Copenhagen in Denmark was a stopover I did on the way to the Faroe Islands due to how the flights lined up. It was initially about a four hour layover which I extended to 24 hours in order to see a few of the local sights.
Due to the three flights I had to take in order to get to the Faroes, I would end up going from one amazingly barren landscape to another. Stopping in a city full of lively people and bright colors was rather polarizing though. The plan initially was to just cruise around and get a bunch of sightseeing done and head off to the airport. I quickly learned you should not rent a car and I spent half my day either sitting in traffic or being stuck on dead end roads that turned into picnic tables surrounded by narrow passages I barely fit into to begin with…. And in a BMW to boot (free upgrade!). Lesson learned… rent a bicycle next time.
Back at home when I was still planning the trip, there was big communication delays in trying to reach some of the accommodation options. I ended up emailing the bank in the Faroes capital about exchanging funds on a whim so I didn’t have any more surprises. A few days later they email me back the morning I was leaving Canada…. Turns out they do not buy Canadian and suggest exchanging for USD prior to arriving.
Exchange CAD for USD and then to FOK would have been like throwing money away. Thankfully the DKK and FOK are on par and since the Faroes are under Denmark, they accept DKK. Exchanging money ended up being its own complication!
In Iceland I got a rather unimpressive Toyota Yaris and it overall wasn’t a great experience, I ended up getting a full refund though. Taking the airport shuttle to the car rental area I’m greeted with some nice folks at Budget. As we go through the paperwork I casually share my Yaris story since I have a habit of talking.
The lady at the counter disappears to get the car keys and she ends up being gone for what felt like a lot longer than someone would need to retrieve a pair of keys. I feel like my car rental experience is going to be a repeat… She comes back and says they can’t find the keys!
Before I have time to respond with something I would probably regret later she says they’ll upgrade me to a BMW instead if I’m okay with that. Well I’m not one to turn down an upgrade and the BMW is going to be a whole lot better to drive than the Skoda I reserved!
As I leave I turned on sport mode since that’s essentially why anyone would get a beamer. The display changes into all sorts of gadgetry and it even gives you individual tire temperature as you power through traffic. Needless to say the drive on the motorway into Copenhagen was quite wonderful.
Keeping in mind I had to find bank I make a quick stop at one of the parks to track down 6 Forgotten Giants. The park is actually quite nice and for a change it wasn’t full on raining. The six giants are all made of wood and were built by Thomas Dambo in an effort to get locals and visitors into nature.
They are scattered around the forest with a bit of a treasure map of sorts posted at the very start. They emanate a lively feeling, it’s as though he would just disappear into the woods if you startled them! I didn’t have time to see all six as the area they are in is quite large. They range from sitting on the ground, hill sides, even one passed out taking a snooze on the ground. One of the more unique ones is Oscar, who can be found hanging or looking as though he is supporting part of the bridge.
Little Tilde is the one in the photograph.
Due to the rain though there was a lot of slugs all over the place. Just about every step involved walking around them or seeing the insides of a slug that met its poor demise from cyclist or walker.
It turns out they are also cannibalistic. Two slugs couldn’t pass on the opportunity of devouring him their friend who appeared to have been stepped on.
Next stop was the bank. After a couple failed locations due to what I can only presume are outdated maps, I get to Danske Bank. Opening the door was tricky though. There was a sign in Danish to press a button on the side of a post to open the door as you can’t do it by pulling/pushing on it. I… do not read Danish and thought they were closed. Apparently a couple other Danish folks thought the same thing as we stood outside. I didn’t feel so bad at that point. Eventually someone who was more intelligent than us came up and pressed the button and like magic …The door opened without hesitation!
Long story short, no one spoke much English and they were closing soon so their patience wasn’t very high. They would only exchange about $400 CAD and said that was their daily limit. My flight was in the morning so there wasn’t time to go to another bank and in the morning they wouldn’t be open yet. Showing up to the Faroes with CAD would be literally dead weight.
They tell me the main branch in the city center is open until 23:00 (Which is unheard of in North America). No one can give me an address though, just farmer directions on where and roughly when to turn. Now most banks count the money in front of you as they pass it to you. This kind lady evidently was trained elsewhere though. Our language barrier was not helping and she wasn’t interested in working through that. The CAD and DKK on the counter was literally just turned into one big pile as she pushed it all over to me and some of it fell on the floor. A wonderful experience at Danske Bank to say the least.
I got back into the car and started heading downtown.
I was amazed at the number of bicycles everywhere. Bike lanes, bikes from the left, from the right, even the bicycles have bicycles! I figured there would be a lot from what I knew prior and by the rental ladies parting words being “watch out for the bikes”. Yet I was still amazed at how many there were. Bicycle parking lots filled, entire lengths of buildings filled, truly amazing.
Sadly, the single building I really wanted to see in Copenhagen was The Cisterns. The Cisterns is a old underground reservoir which contained the drinking water for Copenhagen and dates back to the 1850’s. These days it is a museum and you are able to actually go down in there. They’re closed though and Monday happens to be when I swung by. If you are into older architecture the Cisterns looks like a must see! Instead I found some abstract art…
While the bank souring my mood a little bit I deferred back to being a happy tourist and came across a pretty chapel. Comparing to the bulk of churches in Canada, I always find it quite satisfying seeing the architecture and the various ornate designs that you find in European chapels.
Getting around downtown I accepted the realization that the next time I vacation in Copenhagen I would rent a bicycle. You make good time getting around the city in a car but it grinds to a halt once you get into the core. Best plan in my opinion, since I usually try to jam as much as I can into a day, would be to rent a car for the duration of the stay but simply use a bike for exploring in the core as there are a lot of neat places to check out.
Off to the Round Tower. The Round Tower is a former astronomical observatory from the 17th century. The center of the tower has a glass floor providing the opportunity to crawl through a small window size hole and step out onto it.
The glass doesn’t actually go all the way out to the walls so you can fit your fingers underneath there and truly confirm that yes, it is only air underneath you!
A less fun fact… this center shaft had a seat built at around this height and provided people to do their bathroom business as it continued all the way down to the ground. The ugly part is that this shaft had no way of being emptied and also did not have any ventilation to the outside. Stars are great to witness but could you imagine the smell? I’m surprised they got any work done at all.
There are no stairs in the tower. A spiral floor twists around the poop shoot almost eight times as it makes its way to the top. For obvious reason there is a sign stating that no wheelchairs are allowed. At the top of the tower you are offered an unobstructed view of the various architecture spanning the 17th to late 19th century.
In the little dome topping the tower is a small telescope by 21st century standards although still pretty neat to see. I am not sure if it’s the original or just a replica as I couldn’t read the sign.
I tried to check out a couple other sights in the area such as the Elephant Gate and Tower although they were under construction. Freetown Christiania is another place which would have been interesting to check out. It is a site of much controversy due to its self-proclaimed state although as of the start of the 2010’s they follow Danish law and there haven’t been many incidences.
Time didn’t permit for many excursions though so I opted to carry on as planned.
Getting out of the core was a bit comedic. I couldn’t read the signs and being so focused about the Faroe Islands I evidently omitted researching the traffic signs before arriving. This resulted in numerous dead ends and having to turn around in places I barely got the car in in the first place. I regretted the upgrade at this point wish I had the more affordable Skoda at this point. Thankfully no scratches!
I ended up taking the long way around to the next stop so I could run some petrol through the car and make some use of this rental! Closing in on the canal there wasn’t much for sunset colors but that didn’t stop a group of kayakers enjoying the nippy breeze for a cruise down the canal.
At the mouth of the Kobenhavns Havn River sits a statue of the Little Mermaid. The original tale of Little Mermaid is not quite as happy as what Disney made it into.
A young Mermaid did save a prince from drowning at sea in a storm. She ends up falling in love with him from a distance. Hoping to make this work she makes a deal with the evil Sea Witch for a potion. The Sea Witch says she will receive a pair of legs for three days but will lose her beautiful voice. The Mermaid and the prince end up sharing many experiences together but he ultimately doesn’t recognize that it is her that rescued him since he is searching for someone with the beautiful voice.
The prince ends up marrying the princess in the next kingdom over believing she was his rescuer and the Mermaid ends up throwing herself off a cliff and turning into foam on the morning of the third day.
Carl Jacobsen had the statue created after attending a ballet of The Little Mermaid in 1909. The face was modelled after the ballerina that played the Mermaid. The body ended up being posed by the sculptures wife as the ballerina didn’t want to pose in the nude.
Because why not …For the sake of humor and art, Professor Bjørn Nørgaard from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts created the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid.
That basically wrapped up the day. I ended up pulling up to the Sleep in Heaven hostel just outside the city centre. Needless to say I got a few odd looks and one guy even asked why I was staying at a hostel and driving around in a BMW. It was a free upgrade! They didn’t have any parking either so being the high rolling hostel goer I had to park it a block away in a paid parking area –which charges per hour even through the night.
Needless to say I didn’t have the smoothest experience in Copenhagen as every corner seemed to provide some silly obstacle. That said there is a lot of beauty in that city and I hope to go back and see more of it!
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