“Watch out,” my husband shouts, just before I step off the curb into oncoming traffic. “You always have to look both ways
and yield.” Anywhere in North America, you might think he was referring to motorists. But here, in Copenhagen, it’s all about the cyclists.
They’re everywhere and they have the right of way. The morning commute is more like a professional’s pedal parade: women dressed in long skirts, men in suits, kids tucked into attached carts. And while getting where they want to go, they all exude that effortless, Scandi-cool style.
Although we opt out of two-wheeling this trip, the Hop On, Hop Off boat and bus tours provide us with the perfect perspective to take in the attractions from both land and water.
Pretty much every major epicentre on the global tourist trail hosts this sightseeing option and we’ve always found it’s been a great way to get a quick overview.
So, with map in hand and ear buds plugged in, we unite with other sun-lovers on the top open floor of the double-decker.
The Mermaid tour is the most popular of the three routes.
Our coach breezes by Tivoli Gardens — the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. We pass by the National Museum, where exhibits explore history of the Stone, Viking, Middle Ages and Modern Danish culture. Our coach pulls to the roadside, where we view the Little Mermaid sculpture, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale.
Since August 1913, she’s been sitting, immortalized in bronze, staring longingly toward the shore in hopes of seeing her prince.
We hop off at Christiansborg Palace, where the Danish prime minister’s office resides today.
Nearby narrow streets wind throughout the city’s hub. Many are linked to courtyards boasting statues, historical monuments and talented street performers.
Stroget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian pathways, offers a slew of shops. Nearby is Studiestræde, once the city’s Old Latin Quarter, now home to a string of thrift stores and coffee hangouts.
Strædet tempts us with its many eateries, gift shops and retail outlets. Although I can’t pronounce a single name correctly, each block is unique and ablaze with colour.
But Nyhavn takes the prize for its pretty palette.
Once a hangout for sailors, it’s now one of the trendiest areas of the city. Sidewalk cafes spill out from the crayon-coloured buildings that line up along this bustling canal.
Several days later, after visiting with our son and daughter-in-law, we return to check out the sites from the water. Some guests claim seats under cover, others head to the rear of the longboat, where roving views can be clearly photographed.
While we cruise, we schmooze.
“Amalienborg Palace is the winter home of the Danish Royal Family,” our river guide says. “You may see Danish princes and princesses driving in and out as we motor on by.”
With eagle eyes, we pan the entrance gates of the palatial homestead.
No such luck today.
Historical buildings border our aquatic byway, many that were constructed by King Christian IV in the early 17th century. Christianshavns canal is home to controversial Christiania, a hippie community of free-spirited souls. Directly opposite, and in stark contrast, is the ultra-modern opera house, a grand architectural achievement that melds beautifully with this vibrant city.
“Skål,” our son says to everyone while raising his glass of champagne. It’s the Danish word for saying cheers.
“Skål,” we all respond, lifting our glasses in a toast to amazing Copenhagen.
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