Today is a day of hurt. We aren’t on our bikes but we have decided to walk as most of the things we want to see today are close enough. The last 3 weeks we have supported our body weight through our butts. Today it is homo erectus, biped support with our legs stuff. Don’t know how far we walked but we are on our feet from about 9am to 3pm.
We bought a ‘Copenhagen Card’ before we left Canada and it gives us free access to most of the attractions in the city and surrounding area. It is quite easy really, we walk up to the till flash our card and we are in. By walking from place to place we get to see what the city is like and how it operates.
Copenhagen is quite a big city but by world standards it is quite small. The population is about 600,000. Smaller than Edmonton but it is sure one hell of a lot busier. Some of it is tourists and we are in the area tourists frequent but mostly I think people here don’t use cars as much and therefore there are more bodies on the street rather than in a small, wheeled tin box.
It is the biggest city in Denmark and therefore by default the biggest city we have been in. I had mentioned how clean I thought Denmark is. Copenhagen is a city and does have its share of trash on the streets but it is still very tidy by any standard. There are not an overabundance of trash cans or anything but I presume the culture demands that garbage be stowed as opposed to tossed.
Rush hour here has three distinct elements. At home rush hour is strictly automobiles. Sometimes it is faster to walk rather than sit in a traffic jamb at 5pm. Here this morning there is action on the roadways. There are numerous vehicles on the streets but there is no gridlock. The bike roads are flush with commuters. People biking in their work duds. Racing along in peletons headed for work. The sidewalks are very crowded. The downtown and surrounding area has a lot of housing and people live close enough to work they can walk the distance easily.
The changing of the guards at the royal residence is on our list. We arrive a 1/2 hour early expecting crowds. We sit on a chair fence and more and more people amass. At 11.55 there is a rush to the black lines painted on the pavement outlining the edge of the ‘performance space’. We miss the cue by about 5 seconds and are in the third row of viewing. A polite lady moves over a little so Debbie can see. Very nice these Danes. The actual implementation of the change of the guards is quite boring, really. The uniforms are quite flashy but the process falls flat as far a entertainment goes.
We then board a boat and go for a 50 minute tool about the Copenhagen canals. It is always interesting to see a city from the water. It is lower than any of the land and you can get a distant view of the streetscapes that line the shoreline. The tour guide gives us a little history of the city we are not likely to pick up on our own.
There is a section of Copenhagen called Freetown. It is an area taken over by ‘hippies’ in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There were some unoccupied buildings about and the young travelers squatted in them and eventually made them into a permanent residence. I think the authorities just plain gave up trying to get rid of them and the area is now established as a pretty much anything goes kind of place. Really I think it has grown well beyond its original counter culture experiment and is now one of the main tourist attractions in the city. We were accosted by a pair of cruise ship folks and accused of being one of them, heaven forbid. They had specific instructions on the ship not to take pictures and were wondering why I had my camera out. I took a few shots and no one seemed to care too much. The thing that made me think the place had become more than utopia was the cost of the food at one of the mini restaurants. Looking at the menu, which was posted at the entrance, not exactly hippy stuff, the prices were higher then we had noted in the downtown area. Rather suspect.
The last place we see is the ‘Danish Architecture Centre’. It is a nice display of architectural stuff. The message behind most of it is how we have to change our view of the built environment or the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I had to chuckle because it is the exact same stuff preached to me when I was in architecture school 40 years ago. Almost to the letter really. One would think the world could turn a corner in 40 years but it does not seem to be the case. I guess we are doomed.
We need to build our walking stamina up over the next few days as we are going to spend the next two weeks on our feet. Although tomorrow we may sneak in a train or bus ride.