Post by Carolyn Eddie Photographs by the always fabulous Kate Stoupas
Before moving to Copenhagen my only knowledge of Denmark’s capital city was through the fabulous, but probably studio lot filmed, 1953 movie featuring, the always wonderful, Danny Kaye telling the life of Denmark’s National Treasure, storyteller and eponymous hero ‘Hans Christian Anderson’ and the more recent and stunning film ‘The Danish Girl’ starring the oh so talented Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. In both, Copenhagen is portrayed as a small city, still very much based on a busy fishing industry, one version full of artists and the other of world class ballerinas and lots of really cute children. The last fish wife may have now left Gammel Strand but the city retains its close links with the sea and continues in its rich cultural life. It now ranks as one of the top cities to visit for a weekend getaway due to its manageable size, cobbled, bike friendly streets, story tale like architecture, world class museums, innovative dining and incredible nightlife.
Many of Copenhagen’s main attractions are free and easily accessible and so with a pair of sensible, but stylish, shoes and layers, because as the say in Denmark there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes, it is very easy to spend a couple of days exploring, shopping, eating and drinking your way through the capital city of the happiest people in the world.
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to the Little Mermaid. The Lille Havfrau has been sitting on her rock at Langelinie for over a hundred years and although small, the clue is in the name, is synonymous with the ‘salty old queen of the sea’. Whilst you are there, turn around and look at the modern building behind it, the Langelinie Pavilion, or more correctly try to peek inside. The originals of the iconic PH Artichoke light fittings, designed especially for the pavilion by Poul Henningsen, can be seen hanging there. If you have time take a walk through the Kastellet or citadel, one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe, and admire the beautiful orange washed houses of Nyboler, all built by Christian 4th.
After making a wish in the Gefion Fountain wander back along the harbor front passing by the Cast museum with its large bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David until you come to the entrance of the Amelia Gardens. And stop to admire the fantastic view. The Amelie Gardens to one side were a gift from the A.P.Møller Foundation as was the new Opera House which can be seen across the water. Together with the Marble Church and Amelienborg, the royal residence, they form an axis which is spectacular. Totally in keeping with the Danish character of openness and trust it is possible to walk right into the central square of Amelienborg and admire all four royal palaces and the incredibly expensive statue of Frederick 5th which lies in the center. Changing of the guards takes place every day at noon and it is not unusual to catch a glimpse of Queen Margarethe 2nd or one of the royal family as they pop in and out.
By now you have earned a well deserved rest and the colorful cafes and bars of Nyhavn are a perfect place to hygge and and watch the world go by. From here you can continue on to visit Christianborg with its royal stables and kitchens. It was the royal residence until a fire destroyed it in 1794, which is when the royal family moved to Amelienborg. Christianborg was rebuilt, not once but twice but that is another story, but by this time the King decided he preferred the new location and now it is only used for state receptions. It also houses the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court of Denmark.
The other option is a little bit of shopping. Nyhavn leads up to Kongons Nytorv, or the Kings New Square where you will find the department store Magazin in the Hotel du Nord building and the upmarket Hotel D’Angleterre, where anyone is who anyone stays whilst visiting Copenhagen. It is also the start of one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe, Strøget, with Danish designers, flag ship stores and budget friends shops snuggling together. Be sure to pop into Royal Copenhagen if only to gasp at the prices of the world’s most expensive dinner service Flora Danica, wander around George Jenson’s silver shop and then breath in the rarified air while admiring all the designer furniture and lights in my own favorite store Illums Bolighus.
The list really is endless but two of my other favorite places need a mention. First the Glyptotek, in my mind a mini Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, where the architecture of the building, especially the new addition designed by architects Henning Larsen, is as stunning as the collections. It also has a great little cafe and, now the weather is warmer, a roof top bar which justifies my annal membership. Copenhagen also boasts one of the biggest attractions in Europe, Tivoli Gardens, an amusement part right in the center of town. Built in 1843 Tivoli has been a favorite with visitors ever since and provided the inspiration for Disney. In addition to rides and many lovely restaurants including the fairytale like NIMB, Tivoli hosts rock concerts every Friday in summer, swing dance sessions every Saturday and fun Halloween and Christmas markets.
After Noma rocked the world with its new Nordic Cuisine emphasizing locally sourced and foraged food, Copenhagen has changed from a city serving only Mormor or grandmother food to a gourmet paradise. For breakfast [http://Mad & Kaffe – Spiseri & kaffe]Mad og Kaffe with its instagram worthy food or my own favorite Nordens are popular. Street food from trendy Paper Island or traditional smørbrød from Torvallerne make a great lunch. Dinner possibilities are endless but be sure to book ahead. I love Höst and Noma’s new sister restaurant 108, which has received a Michelin star since Kate and I went there.
There are many restaurants and cocktail bars I want to try such as Bæst, Uformel and Ruby’s, or some of the smaller restaurants not on the top ten list, its just a matter of planning ahead. On my list of places to visit is Jægersborggade, a hip shopping street that used to be a little dodgy but is now so trendy it even has its own Facebook page, as well as a Michelin stared restaurant. Kate I need you back!