous blog). And then there were the obvious sightseeing ‘musts’, like the royal palace Amalienborg, Tivoli Gardens and Den lille Havrue, the Little Mermaid. The heritage harbour Nyhavn, lined with its brightly coloured 17th-18th century townhouses and restaurants, was packed to the brim day and night, as was the shopping artery Stroget, literally ‘the sweep,’ a mile-long pedestrian street divided into sections of different characters. (photo below: Amagertorv square with its vivid granite paving). Some other highlights: the recently opened Bella Sky Comwell boutique hotel; the design mecca ‘Hay’; and, the Wild Wonders of Europe outdoor exhibition of nature and wildlife photography (on tour through 2012).
My itinerary collided with that of the World Scout Jamboree 2011. Making their way to Rinkaby, Sweden were thousands upon thousands of clod hopping, supposed do-gooders lugging overstuffed duffel bags and taking up space in airports, trains, hotels – everywhere you don’t want them to be. Though they represent diversity and solidarity, the sheer magnitude of them (38,000+) had me convinced that many are up to no good. But when you meet them up close, ahh, they’re almost endearing.
Exploring the self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of Christiania in the old district of Christianshavn is akin to walking through lalaland. It’s hard to put a finger on it but the graffiti-adorned streets, quirky houses and improvised shacks nestled in the woods around the canal, and the occasional references to Alice in Wonderland play a big part. Cannabis trade is also alive and well here, but there’s no need to talk about that. You can get a great burger or a bong, but no cameras, please. Freetown Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in the ‘70s by hippies and squatters who settled in the once-military area. It’s still touch and go – negotiations of its future are ongoing.