$candinavia Part 1: Costly-hagen

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Copenhagen is awesome! And expensive. It was our first stop in Europe after five months in South America, which is cheap cheap cheap in comparison. Despite the sticker shock, we loved Copenhagen. It’s clean, charming, full of bicyclists and canals, and provided us with 18 hours of sunshine! We don’t know what it would be like in winter, but Copenhagen is the first city where we have thought “Yes, we could totally live here!”

We’re planning to meet friends in Austria on July 24 so until then we budgeted three weeks to explore Scandinavia. Because we knew it was going to be expensive, we planned to move rather quickly from city to city and only spent three days in Copenhagen as a result.

Although it’s considered one of the most bikeable cities in the world, we wandered around on foot. We picniced with the most delicious wienerbrød (what we would call Danishes) we have ever eaten in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens.

Rosenberg Castle.
Exploring the gardens like a pro!
So many delicious pastries!

We strolled along the canal to the famous statue depicting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

We spent more time at The Genetically Modified Little Mermaid than the real statue.

We walked along the ramparts of the star shaped Kastellet Fortress, stared up at the ceiling of Frederik’s Church, visited the palaces in Amalienborg, looked out from Parliament Tower, and drank a beer with our feet dangling over the canal on the iconic Nyhavn pedestrian street. We had a great time!

Along the Nyhavn canal.
Palace complex around Amalienborg.
The view from Parliament Tower.
Walking around the Kastellet Fortress.

We also visited the beautiful Tivoli Gardens, a small amusement park complete with rides, themed restaurants, live performances, and - as the name suggests - gardens. Along with everything else in Denmark, it was on the expensive side, but we enjoyed walking around and watching one of the shows.

Live peacocks wandered the audience during this ballet.
This pirate ship is a three floor restaurant.

Finally, we visited Freetown Christiania, a “self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood.” In stark contrast to the cleanliness of the rest of Copenhagen, Christiania is grungy and plastered in graffiti. Among many things, arguably the most famous aspect of Christiana is the greenlight district where the sale of some softer illicit drugs has been historically tolerated. Our AirBnb host warned us to obey the rules as the neighborhood had been raided by the police a few weeks before and its residents were a bit on edge. The entrance has a large sign listing the rules as “Have fun, don’t run (it causes panic), no photos.” Inside this district, small stands line the street and vendors wear ski masks to protect their identities. Since we don’t have any photos, this is one of those things you’ll have to smell for yourself.

The few photos we were able to take of Christiania (outside of the greenlight district).

Despite the insane taxation on alcohol, we had to bite the bullet and try a few beers. To give you an idea, a good craft beer on draft would run about $8 for a half pint. Not a great place to be if you’re a beer lover on a budget. On the flip side, everything we tried was between good and excellent thanks to our friends’ awesome recommendations. One such place was Taphouse (thanks, Mark!) which had 60 or so beers on tap from all over Europe and the USA. Mikkeller was another awesome brewery we tried (thanks, Anna!) which had our favorite beer of the trip so far: Noa Peca Mud Cake Stout by Omnipollo. Finally, in addition to great beer, we enjoyed authentic Texas BBQ at Warpigs (thanks again, Anna!). Warpigs happens to be a joint venture between Mikkeller and 3 Floyds, one of our favorite breweries from Munster, Indiana.

Taphouse and Mikkeller.
Delicious beers and BBQ at Warpigs.

We had a great time in Copenhagen and definitely plan to come back when we don’t have such limited time and budget. Hopefully we’ll be able to explore more of Denmark then too!

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