Edit Blog Post
Published: August 8th 2007
Traveling 101; Get locals to work for you! This is one of my travel "rules" (more accurately, guidelines) If you don't know something, a local will, hence, get info from them or get them to organise things for you. "Get" is a strong work, maybe persuade... hmm no too manipulative, well lets call it "acquiring the help of the knowledge laden locals". So what am I talking about? Well I don't really know half the time, however on the train station in Copenhagen Airport was a girl. She was looking like one of those people who could tell you anything you wanted to know but had never had a chance to share her wealth of knowledge. A hidden eagerness to be a chaperon of kinds was laying just below the surface so I approached her. Weighed down by 3 bags draping off me and Lonely Planet in hand, I looked like the most stereotypical backpacker you could imagine. I inquired as to the use of the train system. I had no chance to ask anymore questions for the next half an hour as she gave me more information than I knew what to do with. Eateries, sights, maps, she was like
a walking tourist information centre. She had a soft spot for me as I found out later when she told me of her backpacking travels around Australia and how helpful everyone was. She was returning the favour and in turn became a rare exception to the "rule" "Get locals to work for you", when she was more along the lines of "look lost and I'll basically plan your whole trip". It was a refreshing change in a way so once I got off at Copenhagen Central Station, I had the look of the most stereotypical backpacker you could imagine but the street smarts and orientation of a long time resident.
So what of Copenhagen? Being Australian and having a small connection with the princess, also of the same nationality, what else was there to know? Well first things first, if you plan to make a trip here, bring money. Actually don't just bring money but bring money, the deeds to your house, the keys to your car and make sure you've got a few spare limbs handy as you'll need to leave them with some of the retailers as payment. OK so there maybe a slight exaggeration here but
realistically and comparatively to anywhere else, its expensive. I hear your questions through the WWW already, "but its just as expensive or even less so than other Scandinavian cities right??" Well... hmmmm we'll come back to that.
There is little doubt that Copenhagen is a nice looking city, sure, not about to rival, say, Stockholm (what city can?) but with areas like Nyhavn, it's not about to fall out of the race. It has the benefit of being a cosmopolitan capital and on the cross roads from Scandinavia to the rest of Europe but also the advantage of not being so big and over bearing that's its hard to get around and easy to get lost in. Most of it is a pleasant walking city with plenty of parks and quiet cobblestone alleys to feel more intimate. It's relaxed but still maintains an upbeat feel with nightlife and events. One of the best things about it is it's not touristy. Sure there's touristy aspects like the money changers everywhere and people floating around on the canals but it's there for all to enjoy, tourists and citizens alike.
So what did I do? Well, not a lot. This side
trip was mainly to fill in some time before I started my German course in Berlin, hence, there's not as many intriguing anecdotes as I would like. However, the most interesting part of the visit was my exploration of the infamous, Christiania. A lot more defined and historic than Uzpis in Vilnius. In the early 70's a group of hippys, free thinkers and aspiring "Individuals" who felt the "oppressive" ways of the people in power, decided to commandeer a group ex military barracks and start their own little community free from the laws and lifestyles of other Copenhageners. Basically it was an excuse to smoke pot, "expand minds" and not have to pay housing tax. In time it was stormed by the police, most of the free flowing drugs were stopped and a real crackdown came into play. To avoid an ugly confrontation, the government finally agreed to let it be a "social experiment" so nowadays, they live their own ways within reason and the slight apprehension that it might all soon be reclaimed by the evil empire known as the Danish Government. Once you cross the rudimentary border and are greeted by the "Christiania" sign, you do really step
into another world. The clean, tidy and orderly streets of Copenhagen turns into a maze of graffiti ridden slums. At first, I was a surprised and turned off by so much disarray but after looking around a bit, it all makes sense. They have their own little tight-knit community with bars, cafes, live venues and even stalls selling Christiania products. After all, what would be a free thinking pure lifestyle of no laws and regulations be without a little capitalism eh? I mean they have to pay taxes somehow right?. There are of course the obligatory sales of bongs, peace pipes and all sorts of "Mind expanding" paraphernalia. There were psychedelic clad teenagers rolling some marijuana in the streets with ambiance set by Mr, Marley over the stereo. Laid back and little to do would be the vibe I picked up. The free thinkers sipped their lattes and beers while solving the worlds problems in the temporary sun that decided to poke its head through the clouds. Yes I have to admit, Christiania is definitely not the most attractive part of Copenhagen but it is the most interesting. I headed "back into the EU" feeling somewhat lucky that I saw
this real slice of Danish culture that very well may be lost soon.
As I ran out of things to do in Copenhagen I thought I'd go to Sweden for the day. 30 minutes on a train from Central Copenhagen gets you to Malmö in southern Sweden. It was pretty nice but I think I was there at the wrong time as everything was shut down and very few people were there. Although in Sweden, it still was cheaper than Copenhagen which brings me back to my original point, the expense.
Copenhagen is probably more expensive than London and just as expensive as Stockholm but the difference was upon leaving Stockholm, I felt uplifted by such a great city and an excellent experience. Yet, as I turned my back on Copenhagen and headed to reasonably priced Berlin, I just felt ripped off. For such a large output of cash, I didn't feel I got much satisfaction in return. With the feeling of a couple of limbs lighter, I can say I've seen Copenhagen but won't hurry back.
So I am now in my new home of Berlin, Deutschland. I've started my course and am learning a lot.
Readers of my last Berlin blog will know I really love it and with any luck, I might be able to get a job and stay here. The language barrier is the problem with that plan but rarely having people speak to me in English helps. I'm learning heaps every day and hopefully by the end I might be able to comfortably tell someone how much I've enjoyed it in an all German conversation. While I'm studying, the blogs may slow but I have plans to visit a friend in Dublin around June so, of course, you'll hear all about that.
So until next time, take it easy.
Auf Wiedersehen Camo!
Tot: 1.204s; Tpl: 0.054s; cc: 25; qc: 141; dbt: 0.073s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.8mb