Copenhagen is the biggest city in Scandinavia, the capital of Denmark, and one of Europe’s most important cities. It is undoubtedly one of the most modern cities but it retains characteristic charms and is an ideal place to gain a more in-depth knowledge of Danish history. In addition, it is also the capital of the world’s oldest monarchy.
Through her eyes
Many would say that visiting it is to delve into a world of royal palaces. Of all the things there are to do, a certain few are essential, such as eating smørrebrød (Danish tapas), drinking a Carlsberg in the Nyhavn, and then walking until you get lost and find the Little Mermaid.
Getting to know the city through the eyes of the little mermaid is inescapable. From its location, you can see the organized streets and discover the charms of this ancient city.
Something to bear in mind is that this corner of the world is cold, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to miss out on discovering the affable nature of its people while you uncover the secrets of all the city’s nooks and crannies.
And, at some point, you must have wondered where the story of the mermaid was born. Well, I have and, although it isn’t a Disney invention, it is a fairy tale penned by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837.
Its inspiration, however, stems from the Danish legend which recounts how the sirens’ song bewitched the men of the sea.
In Copenhagen a humble fisherman got carried away by the song of a young siren.
The siren gave up her immortality in exchange for possessing the appearance of a woman, thus keeping her prince’s love.
The statue was commissioned by the brewing magnate Carlo Jacobson and donated to the city.
Everything must be always crystal clear, people who decide to travel in winter should receive either more flight miles or free coffee and hot cocoa.
Winter In Denmark is extreme. When the trees are just branches, when there is light but the sun doesn’t shine, when people walk with coats and several layers as if they were onions, that is the moment when you can experience versatility.
It is a cold fact, in this Nordic paradise temperatures are intense. This means that being at -10 degrees Celsius is a normal thing.
Furthermore, Copenhagen is a coastal city, the wind is frozen and it crawls into your skin and never leaves your body.
However, when you visit this city during the wintertime it is not an impossible goal, a strange sensation takes over as you walk around it.
But before going out in search of this enchantress of the sea, it’s important to always wear very comfortable shoes.
To be honest, despite having an impressive public transport system, the city is the perfect size to be discovered on foot or by bike.
Street names can clearly be identified and the streets themselves are well lit. Copenhagen is an open city for visitors, and its residents are sociable and welcoming.
One of the benefits of visiting this city during the winter season is that the amount of crazy tourists is way smaller.
Due to this, it is possible to thoroughly enjoy the historic hotspots, you can take all the time in the world to do so.
Copenhagen is fascinating, a dynamic city that has hidden surprises. Despite the terrible frozen weather people ride their bikes.
As a matter of fact, most cities are defined by their historical spots. But, one of the greatest cultural activities is related to bicycles. As a matter of fact, there is 350 km of bike routes.
Getting to the statue
There are a number of ways to get to the Little Mermaid statue. The statue’s hard-to-find location makes the tourist bus an obvious method, but it can also be reached on foot which I think is the best way. The little mermaid can be found within Kastellet Park and has survived all manner of loutish attacks, such as being decapitated in 1998 and stained with paint on occasions. On March 26th, 2010 the sculpture left the country for the first time, traveling to China for a 6-month exhibition.
Moving on, the center of Copenhagen circulates around Stroget Avenue, which is born in City Hall Square (Radhus Pladsen) and travels 1.5 km before ending in the Royal Square, or Kongens Nytorv.
Each section of the avenue takes on a different name; Ostergade and Amagertorv are consumer paradise with shops of all kinds. The next two sections are called Nytorv and Gammeltorv, and form a plain that unites what were once two squares.
And not only is it amazing to be in the midst of a metropolis framed by green spaces, but it gives the city a necessary natural touch. Among them, the Tivoli Gardens are a particular highlight, a place where people spend their leisure time socializing and taking in a wide variety of sights, including the oldest wooden roller-coaster still in operation.
While I was thinking about the little mermaid, I realized that Nyhave (New Port) is one of the most well-known parts of the city because of its colorful houses. A very picturesque place, the new port is square in shape and its clear waters cut into the city.
Tourist boats leave Nyhavn destined for the islands near Copenhagen, as well as the opera. In former times it was full of seamen, who still remain but the port has become slightly chicer. Located at the Kongens Nytorv metro station, it’s one of the city’s liveliest nightspots.
So, I thought that one of the most complicated aspects of getting to the little mermaid of my desires was going to be the language… I know 3 (English, Spanish, and German) but not Danish. Meaning, that I thought this would be a huge problem, well it wasn’t. Copenhageners and Danes, in general, are very educated people. They take pride in it. And, they are so friendly and chilled out that they even taught me the exact word for that state of mind: hygge.
Different to Europe
But in order to really begin to appreciate a city and a country, it is necessary to spend time with their people. Culturally speaking, Danes are not as reserved as many would think.
They are laid-back, they love food, they are environmentally conscious, and very attached to their bikes. They only work on the weekdays, in fact, working during the weekend means that you have lost your mind, you are crazy.
Another thing that I learned while looking for the little mermaid was that one of the many reasons Danes are so happy is that they trust their political system. The concept that to me is completely unknown.
How is this possible, I wonder? Well, as they told me “we trust them to do their job right, to do what is best, we have elected them after all…. but this does not mean that we love them, ok?”. And, I, in return, was speechless!
The thing is that any person can go to Christiansborg (Christiansborg Palace is the seat of the Danish parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court), and see the parliament work.
Another reason they are so happy is that their educational and health care system actually works. But this isn’t magic, it is due to astronomically high taxes.
Continuing with the marvels of the Danish capital it must be taken into account that, like other Scandinavian cities, Copenhagen is different from Europe.
For this very reason, when in one of the most open-minded countries it’s impossible not to visit Christiania, the result of a free, revolutionary society and the reason why Copenhagen is considered to be the land of freedom and equality.
Rather, despite this it is an ugly neighborhood nowadays, home to the city’s drug dealers; the group of houses close to the river is where the authentic Christianites reside. In this area the houses are well-painted and usually have a vegetable patch, visit it and check out what remains of a beautiful dream.
Last of all
Last, of all, Copenhagen is the ideal place to come into contact with Scandinavian and Danish culture. Everything allows absolute appreciation for identity, which gives visitors the choice to assimilate the Danish past and present.
The Little Mermaid is photographed every day by thousands of tourists who come from all over the world. In truth, more than one person has been disappointed by the statue’s size upon seeing it; measuring just 1.25 m compared to my 1.53 m, it’s smaller than one might think. However, it’s that size and the simplicity that surrounds it which makes it impossible to stop gazing at and photographing it. I didn’t imagine it would be so small, so far removed from reality, stuck in a dream-like scenario. Maybe the little mermaid wants to be immortal again in photographs. That’s why Copenhagen and The Little Mermaid will live forever.