Escape to Denmark
Germany is a very wet country of late. In Duisburg, for example, it's rained since February this year. You'd only been there one week and you'd had enough! Dreary Duisburg was either damp, drizzly or a being doused by drenching downpour; so you made an escape to Copenhagen for the Eurovision long weekend to meet Mike, et al.
One foot of the plane and Copenhagen won you over: it was sunny and dry, and you were loving it! You took the metro to Amagerbro station and walked for ten minutes to an apartment with the highest iPad + gay-men population of all time. Quite spontaneously had several groups of gay Americans, Mike and his friend Angelo assembled in Copenhagen for Eurovision. Every single happy Danish power point in the house had a white charger cable attached; perhaps only a coincidence they all had apple products, or maybe it was a gay thing (they'd call it taste).
Mike had got more massive since you saw him last. He got himself a personal trainer and a workout routine he was trying to maintain while on holidays. He'd also started to drink beer, which he considered manly to match his muscles. Most of the appartment's population had been in Denmark for the past week, and had gone to the semi-final in full dress as Loreen (Sweeden's 2012 winner). Eurovision songs were sung and gay-times had.
You went shopping for beer at the nearest mini-market, which was mostly sold out. Some friendly Sweeds suggest which beer to buy, which led to an entertaining conversation at the check-out with a black lady with fuzzy hair who was as high as a kite. That night people stayed in.
Mike and Angelo cooked breakfast for everyone that morning. After a sleep-in and a long brunch it was a wonder anyone departed for the Eurovision grand final dress rehearsal in Sweeden at all. The trip from Copenhagen Denmark to Malmö Sweeden was a short 15 min train ride over the bridge. The bridge was rather long spanning between the two countries. It was also the location of The Bridge, a hit TV detective series to which you're currently addicted. Angelo explained it was so popular that some of his employees called in sick with must-see-what-happens'itis.
Side note: it occurred to you being in Malmö was the deepest travel inception you've ever had - you were an Australian living in Switzerland, away for work in Germany, visiting Denmark for the weekend to attend Eurovision in Sweden. Deep.
Malmö stadium was right above the train station, and a nice tidy place. You scammed a ticked from a scalper and slid into the standing area with everyone else. Someone had brought the truly terrifying Jed mask (Ireland's entry 2012) and was dancing like a mad leprechaun. There was more noise coming from your group than from the stage; so much in fact, that Mike put in earplugs. Everyone had radio controlled illuminated wrist bands, which changed to countries' colours based on who was on stage. The show was nice but not everyone on stage was in full dress (just the rehearsal). There was a shout-out to Australians watching live and to all the dancing queens - nice that Eurovision's main supporters were recognised.
The half-time break video was amusing with a tour of the Sweedish royal palace where Abba lives. For the latter half of the show most of the group were busy sending messages on their phones. You later learnt they were all using GPS-enabled hook-up apps used for finding, flirting and eventually f... befreinding other men of similar interests. Some of the group were able to find people at the show and take a subtle interlude during the show to go say hello.
You all travelled back to Denmark for some hot dogs - a Danish invention apparently - and a short nap before a late lunch on the lawn. It was already evening but still warm and sunny. Generally, the Scandanavian daylight was a huge source of both joy and perplexment: it was bright from 4:30am until after 11pm!
That evening you followed Mike and Angelo back to Sweeden to watch the Eurovision final in a park. The ulterior motive was to find the boy from the dress rehearsal. The park was overcrowded and not especially nice. You met two of the the three amusing Sweeds from the Copenhagen supermarket; they were going with the flow in the opposite direction, so you sailed past with just a hej hej. You stayed in the park until a drunk idiot spilled red wine into your shoe and your favorite song was over, then gave the two boys sausage space - a term recently coined in Copenhagen, basically the opposite of cock blocking.
You noticed the train station walls had dancing lights on the way home. Pretty. Back at the flat the others were only just getting ready to go out. One lent some dry shoes so you could tag along to watch the Eurovision winner being announced in the Copenhagen main square. Your bus got you there just as Denmark had been named the winner and the croud was going wild. Post-announcement, however, everyone quickly and orderly dispersed. Danes sure are propper. You walked home through the city.
Den lille Havfrue
Angelo was the only person awake the next morning before 10am. He, like most of the group, had only just got home. Running on 1.5 hours sleep did not make for an awake Angelo. The day was spent being lazy until flight time as most were going back to America that day. You waved Mike and the others off and had another hotdog (so far your... fourth).
On the way to your Airbnb accomodation for that night some Indian tour-bus drivers tried coaxing you onto their buses. Tour buses must be for those who hate walking and like shouting "I'm a tourist!" Seeing a city by foot gives you a far more natural impression of the whole unedited layout, rather than framed snippets. The other benefit was avoiding obnoxious American tourists, of which there seemed to be a lot in town. Angelo accompanied you, and you decided to walk towards the sea. Although already 6pm it was still as hot and sunny as midday!
Copenhagen has a lot of bicycles. The bicycle lanes are often wider than the roads, and have their own pedestrian crossings and traffic lights. Everyone in Copenhagen obeys the traffic lights and jay-walking seems non-existent. It wasn't Swiss-squeaky-clean, rather London-dusty but with more order. Copenhagen art was obscure in both theme and placement; it didn't really stand out but when you saw it, it was surprising. The family of not-sure-if-drowning family in the water, and upturned painted bicycle are examples. Incidentally, there were so many unloved bikes strewn about it was hard to distinguish garbage from art.
In one city park you found a tree with with babies' dummies tied up to its branches with ribbons. By accident you'd stumbled upon the Suttetræ, the soothers tree of Frederiksberg Park. Apparently it's part of a coming of age tradition in Copenhagen, where toddlers at the age of three come to the park with their family and tie their dummies to the tree as a symbol of growing up. They're rewarded with small presents and a picnic in the park, and told they may come visit the tree whenever they want. What a healthy tradition!
Close to the port in Copenhagen is the Kastellet star fortress: a pentagram shaped landform surrounded by a moat with bastions at its corners. It once had a military function but now exists as a historical site and public park, where lots of birds live. Near the fort sits Den lille Havfrue, the little mermaid statue. She had been frequently vandalised and even once detonated as some kind of political statement. The city responded by moving her further into the water; an utterly useless exercise because tourists could still climb all over her during the low tide, making her hard to photograph.
To quote Wikipedia:
Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania (Danish: Fristaden Christiania) is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (84 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state. It was closed by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continued with the Danish government as to its future, but is now open again.
Christiania was a smokey mix of hippies and tourists. At 10am its resident were just waking/lighting up and filling the market spaces with beads, tie-dyed shirts and herbal smoke. The green zone was clearly marked by no photography signs, hinting at their business practices. Christianians consider themselves outside the EU, which the city of Copenhagen unofficially tolerates. Hard drugs are banned in the neighbourhood, as is violence and cars (excluding the 14 internal service vehicles, including a garbage truck). The semi-dilapidated buildings were beautifully decorated by various artistic styles and forms, but you suspected the paint was holding more together than the foundations. "You are now entering the EU" was printed above the arch on the way out. Nice to visit.
The rest of the day was spent walking about the city, seeing the botanical gardens and sand sculpting exhibition, and eating hotdogs. It was surprising just how many old bicycles were lieing around, and the strange places they'd been thrown. You could make a sucessful business or charity out of city junk. They'd probably never heard of groups like Re-cycle who send refurbished bikes to developing countries. Someone should tell them. First, one more hotdog.