Back in the big city of Copenhagen after spending almost three days on the island of Bornholm was briefly a shock, but we quickly re-synched into the very different rhythm. We settled into the beautiful Airbnb apartment we arranged before going out to explore the neighborhood where we center our exploration of this edgy, cool, great city, Denmark’s capital.
Over the next three days, we explored the harbor area, ate street food, visited an indoor food market, and art museums. Part of the time our friends Niels and Jetta served as guides, and other times we wandered about on our own.
We strolled Nyhavn (New Harbor) a 17th-century, wonderful, crowded, colorful, friendly, old, modern, Scandinavian, canal, and harbor district. Further along the harbor, we admired wonderful examples of architecture from the 17th and 18th century up to innovative, modern buildings that are currently under construction. The Royal Playhouse, Copenhagen Opera House, and other contemporary buildings stand alongside historical buildings and recreational areas.
Copenhagen is one of the most—if not the most—bicycle-friendly city in the world. We saw young women in skirts as well as businessmen in suits riding their bikes. They say that the weather doesn’t matter nor where they are going – to a party or work – in Copenhagen 50% of all citizens commute by bike every day, and there are more bikes than inhabitants.
The University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden is located in the heart of Copenhagen. The gardens hold the largest Danish collection of living plants as well as three gene banks. But beyond the beauty and diversity that is open to the public, they also develop and maintain scientific collections, libraries and the information they contain is available for research and teaching.
Nearby, The Hirschsprung Collection Art Museum was a small but impressive collection of Danish art from the 19th and early 20th century. While the emphasis is on the Danish Golden Age, from 1800 to 1850, romanticism, naturalism, and modernism are well represented. In fact, one of the pieces on display was by Otto Bache, Niels’ great-great-grandfather.
Later we made our way to the coast to visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the most visited art museum in Denmark. With an extensive permanent collection of modern and contemporary art as well as a special exhibits, the museum has four large wings surrounded by beautifully landscaped sculpture garden that the slopes terrain towards Øresund (one of the straits that connect the Baltic Sea to the North Atlantic) and is dominated by huge, ancient trees and sweeping views of the sea.
The collection itself is extensive and distinguished, covering everything from constructivism, CoBrA avant-garde movement artists, and minimalist art, to abstract expressionism, and pop art. Artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, and David Hockney are well represented, as are sculptures by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, and Jean Arp and others in the sculpture garden.
Once again our feeling in viewing many of these great works of art was not unlike seeing the Eiffel tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Lincoln Memorial for the first time. The experience is always greater than what we expected. So many of these works are iconic; you’ve seen them in books and the internet, and yet seeing them in person is so much more impressive than we could have ever imagined.
After the museum, we made a visit to Niels parent’s home. We shared stories of families, special occasions, losses, and travel. This was a very special visit, especially since our parents have all departed; we embrace any opportunity to “adopt” parents.
Later that evening Niels and Jetta arranged a dinner at a local restaurant so we could meet their siblings and spouses. Conversation and a delicious meal filled the evening, but when it was over we walked back to our apartment and prepared to leave Denmark. Tomorrow we fly to Bergen, Norway!
Mange tak Danmark, det var hyggeligt! (Thank you very much Denmark, it’s been a pleasure!).