Interrail Diaries- Confused in Copenhagen

August 24, 2016

Denmark is a country I was completely unfamiliar with; I'm not sure I even pronounce Copenhagen correctly. I knew very little about the Fairytale Capital when we decided to begin our Inter-rail experience here, and I can't say that my knowledge has vastly improved since our arrival. On our first night in Copenhagen, when asked by the bartender if I wanted 'Tuborg' I replied "no, just one, thank you." As if my poor brother's coolness wasn't already dwindling by inter-railing with his sister. It isn't only the alcohol situation that I was senseless about but also the currency, language and high standard of living.

I've always considered myself pretty quick with Maths- if you ask me nicely one day, I'll impress you with the speed in which I can say my times tables. However, the Danish Kronor had me absolutely dumb founded. I couldn't work out what was extortionate and what was reasonable (not that many things are considered reasonable in Copenhagen). There are 0.12 British pounds to one Kroner so you're almost always dealing with high numbers- I'd almost break into a sweat when handing over 100 kronor notes to pay for food. A bottle of water cost me £2.50 in their equivalent of Tesco and you even have to pay for tap water.

Furthermore, I'd never fully appreciated the ease of the Eurozone until now. Being familiar with the actual physical currency makes life unfathomably easier; I laughed at my poor boyfriend when he came to the UK and would study each coin before paying and yet this was me throughout the entire stay. (If you're reading this, I'm sorry.) If you're unfamiliar with the coins, imagine magical, medieval looking things covered in love hearts and swirls (some have holes punched through them for an even fancier design.) I've never felt so nervous to pay for something, afraid of the potential embarrassment that I've misunderstood my coins' value.

As a student on a budget, Copenhagen had me haemorrhaging money. It was breathtakingly beautiful, don't get me wrong, and we had a great time however I feel that to really take advantage of what it has to offer, you must be willing to pay around £10-15 for every meal. The high standard of living means that everything is well maintained and aesthetically pleasing, but it also meant that we couldn't take advantage of museums nor galleries due to omnipresent fees. I was warned many times before our departure that Copenhagen would set us back a lot, however I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to wander down the streets that inspired Hans Christian Andersen, feeling like a resurrected character from his stories.

Finally, understanding zero percent of the language had me feeling continuously embarrassed. Whilst I understand the Nords speak English at a wickedly high level, I would've liked to have said "thank you" in Danish to the barista when collecting my coffee rather than feeling like a stupid tourist. Usually, I try to play the charming foreigner, keen to surpass the first layer of a culture. I definitely failed in Denmark.

Yet despite all the confusion, my temporal lobes seemed to be in overdrive, flooding my mind with nothing other admiration . We walked uncountable steps around the city and yet I didn't look at one building nor structure and think "fuck, that's grim." The city boasts of a wide variety of architectural styles; from Medieval to Baroque and Renaissance to Contemporary, there are gasp-worthy buildings to be seen everywhere. My favourite area was Nyhavn, the picturesque promenade where tourists flock in order to witness colourful c17 buildings resting on the waterfront. It's also the place where H.C Andersen lived and died. (He was a lucky man- it is indeed truly handsome). The people were effortlessly cool as they cycled the cobbled streets and I never felt in danger in any place I went.

One day, I will return to the city- after all, two days isn't nearly enough time to uncover it's full offerings- however, perhaps my pockets shall be falling with gold when I do. I'll finish this piece with the only Danish word that I learnt- Udgang! Appropriately meaning 'exit', I still only recognised it because it's similar to Dutch. Ah well, better luck in Germany!

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