Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels.
This week’s postcard comes from Bruno, a portuguese IT consultant and a full-time travel blogger wannabe. Bruno was born and raised in The Azores but is currently living in Lisbon. His travel blog is Geeky Explorer, so named because as he says “besides being a travel enthusiast, I am a tech geek, particularly interested in travel apps, websites and other miscellaneous tools that allow a overall improved travel experience. I am a photographer, just not a very good one (I am only an average Instagramer really). I also love ice cream, penguins and bad jokes!” You can judge Bruno’s photography skills for yourself by following him on Instagram and on his blog.
Hi Bruno! So, where have you been lately?
I was in a four-day trip to Copenhagen last March, together with my partner. A friend of us who live in Germany also joined us there. I have never had been to a nordic country before, although for years I’ve wanted to go to one. I guess being such a different society from that of a southern latin country like Portugal, makes your interest grow. Not only I was curious about the regular sightseeing, but I was mainly interested in getting to know how is to live in world’s happiest country.
March in Copenhagen can’t have been warm! How was the weather?
It was the end of winter time when I was there, so it was a bit cold. Which for a portuguese used to sunny warm weather, it means EXTREMELY cold. The highest temperature was 5,6ºC during the day, accompanied by the strong wind that seemed to come straight from the Arctic. Brr.
Yet, this added to the nordic experience I was seeking to have.
Sounds perfect! Did you have somewhere nice and cosy to stay?
We stayed in Danhostel Copenhagen. Honestly, it was the cheapest we could find. I am usually not a fan of fancy hotels as I don’t think it is worth it to invest in a place where I don’t plan to spend much time after all. This hostel met all the minimum requirements: it was clean, had friendly and helpful staff and it was fairly well located near the centre.
Well, that’s all you need! What did you get up to?
We did pretty much all the sightseeing in the first two days. Went to Christiania, the allegedly “free territory” that does not belong to the E.U. It is a intriguing and disturbing place at the same time.
I was pulled back to my childhood again the time I entered the LEGO store. And I loved it. We couldn’t resist buying “mini-me” LEGO action figures.
And of course visited the world famous “Little Mermaid” (Den lille havfrue). I knew this would be small, but this a REALLY tiny woman.
The major drawback was not being able to enter the Tivoli Gardens. It were closed for renovation work and it would only open two weeks later. BAH. In fact, there were too many spots around Copenhagen closed for maintenance/renovations. I later was told this was normal as preparation for the summer, but it was specially evident this year because of the Eurovision Song Contest, taking place in the following May.
What was your highlight?
What I liked the most about the city was how happy people seemed at all times. That came across even in the little humorous details present in the warning signs or in the restaurant menus. People on top of their bikes always had a smile on their faces, even though it was freezing outside. Overall, the city had this very cool energy somewhere between a modern European capital and a lovely charming village where everything is on walking or biking distance.
Nevertheless, if I had to choose a favourite, I would go with Nyhavn waterfront. I understand it’s a bit cliché, but this really stands out as a colourful trendy spot right in the middle of city. And it’s been there since the 17th century!
What was the food like?
…expensive. We went to the supermarket two or three times to buy some snacks to save some money. I didn’t mind as I love going to the local supermarkets, it’s one more important insight to understand how is living there.
Our main meals were on restaurants through. The best was RizRaz. It had a relatively cheap but delicious brunch, perfect for a Sunday morning.
Did you have any embarrassing moments?
There was one, not exactly embarrassing but we sure didn’t know what to do. It was Saturday night and we were in a relatively crowded bar in the nightlife district. I guess three latin guys in a danish bar draw a bit of attention. We were approached by a group of danish who invited us to seat and have a beer (Carlsberg of course). We were actually enjoying the conversation until one of them, who was leading the conversation, started talking about geology and how the movement of tectonic plates influenced global warming. Okay, that may even be an interesting theme but sure not in a Saturday night. Still, apart from this awkward 20 min lecture, he was very nice though.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a similar trip?
- Go in summer time. I felt people in Copenhagen were just awakening up of their winter hibernation. I reckon the whole city comes alive between May and September.
- Do not reduce the city to a series of organized tours and simply visiting the sights that are on your guide. Take a moment to sit on a café and observe and feel the energy of the city. Pay attention to details. This tip applies not only to Copenhagen, of course.
NB – all photos are owned by Bruno M.