Sun and smiles

Yesterday evening we fell asleep by nine. I suppose mom has a good excuse, having cycled about 1800 km in the last weeks, for me it’s just the stressful summer catching up with me. We don’t have an alarm set, but wake up with the light before seven. We’re planning to have breakfast out in town, so we brush our teeth, put on our walking shoes and set off on foot. We’re still not sure how to get the bike back to Belgium and after some judicious Googling we found a shipping specialist in the Frederiksberg neighborhood, so we go north. I have a plan and a map, what could go wrong. It’s sunny and warm, really feels like summer. Everybody’s out in t-shirt and we see a lot of people biking, even though most of these people must be commuting to work, it’s pretty relaxed.

We first walk through the Vestre Kirkegård, a cemetery in the Scandinavian style: It’s a large wooded area with quiet pedestrian paths, where the graves are dispersed and almost invisible in the greenery. Some graves are marked by big boulders with a simple engraving, others are more elaborate. We see an A.M. Jacobsen marked on Google maps and find his grave, but we’re not sure if this is the famous designer. We see a lot of cyclists here, cemeteries in Denmark are more like parks where people come for walks, picnics or simply because it’s the shortest way to some destination.

We continue on to the north, crossing a busy road and railroad on a pedestrian bridge and really come to appreciate the popularity of cycling in Copenhagen. We enter the Søndermarken park to find the Frederiksberg slot, one of the many castles in this town. This one houses a military academy, so we simply admire the sober exterior and continue through the park. By this time we’ve realized that neither of us is able to pull in data over 4G. Mom ran out of data a few days ago, myself only yesterday, but I expected the counter to be reset today, at the start of a new month. Fortunately, I have a bit of the map loaded and I can point us in the right direction at the very least. We stop for breakfast at one of the many bakeries on the Gl. Kongevej (a vej is a road, but I have no idea what a Gl. is supposed to be). At the shipping company we only get a promise that one of the shippers will call us back, so we still don’t know how to ship the bike. By this time, it’s only nine or so, so we decide to walk on to the town center before lunch.

We take a short break near a supermarket to use the wifi to download some more maps and check our directions. Kind of weird to walk around unconnected, not sure if I want to make a habit out of it.

First stop is the railway station. In big, old cities like these, it’s either a grand old building or a grand new one and either is fine for me. This one is of the charming variety and looks very Scandinavian somehow. It still has much of its original design elements, including beautiful wooden arches to support the ceiling.

We ignore the famous Tivoli amusement park, walk on to the Rådhuspladsen and admire the 100 year old city hall and Scandic hotel. We see more and more tourists as we approach the royal palace and a veritable queue of sight-seeing boats on the canal around the island. The boats are perfectly sized to fit the route and must maneuver extremely carefully around the bends. We’ll probably come back to this area in the next few days, so we feel free to simply enjoy the sun and friendly atmosphere, while completely failing to appreciate the history around us. We briefly gaze at the Christiansborg palace, the 17th century stock exchange building and the gorgeous old boat house from the 17th century. It later housed the royal library and now the Danish Jewish museum. The former royal brewery, built in 1608, is the last old building we encounter before leaving the island.

By this time we have 18.000 steps on our smart phone counter and it’s definitely time to turn towards the restaurant. I had looked up a few options last week and already made a reservation at Kødbyens Fiskebar. We cross the Sydhavnen – is this a canal, is this an inlet of the sea, I have no idea – by yet another pedestrian bridge, this one even has separate lanes for cyclists and food traffic, this should give you an idea of the luxury of cycling in Copenhagen.

We arrive at Kødbyens Fiskebar just in time and enjoy both the excellent meal and service, as the atmosphere of the meat packing district. Did I mention there’s a lot of cyclists? They have dedicated lanes on every road and their own traffic lights. The traffic is never chaotic, everybody seems to know the rules and stick to them: cyclists stop for pedestrian crossings, cars give priority to cyclists when crossing their lane and everybody is just always so friendly about it.

After the delicious meal and fine Danish wine, we take the urban S-train back to our hotel, determined to finalize the bike shipping. First stop is the bike shop near the hotel where yesterday we saw a big bike sized box through the window. In the store we meet Samir, who tells us the box is actually reserved for a guy, but if he doesn’t show up by tonight then we’re welcome to have it for 80 krone, which is about 10 €. We’ll need to check back around five thirty to find out. By this time we also know the shipping service is way more expensive than booking it ourselves through DHL Freight. We pick up a box and some sturdy packing tape at the Pelican storage facility and, back at the hotel, pack the camping and bike gear in it. We spend an hour or two comfortably installed in the hotel lounge, with a tonic and the last of the Godiva chocolates I bought at the airport in Belgium. We find out some of the more interesting museums are either booked full or closed for renovations and map out the rest of the week.

By the end of the evening, we actually got the bike box, packed the bike in it with some expertly taped towels to stop it from rattling around, contacted DHL with the final measurements and addresses. We have a picnic in the room with mom’s leftovers and some bread and ham we bought in the store during our afternoon waiting lull. I write my blog while my mom struggles to stay awake. She helps out by looking up the history of some of the buildings for me, it’s fun to mentally add that info to the picture we’ve built up today. It’s not even nine, but we’re already tired. 26.000 steps today !

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