Posted on September 14, 2012 by Beth Yost
“Keep it simple, stupid”, otherwise known as K.I.S.S., is underrated advice most commonly given by cynical old people. I’ve decided to hijack this advice as if it were my own. So, from hence forward, may your grandparents and I remind you, in all aspects of life — keep it simple, stupid.
I took a trip to Northern Europe for about a month. I find myself daydreaming the most about two of the days from that trip – two very different days, but both sharing one common theme: simplicity.
I was alone in Copenhagen for one of these days with no agenda. When I woke up to the new city, I wandered until I found a coffee shop and map. To my pleasant surprise, while I sipped my coffee and enjoyed a pastry, I noticed a dotted line on the map indicating a walking tour. How convenient, and how conveniently free.
Already in comfy shoes and armed with my two favorite gadgets, camera and iPod, I decided to follow this dotted line and see where I wandered.
It began at the Town Hall Square (or rådhuspladsen): a beautiful public square right in the center of Copenhagen, and often busy with vendors, demonstrations, and City Hall onlookers. It’s also the home to many pigeons and the old folks who like to feed them.
From here, I made my way to Straedet Street. Everywhere I looked was a charming café, boutique, and smiling Dane on a bike with a basket full of flowers –honestly. It’s so charming it’s sick.
I moseyed down Straedet Street and went off the dotted line for a moment toward Christiansborg Palace—that’s the Danish Parliament. Then I wandered down to see the Old Stock Exchange. Okay, so it may not sound super exciting, but they were architecturally stunning, and the walk was beautiful so I just kind of ended up there.
I made my way back to the dotted line, which landed me on Stroget Street — uber famous for shopping. It was abuzz with stylish shoppers. I stopped in a few shops and enjoyed the people watching as I worked my way to King’s New Square and Nyhavn.
The oldest statue in Scandinavia, Christian V on a horse, sits in the middle of King’s New Square. Streets just seem to lead to beautiful open squares all over Copenhagen. A beer vendor sold brews in the middle. People walked about with their beers or relaxed in the grass, and to my surprise no one did, or yelled, anything stupid. YEAH, seriously, I know. What a nice culture.
Nyhavn is just beyond the square and will just charm your pants off. Speaking of charming your pants off, in the 17th and 18th century Nyhavn was notorious for rowdy drunk sailors and prostitutes, but it’s cleaned up it’s act since then. Now it’s just an adorable waterfront canal of old wooded ships, lined by colorful 17th century buildings: whore houses turned to classy bars of deep mahogany, pricy menus, and romantically lit outdoor verandas with comfy chairs draped in warm blankets. Tourisy? Who cares. It’s delightful and… did I say charming already?
Next stop: Amelienborg Castle. Amelienborg Castle is home to the Danish Royal family. The Royal Guard is on duty day and night with a changing of the guard every two hours. They’re pretty official, from the navy trousers and the bearskin hats to their knack for (almost always) avoiding distractions.
“But, where’s the Little Mermaid Statue?” Relax, we’re almost there.
Next, I walked through the south-east corner of Kastellet (the Copenhagen Citadel), a preserved fortification built in the shape of a pentagram with a number of military buildings. I strolled along a path of other walkers, runners, and bikers, enjoying the fresh air, turning leaves of autumn, and beautiful historic buildings, such as the Museum of Danish Resistance and the Skt Alban Church.
Finally, reaching the northern most part of my walk, I saw her: Den Lille Havfrue, aka, The Little Mermaid, one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved characters. She is little; if it weren’t for the crowd that surrounded her, she may have been hard to find. But she was there, waiting, alone—as always.
Once I’d seen The Little Mermaid, I’d put a couple miles on my shoes, and it was time to head back. I walked through the center of Kastellet, where I passed a beautiful windmill and walked toward Rosenborg Castle.
Some nice residential streets pave the way to Rosenborg Castle. If you love taking photos of front doors, consider Copenhagen your Mecca. I’ve got about a dozen photos like the one below. It’s all just too darn cute.
Rosenborg Castle and gardens are definitely worth walking the grounds. It was built as a summer home for royalty but is not (and never really was) used for that. The castle is open to the public for tours, and the grounds are free to roam.
The final stop as I followed the dotted line was Copenhagen Cathedral. I paid the couple bucks to walk up the tower and see a panorama of the city I’d been exploring all day. It was a nice peaceful moment. The church has a unique history, and is a nice finish for the day. Rest your weary feet as you sit in a pew and admire the beautiful workmanship of the neoclassic re-design.
I still daydream about my day wandering Copenhagen with my iPod and camera. Even with the best of travel mates, sometimes it’s nice to just wander alone and have no place to go — but everywhere.
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