Our first stop on the Scandinavia adventure was Copenhagen. We flew into Malmo in Sweden and took a bus from the Malmo airport to the Malmo train station and then the train into Copenhagen. The bus took 40 minutes but the train only took 25 minutes.
At the train station we bought a 24 hour Copenhagen card which gets you into a lot of sights for free as well as allows you to take public transportation for free. This includes a number of local trains as well so depending on what you want to do while you’re in Copenhagen it can be a great deal. It was for us.
I didn’t really know what to expect from Copenhagen in early July. I was prepared for cold weather and rain but more or less the weather was good. I wore jeans and ballerina flats one rainy-ish day and a skirt and leggings another day. As a preventative measure I lugged my umbrella and rain jacket around with me too. My rain jacket is from LLBean and the kind that folds up into it’s own pocket. The umbrella is a smallish folding umbrella but more than once I found myself wishing that I still had my mini-umbrella from my Washington DC days. Only problem is that years ago I left that umbrella on the DC metro one rainy afternoon and as soon as the train doors closed I realized that I didn’t have my umbrella any more. Needless to say, I never saw it again but I longed for it throughout stretches of Scandinavia.
My impression of Copenhagen is that it is a beautiful city and an accessible city. It was easy to find our way around. People were friendly and helpful. The food was good but not to die for. Then again, I didn’t really go to Copenhagen for the food and I probably wasn’t prepared to spend enough money to eat really, really good food anyway.
I love how everyone rides bikes around the city and that the city takes care of bike riders. Bikes have their own dedicated lanes with a curb and everything. It’s easy to tell were cars, people and bikes belong and by in large everyone goes where they are supposed to do. Everyone that is but the motorbikes/motorcycles–these guys used the car lane when it was convenient and the bike lane too.
As a pedestrian, it’s very clear which lane is for bikes and it never really merges with the sidewalk which I really liked. In Amsterdam, I spent a lot of time walking and getting dinged at by people on bicycles when I was in their way. I don’t like being dinged at nor the sense that someone might hit me with their bike. In Copenhagen, there was very little bicycle bell use. Maybe pedestrians are better behaved in Copenhagen. But I think the reality is that more people ride bikes in Amsterdam making bike lanes and roads in general more crowded with bikes but that’s just my general sense after visiting the two cities.
There’s a really great bike program in Copenhagen. Basically it’s this, there are city bike racks where you can checkout bikes. You but a 20 kroner coin in (well I think that’s the coin) and the bike is unlocked. You can then ride it around as much or as little as you want. When you park the bicycle at a designated stand you lock it back up and then you get your 20 kroner coin back. So it’s free to ride the bike.
This is a great system but of course, the free nature of it makes it hard to nearly impossible to find a free bike. P. and I had read about the system and wanted to ride bikes but on our day in Copenhagen we decided against actually paying to rent bikes because it raining steadily in the morning and who wants to ride bikes in the rain?! After giving up our team of spinning around the city on bikes, we never imagined that we’d actually find two free city bikes to ride.
It happened late afternoon, maybe 4pm, when I convinced P. that we should walk outside of the city center a bit to look for a brewery that makes their own local beer. She agreed and we set off. Now Lonely Planet mentions the brewery but it doesn’t show up on the Copenhagen map because it’s about 1 kilometer outside of the center. We figure it’s not big deal and that we’ll find it. Well after a little walking, we don’t find it but we do find not one but three free city bikes. We check the tires and steering, pay for the bikes and abandon the brewery to ride the bikes around.
Good thing too because riding bikes around Copenhagen is dreamy. We rode across the bridge and visited the commune Freetown Christiania, we listened to live jazz, we cycled past churches, palaces and parliament, and when it came time to return our bikes so that we could go to dinner, we had a heck of a time. Now the bikes have maps on them which are marked with the location of bike racks but the maps are little and there aren’t very many street names listed on them. So as a tourist this was the most complicated part. We had to stop, pull our bikes over and really squint at the maps and then reference our tourist maps as well in an attempt to return our bikes when we were done with them. In fact, it took us about four different tries to find a bike rack because unless there’s another city bike already parked there the racks look basically the same as any other rack.
We went to a really great vegetarian restaurant for dinner. Well a vegetarian restaurant that also happens to serve steak which I guess makes it not a vegetarian restaurant. Anyhow, guess what?! They had the beer from the brewery we’d been looking for right before we discovered the city bikes. So I ended up with a delicious summer micro-brew beer after all. That was a preaty great end to my day.