Four hours in Copenhagen


Nyhavn: unlike Stockholm, Copenhagen goes for cool as well as warm pastels

On the way out, Copenhagen seemed cold; on the way back, it seems mild. That’s what five days in Stockholm does to you. I’m now on the train to Lübeck and feel quite light-headed at seeing greenery again.

IMG_0491(A couple of little incidents just now on the train. The first was that two people with mobility problems and a small-wheeled and heavy electric bike wanted to get on the train. It was quite painful watching them struggle, so I went to help. I was surprised that there was no station staff with a ramp to assist them, that I was the only person who offered to help and – unimportantly – that they didn’t thank me. It’s not the first time that I’ve thought that Britain – for all its knee-jerk aggression at times – is sometimes a well-mannered place. It’s just a cultural observation, not a judgement. The other incident was when a lad, whom I took to be a recent migrant, came and sat in first class. He didn’t look like a first-class ticket-holder. He had a moment of panic when he thought he’d got on the wrong train and asked me a question in Danish. (So much for my assumption: I am the only foreigner around here.) The elderly white Danish man opposite me reassured the lad and then chatted to him for a few minutes. They were conversing amicably, and after a little the elderly man mentioned that this was first class. At that, the lad looked a bit shamefaced, said the Danish equivalent of “oops” and went off in search of second class. So my second cultural observation is the opposite of my first: if this had been Britain there would probably have been a fair amount of glaring, passive-aggressive tutting and an impatience for the ticket collector to come round and turf out the miscreant . . . but nobody would have engaged with the lad and tactfully pointed out his mistake.  But something similar happened on the Swedish train earlier and a passenger went to find the guard to sort things out. So, no generalisations, then.)

Anyway, two out of the four hours were spent eating and drinking, the rest wandering around. Since it’s Monday, most things are closed. Copenhagen is more attractive than Stockholm – perhaps because less of the centre was knocked down. In places it looks very Dutch and in others almost Italian. The National Romanticism of Copenhagen’s City Hall is outshone by the art nouveau Palace Hotel next door, with its lovely tower and quirky windows.

By chance I went through the passageway of the Stærekassen theatre and saw – I’m sure for the second time – Ejnar Nielsen’s mosaics:


Apparently Niels Bohr is in there somewhere.

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