24 Hours in Copenhagen

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. 

The Journey to Copenhagen

As Karsten attests in his latest blog, sometimes half of the battle is getting there. Follow along on his trip to Copenhagen!

Sunday, September 22, 2019 | Written by Karsten

This weekend, D.J. Akers, Jake Tjards, Julia Kerns, and I decided to make the journey to Copenhagen. Jake and I went by train, and Julia and D.J. went by plane, since they were having Eurail issues. The original route had Jake and I leaving at 8:30pm on Thursday night and making it to Copenhagen at 2:40pm on Friday afternoon. We booked the couple of train reservations necessary, booked our Airbnb, and were off.

Jake and I left Lafayette, our residence hall, at 7:30pm and all went according to plan—that is, until our very first train was delayed upon arrival to the station. Needless to say, with tight layovers, we missed our third train and first reservation, thus messing up the rest of the planned trains. We had to stay in the Mannheim Station for an extra two hours until the next train left, putting us on a train from 2am until 10am. When we got on, everyone was sleeping and there were next to no available seats, but towards the middle of the trip, it became rather empty. However, at about 6am, it filled back up—this time with drinking Germans instead of sleepers. The train went from dead silent to full of noise, and I was not a fan, as I had only gotten an hour of sleep by laying across the two seats. However, and much to my surprise, since the noise was constantly loud, I managed to get a couple more hours of sleep. Everyone on that train got off at Hamburg, so that was a bit of a struggle.

Jake and I searched for food around the train station, but there were so many options that it was difficult to decide. The primary goal was to get coffee, as we packed food for the entirety of the train rides, so we decided on Dunkin Donuts. A couple of girls from America in front of me were very excited for and ordered Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Their excitement rubbed off on me apparently, because I felt inclined to order one as well. I had it on the next train, and it was as good as the last one I had, so I’m glad I ordered it. On the next train, I ate the rest of the food I had packed, and we crossed the border from Germany into Denmark. The rest of the train ride was very uneventful and we made it to Copenhagen at 4:15pm in the afternoon, almost twenty-one hours after leaving our rooms. We met Julia and DJ, went to our Airbnb, and then set out for our adventures in the city.

After a rather rough start, Jake and I ended up being a little downcast and even slightly considered going to other cities from Mannheim, but I am so glad we didn’t change our minds. Copenhagen has been my favorite trip so far (excluding the trip to Belgium with my dad). The city is beautiful, a pretty decent amount of English is spoken, and we didn’t have a set plan. We just did what we wanted to when we wanted to, including taking the train into Sweden (which puts me at eight countries for the semester so far, but who’s counting?) and playing cards in the King’s Garden. Perhaps it was the city that I enjoyed so greatly, perhaps it was the spontaneity, but I’m just glad I got to have this experience.