Home Away from Home: Copenhagen, Denmark / by Tess Cagle

Last weekend, I went to Copenhagen, Denmark with my friend Anna. I've been pretty excited about this trip, mostly because I'm actually half Danish (right, mom??) and I don't get to learn about my ancestor's culture nearly enough. We had an amazing weekend. Copenhagen felt a lot like home and reminded me so much of Austin. 10/10 would recommend and I would totally go back and visit again. 

The Airbnb

We stayed at an Airbnb for the weekend. It was my first time using the service and it was such a great experience. We stayed in the basement a traditional Danish villa, with a really cute family. Most importantly, the bed was extremely comfortable. 

Day 1: Jægersborggade, Assistens Cemetery, Rosenborg Castle & the National Gallery of Denmark

We arrived to Copenhagen at around 11 a.m., so we were thankfully able to fit in a lot of sightseeing throughout our first day. We didn't really have a game plan for the day, we just knew we a) really needed coffee and b) really needed food. Anna had heard of Coffee Collective, which is a popular roasting company so we walked about two miles to the shop. We didn't actually go there but it did lead us to Jaegersborggade, which according to Google is a very hip street in Copenhagen. The neighborhood, and honestly Copenhagen in general, was covered in beautiful graffiti art. Basically every wall was painted as we walked into the city. The street itself reminded me a lot of Austin because it was filled with small shops that sold things like succulents, vinyl and local art. 

After exploring the street, we moved on to Assistens Cemetery, which was right across the street. The cemetery is a burial site for a lot of famous Danes, like Hans Christian Andersen. We were surprised to see it's a very popular hangout spot– can you imagine chilling in a cemetery in America? We ate donuts and took pictures with the pretty trees and then moved on. 

After the cemetery, we wandered. We came across the Rosenborg Castle (although admittedly we thought we were at the Trivoli Gardens for awhile.) We didn't go inside, but instead walked across the street to the National Gallery of Denmark. It has free entry, so we wandered around the gallery for awhile. Of all art, I love modern art.. despite the fact that it seems kind of silly sometimes. We had fun killing time and then began our long journey back to our AirBnB. Neither of us had slept much the night before and by this point were pretty delirious from all the walking. Perfect time to try to navigate the train system in a foreign country, right? Somehow, we made it home and ate a delicious traditional Danish dinner. 

Day Two: Freetown Christiania & the Little Mermaid statue

We took the train into the city center on Saturday and then slowly made our way to Christiania (what we had heard to be cool hippie street.) Along the way we stopped by City Hall and browsed through some vintage street sales. We also ate ridiculously huge tuna sandwiches and found ridiculously good coffee. 

Next, we made our way to Christiania. I cannot emphasize enough how little we knew about the area before entering it. We heard it was a "cool place" that "young people enjoyed" and that it had a lot of "cool hippie art." That's it. Turns out Christiania is a self-governed commune and the reason young people love the area is because it's also one of the largest drug industry's in Europe...Oh. The site used to be an abandoned military base which was taken over by hippie squatters in the '70s. It's supposedly a really successful social experiment, despite constant clashes with the Danish government. We felt pretty clueless when we walked into the notorious Green Light District and asked what everyone was buying from the different tents set up (and then saw the sign "best weed in town!!" and had all our questions answered.) The district had a strict no photo policy, since hash dealing is still incredibly illegal in Denmark. How this place even exists still boggles our minds. However, it was absolutely beautiful and covered in graffiti art. Everything was DIY and there was plenty of live music. It was great and by far the highlight of our weekend. 

After Christiania, we started walking toward where the iconic Little Mermaid statue is (our big tourist-y thing of the weekend.) Along the way, we got some amazing ice cream on top of waffles and saw the famous street of Copenhagen you see on all of the postcards. After the Little Mermaid statue, we walked about two miles back to the Trivoli Gardens and ate dinner at an American diner (yay for American breakfast food!!) Then we headed back to the Airbnb. 

To summarize– this weekend was a blast and exactly what we needed before final exams and papers this week. I'm proud I can call Denmark my homeland and can't wait to visit again.