Work & Play in Copenhagen

There's a classic scene in every movie where the protagonist steps into a city for the first time, and the world seems to spin around him as the camera spirals to capture the magnitude of the moment. The bursting energy of Copenhagen - with bike riders whizzing past in every direction and colorful lego-like buildings splattered across the horizon - triggered this vertigo-like effect as I stumbled through the streets for the first time, letting the city seep into my veins.

Wandering around huge promenades filled with locals drinking beer and soaking up the sunshine, that old familiar feeling that traveling always triggers slowly washed over me - it's a unique sensation that's so hard for me to put into words, so I'll just let Hunter S. Thompson do the talking here:

“I had a flash of something I hadn't felt since my first months in Europe - a mixture of ignorance and a loose, "what the hell" kind of confidence that comes on a man when the wind picks up and he begins to move in a hard straight line toward an unknown horizon.”

The Copenhagen Jazz Festival taking place all week meant music was echoing from every corner of the city. Bands set up right on the street, between cafes, jamming proudly as crowds gathered. I spent hours wandering through tiny alleys following the music - the best band being a reggae trio that got everyone in the street moving their feet. During the set, an old man bought a rose, handed it to his wife as he grabbed her hand to dance, and slowly a circle of us crowded around them, all singing and dancing. Times like these made it pretty easy to see why Copenhagen is the happiest city in the world.

I came to Copenhagen without any sort of definitive plan. Though filled with world class museums and known attractions, I never understood why you'd fly halfway across the world to hang out with other tourists and see art you could see at home. And so as usual, my itinerary consisted of soaking in the vibes of the city, napping in parks, and eating my way through different neighborhoods as spurts of productivity spilled out of me at an array of laptop-friendly cafes.

By my last day in Copenhagen I had a pretty comfortable routine I could've spent a lifetime doing:

  • 8am: Wake-up (a little foggy-headed)
  • 9am: Killer breakfast at Next Door Cafe - eggs, bacon, pancakes, bread, and jam.
  • 10am: Hop on the bike and head to one of the delightfully hip neighborhoods, either Vesterbro or Norrebro.
  • 10:30am: Find The Coffee Collective immediately and get wired. Coffee culture is at the beating heart of the city.
  • 11am: Get some writing done at a three-story underground cafe (or cave?) called The Living Room.
  • 12pm: Stumble into one of the city's free concerts and jam out for a bit.
  • 1pm: Meet back up with friends at Torvehallerne. - it's a way better version of a farmer's market that's open everyday and is always buzzing with locals. People pack into the place to eat everything from gourmet chocolates to Spanish tapas while drinking champagne and sangria.  A typical lunch there consisted of an amazing French shredded Duck sandwich, a farmer salad, fresh pressed juices, Lebanese dips, and the freshest salmon I've ever tasted.
  • 2:30pm: Ditch everyone and head to Kongens Have/King's Park with some sort of chocolate Danish pastry in hand. Read. Write. Snap pictures and act like a photographer. Try to hit on pretty blonde Danish girls.
  • 5pm: Head back to the city center. Grab a beer and follow the music to a concert in one of the promenades.
  • 8pm: Grab some gourmet pizza and cocktails at Neighborhood while vinyl tracks play in the background. 
  • 10pm: Finish the night at 1656, a speakeasy style bar with plenty of stiff drinks or catch a concert at Vega music hall. 
  • 8am: Wake up and repeat.