COPENHAGEN, Denmark — We landed at CPH on a deceivingly pristine morning in the town of Kastrup, just outside the city. Deceiving because the weather soon turned and reminded us we were foolish to make a trip to Scandinavia in February. In any case, we took the train into Copenhagen’s central station (it’s actually a regional train that stops at the airport fresh off the bridge from Sweden, meaning it’s much more comfortable than the subways that service American airports).
Our first stop was Nyhavn, the postcard-perfect waterfront canal lined with colorful Nordic buildings. It was striking against the cloudless sky, and the sun made the 45-degree weather feel fine. To reach Nyhavn, one walks through a maze of pedestrian streets that have an old-town feel but play host to an endless array of upscale shops and overpriced restaurants and bars.
When coming up with singular words to describe Copenhagen, there are many kind ones, but overpriced and over-glossed are in there. The prices are simply staggering — compared to the United States but especially compared to Budapest. It’s impossible to find a sit-down meal for under $22. Some bars sell mixed drinks for $17 and up. Covers at night clubs regularly topped $15-20. I knew it was expensive going in, but after a day in the city, I was constantly reminding myself that my wallet only had to withstand two more days there.
That cloudless, lovely waterfront morning ended and the clouds came in to stay. I don’t think we saw the sun again until Monday morning back in Budapest. Saturday brought strong winds and rain, a miserable combination. We determined to make the best of it, though, and strapped on rain jackets and walked around the city as if nothing was wrong. In picking sites for bad-weather tourism, we started with the Amelienborg Palace, the extravagant Danish royal seat. It was a little comical walking through the vast, ornate gardens on our way in, seeing all the greenery dead for the winter and the typically tranquil setting torn by driving wind and sleet.
The inside was not the kind of cultural experience I would typically go for (basically spending $12 to see a bunch of gold-plated junk the royals procured). But it was a bit amusing nonetheless.
We walked around some more, and on the internet’s suggestion, decided to climb up the spiral ramp of the Rundetaarn, or Round Tower. It offers a 360-degree panorama of the city with an open observation deck.
That didn’t pan out too well. The wind and rain were even more harsh up there, and visibility was low. I’m all for braving the elements, but this particular activity was rendered pointless.
We went at night to Tivoli amusement park, the second oldest operating amusement park in the world (the oldest is elsewhere in Denmark). It was of interest to me, aside from the fact it’s one of Copenhagen’s most iconic sites, because it’s said to be the inspiration for Kennywood, the old and charming park in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Much like Kennywood, the park is based on greenery, elaborate light displays, and old-timey concessions, with some modern rides mixed in. Unlike Kennywood, and luckily for us, it’s open in the winter.
There wasn’t much to do because the rides actually cost extra on top of admission, and riding a rollercoaster in the winter isn’t very appealing, but it was very cool just to walk around. There’s even a central lagoon that was almost eerily similar to Kennywood. Who would have thought that Pittsburgh’s beloved park is an imported slice of Denmark?