Places to be & things to do: Tango in Copenhagen

I have to admit that I’m not too old in the whole Tango business yet but nevertheless I’m quite impressed with Copenhagen’s Tango scene. The multitude of high quality milongas, workshops and courses is quite amazing considering that Copenhagen is not Buenos Aires. Also, the scene is amazingly well organized. Not only that websites like www.gotan.dk offer a perfect overview over what is going on but also people show up to events. So be prepared for a packed house the moment live tango music is announced…

Things you have to do in Copenhagen

People ask me what to do when they are in Copenhagen and even though I don’t want to repeat all the stuff that is listed in the Lonely Planet here is my pretty random list of things I recommend to do in Copenhagen.

  • Go Nyhavn, get a beer in the kiosk from the basement behind “Nyhavn 17?, sit at the canal and watch the tourists in the tourist traps
  • Ride the “Himmels Skibet? in Tivoli
  • Have a tee in Cafe Retro
  • Celebrate the first day of Jule Øl in Det Elektriske Hjørne
  • Experience St. Hans in Fælledparken
  • Enjoy a Sunday evening with live Jazz in La Fontaine
  • Visit Louisiana on a sunny day
  • Have a giant ice cream at Lydolf’s
  • Mount Vor Frelsers Kirke
  • And get to all the different places by riding one of the free City Bikes or the driverless Metro
  • Internet Cafes in Gilleleje

    If you ever happen to take some days of vacation in Gilleleje – which is highly recommendable if you enjoy wind, sun and the sea – make sure you have your UMTS device with you to hook up to the internet. The only other alternative I found is a hotspot in the harbor that will sell online airtime to Danes only (as foreigner you have to visit the shop and get your voucher there. And, yes you got it right, the shop is usually closed).
    Or you try your luck in Sofa.1 a café which has live Jazz on Fridays. If you ask nicely the waiters will give you the key to their wireless network.

    PS: By the way: Don’t waste your time on Willy’s as listed on some other pages. They are out of business and closed there shop down.

    “Fresh Direct” for Denmark – Yellowman.dk

    I just found out that there is a “Fresh Direct” clone in Denmark: http://www.yellowman.dk/index.php?main_page=index&language=en (they even have an English page)

    This is really a good sign in this “almost always closed” country.

    Especially trying to get dry cleaning done as well as any interaction with the DSB or the post office has been a big pain for me since I almost have to take a day off to get my stuff organized. The opening hours are usually during my working hours. The most absurd thing happened with the DSB. I wanted to pick-up a ticket to Germany and was sent away since international tickets were only issued between 9.30 and 17.30 since those tickets are complicated to print and need specially trained personnel to get issued. I got back after 9.30 and the same lady at the same place and the same computer printed the ticket for me. Trying to be compliant, next time I came after 9.30 only to find out that at this day international tickets were issued between 11.30 and 17.30. Again I heard the story about the specially trained person etc. To be fair, I got the ticket after insisting that I really want to have it and don’t understand the reasoning behind the randomly changing opening hours.

    Copenhagen Day Trips: Karen Blixen Museet

    Karen Blixen’s home in Denmark, Rugstedlund, was opened to public after her death and now is the Karen Blixen Museum now. It is easy to reach from Copenhagen via train & bus or directly by car.

    The museum offers an opulent collection of Karen Blixen’s books and other publications. There are some her paintings and a movie about aspects of her life. Walking through her old home, you are guided in Danish and English. The museum nicely combines narrative and objects from Karen Blixen’s life so that you can piece together a comprehensive picture of her time, her life and her works.

    How to get there from Copenhagen

    Hop on the regional train to “Nivå” at the central station or Nørreport and get off at “Skodsborg”. From there, make your way down to “Strandvejen”, the big street along the sea, situated a few steps below the train station. Check out a map or just walk down towards the sea, you won’t be able to miss the street. On the street, take bus number 388 (to Helsingør st.) and get off at “Rungstedvej”. The bus stop is directly at the museum, so you should be able to find it easily. If you are travelling on the weekend, check www.dsb.dk to ensure you won’t have to wait long for the bus.

    Living in Copenhagen

    After having lived in Denmark for quite a while now, I figure it is time to come up with some general comments on life here in Copenhagen.

    Generally speaking life here is very good. Denmark is very convenient in practical terms – meaning you don’t necessarily have to speak the langue to get around – and people are nice, friendly and very helpful.

    The country is beautiful and Copenhagen is gorgeous, as long as you travel here in summer (during the winter months it can be a bit tough to deal with the darkness and the intense rain). What I really love about Copenhagen is the fact that, as “Europe’s biggest village?, it offers a unique mix of metropolitan like cultural events, museums and lifestyle combined with short distances (you can reach everything by foot or bike), nice neighborhoods and general “small town flair?. Not easy to describe, best to experience in person.

    But once you made it here, where to start? Well, the main attractions from the Little Mermaid to the old city center of Copenhagen have been described in hundreds of guide books. In more practical terms, a very good resource for finding your way around is the “Moron Abroad? and especially his introduction page for US citizens (even if you are not from the US). I recommend that you do take his advice serious. I can confirm that especially the bikers can be dangerous and quite aggressive. Two days ago I observed a biker getting mad at a car being in his way on a bike path. The biker braked, started shouting at the car, took his foot up and gave the car several hard kicks in the trunk before continuing his ride. This might be an extreme example, but consider yourself warned 🙂

    Also worth a look is the Copenhagen Post, an English weekly newspaper and then, for professionals, the ExpatNet which helps expats with offerings from jobs to housing and networking.

    No smoking in Danish trains anymore – German government loves big tobacco?

    Finally it is forbidden to smoke in Danish trains. After having lived in the nearly smoking free New York for quite some time, coming back to Europe was a bit of a shock in terms of non-smoker protection policies.

    Even though the situation has gotten a bit better over the last years, many Europeans still can’t imagine to live without smoking. Especially bad is Germany: Even though an anti-smoking law was in discussion for a long time ,the government bailed out at the last moment, claiming that it isn’t empowered to pass effective anti-smoking legislation. At least smoking in trains will be forbidden at some point in the future in Germany, too. I think this kind of weak legislation will keep Germany where it currently is: in the shameful third place on the list of European countries with the most number of smokers in the population.