Monday, March 14, 2022 | Written by Claire
After 21 hours of cancelled trains, freezing layovers, and cramped power naps, the beautiful Copenhagen skyline finally appeared in sight. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stretched out my limbs after standing on the fully reserved Danish train packed with rowdy teenagers hogging the bathroom to make Tiktoks. The journey there was nothing but chaotic. Our connecting train to Hamburg just magically disappeared into thin air and DeutschBahn just gave up on giving us housing for the night. So, we spent 2 hours bundled and starving in the Frankfurt station in Germany.
We left Thursday, arriving Friday afternoon at 4 PM then, we had all of Saturday to explore the city. We were there for a short, but pleasant time and there were several nuances about Danish society that made it characteristically different from any of the other places I’ve been to.
Bikes: To make our time there more efficient, we rented bikes for the day! All of the online tips said Copenhagen is a bikeable city and they were not wrong! The city was built around biking. Massive travel lanes dedicated just for bikers were sometimes wider than the car lanes themselves, and each corner was equipped with a bikers-only traffic lights. Furthermore, not only were there actual turn lanes, but there were also massive sections on the metro for people to snag a spot on their short journey. The design of the metro was interesting. To fit the width of the bikes, the middle of each train cart bowed outwards to make extra space. Inside, you could park at least 6 or 7 bikes in one car, and there were also seats on the other side for passengers as well. Even on every street corner or marketplace, there would be hundreds of bikes parked in designated bike lots, creating an array of colors that are characteristically Danish.
Coffee Shops: We also stopped by a quaint café that doubled as a bookstore and cozy living room. As a group, we ordered out a bundle of cinnamon rolls, bread and butter, pain au chocolat, and several cups of espresso. The aesthetic was immaculate, and the huge shelves of books that canvased the entire wall made the vibe very homey. The café itself served the pastries on different colored plates, just as if we were to eat a quick snack in someone’s home. With some people there tapping away on their laptops or grabbing a quick caffeine fix for the long day, others were sitting at wooden benches, chatting away. The entire café had such a positive vibe that reminded me of home.
Masks: One of the more “shocking” traits of Copenhagen was the lack of masks or any social distancing restrictions. On the train ride, as soon as we crossed the border out of Germany, everyone ripped off their masks and started bathing their faces in the warm sunlight that floated in from the windows. All the shops and restaurants had no mask mandates and hardly anyone was even wearing one, not even the elders. With young people hanging around the cannals eating smorrebrod and hot dogs, older people also walked around, hand in hand, just soaking up the liveliness of the city. It was indeed a beautiful scene to see, something that seemed straight out of a movie. Especially when the sun started to dip below the horizon, casting a pink hue across the sky and reflecting against the water, I found myself smiling as I enjoyed my last minutes of sunshine in Copenhagen before hopping on the 7 AM train the next morning. I’d say it was well worth it.