Copenhagen:Epitome of Scandi cool
Replete with history and old world culture existing in harmony alongside modernity, Copenhagen is an oasis of calmness for a potential traveller in a world that is insistently busy and disordered – a city of happiness
If you are in search of contentment in an increasingly discontent world, you would need to look no further than Denmark and its captivating city – Copenhagen. According to Lonely Planet, Copenhagen is the number one city destination to visit in 2019-20. But why is that so?
Well, it isn't a surprise anymore as numerous surveys reveal that the Danish people are among the happiest people on planet earth. The city of Copenhagen, although buzzing with activity, holds a delicate harmony of modernity and a rich, virile past alongside the Danish folk's obsession with sustainable living, making it one of the world's most harmonious cities to go on a holiday.
In Copenhagen, nothing is far away and as an Indian used to living in massive-sized metro cities and commuting with difficulty from one end to the other end, Copenhagen is "too accessible". This stunning city is well connected with flights to 165 global destinations and all you need to do to reach the city centre is a short metro ride from the airport.
The quintessential Danish lifestyle is synonymous with cosiness and needless to say the Danes love the good things in life. Walk into any restaurant in the city's waterfront boulevards and the first thing that will strike you is the air of informality, friendliness and a set of affable guests gossiping over endless cups of Cappuccino. This is perhaps possible due to the sense of equilibrium that prevails when it comes to the question of work-life balance.
From Kolkata to Copenhagen, both are maritime cities and the sight of boats sailing along the canals reminded me of Kolkata's inland waterways system by the river Ganges. Embarking on a canal cruise is one great way to appreciate Copenhagen's scenic vistas. The best part is that the boats are solar-powered.
The Danes are a sporting lot, which is amply reflected in the city's annual sporting events calendar, be it hosting the World Masters Orienteering Championship, the Copenhagen Marathon or for that matter the KMD IRONMAN, the city has evolved as the world's premier sporting venue.
One of Copenhagen's outstanding visitor landmarks is the magnificent Christiansburg Palace located in the Slotsholmen neighbourhood of the city. Exploring the royal edifice is in itself a tremendous and immersive experience. The Royal Reception Rooms, the Great Hall, the Tapestries, the Royal Stables, the Royal Kitchen and the Palace Chapel all have history written all over them, 800 years of it to be precise.
The Palace welcomes visitors and the 1 hour guided tour of the Palace is priced at DKK 50 per person. The palace has served as the power centre of Denmark for centuries and the Royal Family still holds banquets here at this historic palace.
The Royal Stables that have existed since 1740 have been an integral part of the palace's rich regal traditions and the resplendent white horses carrying the royal couple are truly a sight to behold. The Golden State Coach, in particular, is the cynosure of all eyes. Assembled way back in the 1840s, this golden chariot is the gem amongst the stable's wide range of royal coaches.
While at Christiansburg Palace, can the Christ Tower be far behind? The highest point of the city has quite a bit of history! Thorvald Jorgensen, the renowned Danish architect gave Christ Tower the shape it deserved. And what an awesome tall edifice it is! The attic on top was used by Danish Parliamentarians to raise the Danish Flag. Open to visitors between Tuesday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm with no visitor charges, this is easily one of Copenhagen's most breath-taking visitor spots.
For art aficionados, the David Collection is a must-visit museum where the very best of Danish, Islamic and European art is showcased. Way back in the 1940s, the museum's creator, Christian Ludvig, a lawyer with a penchant for fine art was unfaltering in his decision to preserve his collections and he went ahead with the idea to set up a museum. The museum's showpiece is definitely the Islamic Art Collection that dates back to the 7th century and encompasses an area that stretches China to Spain and Yemen to Uzbekistan. First-time visitors to the museum would do well to step inside the well-stocked in-house shop that sells not just books on art but also remarkable posters.
For those interested in Viking History, located in Roskilde neighbourhood of Copenhagen, the Viking Ship Museum epitomises the very best of Scandinavia's famed Viking ships, all five of them, that in the past were used to invade and conquer unknown territories. These wooden ships, all impeccably restored alongside the museum's awesome recreation of the Viking-era shipbuilding craft at the in-house boatyard of the museum is absolutely mesmerising for non-Scandinavian visitors.
As a city, Copenhagen is well spread out into a cluster of neighbourhoods, each one unique in terms of ambience. For instance the Refshaleoen area epitomises industry while the Frederiksberg region is reflective of everything that is classy and high end.
If you are looking for high octane fun, visit the neighbourhood of Vesterbro which is the very best of fashion, discos, nightlife, etc., all rolled into one district. The Østerbro neighbourhood, on the other hand, is much preferred by the young and upwardly mobile lot and with its verdant parklands. If time still permits, a visit to Christianshaven and Amager could be pretty stimulating. The later in particular is where the very best of the city's water-life can be experienced.
Indians are the ultimate foodies, no second thoughts about it and if you are from Kolkata, rest assured that you will find all the right epicurean delights in town. When it comes to great food, Copenhagen is miles ahead of any other Scandinavian cities with Michelin-starred outlets and nouveau Nordic gastronomic delights galore around the city.
The best eating-out joints are at the city's waterfront and the harbour neighbourhood. Drop into La Banchina for refreshing coffee and a wide variety of bread. Almanak is another good option with a seating capacity of 50 guests right on the edge of the water. However, when it comes to savouring authentic Danish recipes, look no further than Christianshaven's Ferry Cafe.
To sum up one of the world's most outstanding city, the words of Connie Nielsen comes to mind – "If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly, but with a flair. A human being that has certain propensities for quarrelling filled with imagination and with an appetite for the new and with respect for the old – somebody who takes good care of things and of people".