I am fortunate enough to spend Monday to Thursday each week, working in Denmark. My daily duties are carried out in a town called Herlev, about 8km outside Copenhagen city centre. My week usually consists of getting up at 4.30am on Monday in the UK and arriving in Herlev at lunchtime. I then graft like my hair’s on fire until late Thursday afternoon, when I dash home to my amazing wife Pamela in sunny Southport, from where I work online on a Friday. I adore my job, which helps to make up for the time away from my Mrs through the week, and the wonder that is Skype allows us to insult whoever is unfortunate enough to be in the firing line on any given evening, just as we would if we were sitting in the same room.
Unfortunately, last week, one of my colleagues told me that he was leaving us and moving onto pastures new. He feels that at a sprightly 58 years of age, he needs to slow down a bit with the manual side of work and spend more time sitting at a screen. I told him how disappointed I was and that he needed to stop being a big girl’s blouse, but his mind was made up. I suggested that we go for a beer one evening before he left and we agreed on Wednesday night.
When the clock struck five on the evening of our adventure, I got changed into suitable drinking attire thinking we would jump on the train into Copenhagen. When Lasse came around the corner with his bicycle clips on, I realised it was going to be a very different night from what I am used to when going for a pint with colleagues in the UK. We cycled the 8km into the city centre in what seemed like no time at all. Lasse peppered the journey with numerous historic facts relating to landmarks along the way. Most notable of which was the defensive fortification surrounding the city which was obsolete by the time of it’s completion due to it taking 50 years to build and the increased range of firepower by that time.
Our first stop was to be the Torvehallerne in Norreport. torvehallernekbh.dk
It’s a covered food market consisting of 2 halls and a large outside area. Inside the covered halls are delicatessens offering food from around the world. Each stall with it’s own speciality. There are Fishmongers, Butchers, Bakeries, cheese shops, a spice house, numerous cafes, cake shops and even a stall that will sell you various liquids, from olive oil to brandy, in what ever size bottle or jar you require. The outside area hosts many different fruit and veg stalls, offering seemingly any fresh produce you could imagine. There are also lots of seating areas outside to take advantage of the pleasant mid summer evening. You can purchase some cheese from one stall, freshly baked bread from another, some wine from yet another, and sit in the sunshine and enjoy the whole experience. On Lasse’s recommendation, we both decided on the confit de canard from the french deli (obviously) and a small glass of Shiraz. The duck was served on a warm fresh baguette with a light mustard, and was as delicious as it sounds.
After an hour or so, we headed further into the city. Copenhagen, in my eye, ticks all the boxes for a European capital. There are the boutiques that, for me, add to the whole experience of a major city. The luxury brands with clout. The ones that make your credit card go rigid with terror as you gorp through the spotless glazing with a sense of overwhelming excitement, then forlornly move on as reality kicks in. There are delightful pavement cafes on every corner, and every few doors down in between. Each one as achingly cool as the last, and the architecture is full on, major shipping port wealth. We pushed our bikes through the city centre until we reached Kongens Nytorv (Kings New Square), which is at one end of the main pedestrian thoroughfare. Just round the corner we passed D’Angleterre, a fantastically grand hotel and restaurant. Next we visited Nyhavn. This is mine and Pamela’s favourite place to eat together. It’s very much a couples destination and it’s almost always busy. I am unable to visit here alone as there are always street musicians playing romantic classics. On our first visit there, I commented to my world that it would be heart wrenching to walk along this cobbled path without holding her hand. That still stands.
There are about twenty odd restaurants all the way down the sunny side of the canal, each with their tables and chairs outside and large umbrellas to provide a covered area for when the sun’s not shining. In front of the dining areas is the cobbled street, and on the other side of that is the low canal wall which is just as busy with people choosing to take their own bottle of wine and enjoy the live music and ‘check me out’ atmosphere.
About half way down the pathway is a tremendous ice cream shop. It too is always busy. They serve soft ice cream in a fresh waffle cone which you watch the staff making as you queue to be served. The ice cream is then inverted and dipped in a pot of hot melted chocolate which solidifies instantly as it hits the cold ice cream. It is glorious to watch this ballet, as each time one goes into the chocolate, you secretly hope that it will fall in.
Directly opposite the ice cream shop, over the bridge, is the sailors church. It is hidden in the confines of what Lasse tells me is the cheapest hotel in the area. This, according to him, is because you can’t drink in there. He should know though because his grandfather was the priest in the church.
Our next stop was to be a bar on The Langelinie (the long line). A long area which is on the opposite side of the river to the Royal Palaces, the Maersk building, and the little mermaid. On the way, we passed the massive dockland warehouse which was the venue for the recent Eurovision song contest, and we also passed the Dong energy station that you fly over on the way into Copenhagen. Also of interest was a quirky looking restaurant called 56 degrees which I intend to visit the next time Pamela comes over for the weekend. We arrived at our next destination as the sun was getting low and it made for a beautiful view across the river. This place is called Halvandet. There are rows and rows of hacienda style beds surrounding a well equipped beach hut style bar. It wasn’t too busy as the sun, and the temperature were going down but I’m sure that on a glorious weekend afternoon/evening, it’s quite the place to show off your new shoes. After a coffee and a cigarette, we headed to our final stop of the night and my favourite bar in Copenhagen. We took a small detour to pass by Lasse’s band’s rehearsal rooms, and also to visit the static warship in the harbour. I don’t think we were supposed to be by the ship at that time of night as it all seemed a bit serious, but we reckoned we weren’t likely get shot at, so we went to have a nose around.
From there we passed the renowned Michelin starred Noma, which was shut, and then, like the vision of an oasis in the desert or the north star leading the way to a promised land. The kayak bar. The Kayak bar is no more than a small bar in a bridge archway next to the river and the home of a kayaking club. What it does have though, is a beach. A beach on a barge, moored to the side of the bar and complete with palm trees. The first time I walked over the bridge that houses the kayak bar and looked down to see the goings on, a dread-locked DJ was playing some of the finest music I have ever heard and I was hooked.
And so this was to be the last beer of the evening for me and Lasse. We commandeered two deckchairs and spent the remainder of the evening trying to teach me the correct pronunciation for ‘I would like a Danish pastry with cream/jam please’.