A few weeks ago I spent a short vacation in the fabulous city of Copenhagen, my first visit there but certainly not my last. If you'd like to see the complete set of my pictures from the trip click here, or go here for some of the video I grabbed. Otherwise below please find 11 things I loved about Copenhagen, in no specific order.
1) Danish food
People are not kidding around when they say some of the best cooking in the world is going on right now in Denmark. Despite being on a tight budget I had some spectacular meals including modern smørrebrød (open-face sandwiches) at Aamanns, various roots and dark rye bread and deconstructed apple cake in a jar at Madklubben, and the amazeballs feast you see above hot off the buffet at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art's cafe. I also started each morning with a coffee and a pastry from bakery chain Lagkagehuset. I still dream of those pastries.
2) Statens Museum for Kunst
This being Denmark's national gallery I spent the bulk of my time here soaking up the recently rehung Danish and Nordic galleries that display art made between 1750 and 1900. My old faves Munch and Hammershøi are nicely represented, but I was also blown away by many of the artists who were new to me like Abildbaard (that's his Wounded Philoctetes above), Eckersberg, Købke, Ring, Willumsen, and more. Their French collection is also excellent, but sadly the rest of their European paintings had also just been rehung and weren't open to the public until after I left the country.
3) Rosenborg Slot
Once a royal residence, this castle/palace is literally filled from top to bottom with several hundred years of regal memorabilia including all manner of furniture, tapestries, porcelain, and portraits. The real treat however is past the guards and down in the basement, where the crown jewels and various other precious items sparkle and shine.
4) Danish design
I've always been a sucker for the Danish design aesthetic, and being surrounded by it 24/7 really was a kind of heaven for me. Every single item so carefully thought out, from cutlery to clocks, and so simple and easy to use. The Kunstindustrimuseet has rooms upon rooms of items I would very much like to put in my own apartment, and I also was very inspired at the Dansk Design Center as they detailed the philosophies that go into creating products and systems that seek to make life better for everyone.
I'd heard Peter the Great had once ridden his horse all the way to the top of this tower, which also houses the oldest functioning observatory in Europe (built for Tycho Brahe!), so naturally I had to climb it too. You can see all the way to Sweden when you're up above the rooftops, and I was treated to a gorgeous sunset besides.
6) Tivoli Gardens
I walked past Tivoli at least twice a day going to and from my hotel, and I never got tired of seeing their elaborate Christmas decorations all atwinkle. The amusement park was all set up for the holidays with a Russian-themed Yule fair and also plenty of opportunities to warm yourself up with gløgg and aebleskivers. I'm afraid I didn't attempt any of the rides however. They looked terrifying.
Before Occupy there was Christiania, an alternative community founded in 1971 when squatters with some funny ideas about communal living and recycling and such took over an old military barracks. Technically its land is now slated for government redevelopment, but inside its walls the community still seemed just as alternative as could be. Punk kids intermingled with parents taking their kids to the onsite playground, a restaurant served inexpensive veggie cuisine, and the scent of pot wafted from many an open doorway. There were huge signs everywhere prohibiting photography (probably due to said drugs) so the above picture taken right outside one of the gates is the only representation I have of the amazing street art decorating every available surface.
8) The Royal Ballet
Though I sadly didn't make it out to hear any live music, I did treat myself to a night at the Opera House. The Royal Danish Ballet (accompanied by a full orchestra) performed a program of work originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, including some of his more playful and experimental pieces. They ended with an entire suite from West Side Story, and the Danish woman next to me burst into tears during the finale of "Somewhere." It was adorable.
Thousands of years of Danish history crammed into one museum, from Stone Age burials to Bronze Age instruments to the first Danish coin to a 1960s housing estate living room. The ground floor that covered Danish prehistory and the Vikings had some of the best exhibition design I've ever seen too, with artful arrangements of artifacts and ambient noise playing in some of the rooms that made me feel like a bog person was about to tap me on the shoulder. I also loved the third floor, housing a small but mighty collection of historical pieces from all over the world.
There was one evening when I'd been in the city for almost a week when I started to genuinely imagine a life for myself in Copenhagen: my edgy gallery in the meatpacking district, my evening walk home with a stop at the covered market for fresh groceries for dinner and then over the bridge to the Nørrebro neighborhood with its well-dressed hipsters and cute shops, where I'd light a candle in the window of my cozy little flat above the local veggie cafe. A woman can dream.
My last full day in Denmark I took a train up the coast to this beautiful museum by the sea, a building that interacts perfectly with its natural setting and that is also chock full of modern art. I saw special exhibits by Ai Weiwei and Vija Celmins, stood in Yayoi Kusama's star box, and spent at least half an hour watching a string of Pipilotti Rist's videos. Yeah I've got to go back.