Tag Archives: copenhagen

A new day, a new country

 

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Hard to not be happy in Denmark when there’s so much ice cream everywhere. Only my second day in Copenhagen and I lost count of my gelatos. But the itinerant creed says, don’t stay in one place too long, so things are about to change for me.

Today I biked in Copenhagen, and it was glorious. Without the trailer, my bike just flew. It turns out that riding a racer in a city where most people ride upright bikes is like driving a Tesla next to a PT Cruiser. Newly reckless with this realization, I started mingling with the fastest, most ballsy bikers (I ride in San Francisco for heaven’s sake, we have balls there!). And boy were we FAST.

I rode the 13-km Harbour Circle (Havneringen), the highlight of which is of course The Bicycle Snake, the overpass bridge for bikes across the harbour. This really is a unique ride, so I took a video.

Being from Cali and all, I couldn’t resist having a burger in Copenhagen, and once again I went off the beaten path to a hole in the wall I’d read about: Banana Joe’s Burger. I had Joe’s Special here, a sublime meaty monster with an egg on top and an elegant Indian sauciness. All the trials and tribulations I suffered on this trip felt worthwhile for me to get to sit here and eat this thing. Joe himself came out and chatted me up about my travels, and about American burgers. Good guy this Joe, hats off to his craft.

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I ended the day with an afternoon at Amager Strand. It’s amazing how small Copenhagen seems when you have wheels (and when you’re rolling at 20 mph on them!). It takes just 20 minutes to get from one end of town to another. Amager is to Copenhagen people what Baker Beach is to San Franciscans, or Alameda Beach to East Bay people: it’s where people go to chill out, ride cruiser bikes by the beach, get a tan and of course have some ice cream. Unlike the Pacific though, this sea is actually warm enough to swim in too.

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Today was my last day in Copenhagen. Sadly, it’s my last day on this leg of the trip too. I’ve been beset by a sprained ankle since the brutal roads of Germany, and my injury has been swelling and hurting despite my best efforts at compression. Going into Sweden at this point is risky, since Swedish trains in Skane (Southern Sweden) don’t take bikes, so there is no Plan B if my ankle gets worse, or if there is continuous rain. Given these factors I had to make the executive decision to take a break.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bucharest to spend time with my family and friends. Fingers crossed that my bike arrives too – there are many beautiful roads to be cycled in Romania and more adventures await there.

It’s bittersweet to leave Denmark and my Northbound route. This tour has been sobering in so many ways.

I’ve cycled 791 miles (1273 km) over 3 countries in 19 days.

Camped at 10 campgrounds.

Climbed 13,500 feet (4113 meters).

Had 0 flats (zero).

Seen more beautiful places than I can count.

Learned fewer foreign words than I can count on one hand – because everyone speaks English so well!

If you’re reading this: cycle in Scandinavia. Alone, with friends, it doesn’t matter. Just get on two wheels, be outside, be open. Sure it’s scary, but it’s well worth it. If I can do it, anyone can.

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Some old Eddie Vedder seems in order too, as I pack my bags. See ya later, Denmark!

Being a bad cycling tourist in Copenhagen

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I got to Copenhagen and was entirely too jittery and excited about seeing the city, so I decided to tuck in my bike for a day of ambling through the city on foot to calm myself the hell down. Since I’m a pathological planner, I made a walking map and exported it to a .gpx file which I then imported into my phone for offline routing. I put one earphone in and navigated the city like a boss, not once stopping to look at a map like other tourists. OsmAnd dutifully informed me as I arrived to the landmarks I’d targeted on my map. Things you learn from bike touring!

Since I don’t have much time in the city I didn’t visit any museums, but Copenhagen is itself a museum and just from outside you have front row seats to some of the most beautiful buildings and green spaces in the world. I started at Rosenborg Castle, right in the middle of the map, and strolled through the King’s Garden, whose manicured green areas and flowers were charming. The Garden was not overwhelmed with tourists either, and I could easily find quiet places to read a few pages of my book.

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Then I made my way to Rita’s for lunch, where I greedily sampled a wide selection of smørrebrød (Danish for “open faced sandwich”), a traditional Danish lunch of different toppings on buttered rye. The spot I found was well priced and supremely delicious.

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With my newfound energy I continued to Brumleby, one of the first examples of social housing in Denmark which served as a model for  subsequent ones, and then Kastellet, the most well preserved fortress in Northern Europe. Shaped like a star, with impeccably mowed grass and clear instructions (no bicycles on the ramparts!) Kastellet was a serene place to walk in, and I even joined the locals lounging on the grass, to let the sun warm my face and think about the many miles that brought me here.

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Speeding through the touristy Little Mermaid (thank Hans Christian Andersen for making this puny statue a tourist magnet) and Amalienborg Castle (home of the Danish royal family) areas, I made my way to the lively Nyhavn. Little did I know this is the most happening spot in Copenhagen! This is like Sausalito on a warm California day, complete with overpriced restaurants, bored-and-confused tourists and irresistible smells of desserts wafting from everywhere. I couldn’t resist stopping to get an overpriced ice cream cone myself, and sat with widened eyes on the edge of water by the boats and people-watched for a long while.

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My next stop was Torvehallerne, a huge outdoor market in traditional Scandinavian style (read: very modern, they accept cards to pay for produce!). Determined to find a Danish-Danish and rather exhausted from the 8+ miles of walking so far, I stopped at a quiet cafe in a corner of the market and had a rejuvenating cup of coffee along with 3 (read: three) pastries, none of which were an actual Danish as we Americans think of one, but all of which made me happy. Pictured below: a dream snail.

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Before you ask, I did go to the Freetown of Christiania. But it didn’t impress me. Tourists are discouraged from taking photos in this community, and it’s easy to understand why. Lots of substances are dealt there, not all of which are legal in Denmark. Besides, for the locals it’s probably a bit unpleasant to be constantly stared at and photographed by hordes of the culturally curious (or worse, Americans!). The place is charming in its own way, but to me the Marleyesque kumbaya was reminiscent of a time in my life when I wore colorful hair threads, and thought recycling could save the planet, and basically when I wasn’t an engineer. So I rolled my eyes, just a little bit. Worth at least passing through while in Copenhagen, for sure!

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