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Published: September 23rd 2013
There’s only one thing slightly more invigorating than travelling itself. And that’s influencing others to travel, and then see them enjoy it just as much as you do.
When my friend Chloe and I decided to go on quick weekend break to Copenhagen, I must admit I was a bit dubious. I’m all about exploring new places and roughing it a bit. Chloe is more a 4-5 star kind of girl, staying on the beaten track. I wish I could have captured the look on her face when I said that I’d booked us into a youth hostel. But I’ve learnt to not judge books by their covers, and as it turns out Chloe was a bit of a dark horse.
Our weekend began in the wee hours of the morning, as the best adventures always do. I messaged Chloe at 4.40am who was due to arrive at my house at 4.45am. Just a friendly text to say that I was up, ready, and looking forward to the weekend ahead. What I got back was a lot of profanity in capital letters. The woman was still in bed. I hesitantly asked my boyfriend if it was OK if we
just left without her if she was too late. I got an incredulous look back so I guessed not. I joked about it making a good story for my blog when Chloe arrived about 20 minutes later. I ignored the fact that at quite a speed she should have gotten there in 40.
Fast forward past the waiting at the airport; feeling groggy and filling up on coffee; the jolting nap on the plane; and we’re on the train from the airport to central station. We picked up a 24 hour pass which covered us for all forms of transport in greater Copenhagen which was 75 DKK – roughly 8.50 GBP. At the same time we picked up our train tickets to Malmo, Sweden for the next day for 86 DKK (9.70 GBP). Surely you know me well enough by now to know I can’t turn down a 17 GBP flight back to London from an airport only 1.5 hours away. Even if it is in another country.
Walking through the station we orientated ourselves, and decided to check out the Carlsberg factory first. It was about 11am there but it was definitely 5pm somewhere. We did a
self guided tour which cost 70 DKK, which included 2 drinks. It had nothing on the Heineken museum in Amsterdam, but it had a nice chilled out vibe about it and it’s always fun day drinking.
We headed back to central to pick up a bite to eat and then headed to the Danhostel Copenhagen, which as far as hostels go is really nice. It’s giant – 17 floors towering above the city. Turns out you can’t get up to the top floor without actually staying in a room up there, as we discovered after fruitlessly climbing the stairs from our 2nd
floor dorm room. We settled in, and Chloe wasn’t turning her nose up in disgust so I took this as a win. A tall, lanky American joined us in our room and we got chatting. He had just started his travels and spoke passionately about Iceland, where he had just been. He said he was going on a mission to go find some weed and some guy had told him to go to a place called Christiania.
Me and Chloe glanced at each other. Cue start of adventure here.
So in my mind we were
accompanying this foreigner on his search to find his high, and I pictured a suspicious looking character standing in the woods by a park, dealing weed from his coat. What we found was a world.
Christiania as it turns out was no ordinary park. It is a city within a city. A community by a lakes edge with food stalls, markets and most extraordinarily a marijuana stall, all concealed by trees and a haze of marijuana smoke. We strolled in, passing signs that read ‘Green Light District,’ that stated “no running, no photos and have fun!”
We ambled through in a daze, unsure what we had stumbled into. Our American friend was in his element. He spoke with such heightened passion about how he wanted to recreate such a world in Seattle. Everything we saw was surreal. People stood by the lakes edge, smoking weed. Others sat in the tiered seating above a concert stage. The more adventurous tried their luck on a tight rope by a mini beach. We strolled around the lake and passed the most peculiar architectural designs, some of which were actually houses that people were living in.
I was really surprised that nothing like this had come up in my Google searches prior to our trip. It peaked my curiosity, so when I get home I researched it and what came up was a history a lot deeper than you would believe. Back in the 1970’s the site consisted of old military barracks before hippies claimed the land and made the area their own community. The whole history is quite varied and at one point Christiania even had its own flag and currency. Since 2011 they have been self-governing and almost completely self-sufficient. The whole weed thing is still illegal but tolerated as the Danish police are thought to think it’s better to have all the weed in a concentrated area, but they still do raids every so often, hence the ‘no running rule,’ as it causes panic.
Overall though I don't think I could have possibly taken in all that this place has to offer; I think my visit to Christiania barely scraped the surface. The vibe there was so relaxed and carefree. I can see why the Danes are considered some of the happiest people in the world, and Denmark is considered one of the best places to live.
Of all the places to take Chloe on her first little adventure, I think this did the trick in passing on the travel bug. I think it's safe to say she is well and truly infected now as the day after we got home she was searching up escapes to Luxembourg. Watch this space.
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