One Map & Two Bikes

I apologize for this lengthy post, but long form is my favorite style of writing. For future posts I will write topic oriented posts vs journal entry posts and will try to keep them shorter.

Day 1: COPENHAGEN. There is something special about this city that makes you fall in love. Fall in love with the buildings, the bikes and the people. Thirty hours later, my sister and I landed in CPH around 9am after a direct flight from Bangkok. Somehow we managed to get on the Metro then take the bus to the flat we rented from AirBnb. There we met Hans Bess, a sweet and gentle Dane who loves the Dalai Lama, has two sons and doesn’t eat sugar. Immediately we took showers, brushed our teeth and applied deodorant. We were alive. All we wanted was to sleep through the day, but our hunger won and we left the flat to find some food. We happened upon Laura’s, the name of our mom, and we stopped in for sandwiches and coffee. The cook was a very sarcastic French man and we sat, exhausted, staring at him.

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Madeline’s body was deteriorating as the day progressed. We both had sinus colds when we left Auckland, but hers was worse. Her right eye was getting smaller and goo was coming out of the inner corner of her lid. Then her left eye began oozing. She’s a trooper though and can easily laugh at herself in the moment. While Madeline held tissue to her eyes all day, we walked around the city ending up in the City Center where we found Stroget, one of the world’s longest pedestrian walkways. It was the perfect place for people watching and we took full advantage of that opportunity. After figuring out our location we made our way back to the flat and our wishes came true at 8pm when we allowed ourselves to fall asleep.

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Day 2: I got up at 445 from the jet lag and was unable to fall back asleep. Madeline slept 12 hours the perfect antidote for a deteriorating body. We started our day early and rented bikes for $7.50/day. Cheap! He gave us locks but no helmets. No worries. CPH is flat and there are legitimate bike lanes so it makes bike travel a big DUH.

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In total we biked about 10.5 km (6.5 miles) and visited three neighborhoods: Christianshavn, Islands Bryghee and City Center. Before starting out we would gather a general sense of the direction we were headed in and start pedaling, just following the same road until we felt it was time to turn either left or right. We got lost several times of course, and ended up at the Copenhagen Mall. From there we visited Islands Brygge. We ate lunch at a small seafood shop where we bought lunch-fish balls, smoked salmon and cod and salmon dip. It was fresh and exactly what we needed.

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Afterwards we started towards Christianshavn and visited the massive church, Church of our Saviour, that can hold 8,000 people. The organ was playing ominous music that chilled my bones making me shiver. The impressive statues, massive ceilings and detailed paintings left me in awe. This is why people believe in God…

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After spending time with the Holy Spirit we went into Freetown, a small neighborhood started in the 60s by a hippie couple that wanted to create their own independent state within Denmark. We were welcomed by a brick archway that read “Beware Here Be Dragons!” The brick wall separated Freetown from the rest of the city with notices like “Now entering the EU” upon exiting. It seemed as though every possible surface was covered in graffiti art. Some of it was enlightening and inspiring and some of the art was crude and bitter. There were rules to Freetown: Don’t run, it causes panic. No taking of photos, selling and buying of hash is still illegal. And have fun. There was one block lined with booths selling weed. The sellers attempted to protect their identity with sunglasses and ski masks covering their face. Camouflage sheets draped along the top and sides of the booths and hung in the sky like a soldier’s tent, sheltering the men from battle. It was the first time in the city, though, that I wasn’t insecure about my clothing choice. To my surprise, Copenhagen is a very trendy and fashion forward city (But then again Seattle was rated one of the least fashionable cities in the world…) and apparently 1992 has come back? Yes the white washed blue jeans. Yes the ugly Adidas- white on white. Yes the fanny packs. Yes the barrettes. Madeline and I have seen some vomit worthy outfits that I guess look good? I am totally satisfied with my practical clothing.

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Day 3: Near our flat was a cemetery that Hans Christian Anderson was buried. He wrote many of the famous kids book like “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “Thumbelina.” But the cemetery is also like a park where kids meet and drink beer and smoke.

Cemetery/Park

Afterwards we eventually rode into Frederiksberg, ate lunch and went into the shopping mall. It was a pretty typical mall only with more bikes parked out front and uphill moving sidewalks.

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As we made our way back we walked through Stroget again to find some gifts. A breakdancing group was performing, and their show was clearly rehearsed. Imagine lots of synchronized shouting and fist pumping. Our last stop before the flat was to revisit Laura’s Bakery for a sweet treat and the wifi. I productively used the time to watch Lauren Conrad teach me how to French Braid. Apparently I’ve been Dutch Braiding this whole time. Gawd, what a fool.

That night, Friday night, we went out. With our new cute clothes, purchased from Rude, a trendy Denmark shop, we hopped on our bikes ready to party. Only a few minutes later we stopped because the MexiBar was poppin. We went in and waited and waited and waited. Finally Madeline ordered her first drink at a bar, “Two Margaritas, please.” Score. We sucked those babies down and got brain freezes and numb tongues. Our goal was to join a group of cool people and follow them around. We asked a couple of guys what bars they recommended, but I got bored and hungry so we went into Torvets Kebab. Torvet does not like Americans and Madeline and I got pure American hate set to high. We thought it was because it was a Friday night and he was getting only drunk customers. But we experienced it again when we dropped off our bikes. I’m still unclear if our nationality is why the men were so nasty. Regardless, I got my kebab and devoured it in the square where we sat along the wall.

Three men were sitting a few feet from us and one of them asked us if we were from America. We talked to them for a while. One of the men was really interested in socialism and how socialism works in America. I babbled some words then thankfully he left the group. After separating, we ran into the men again and ended up going with them to a traditional Danish Pub, which looked like any other bar. On the way two girls walking behind us joined our group. It was so natural and assumed that they could hang with us. They were both 18 and one was Nana and one was Ida. Nana wants to go to California and do a road trip, but she has to wait until she’s 21 so she can drink. She told us that story 3 different times. We found out Glenn and Som were 30 so we had a wide age group with the six of us. I guess that’s what happens with a 15 years and older drinking age. After playing a few games that I never quite grasped we moved onto another bar. We lost Nana and Ida at that point but the four of us went into a packed bar with pool and foosball. We played a game but Glenn and I lost. It was around 2am when we went into a convenience store and bought beer and I almost got into a fight with literally a kid because he was giving Madeline shit. Jerk. I convinced everyone to come back to our place because I wanted to be cozy and sleep. We talked about politics, education and girlfriends in Denmark- heavy topics for 4am. Eventually they excused themselves but left their email and names so Madeline and I can Facebook stalk them later.

Day 4: Our last day in the big city was fairly lazy because our late night/early morning social activities. We biked to the water, tired but determined to make the most of our last day. Madeline rewarded herself with an ice cream cone and I rewarded myself with a 5-hour nap. We ventured not far from our flat to enjoy a delicious thin-crust pizza. Seating was only outside, but they provided warm fleece blankets for every table.

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CPH treated us well- friendly neighbors, convenience stores and cafes. I am so thankful to have spent that time with my best friend, my soul sister. We travel well together and can get frustrated with each other without being angry, and then resolving the issue within a half hour. I’m lucky to have her on my side.

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