When people asked me what places I was most excited to see, Copenhagen was often at the top of my list. I had high expectations for this beautiful harbor city. And I was not disappointed. However, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. The start of my stay in Copehagen had me a little worried for what the rest of my time here would bring.
Copenhagen, I soon realized, was the only city I had not made connections in this far. From Reykjavik to Dublin, it was easy to find “my people” and make plans, explore, drink, what have you. But so far, I met no one in my travels from Copenhagen or anyone who was going to be in Copenhagen at the same time as me. Therefore, it was a little lonely the first 24 hours. As I am traveling alone, this shouldn’t be much of a problem but this was the first time that I was involuntarily by myself. The weight of this hung heavy over me as there is something comforting about spending your first day in a new place with someone else. But this time, I had to go it alone.
On my first full day in Copenhagen, I had a lot on my to-do list. Luckily for me, I was in town on a Tuesday, when the Glyptoteket gallery offers free admission; so I started my day with the typical national museum and gallery visit. Both places were very interesting and well organized. It was quite simple to navigate your way through the exhibitions and all the signs were in both Danish and English, so you couldn’t miss a beat.
I began at the National Museum of Denmark, as it was closer to my hostel.Inside was a wide variety of prehistoric, ancient, and even modern artifacts. What is pictured above is the Sun Chariot, which the museum is quite proud of (for obvious reasons).
Then I made my way to the Glyptoteket. Now, I’m not too much of an art person, but I’ve committed to at least taking a small peak at the national galleries (if they’re free of course!). The Glyptoteket was no exception.
While I moved quite quickly through the four main floors of this gallery, I could see how someone that really appreciates art could spend half a day wandering through these hallowed halls. There is a lot to see!
After the Glyptoteket, I moved on to see the Town Hall. At first I was a little skeptical of a town hall that is apparently one of the most recommended sites in Copenhagen. But then I went inside.
It is free to wander around the hallowed halls of this great building, but if you wish to enter the imposing clock tower, you will have to pay a nominal fee for the guided tour. This is the only way to see the tower, and it only happens once a day at 2 pm. Since I had time to kill before my walking tour started at 3, I figured I might as well. But, when I walked up to the information/admission booth, the woman at the counter was on the phone. She acknowledged my presence and continued chatting away. As it was 1:57 and since the Danish are very prompt, I began to get anxious that I would not make it on the tour. I had my Krona in hand and was nervously checking the time, in order to stir some response from this insipid woman who couldn’t care less for my presence. When she finally got off the phone, it was 2:01. But I wasn’t giving up. Maybe the fastidious Dane that normally ran the tour was sick and replaced by an Italian…
Of course this was not the case. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this woman who works in the tourism office, then blamed me for not being there at 2 pm. That was all it took. I hadn’t talked to another person for a whole 24 hours, I was in a completely new place where I knew no one, and then I was being chastised for my lack of planning when I had been standing there, krona in hand, for the past three minutes getting ignored. Feeling frustrated and alone, I decided that I would admit defeat to Copenahgen, walk back to my hostel and wait an hour for my tour to begin.
And thankfully that’s when it all turned around! The free walking tour I took was absolutely fantastic! The guide, Daniel, was a native Danishman and had a lot to say about Copehagen and its history (much of which is ablaze with great fires that destroyed the city on multiple occasions). Over the course of three hours, the beauty of this harbor city completely melted my heart. And after all that I learned, it’s safe to say that Denmark is doing it right! All their schooling and healthcare is completely free. And they ride their bikes everywhere so they’re all super fit to begin with! Truly it’s an inspiration to what people can achieve.
On my tour, I also met some fabulous people, namely my new friend Yaniv. He was visiting from Jerusalem and was also traveling alone. So we began the now-ritualistic travel introduction of: name, place of origin, travel plans and inspiration, countries visited, countries still to visit, and so on and so forth. Also, over the course of the tour, we met Chris (from Chicago and also traveling alone) and Jin (originally from Hong Kong but attending school in the states and visiting Copehagen with her parents). It was the first time all day I felt like an actual person, not just another face in the crowd; and I have to tell you, it felt amazing!
So it made sense that Chris, Yaniv and I would all make plans to meet up later that night at a Couch Surfing event in a local bar to meet other like-minded travelers and hopefully a few locals. At first, we were small in number; but soon our group grew to expand over a large section of the bar. And talk about diversity! There were people from Germany, Lithuania, San Fran, Sweden, Los Angeles, Spain, Israel, and of course Denmark. The drinks kept flowing and the next thing I knew it was midnight. After an exhausting day, the meeting disbanded and we all retreated back to our respective hostels, yawning yet satisfied with all we had achieved. It was then that we three decided to reconvene the following day to explore Christiania and Copenhagen Street Food.
But that’s a whole other post entirely!