The idea of going to Denmark after our ambitious travel agenda so far seemed a bit like a trip too far when I considered the upcoming days. Parts of this journey included a few brief overnight stops to shorten long distances, and this was a destination after one of those. Luckily for me, John handles all the transportation plans, and I handle the accommodation. The times that we have used mass transport have been pleasant, although sometimes complicated, with planes, trains, automobiles, and ferries. Also, driving, navigating, parking, and fueling in five countries (so far) has been stressful at times. Yet this long passage to Denmark that seemed fraught with unknowns and tinged with fatigue ended up being a blast.

We drove from Lübeck to the ferry which crossed the straight to Denmark, drove the car right on – far easier than Nantucket — and proceeded to enjoy spectacular views from the chilly deck as we waved goodbye to Germany. Lunch was surprisingly healthy and delicious, and overall, it was terrific both coming and going.  We drove to Copenhagen airport, left the car in a safe lot, and took the train into the city center, hopping off two short blocks from our apartment. Our host, Lars, had been gruff when I reached out about a parking suggestion outside of the city. “HEIDI, why don’t you and your husband just LEAVE your American car in New Haven and do like the rest of us here. Walk or ride a bike”. Well, assh***, we have been driving around Europe for three months and that was the idea…to leave the car outside of the city and yes, our car, by the way, a VW, is in our driveway.

Copenhagen, Denmark 02

Copenhagen, Denmark 02

Copenhagen, Denmark 03

Copenhagen, Denmark 03

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Copenhagen, Denmark 4

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Copenhagen, Denmark 05

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Copenhagen, Denmark 06

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Copenhagen, Denmark 09

Copenhagen, Denmark 09

Copenhagen, Denmark 09

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Copenhagen, Denmark 10

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Copenhagen, Denmark 11

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Copenhagen, Denmark 12

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Copenhagen, Denmark 13

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Copenhagen, Denmark 14

Welcome to Copenhagen .

But when we got settled into our place, the city delivered, and then some. Aside from Lars, the people are terrific. The trip is winding down, so we are splurging a bit more now, and Copenhagen lived up to its reputation as a food capital. Our two favorite spots were in our building and down the street only a half of a block.  The restaurant in our building was elegant and offered fine dining with professional and friendly wait staff.  The restaurant around the corner looked like it could have been a setting for a Vermeer painting.  It was only open for lunch and served only traditional Danish food and drink.  On the wall were portraits of the Queen and King and a birthday party next to us had Danish flags on the table, another old tradition.

We typically ate our large meal at lunch with wine, so we were well fueled for taking in the incredible sights of this ancient and spectacular city. Tivoli Gardens, the iconic amusement park, must have been an inspiration for Disney. But this quaint, elegant version has world class gardens, fine dining, rides that look like works of art, and a festival of lights. A canal tour took us by the spectacular mix of ancient and modern architecture peppered with the same mixture of sculpture, including the Little Mermaid. People live in houseboats all along the canal. It is a COLD city, and the people are hardy. There are even more people on bikes here than in Amsterdam, which is saying a lot. I think there were far more bicycle commuters on dedicated lanes than automobiles.

We visited the commune, Freetown Christiana, a self-sufficient hippie enclave that harkens back to 1971 when some people squatted in an abandoned military base. To me it seems like haute homelessness, but it is in keeping with the live-and-let-live attitude of the Danes.

The morning after we arrived, the beloved Stock Exchange building burned in a catastrophic loss to the city’s pride. On our venture into the ancient city, we walked to the palace where the royal horses were being exercised in a pristine plaza with smoke from the Stock Exchange fire billowing behind the palace roof. The locals were in shock and a state of sadness, perhaps equivalent to the Parisians watching Notre Dame’s conflagration. Both fires were started during restoration work with, according to John’s estimation, inadequate fire watch and prevention practices. So very, very sad. We went to the history museum and stepped back in time, including taking in fascinating Viking relics. John and I loved Copenhagen. It has an edge, but not like Amsterdam. It feels cleaner, richer, and more idyllic. Aside from freezing my ass off, I could happily live here. Once again, I teared up a bit while saying goodbye.

And by the end, Lars was nice and we would stay in his lodging again.