It’s not a bad old place Copenhagen, although I probably wouldn’t go as far as describing it as ‘wonderful, wonderful’. If I’m being generous, I might score it as being half-way to the first ‘wonderful’. I’ve always had fun whenever I’ve been there, however it always seems to happen more by luck than judgement. If I was planning to go somewhere for bucket-loads of fun and games, I probably wouldn’t choose Copenhagen.
However, it does keep surprising me. Little unexpected bursts of hedonism have sneaked out from dark corners when I’ve least expected them. The first time I went, which was only for one night, I ended up sleeping on the station steps after a very random adventure in the outer suburbs with two oriental ladies and a man with a large gun.
Incidentally I can heartily recommend the station steps as an excellent budget accommodation as they’re fully serviced with en-suite prostitutes and hot and cold running drug-addicts. If you’re really lucky, like I was, the cabaret comes on at about five in the morning and they’ll perform a live stabbing for your entertainment. The second time I went to Copenhagen wasn’t quite so dramatic, but I did end up bouncing from bar to bar before I eventually fell into the harbour.
Most recently I had a bit more time to spend in Copenhagen, so I took it at a leisurely tourist pace. Firstly I walked miles and miles to the mouth of the harbour to see the famous statue of the Little Mermaid. There were lots of other tourists making the same arduous pilgrimage in the unrelenting summer heat, all laden down with full backpacks. When they finally got there they all said the same thing in many different languages. This babble of many tongues could roughly be translated as, “Is that it?”
The Copenhagen Tourist Board actually employs a man to stand near the statue to placate disgruntled tourists. He points out, quite calmly, that all along the promise has been of a ‘little’ mermaid, not the Colossus of Rhodes, the Angel of The North or the Statue of Liberty, but a ‘little’ mermaid. This three-centimetre high statue sits demurely astride a pebble. Having got all this way most tourists jostle to take photos with their macro lenses bursting at the seams of their focal length, whilst others just sit back and wish they’d gone to Oslo instead. The statue has been vandalised many times, but it’s not difficult to understand why.
Then there’s Nyhavn, which presumably means New Harbour, although it’s supposed to look old. This is a restaurant-lined canal which has been tarted up and now claims to ‘evoke the spirit of old Copenhagen’. I caught a tourist boat from here. The courier stood at the front of the boat with a microphone. She said all her ‘Wilkommens’ and ‘Bienvenues’ and then told us to watch out for low bridges on our journey. As we approached the first such bridge she forgot to duck, smacked the back of her head on the ironwork and knocked herself out.
When something like this happens, and there’s a pool of blood oozing out of a gaping wound, you’re never quite sure how to take it. There’s a few silent seconds where people are trying to weigh up as to whether it is all part of the act, given that she’d just made a joke about low bridges. Then seconds later she’s face down on the deck with her nose stuck in a knothole. Is she suddenly going to jump up and perform some more slapstick to keep us entertained? When she feebly raised the bloodied microphone and croaked, “Help me”, we realised it might be for real. So we had to return to the dock, wait for an ambulance and then hang around waiting for the boat company to rustle up another, shorter, courier. Apparently this wasn’t a rare event amongst the courier community. The new one told us that the average life expectancy of a Copenhagen Boat Courier was about the same as a World War One pilot.
Tivoli is famous for being the world’s first theme park. It’s got a certain old world charm; a lake, lanterns, rides, restaurants and fireworks. However it is outrageously expensive. The rides and the food are especially so. It’s probably cheaper to scoff five hotdogs from a street vendor, jump up and down for ten minutes and then throw up, just as if you’d been on one of the rides. The best place to go in Copenhagen though, is the zoo. They have the finest selection of monkeys you’ll find this side of the Congo. These include Red-Arsed Baboons (their proper species name), with bigger haemorrhoid problems than me, and Smart-Arsed Baboons that think it’s funny to urinate from a great height. As well as amusing apes there are loads of other high-smelling beasts for your children to poke fun at. There are also interactive sessions where the zoo-keepers allow tarantulas and boa constrictors to have a go at getting the animal kingdom’s revenge on your children.