Fun fact: I am currently in Copenhagen. Traveling here was surprisingly easy, even though I’m not 100% how I got from Stockholm (my layover) to Cope because I was pretty deliriously tired after the first 10 hour flight. Good times.
I’m staying the first two nights at the lufthaven (airport) Hilton, even though my host family offered to come get me early, because the hotel was already paid for and I wanted to get free travel shampoos (just kidding??). Last night I basically just watched a lot of BBC News and European handball on TV. I also made some decent progress on understanding the metro/tog(train)/bus system here so that I won’t be completely lost. More on that later.
In other news, hotel rooms here are pretty much the same as hotel rooms in the US. Except the water pressure is really high so I always splash myself when I turn on the faucet.
I’m not sure if I was nervous or jetlagged, but I slept all of about 4 hours last night (oops). At around 6:00, I decided to call it because my window overlooks the lufthaven metro stop, and I saw a bunch of people getting on and off, so I figured it was socially acceptable to get up and ride into the city. I bought a 24-hour city pass which allows you to ride any of the public transportation in zones 1-4 (basically anywhere in the immediate city area). I then proceeded to try to scan it and punch it at two different kiosks before realizing that those machines were for different types of tickets. Still somewhat unclear on if I used it correctly, but I got on the train so I guess it’s fine. (Update – with the 24 hour city pass, you just have to show the pass when the security dude comes and checks people’s tickets. What’s cool is that paying for the train is on the honor system except for when it’s not – aka they do random checks, so you’d better have a valid ticket with you at all times, otherwise you get fined).
The metro here is a lot like BART (the transit system in the Bay Area) except that it’s cleaner, smoother, makes less random stops, and the rails that you hold onto when you’re standing are a lot higher because Danish people are tall. Luckily I have a lot of practice keeping my balance from having to stand on BART for 10000 hours while fools try to walk through the transbay tunnel. There are also a bunch of kiosks at the stations that have free newspapers called the Metro Xpress, so I picked up one of those and looked for words that I recognized. Half of the articles in the “World” section were about Donald Trump. Nice.
I got off at Nørreport Station, which is the main station downtown (see, that studying paid off!) for the metro, s-tog, and a-buses. It was still pretty dark outside so I walked outside aimlessly for like 5 minutes. I was really hungry, and was about to go into a Starbucks (because it was either that or McDonalds) when I saw this coffeeshop called Expresso House and decided to ~expand my horizons~
I would say it was really cute, but it was also HUGE, so I don’t know if that’s the right word. Hyggeligt, maybe. There were couches and candlelit tables and plants and all kinds of seating. I got this sweet deal that came with coffee, juice, a bagel, and a bunch of toppings, and then I just ate and read for about an hour. There were a few other people there just chilling and doing work, so I felt like a ~local~ (sort of). 10/10, would recommend/do this again. After this nice dose of hygge, I felt confident that I could really grow to love this city.
I started walking to find DIS, and then realized that I was walking in the wrong direction. But I did find this nice canal.
I eventually did find DIS, then looped around and somehow got myself back to Nørreport without even looking at a map. We could pretend I am getting the hang of the city, but also I’m pretty sure it was just luck.
I went to a grocery store to pick up some toiletries, and a FLYING TIGER COPENHAGEN store because I’ve been wanting to go there ever since Naomi sent me a Buzzfeed Article about it like 3 years ago. I bought a comb for 10 kr, so those were really exciting times.
By the time I got back to the hotel, it was like 10:30. Days are really long when you wake up at 6, I guess. I chilled in my room for a bit, and then at 11:30, I went back to the city with my friend Mackenzie. I was really proud of myself because I didn’t once have to look at Google Maps to see where we were going or how to get back to the station. We walked over the canal and explored and freaked out about how pretty everything is. And then we went back to the cutest market-type thing and looked at pretty pastries and ate ice cream for lunch (shh don’t tell my parents except they’re probably reading this blog). I even used a Danish word – jordbær (strawberry) to order my delicious strawberry sorbet.
Other Danish words I have used so far: tak (thank you), hej hej (bye), and applesin (orange – because I had to distinguish between apple and orange juice at breakfast this morning). I also read the words sko (shoe), boger (books), and fisk (fish) on random street signs.
We went back to the hotel and rested, and then we went to meet our friend Olivia for dinner. We were planning to take the metro there as usual, but apparently there was some kind of technical delay (I take back what I said earlier about fewer random stops), so we hopped off and took the 5A bus downtown instead. It actually ended up being cool because now I have taken two different types of transportation. It also made me appreciate how deliberate the public transportation system is here, because if one breaks down, there’s a backup that comes like every 5 minutes. The buses are also really sophisticated. They have these nice TV screens that tell you the stops that are coming up, along with which other lines stop there and how far away they are, which is v. convenient for transferring. It reminded me of how I read somewhere that to make a city sustainable, you have to make alternative transportation not just easy, but easier than driving. Between the sweet public transportation options, the HUGE bike lanes (that only scare me a little) and the walkable streets, Copenhagen does a really good job of doing that.
Once we got to Nørreport, we walked around the market before setting on some Danish street food, which consisted of a lamb hot dog with various toppings. While we were ordering, we also met this nice Danish kid (and by kid I mean someone our age) named August who ate with us and gave us some insider info on Copenhagen.
After dinner, we ate ice cream (again hahaha oops). This time, I got lime sorbet and it was equally delicious. The cashier also gave us a crash course on Danish coins. Apparently there is a coin for 1/2 kr, which accordingly is fairly useless (kind of like the penny).
My favorite thing about Copenhagen so far is that it feels really new and really comfortable at the same time. I feel very at ease using the public transportation systems and walking around the city, in part because it reminds me a lot of San Francisco. Especially since there’s so much fog. And it makes me grateful that I’ve gotten so much practice using buses and subways.
I like that no one here just assumes that you don’t speak Danish, because it’ll give me a lot of opportunities to practice once I have some conversational skills (unlike when I try to order in Spanish at Gordos and they respond in English). But until I go to a few Danish classes, my new favorite phase is “Unskyld, jeg tller ikke godt dansk.” (Sorry, I don’t speak Danish well). It also really motivates me to learn Danish, because I don’t like assuming that people will just speak English for me.
It’s not nearly as cold as I thought it would be. I wore a sweater, a down jacket, and a scarf, and I didn’t even feel cold, even at night. It gives me hope that I’ll survive. Actually, this whole day gave me hope that I’ll survive and that I have at least marginal street skills.
There’s probably a lot more that I’m forgetting, but it’s been a long day and I’m tired.
tl;dr – I like Copenhagen.