30.11.2014 - 05.12.2014 0 °C
Maybe I was tired when I got to Copenhagen, a bit jaded after nearly six months on the road, or maybe it was the greatness of Stockholm and Gothenburg, but I didn't really take to Copenhagen, couldn't summon up any enthusiasm to see any of its attractions. I walked about the city a fair bit: I imagine its centre is as old as Stockholm's but it has not been preserved in the same way, is instead a pedestrianised shopping area, bright and glitzy.
I was impressed with the number of bookshops - one I spent at least an hour in, checking out its stationery and English book collection, and came out clutching several completely unnecessary pens and a marked down copy of Murakami's 1Q84. Just as well, as I finished the Game of Thrones on the train from Gothenburg and couldn't quite face the next one, which is lurking in my bag. Little did I know that not long into 1Q84, I'd be facing an assassin, although she's more Stieg Larsson than George RR Martin.
Outside the centre, I found the buildings to be quite cold and unwelcoming - a lot of grey, or very straight-edged brick buildings - but I did find a couple of things to amuse me as I wandered: a cheerful Christmas market, a factory making an unusual product.
Best of all was Paludin Cafe - just around the corner from the central public library, it was an antiquarian bookshop started in the 1950's which had a relaunch in 2000: most of the books are gone, but the bookshop still operates, with the space opened up turned into a flourishing cafe, open from some hour in the morning I don't even like to think about until 10:00 at night. It was always busy and getting a seat among the books was a mission, but I made several visits. The food was good, the coffee was certainly OK, the beer was slightly less than eye-gougingly expensive and the staff were nice.
Speaking of food, I found a very traditional Danish kitchen/pub near my hostel (the biggest in Europe - the hostel, not the pub, which was half a dozen tables) and found that at least one of their traditional dinners was not a whole lot different from a New Zealand one: roast pork, roast potatoes and veges although they added in a red cabbage pickle and these wizened up sugared potatoes. I also found another restaurant with woeful service: my server was cheerful and delivered my meal promptly, then went home and I was forgotten. After I finished, I sat waiting to be noticed for about ten minutes, very ostentatiously put my coat and bag on and lingered at the deserted bar for another while, stood outside for at least five minutes - no-one paid me any notice, so I ended up stomping off. Of course, then I started to panic about the level of security cameras in Copenhagen (it turns out they trialled them but the Chief of Police decided they were a waste of time) and was even more perturbed to find a police car outside the hostel.
Opposite the Paludin cafe, there is a grand brick building, through the windows of which I could see very high wooden bookshelves and old leather-bound books: I so hoped it was a library, and indeed it had been, but is now research space for graduate students. The public library was nothing special and totally packed - to the point I needed to retreat to the cafe to work at one stage.
I was staggered by the number of bicycles in this town - many buildings had a line up similar to the one outside the public library. Of course, that was not the only library in town, and if it hadn't been for the Paludin, I'd have abandoned it after my first visit. Apart from a couple of grumpy library staff and the amount of noise some made walking (boots on hard floors are not a good combination if you want a silent environment), the Royal Danish Library was a fantastic place and just around from the hostel.
The library is on the river which runs through Copenhagen: beside it, is the "Dome of Visions" - they built a house, of sorts, and put in a bunch of plants and then put a dome made from perspex panels over it. Apparently this is the way forward for sustainable living: when I saw it, I thought it an idea that won't catch on, but have actually seen similar things in my subsequent travels. Behind the library, you have the Royal Library Garden and then the Parliament.
Just a couple of random photos - the Round Tower was built in 1642 as a combined church, library and observatory, and now houses a cafe and lets people climb laboriously to the top to get a slightly elevated view. I think my favourite building in Copenhagen is the old Stock Exchange, which was actually built at the same time as the Round Tower, was used to trade various things for a couple of centuries and is now a function venue. The spire is apparently a good luck charm - the nearby Parliament has often caught fire, but never the Stock Exchange. The last tow photos? No idea, sorry.