30 Hours in København

The Little Mermaid is poised to greet visitors to Copenhagen Harbor

The Little Mermaid celebrated her 100th birthday on 8/23/2013

… is not nearly long enough, but we surely made the best of the time we had! Copenhagen’s storybook charm is evident in the enchanting Tivoli Gardens, statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen Harbor, and bronze tributes to storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Yet this Danish capital of nearly two million people also embodies the sophisticated allure of a world class cosmopolitan city.

We arrived at Copenhagen airport in the early afternoon. Located on the outskirts of the city, this airport’s uber-clean architecturally modern design was mighty refreshing after enduring a layover in … umm … Frankfurt.

First Hotel Twentyseven

The cab ride to our hotel allowed me a well deserved “cat nap” to stave off the feeling of looming jet lag – no time for that nonsense in this 30 hour tour of the city! Arriving at First Hotel Twentyseven, my friend (and awesome travel agent) Julia and I were delighted to discover that our accommodations were literally in the city center. First Hotel Copenhagen Even more delighted to realize the Absolut Ice Bar was located just outside the hotel doors. Yippee!!! Bundle up and party on – I can sleep when I’m dead, right? But since daylight was still upon us, the Ice Bar must wait for a few hours. We dropped off our luggage and headed out the door to explore this captivating city. (Photo courtesy: Google Images.)

Tivoli Gardens

First stop – Tivoli Gardens. Since we traveled to Copenhagen in late September, the summer tourist crowds had dwindled. Thankfully, this allowed us to roam the meandering walking paths of the gardens with ease. Cool, crisp air after a fresh rain shower made Tivoli even more enchanting. We lingered at the open air pavilion to enjoy the melodious sounds of a Danish orchestra playing classic Scandinavian tunes, then strolled on to explore more of this enchanting park. The lush green gardens are shaded by enormous weeping willow trees; ponds and water features are interspersed throughout. And although the rides were shut down for the oncoming winter, their amusing presence contributed to the winsome charm of this classic Copenhagen landmark.

Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian and shopping streets

While strolling back toward City Hall Square around the time of Copenhagen’s equivalent of a rush hour, Julia and I had our first encounter with the city’s (and apparently the whole of Denmark’s) primary mode of travel – BICYCLES!!! For God’s sake, please take this advice: STAY OFF THE BIKE PATHS! Scandinavian pedalers on their way home from a day’s work do NOT stop for unknowing tourists wandering in their travel lanes. After narrowly escaping a “train wreck” of bicycle origin, we decided we were far past due for a beer (or three) and bite to eat. We settled in and bundled up with the blankets provided at a sidewalk cafe on Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian and shopping streets, ordered up our frothy mug of ale and recapped the events of the day.

Now for the evening. Ice Bar! Sipping a pour of blackberry infused vodka in an ice glass at an ice bar with ice tables and chairs, floor and walls was … really cool! Thank God the reindeer pelts strategically placed on the ice benches kept our tushes warm and cozy. Unfortunately the Ice Bar has since closed.

H.C. Andersen

Our second day began with a cruise through Copenhagen Harbor. A splendid way to see this gorgeous city! We departed from Nyhavn (translated to “New Harbor”), a 17th century canal and entertainment district. Nyhavn is renowned for its façade of colorful buildings comprised of townhomes, restaurants, bars and shops. I’ve imagined that Nyhavn, with its luminous buildings was a welcome sight to weary fishermen and traders navigating the icy waters of the Baltic Sea. Poet/author Hans Christian Andersen lived in Nyhavn and penned the classic fairy tales The Princess & The Pea, Little Claus & Big Claus and The Tinderbox while residing here.

The Nyhavn District boasts a colorful façade of townhomes, shops and restaurants

The Nyhavn District boasts a colorful façade of townhomes, shops and restaurants

Copenhagen Harbor is nothing short of fascinating! Along the canals, 17th century buildings co-mingle with contemporary architectural marvels.

The Royal Playhouse

The Royal Playhouse

The Opera House on Copenhagen Harbor

The Opera House on Copenhagen Harbor

"Black Diamond", the Royal Library

“Black Diamond”, the Royal Library

Administration Building for the Port of Copenhagen

Administration Building for the Port of Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark

Modern architecture on Copenhagen Harbor

The Royal Yacht arriving the the harbor from summer holiday

The Royal Yacht arriving in Copenhagen Harbor from summer holiday

Copenhagen, Denmark

Spire atop the Church of Our Saviour

Danish heritage is steeped in colorful fables and the spire atop Church of Our Saviour in the Christianshavn District is replete with folklore. Story goes that architect Lauritz de Thurah, jumped from the top of the spire to his death because he designed it to twist to the right. This apparently infuriated King Frederik V, who wanted the spire to twist to the left. Although the story has been proven untrue, this lore gave the spire a forbidding presence as we drifted past.

"Marmokirken" Frederik's Church, has the largest dome in Scandanavia

“Marmokirken” Frederik’s Church, has the largest dome in Scandanavia

Anxious to stretch our legs upon arriving back in harbor, Julia and I set off to explore more of Copenhagen’s landmarks and landscape. We developed a deep appreciation in the diverse architecture that fills this metropolitan city and the incredibly hospitable, friendly people who live here. A world class multi-cultural restaurant scene has catapulted Copenhagen to the top of culinary destination lists. And the complexity of this city lies in an aura of contemporary urban style that seamlessly co-exists with an environment of esteemed aristocracy that is rich in Scandinavian heritage.

Hygge (pronounced “hooga”), anyone? This meaning of this particular Danish word translates to warm atmosphere, sharing the best of life and creating happiness with friends and loved ones. It just so happens that for the past three years, Denmark has received top honors on the U.N. World Happiness Report. Having been lucky enough to visit Copenhagen, I concur that this #1 ranking is well-deserved! If you haven’t had the good fortune of traveling to Copenhagen, please put it on your bucket list. If you’ve had the opportunity to visit, perhaps it’s time to schedule another trip. One thing is certain for me … my next trip to Denmark will last much longer than 30 hours!

Amalienborg Palace, winter home of the royal family

Amalienborg Palace, winter home of the royal family

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