14-18 February 2012
Arrived in Copenhagen at 8pm to falling snow. It was as if Denmark was welcoming us! We took the metro into the city center and were greeted by our Cal Poly friends. We had yummy sandwiches and elderflower cordial at the restaurant Dalle Valle.We are all staying with a different one of our classmates. In Copenhagen, the housing situation is much different then ours in Italy. All of the university students stay in apartment buildings called Kollegiums. These dormitories are completely student run. The students have their own room in a long row of doors, share a bathroom, and a communal kitchen. We all got to meet lots of different people, Danish and International students alike. I am very happy to live in Italy and have my own apartment, but I think that my Copenhagen classmates have so many opportunities to meet the “locals.”
We walked to the waterfront to see the iconic Nyhavn Historical Harbor. This canal is surrounded by beautiful, colorful townhouses and storefronts and filled with old, wooden boats. The week before, the weather had been so cold, causing the salt water in the harbor to freeze. It was so interesting to see the boats stuck in their positions by the 12” thick ice.
Just around the corner is the Royal Danish Playhouse (Skuespilhuset). This beautiful theater was designed by Danish architects Lundgaard & Tranberg. Situated on the waterfront, I think it showcases the cleanliness of Danish design. The interior structure is covered in horizontal dark stone, while a glass curtain wall incases the lobby and café. The staff and cast rooms occupy the cantilevered roof structure.
We took the water taxi through the icy harbor to the Copenhagen Opera House. This building is very interesting, but I was not as impressed by it. Jean was saying that Copenhagen is not happy with the placement of this building. It is situated directly across the harbor from the Queen’s Amalienborg Palace and in line with the Marble Church. It seems that the new Opera House disrupts an axis created by the historical buildings of Copenhagen.
Just behind the Opera House is the Copenhagen University of Design and houses the Architecture School: KArch. Jean took us to the Senior Thesis Show and we got to see the work of the architecture students in Denmark.
We got a quick lunch and then took the train to northern Copenhagen to the Modern Art Museum: Louisiana. The train ride was very exciting as we tried to figure out their very confusing transportation system – we almost got in trouble with a very grumpy conductor, but she gave us a chance to get our tickets straightened out. (**learned: make sure you understand the Danish transportation system. They like to follow the rules.)Louisiana is a very cool museum that used to fill just one historical building. Over the years, the museum has expanded to other out-buildings and is connected by a series of brightly lit corridors with great view of the sea. The sky was so clear, we could see all the way to Sweden!
With snow falling today, Mic took us around the city center. Copenhagen is filled with many, pedestrian only, walking streets. All of the shopping and cafes line these streets. We got to visit their school, the Danish Institute of Study Abroad (DIS), peak inside Danish furniture shops, and even visit the LEGO store of Copenhagen!
We got to walk past the Queen’s Palace and got very close to her front door and guards. We finally made it out to the harbor again to see the very small statue of the little mermaid. Hans Christian Andersen, author of the story The Little Mermaid, was born in Copenhagen and is honored with this statue.
Next we visited Christiania. This neighborhood has been taken over by the “free-spirited” population of Copenhagen. They have declared this area a free state and the law enforcers tend to turn a blind eye to what happens inside. The “green-light district” very interesting and eye-opening part of the day!
We spent the afternoon in a great coffee shop: Paludan. This bookshop and café had the coziest atmosphere and served some of the best chai tea I have had in a long time. I think that the café is something that I miss in Italy. In Florence, the only place of get coffee is in a “bar.” Italians take a shot of espresso in the afternoon while standing at a counter. This does not give you the same satisfaction as sitting in a comfy chair with a large cup of tea and talking with your friends for an hour. When I drink coffee or tea, I like to enjoy it, not down it quickly just to get through the rest of the day. I had such a nice time enjoying the cafes so to relax and escape the cold outside.
We had a little group dinner tonight and then took a walk on one of the frozen lakes!
BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group is a Danish architecture firm that many of my professors like. The apartment building called “8” is in the shape of a figure eight with large courtyards in the middle. The individual apartments are raised slightly above the one next door, allowing each apartment to be connected by ramps. The surrounding countryside was just beautiful!
We spent another afternoon enjoying chai in a café ☺
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I really enjoyed the clean and industrial Copenhagen. It was nice to see our friends, laugh, and compare our new homes.