What a day! My flight out of Boston was delayed so long that I made my connection out of Gatwick by five minutes. Not surprisingly, my luggage missed the flight, but the Steelhouse Hostel proved to be an excellent place to stay. I would have liked to get my bag so I could have washed up and changed my clothes. I need to put a delay kit in my carry-on backpack for times like these. Unfortunately, I got a very slow start in a rainy Copenhagen.
This began a rather unorthodox trip to Denmark. It would not be a well-planned, orderly visit crammed full of museums and other sights. As an American, truth is at a premium in my country if not unseen. This nation, on the other hand, values honesty above all, and the Danes are known as the most trusting people on the planet. Being here is a cleansing experience, and just walking around Copenhagen in the sunshine, is enough to make for a highly enriching experience in and of itself.
Denmark is the second happiest country, but they trade off first place with Finland on a yearly basis. My next stop is Helsinki so I’ll let you know how I feel about the Finns.
STEEL HOUSE HOSTEL
The Steel House Hostel is an architecturally stimulating space and a comfortable environment for a large hostel stay. It’s very spread out and has numerous public spaces where one can escape including a large computer workroom, a cinema, a TV room, two music venues, a game room, and a café/bar with loads of seating. A self-serve kitchen, a gym, and a swimming pool are available for a small charge. Laundry facilities are on-site as well. All of this and it still manages to maintain a pleasant vibe that escapes other large hostels.
JIMI – THE REGGAE MUSICIAN – He skillfully knocks off a few Bob Marley favorites.
WOE BLIND BIRDS – It’s rare to find a good band playing in hostels, and this was a good band. Their somewhat psychedelic vibe harkened back to the origins of Pink Floyd, but they had an original sound all their own. Tight drumming, crisp riffs, and dreamy lyrics punctuated a surprisingly, satisfying performance. They were a friendly group from the Northern Netherlands and validated the fact that they hail from one of the happiest countries on Earth. Check them out on YouTube if you want to regain your hope in the youth of today.
STAR WARS & GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PINBALL MACHINES – Here we have little retro fun right next to the laundry and TV room so there is plenty to keep you busy while you wait for your clothes to dry.
TIVOLI GARDENS – This is the second oldest amusement park in the world which opened in 1843. It was also Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyworld. The oldest amusement park is also in Denmark and is called Dyrehavsbakken located in nearby Klapenborg.
The next day I went in search of the holy grail of Danish pastry shops. The place I found on my last visit was just opposite the Tivoli Gardens so I circled the entire property to see if I could satisfy my hunger for the ultimate confection. No such luck. It seems it has disappeared off of the face of the Earth. Those were some of the best pastries I have ever sampled. Probably some soulless franchise took over the space. I got my revenge in 7/11 of all places. They had large, high-quality, cinnamon-swirl danish at the meager price of two for 20 kroner ($3.00). Believe me, in Denmark, that’s a steal.
FIREWORKS SEEN ABOVE TIVOLI GARDENS ON SATURDAY
CLOUDY RAINY DAYS
COPENHAGEN CITY HALL
FLEA MARKET – ANTIQUES & BRIC A BRAC
SHOPPING STREETS ON THE WAY TO NYHAVN
COPENHAGEN JAZZ FESTIVAL – JULY 5-14 – GREAT TIMING!
CAFÉ CULTURE – ALIVE AND WELL IN DENMARK
NYHAVEN – HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON’S OLD NEIGHBORHOOD – Back in Anderson’s day, Nyhavn was not so picturesque as it is now. It was run down and filled with brothels for the sailors. Nowadays it’s Copenhagen’s top attraction, lined with restaurants serving up traditional Danish fare. If you happen to be as lucky as I was four years ago, you may turn down a sidestreet and encounter a special jewelry shop.
I made two attempts to visit my favorite European silversmith there and failed in my attempts. My first exercise in futility was on Sunday, and it turns out that Eske is closed on Mondays as well. I asked a local to translate the sign on his door so my next visit would prove more fruitful. He was due back on Tuesday between noon & six. At least the next day it was due to be sunny so I could redo many of my shots with blue skies.
SUNNY TUESDAY AFTERNOON
COPENHAGEN CITY HALL – WITH BLUE SKIES!
A CHEERFUL PIECE OF STREET ART
RUNDETARN – THE ROUND TOWER
COPENHAGEN JAZZ FESTIVAL CONTINUES
NYHAVN PANORAMA – A wonderful day for lunch while watching the world go by.
AND JUST A FEW STEP DOWN A SIDE STREET…..
ESKE STORM – GOLDSMITH – HERE FOR OVER 20 YEARS
ESKE PUTS THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON A NEW PIECE OF JEWELRY
ME, ESKE, & THOMAS
MY NEW CATACOMBS SKULL BRACELET – I went to Eske’s shop to replace my lost, beloved Inca Wall ring, and left with the heavy, silver, hand-made, skull-clustered, masterwork you see above. All of his jewelry is filled with inspiration and meaning derived from his own travels and personal experience. Each unique piece is guaranteed to give a lifetime of enjoyment.
The ring I am replacing is modeled after the stonework of Macchu Pichu that I visited shortly after purchasing it. The stone detail even extends to the full interior of the ring and actually matches the outside. That is quite a feature for a $200 handcrafted ring, and remember, things cost a lot more in Scandinavia so it’s a real bargain for that sort of quality, design, and craftsmanship.
MY FAVORITE RING – LOST ON AN AIRPLANE – REPLACED IN COPENHAGEN
Being a world traveler, the ring truly resonates with my nomadic ways and exposure to the Incas, Aztecs, and other advanced, ancient civilizations I’ve encountered along the way. Eske, himself has traveled to over 50 countries, and he’s drawn inspiration from many eras and cultures. Of course, he has many pieces that reflect Scandinavian culture as well. His Thor’s Hammer pendants are exceptional pieces but are just the tip of the iceberg in that genre.
I’m looking forward to next year to see if he has any Viking ax head pendants available for purchase. For me, a trip to Copenhagen just isn’t complete without a visit to Eske’s shop. Just do a search on your smartphone and you should find him easily. Just search “Eske Storm.” He’s no more than five minutes from anywhere in beautiful Nyhavn. Also, be sure to check out his work on his website at eskestorm.com .
After bringing in the plants and closing up the shop, we all headed for Christiania. Eske and Thomas on their bikes and me on foot for the purpose of a pleasant walk and grabbing a bite to eat on the way.
GASOLINE GRILL – These were some of the best burgers I’ve had the good fortune to eat. They are cooked medium rare and served up nice and juicy. In fact, the chain has received awards. Their employees crafted the burgers with the same care with which the Queen Elizabeth’s chefs prepare her Beef Wellington. It was yet another example of Denmark’s “give a shit” attitude. People here are paid properly, and as a result, they are happy with their work, and you can even taste it in the food.
I didn’t want to get messy with the ribs so I opted for a Danish sausage. I was really hungry.
THE DANISH KEJSER SAUSAGE
JAZZ ENSEMBLE TO EAT SAUSAGE BY
PEDAL CAB – I turned him down in lieu of a beautiful, sunny stroll.
GRAFITTI AND STREET ART POINT THE WAY TO CHRISTIANIA
SEX & VIOLENCE
MUHAMMAD ALI – CASSIUS CLAY
Christiania is a land of the settlers. It is the grandest scheme so far to build up a society from scratch while incorporating the remaining buildings, municipal edifices, and architectural elements. Having its own electricity plant, a bath-house, and an enormous athletics building that is a sanctuary where all seekers of peace could have their grand meditation and yoga center. There are halls where theater groups can perform, and buildings for the stoners who are too paranoid and weak. Clearly, those who feel the beating of the pioneer heart, there can be no doubt as to the purpose of Christiania. It is the part of the city which has been kept secret to us – but no more.
The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each individual is responsible for the wellbeing of the entire community. Their society is to be economically self-sustaining and they aspire to be steadfast in their conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.
The people in Christiania have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs, and biker’s colors.
Famous for its main drag, Pusher Street is known for the quality assortment of hash and weed that is available at reasonable prices. These are sold openly although it is not legal. On occasion, there are small police raids. There are rules forbidding the use of hard drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, and heroin. Legalization of cannabis is one of the ideas backed by most of the citizens in Christiania. The region negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defense ministry (which still owns the land) in 1995. Since 1994, residents have paid taxes and fees for water, electricity, trash disposal, etc.
After bitter negotiations that temporarily resulted in the area being sealed off to the public, in June 2011, the residents of Christiania agreed to collectively set up a fund to formally purchase the land at below-market prices. The community made its first payment in July 2012, and they officially became legal landowners.
Christiania is considered to be the fourth largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen (half a million visitors annually), and abroad it is well-known for the supposedly progressive and liberated lifestyle. Many Danish businesses and organizations also use Christiania as a showplace for foreign friends and guests. The point is to show something Danish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
FIRST THE JEWELRY
THEN THE CLOTHING
AND FINALLY THE WEED,
HASH & SPLIFFS
I ended up at Eske’s friend Ricky’s house by the lake. Once there we indulged in some of what Christiania had to offer, tossed a frisbee around, and traded stories on a beautiful evening. It didn’t get dark until nine so that’s why it’s still light out. Ricky had a phenomenal collection of hand-tooled Viking axes which I will make sure to include photos of on my next visit. Unfortunately, I got a little distracted with the herbal refreshments and neglected to shoot any pictures.
FriendShips.dk – Here’s yet another example of Danish friendliness. These boats are available for hire, and I saw some Danes out enjoying a meal on the table in the bow of one of these vessels. On my next visit, I would love to take one of these out with my newfound Danish friends and have a picnic cruise.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN COMPOSITION GOES AWRY
SEXTET SWING BAND – FEATURING A BIG SOUND AND SPIRITED THREE-PART HARMONIES
AS THE LIGHT WANES, ONE LAST SHOT BEFORE ARRIVING HOME
RUNDETARN – THE ROUND TOWER – LOOKOUT TOWER
One of the best-known and most popular structures in Denmark, the Round Tower has been a distinctive feature of the Copenhagen skyline since 1642. It also houses Europe’s oldest functioning observatory. Halfway up the tower is an entrance to the large and stunningly beautiful Library Hall which now serves as a popular gallery and concert venue. Above the library is the Bell Loft, known for its enormous wooden beams which were used in the reconstruction of the Tower following the great fire of Copenhagen in 1728. The Loft is also home to a small exhibition of fascinating artifacts, including a tin of medicine produced by Tycho Brahe, and a piece of the bomb that exploded in the Library Hall during the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807.
CURVED THOROUGHFARE TO THE TOP
THE LIBRARY – NOW A GALLERY AND CONCERT VENUE
BELL LOFT – ONE OF THE LARGE BEAMS
MEDICINE – MANUFACTURED BY TYCHO BRAHE
ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONS – Out of the Shadows – A series of photo essays
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER
AT THE VERY TOP IS EUROPE’S OLDEST FUNCTIONING OBSERVATORY
Today I made a decision to take a completely different approach to a city than usual. My vagabond life doesn’t afford me much in the way of routine. Although, I tend to reject the dreary repetition that tended to fill my previous life. From time to time, I actually find myself desiring a little routine after years of adventure.
To that end, I decided that I would make the round trip to Christiania and back for four straight days, keeping to a similar route which would take me past historic buildings in the city center, through extensive pedestrian shopping streets, and arriving in colorful Nyhavn. Once there or on the way back, I would pop in and say hi to Eske. Then I would usually continue on to my favorite burger place before entering Christiania to spend the afternoon.
Once there, I’d soak up the free spirit and whatever else interested me.
LOCKS FORBIDDEN – NO LOVELOCK POLLUTION – HOW REFRESHING
ANOTHER VISIT TO CHRISTIANIA
MARILYN SMOKIN’ HOT
PUBLIC TRAMPOLINES WITH CUSHIONED SURROUNDS
PICKING UP MY NEWLY SIZED RING AT ESKE’S
ONCE AGAIN I MAKE MY PILGRIMAGE TO CHRISTIANIA
THE JAZZ FESTIVAL CONTINUES – I STOP FOR A LISTEN
NYHAVN – Part of my daily route, I stopped by to drop off a little something for Eske. I proceeded to Christiania to continue my exploration of this unusual phenomenon. I’m getting seven miles of walking out of it as well.
There is something to be said for just relaxing and enjoying a city once and a while. It’s a vastly different experience, and I highly recommend it. Not everyone can afford to squander valuable vacation time, especially you poor overworked buggers in the United States. But sometimes it’s nice not having to see every last goddamn thing, and taking selfies in front of everything noteworthy monument. Just experiencing a city on a deeply visceral level is something lost on many tourists.
Passing vistas like this one on a daily basis are what it’s all about.
THE CHEF HERE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE A GOOD SOUP – MEAT OR VEGAN
THE ESSENCE – BORN IN FREETOWN – I found the product to be very derivative, corporatey, designer emulating, and counter to the Christiania Freetown philosophy.
These stone patterns can be found in the paths around town.
AN ARTISTIC SPIRAL OF WOOD ENSNARES A LONE TRASH CAN
A SMALL BRICK DWELLING HAS AN ADDED LOFT
THE RURAL PARTS OF THE COMMUNITY
A boat has driven past, a woman reads her book, and a group of people enjoys dinner on their boat.
DINING BY THE WATER
JAZZ ON THE FLY
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY – YET ANOTHER OUTLET OF THE PERNICIOUS GLOBAL CULT
MOCK-UP OF L. RON HUBBARDS OFFICE
JAZZ SINGER – THIS DANISH LADY DELIVERED AN EMOTIONAL RENDITION OF “IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD”
FRIDAY’S PILGRIMAGE TO CHRISTIANIA
TYPICALLY COMPETENT PUBLIC SCULPTURE
A GUY SOAKS HIS FEET
PASSING THROUGH NYHAVN ONCE AGAIN
IT NEVER GETS OLD
SKIPPERKROEN – MY “GO TO” RESTAURANT IN NYHAVN
FUN ARCHITECTURAL COMPOSITION WITH YELLOW ELEMENTS
ANOTHER FUN COMPOSITION WITH YELLOW ELEMENT
FLOATING RESTAURANT – EXCELLENT SEAFOOD MENU
MAKING MY WAY TO CHRISTIANIA ONCE AGAIN – HAD A GREAT TIME THERE
MORE JAZZ ON THE WAY BACK HOME
THE FLAGSHIP MAGASIN DEPARTMENT STORE IN COPENHAGEN