Copenhagen, Denmark • May 2018 • Length of Read: 4 Minutes
Feeling a bit ropey, Jason and I left the girls in bed and took the metro downtown. Taking a pew at a trendy open-aired café, we ordered a Caesar salad to share and proceeded to lazily sip on cortado coffees whilst taking in the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan city centre. It was sunny Thursday morning in Copenhagen, and as the summer temperature began to rise the Danish capital came to life, it’s beautiful, tanned, well-groomed and effortlessly cool residents going about their day-to-day business in a manner that had me pining for a return to such lifestyle.
In addition to the chino and shirt wearing masses, groups of dapperly dressed youngsters also began to weave their way through the square, tuxedo-clad guys looking Scandinavian sharp and the girls on their arms glowing in traditional billowing dresses. Bringing us the bill, our waiter informed us that it was Norwegian Constitution Day, ‘Syttende Mai’, and that a number of prestigious parties were being held around the city in celebration.
The hilarity of our escape from the Jailhouse the previous evening was still fresh in our minds as we stretched out our legs and wandered down to Nyhavn Harbour; dozens of brightly-painted boats lining the canal paths and upmarket seafood restaurants spilling out onto the cobbled streets. En-route, we passed numerous gangs of ice hockey fans in Nordic game-day tops, the Ice Hockey World Cup in full swing and busloads of supporters making their way across the Öresund Bridge to support their national teams locking-horns in the historic and fierce on-ice rivalries.
Reaching the end of the pier, Jason and I got some Aperol Spritz from a pop-up bar and chilled on a couple of deck chairs overlooking the widening waterway, chatting about life, the Universe and everything in between as we watched dozens of kids diving in and out of the murky river.
Ever since Jason and I had met on a bus in New Zealand eighteen months previously, a bond of trust and honesty had been created that I hope will last in perpetuity. You know that feeling when you just ‘get’ someone? And they ‘get’ you? He has since become my go-to guru for advice, concerns, ideas, knowledge, and everything in between, and I his muse in return. At the dock we sat for hours, bouncing about ideas, regaling stories from a wilder youth, and trading tales of success and failure. It was bliss.
A late-afternoon stroll took us to the universally-unique district of Christiania. Right in the heart of Copenhagen sits a former military barracks that lets off a heavy whiff of marijuana. Taken over by hippie-squatters in 1971 as an anti-governmental social experiment, Christiania became a self-governing collective operating under its own rules and principles. Following a dark era involving hard drugs and murder, this anarchistic micro-nation has now cleaned-up, and its 850 residents are currently deliberating an offer from the Danish government to outright purchase the 34 hectares of land they live on.
One of Christiania’s most famous sons is Lukas Forchhammer, lead singer of the pop band Lukas Graham, who, in an interview with Rolling Stone, spoke about growing up in this community led him to learn “how to mix a Molotov cocktail before I knew how to mix a Long Island iced tea.” He has also reminisced about the police presence was so pervasive that a fear manifested itself within the children of the rough neighbourhood and it wasn’t uncommon for this anger to be vented at the authorities. He concluded, however, by describing Christiania as a ‘utopian place to grow up if you’ve got parents living together and working regular jobs. There’s just this sense of community. Everybody knows everybody. Everybody helps everybody. You know the names of your friends’ parents.”
Leaving behind the Freetown, the setting sun shining with an even brighter intensity than it had all afternoon, Jason and I picked up the blaring noise of techno music from a distant set of speakers and, following it, stumbled upon a family-friendly canal-side party; DJ, a bar, and tattooed dudes flipping burgers whilst everyone chatted away in a jovial manner. A couple of cold ones and a few dying rays helped crown off what had been a fantastically-relaxing sightseeing way to shake off our hangovers from the night before.