I’ve always had a knack for Scandinavian design with its minimalistic chic and timeless functionality, whether it’s furniture or fashion. Some of my favorite stores in Palma like La Principal, Suivi, addict, Mad Mood or Maos offer northern brands. Samsøe & Samsøe, Filippa K, Second Female, Tiger of Sweden, or Norse Projects – to name but a few – obviously meet a southern taste. And as a devoted cyclist, I always wanted to learn about Europe’s most famous traffic system for bicycles. So it was time for a trip to Denmark’s capital Copenhagen – just like Palma a beautiful city by the sea with a long and eventful history of settlement and trade.
For me, the best way to explore a city is to put away my travel guide away and hit the busy streets. Copenhagen is built on seven islands so the cityscape is characterized by channels, bridges, small ships and boats. Public transportation includes water taxis – an inexpensive alternative to the tourist boats – which commute between the islands.
On our ride along the canal we were deeply impressed by the recent urban development: the new Opera House and the Royal Theater, all glass, steel and wood, were built right on the waterfront, followed by futuristic housing projects. And didn’t Kasper Juul live in that hip apartment building in the TV-series Borgen? Some houses had their own jetty, and there were plenty of public bathing sites along the boardwalk. I almost forgot that the clear green waters are actually part of the Öresund.
During Copenhagen Art Week pop-up art shows and all kinds of events took place in public squares, museums and shops. I had read about half a dozen of design stores like Hay, Illums Bolighus, Designer Zoo, or Gubi, and eventually we passed them all. We zigzagged through the Latin Quarter and came across the iconic Round Tower – the only tower I know that doesn’t have a staircase but a 200m-long circular ramp leading up. The platform on the top houses the oldest European planetarium still in use and overlooks the whole city.
For me, the absolute highlight was Louisiana, Denmark’s famed Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, just half an hour drive north of Copenhagen. Take public transportation or, even better: if you are car sharing with DriveNow, enjoy the ride in an electric car – there are more than 200 i3s available in the city (I really miss this option in Palma: it could solve many of its traffic problems). The museum is situated right on the Öresund in a beautiful park – a piece of art in itself with lots of sculptures and unique, often funny exhibits to discover.
You can’t write about Copenhagen without at least mentioning the vast food scene. If Noma, the city’s most hyped restaurant, is booked again for weeks, don’t worry – there are many other exciting places. We spent a fabulous night at Geist in Nyhavn. Modern cuisine with a northern touch in an extremely cool atmosphere. We sat outside in the cozy backyard under olive trees and oleander, but you can also eat on the boardwalk, at the bar, or in the chic dining room. The grilled avocado with almonds was sensational, just as the raw zucchini with pistachio and green chili, the beef tenderloin with beetroots and banana, and last but not least the raspberries with raspberry sorbet and paprika – a one-of-a-kind dessert. Mind you, Danish dinner times are really different from those in Spain – they start as early as 7 p.m.
Needless to say that Copenhagen is on my unwritten list of places I want to return to, now. All the more so since I didn’t get a chance to ride all those spacious bikeways and -bridges. And I completely forgot to pay the Little Mermaid a visit. Can you imagine?