European Sojourn Continues | Copenhagen Blues

Bikes aplenty. No locks! A trusting city indeed. July 2016.

Bikes aplenty. No locks! A trusting city indeed. July 2016.


A travel day is the most stressful day. Here is how a typical travel day goes for me:

Step One: Identify on a map where the address and neighborhood of the accomodation is. In this case, it is Vanløse. Approximately 15-20 minutes by public transportation to the City Center (aka: Central Station).

Step Two: Take as many screenshots of directions on I-Phone as possible so as to most effectively calm the nerves. (This is also to help guide me, because I do not have a data plan in Europe, but instead am relying completely on wifi.)

Step Three: Get up excessively early. Get to the train station.

Step Four: Find the proper track.

Step Five: Get on the train. 

Step Six: Be nervous entire time because you're leaving one country for another with a different monetary system and a different language.

Step Seven: Relax. In this case, remember Danish citizens speak English too.

Step Eight: Get off the train in a rainy and cold city.

And so begins Copenhagen

After a quick and helpful inquiry at the Tourist Information room at the Central Station, I am off to the proper train. The train arrives 10 minutes later, covered in graffiti. I wonder if this is a functional train, but it is, for here are people exiting and entering it. I get onboard and stand, uncomfortably with my heavy pack, balancing in my brown leather shoes (read: no support). There is graffiti inside of the train too, and I begin to wonder if this is a good idea. But again, there are plenty of people milling about, so it (the graffiti) must be normal. 

I get off at the right exit and find my way to the apartment without incident. It is pouring rain, though, and this only adds to the already nervous energy charging through my body. 

My host is there, all is set, and I find myself instantly comfortable within the walls of this well decorated and spacious place. 

But there is the matter of food at hand, and it is still pouring outside. Nevertheless, within short order, I am at the local grocery store--a Netto chain--and have acquired essentials for my frayed nerves:

Red wine, salad ingredients, potato chips, and dark chocolate.

Yes, you read that correctly. A good salad is comfort food for me. 

By the time I leave the store, the rain has stopped and dare I say I see sunlight?! I smile, thank Spirit, and head back to the apartment for a mini-marathon of Orphan Black episodes and fine, inexpensive, dining. 

I decide that tomorrow will be a new day, come rain or come shine.

The next day, I head to a couple of art museums. The first is tiny and unimpressive. The second is world-class. It feels very European. It is clean and bright and expansive. There is plenty of natural light coming in and the art is just brilliant. I am in my element. 

But then I have a wander down toward the central area and I begin to feel my lungs ceasing.

There are so many people. There is too much for my eye to see--so many bikes! No locks!

Coffee shops. Stores. Nettos. Bikers. People. Bikes. People. Clouds. Wind. You get the idea. 

I have been recommended to go to a certain coffee shop that I can write in. But there are somanypeople in there and the tables are full and it's expensive and cramped and hot that I leave. I keep wandering, but it feels dark and crowded everywhere.

I return to the apartment, somewhat defeated. 

The "I can't breathe" feeling lasts the rest of the trip, unfortunately. I find myself unable to spend more than three or four hours outside of the apartment. It is expensive here and "dark." 

This is also when St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas events happen. I find myself slightly adrift. Not knowing what to do or if what I am trying to do for myself makes any sense, or is the "right" thing to do. 

It feels like a pressing time.

The rain continues....

But the gem of Copenhagen wasn't the coffee or the art museum. It was the hours long conversation I had with two baristas on my last day. I played backgammon with one; talked about the average cost of rent in the States with the other (who is planning a move to San Francisco), and listened to them speak about the misperceptions of the American media on how everyone is happy in Denmark.

"They say we're the happiest people on earth. Do I look happy to you?" She is stone faced. "I hate it here." 

I laugh. I admit to her that I have heard this many times. And I don't think it is true either. People don't seem to want to engage and aren't very overtly friendly. I know some are, of course. Indeed, I was chatting with two Danes and they were very friendly and engaging, but on the main, it almost felt like people were suspicious of each other. My own, probably misguided, opinion. But that was my sense. 

I left Copenhagen for Berlin on Sunday, and determined not to have any expectations on what I would find in my new stop.

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