Copenhood pt. 1: Indre By
Regardless of whether you find yourself in Copenhagen in the middle of the brutally long and dark winter or during the endless summer days, the city center will always be flooded with Danes, Scandinavians and tourists alike. Indre By, as the city center is also known, gives glimpses of the Copenhagen of the past – cobblestone streets, plazas, lush parks and palaces are littered throughout, setting the perfect atmosphere for those looking to relax and sip coffee (or daily brew if you want to do it as the Danes do).
The photos that Google shows when you punch in “Copenhagen” are more likely than not from Nyhavn, a canal that glows (even in January) from the brightly colored buildings that run alongside it. Boats that are either abandoned or docked just for show fill the canal to give the area a retro sailing town vibe and pays homage to its days as a greasy sailor joint and red light district. Things have definitely changed since then; instead of finding tattoo parlors and sailor bars, today you will find restaurants with English menus that serve pickled herring for $30. That’s right – $30. I wish I was kidding about that part, but hey, things don’t really grow in Scandinavia! In fairness though, the outdoor seating in Nyhavn is perfect for people-watching and Carlsberg sipping in the summer sun.
The summertime in Copenhagen brings festival galore and gives Danes a reason to shake off the months of cold. Just like Seattlites, Danes go bonkers when the sun is out and the longer days mean one thing – party time. For the last month, it seems like there has been a festival or holiday at least twice a week – Øl Fest (beer fest), Distortion (four days of partying that shut down entire neighborhoods) and holidays for no apparent reason. Also, a little event called Eurovision and it’s winning drag-queen, Conchita Wurst, took over the city with it’s delightful absurdity.
Every capital has that one street where you hear a variety of languages and find posh people strutting their Louis Vuitton bags. In Copenhagen, Strøget is that street. Always bustling with people, Strøget always makes for a good walk especially if you’re new to the city. First things first, you have to get the pronunciation down – and trust me, it’s crazy. If it sounded how it’s spelled, it would sound something like “Str-oo-get”, but considering that Danish sounds like you’re perpetually speaking with a potato lodged in your throat, it sounds something like “St-OH-el”. Anyways, good luck with that one, but I digress. Strøget stretches around 8 blocs through most of the downtown area and is littered with Shawarma joints, high-end shopping, and street performers. If you’re the type that likes to be around a lot of people and burn holes in your wallet, this place is for you.
Some downtown areas lose their character once they become overran with tourists and corporations – Copenhagen’s Indre By is not one of those places. Yes, Strøget may be for the glitzy newcomers looking for European fashion, but the city center maintains it’s Danish-ness. The sense of hygge, the Danish word for comfort, still dominates this neighborhood – just ask the Danes munching on kage & kaffi.