AAG: Copenhagen

Since this blog is supposed to incorporate everything and anything I’d like to share about travel, I’ve decided to begin a mini-series which will share more logistic-related tips and tricks. These won’t stray far from other things you could find with enough research from Google searches, but I’d like to compile a few of the small things I learned along the way. It’ll also be nice to have some place to dump my thoughts without cluttering up my main travel posts.

As a disclaimer, I realize the pretension of trying to act as the authority on how to travel when I’m a single traveller that’s only been here or there relative to other more experienced travellers. I’m also not going to lie and say I know how to integrate myself into any culture and find myself living it up with locals within a matter of days. Imagining myself at buzzing bars, elite restaurants, and heavy shopping destinations: Ha. As such, this series will be called “An Amateur’s Guide” and shall hence be known as “AAG” … aka the noise I often make inside my head whenever I’m figuring these things out. Capture  (Protip: I often use this smiley as a sarcastic smile.)

With that, here are some of my tips for Copenhagen travel!

Travelling To/From Copenhagen:

  • Flying Norwegian is doable. I wasn’t offered water in the initial service, but between filling my own bottle before takeoff and walking to the attendants, I survived. We also experienced a delay that set us back, but because we were in a newer-model plane, we arrived more or less around the scheduled time. Win!
  • Flying out of Copenhagen (on SAS, at least) requires assembling your own luggage tag. If you’re a novice like me and the permanent nature of the sticker tag riles up ghosts of commitment issues past, find an attendant and they’ll help you without too much outward sign of amusement.

Travelling Around Copenhagen

  • Bycyklen: Registration is so easy, even I could do it. You can register online or directly on the bicycle tablet at the stations themselves. More info and instructions [here].

    My personal experience with Bycyklen was fair. I’m not a fan of cruisers, and it’s fairly tempting to bash your head into the handlebars when you can’t help going as slow as fff–acruiser. But, any agony over speed and the “hey-look-at-me-I’m-a-tourist” syndrome are far outweighed by the convenience factor. For one, you cover way more ground with a decent compromise between price point and freedom. Public transportation seems doable, but I strongly advise renting these bikes when you’re on a time constraint and need flexibility.

    These bikes also offer the advantage of not having to circle back to any one rental location, as there are many stations disbursed throughout the city. This makes it easy to explore at your whim and travel between your stay and destinations without having to plan additional transportation methods. (Or am I the only one who does that… moving on.)

  • Spiel about the greatness of bikes aside: The bus system is doable as well. I spent hours reading up on the Copenhagen Card and ultimately decided not use it, but if you’re fine with using a system that connects you to all the main sights of the city and offers discounts on popular destinations, refer [here].
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Adventure for 3

I know I’m backlogged on a thousand and one photos, but I recently went on a fantastic trip to San Diego over the weekend. It’s easy to underestimate SD and see it as a sleepy, middle-of-nowhere surf city… which it sort of is, but there’s so much to take in, from the food to the beaches, which lends itself to a vibe that’s active in a somehow laid-back manner. It’s hard to describe, but it’s possible.

I went on this trip with two friends, E & S, and I’d initially been a bit nervous, since incompatible travel dynamics can ruin friendships and whatnot. Not many people can put up with my tired, grumpy side, and travelling with three people can be difficult for any number of reasons… but these girls stuck with me and made this trip so, so memorable. I’m not great with words, so here’s a shout out in a few words and photos that I think capture us:

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Turning around and E & S are cracking up at something I missed, part 1/infinity.

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“Go away.”

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Reminder to self: shower E with plants when she moves into her first post-college place.

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serIOUSLY ? !!

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Don’t ask us what we were doing.

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Watching S fawn over ducks while E tells a story about a sea lion dragging a girl into the water by her dress.

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Hi S.

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People-watching: Prom Edition! That one blue dress though ugh pls.

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!!!

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Here’s to running down streets while singing “Irreplaceable”, climbing sandy cliffs in shoes that have no traction, and watching a San Diego sunset with the perfect company.

More SD to follow!

… eventually …

Strolling Through

Some updates since I’ve last posted:

  • Your girl has figured out that resizing photos helps with WordPress storage percentage which was ticking up a bit too quickly for her taste. It’s a bit tedious, but what can you do.
  • I’ve decided that the best way for me to develop my tastes for blogging is to just blog. I’ll figure it out as I go; otherwise I’ll never blog as much as I’d like. True, it might irk my tendency to want everything to be consistent, but I’ll live.
  • Just realized that within two weeks, I’ll be spending about a month jumping around cities for both work and funsies. As a result, these updates will be coming out faster and with fewer comments… so probably a good thing for NE readers (“non-existent” or short for “any”? Take your pick… :P).
  • Disclaimer: If you’re easily put off by strange captions accompanying picturesque scenery, ignore what I’ve written and just scroll through the pretty sights. Even I find my internal commentary a bit jarring at times, and I wrote it…

Onto the good stuff!

After the tour I posted about over 3 months ago, I rented a bike using Bycyklen. It was a bit unruly getting around with a cruiser (I hate cruisers.), but I managed. First stop was a cathedral near Kastellet, a star-shaped fortress built in the mid-1600s.

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Imagine this as your casual morning jog… I’d see more green in 10 minutes than I usually do in a week.

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I’m not a huge history buff, but one of the cool parts about this fortress is its star-shape (unsurprisingly), since it allowed cannons to hit targets from virtually any angle.

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These rows of orange housing were a bit of a bike ride away from the fortress. At first I thought these were lower-income housing since they were just *there*, but as it turns out, they’re old soldier barracks also referred to as “The Rows”.

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Water water

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Woot woot!

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Not sure if this is architectural genius or blasphemy… BUT I LIKE IT.

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While crossing the pedestrian-bike bridge (it meets!), I saw this cyclist approaching, snorted internally, and resisted the urge to accidentally knock him over the edge. Good job, Me; reach for your camera and snap a couple shots of this guy instead.

To this wonderful cyclist: Thank you, kind sir, for reminding us that idiots span from sea to bloodyeffing sea.

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Disclaimer x/195830285: More so than cliche alleyway pictures, you’re gonna be seeing a ton of water-related pictures (if you hadn’t guessed yet). I’m a fan of lakes, beaches, puddles, and pools; the list can and does go on. Don’t underestimate me.

(Although I will say I’m neutral with fountains – it depends on how sustainable they are.)

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Standing by my first post on Copenhagen – love love love how there seems to be so many places people can gather and hang out at for no reason and without having to buy anything. This is how you foster conversation without exclusion by economic class…

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I had a kinda-love, kinda-hate impression while walking around Copenhagen Street Food, a warehouse-like food court with stalls serving food from around the globe. On one hand, it’s always nice seeing different cultures represented when there’s only minorities present in the population. On the other… $15 for a small bowl of bibimbap??????

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Settled for a Turkish sandwich and reading Secret Life of Bees, accompanied by smoke and the sound of chatting and all the sensations of being surrounded by the open sea.

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A (local?) Japanese artist set up an exhibition where people could write down their wishes and tie them to trees set up near the entrance of the food hall.

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I warned you about the water pictures.

Fourth and possibly last installment of Copenhagen coming soon!

Search for a Quiet Day

This week has been more tiring than usual, mostly because of small negatives and scenarios I’m sure I’m blowing up in my head. Exam tomorrow doesn’t help, either. Earlier this week, I took a couple hours to sit in an oversized chair and edit photos, reserving my mind with contemplate contemplation of quieter, meditative days.

Here are some photos from the morning in Copenhagen before I left for the Netherlands.

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Had brunch and read The Secret Life of Bees in this Danish cafe, renovated from its old days as a pharmacy. I’ll tell you, having brunch on a sunny weekday morning while reading at leisure is its own type of bliss.

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Curious parking method… wonder how this works.

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The AirBnb I stayed at, ft. a puppers and fantastic wall art.

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Nothing fancy. Just a morning walk, brunch, and reading to the side of a playground. A few interjections of the sound of children playing, a dog announcing its presence here or there, mostly quiet. A bit of panic when I realized I was running later than my overly-punctual travel clock would prefer, but all was well when I got to the airport and saw a 4-minute wait time for security. Bless the Danish public transportation system, really.

That’s all for now, but I’ve edited a few more photos from Copenhagen and can hopefully ramp up blogging again when I’m less anxious about this exam. I’m also thinking about having my posts timed more consistently and in more bite-sized chunks. That last Copenhagen post was a bit much, even for myself.

Until next time, nonexistent readers!

Copenhagen Day 2: SANDEMANs Tour

On the last episode of “Jasmine Attempts to Blog About Europe”, we found our heroic dweeb signing up for a Sandemans Tour in Copenhagen, even after she’d read that there were some suspect practices around how walking tour guides were paid.

First victory of the day = getting to the tour group meet location. I was about to add “without getting lost”, but that’d probably have to be tickmarked OH MY GOD STOP disclaimed in the nature of: “without getting lost too much”… so there’s that. The meet location was in the Town Hall Square, in front of what I think was the old palace for the royal family. Maybe. I might be making that up, because I bought my journal this day and started documenting things better after that.

img_9204-2Old Palace? New Palace? Could be either, but the only thing I’m certain of is that people were executed and had tomatoes thrown at them in this square.

Anyway, here are some pictures of modernized Copenhagen for you to enjoy:

img_9200New signs on old (aesthetic) buildings

At first, I’d taken this picture to capture the juxtaposition (and prove to myself that I could take decent pictures despite overcast conditions), but as it turns out there’s a story behind this (and turns out I can’t take decent pictures in overcast conditions). According to our tour guide, the buildings in this area burned down at least twice. (Fires are a common theme in Dutch history, apparently.) They’ve had to be rebuilt time and time again, so the authenticity is questionable, but if it’s Dutch buildings in Copenhagen, could you really be accused of ‘appropriating’ a style? End my attempt at contemplating deep thoughts. Here’s a picture of Asian tourists who made me feel at home with some strange fondness.

img_9212-2Can we please talk about the Psy aesthetic of that one guy?

When it came time to take off, we grouped up, gave a short intro about ourselves, tried to ignore thoughts about how strange it was hearing English spoken by an Asian girl traveling by herself who surely should have been part of that Asian tour group instead? Okay, psych… that last part was just me!!! Overthinking as usual.

First foray with a Sandemans tour and I was not disappointed. Sure, touristy places are touristy, but they’re touristy for a reason. It’s also nice having the bits and pieces of a place explained to you, especially when that place is laid out right in front of you to examine.

img_9216-2You ever get the feeling that a building is too gorgeous for its own good? No, just me? Okay.

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img_9222-2Blurry take on what I think was another nice little site for beheadings and other humiliation. Then again I’m pretty sure you could guess that about most public spaces in Europe and you’d be right.

img_9224-2Call me creepy, but I like seeing what people put in their windowsills.

img_9226-2The first of way too many alleyway pictures in Europe.

img_9229-2Museums! I didn’t stop by because of the strict time budget, but perhaps another time. Apparently the museums had free entry either today or some time later in the week, or maybe they used to? Kristoff mentioned that the government was cutting funding for the arts, museums, and so on—I think they needed to start charging because of that. Sigh.

img_9233-2Guess who feels like she’s back in Westwood?

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Kristoff said to remember who this guy was because he’d be talking about him later, and … I don’t remember who he is. Surprise! 😀 I do remember a story of someone who defied a violent religious group, and back in the days when people thought you’d be struck by lightning or otherwise killed if you did that, that was a big deal. As such, when nothing happened to this guy, other people rose up and the antagonists ceded, acknowledging that their god wasn’t as mighty as they’d originally thought. Might’ve been this guy.

img_9238-2Beautiful clock tower. Also burned down at least once.

IMG_9242.JPGBaby Lourves in front of a shopping center

Somewhere Picturesque

Kristoff took us to quintessential tourist spot in Copenhagen—Nyhavn Harbour. “The place you see in all the postcards of Copenhagen,” he called it. Not quite sunny enough for a postcard attempt, but gorgeous indeed. My AirBnb host’s girlfriend had told me about this area the other day, about how it was a great place to meet up with friends and soak up the sun, laze around with a beer.

img_9247-2Moment of appreciation for the lady sitting in the bike cart and smoking with no fucks given.

img_9254-2Being at a harbor means you have a moral obligation to take a picture of at least one boat.

img_9258-2As postcard perfect as it’ll ever get with me

img_9261-2The ships have their own stoplights. BRUH. ;_;

Also note the lovely restaurants on the other side. If or when I come back in the future, maybe I’ll be one of those people who can afford to dine right next to photo-op destinations. Until then, I am content with taking pictures of those people and walking a little further for food.

Near the entrance to the harbor, we also saw what looked like potato sacks hanging off the wall of a huge building. Kristoff didn’t know what it was, so he asked around and found out that the building was an exhibition hall. Students of the associated art school wanted to raise awareness about child labor practices in the cocoa industry, so they hung cocoa sacks off the wall of the hall to give an idea of the problem’s magnitude.

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img_9250-2In a way, it’s nice to see how another country’s people see and respond to issues.

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Another dude whose name and significance, frankly, both escape me. This might be the guy who defied the religious group, but I’m less inclined to think as such, since the first guy had a horse and looked more epic. Now that I’m done with that eloquent bout of deductive reasoning, the real reason I took this picture was in appreciation of the tiny parks and statues scattered throughout Copenhagen. They’re little reminders that history is engrained in this city, in a sacred way that can’t be taken away and marks every person within. *Sideeyes LA* Okay, okay, I’m sure that LA has its share of history and reminders of how this city came to be what it is today, but… it probably takes too long to get there… I suppose that although it feels like we’re glitzed up in images of Hollywood and sunny beach days, we arguably have our own identity in how ridiculously sprawling and diverse LA is.

Somewhere Wide and Open

Next big stop was the area across the opera house and Christiania.

Kristoff explained some of the tensions between the people of Christiania and the Dutch government. As I understand it, Christiania is a hippie society of sorts, where weed and socialism are welcome. Terrible explanation, sorry. There are only a few ways to get to Christiania, via yellow boat or across one of the bridges. One of the bridges had actually just been built and had a funny story behind it. Apparently the architects had built the bridge all the way to the middle, only to realize that the two sides wouldn’t meet… so they had to scrap it and build it all over again. Yikes. On the bright side, it’s now fully built (and connected) and open for people to cross via foot or bike!

Kristoff also mentioned that there had been a police raid recently—something to do with marijuana and increasing tensions with police, or gang-related trafficking of marijuana? Hmm. There were high tensions and people protesting the purchase of marijuana, since it would harm local businesses. Something like that. Oh yeah, and you can’t take pictures of public spaces in Christiania. o:

There’s a related story behind the opera house and its architect. Christiania’s flag is red, with three golden circles across its middle. The opera house’s architect was sympathetic toward the people of Christiania, or something along those lines… so could it have been coincidence that the inside of the opera house is red, and that there are three huge, golden chandeliers in the lobby, and that when you stand across the opera house at night when it’s lit up, it looks exactly like the Christiania flag?

I vaguely remember Kristoff saying it was more or less a finger to those who had funded the opera house. Fun stuff, the intersection of art and politics.

IMG_9288 (2).JPGGorgeous.

img_9266Imagine being that person walking their dog

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People and endless open area to walk

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Family trips are cute. Yes, I will admit I can get creepy when I photograph families or cute babies, but I usually ask for permission. If that still troubles you, Iiiiii’d just leave this blog now. :3

Our last stop was a few steps away—the royal palaces.

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There were four of these palaces, built in a circle. I think these are the newer palaces—the old palace being the one facing the square we started our tour in. There are flag posts on which flags are hung if the royal family member is currently there. The queen wasn’t there, but one of the princes was! Cool stuff. Kristoff also said something about how the queen was a chain smoker and was rumored to have smoked on her balcony all the time. Less cool but still funny in its own way.

The tour ended here and I was sorry I didn’t have more to tip Kristoff with other than maybe $5 of Krone coins… definitely made sure to plan ahead for future tours. >_< I was a bit wary of being the American that tips too much for a free walking tour, but the guy had given me a thorough and interesting tour, so it made more sense for me to be more indulgent than less in this area.

With that, it was halfway through the day, around 12:30 or 1pm… and there is still so much I’ve yet to write about this day in Copenhagen. Recapping Europe might take a while…

Reboot Prelude

For context: It’s February 5. The start of work has come and gone; Trump was elected; I’m mid-busy season; and everything is exhausting.

I headed out today thinking I’d write about the road trip I took last summer, but I decided against it for a couple reasons. First, shitty unresolved feelings that definitely conflict with what I wrote less than a year ago make it hard to genuinely journal. Also, I started my travel blog with the Europe trip… might as well show some sort of solidarity with that intent, even if it’s 4 or 5 months after the fact, heh.

So! Blog about the Europe trip I shall.

Or at least I shall try.

Since Europe, I’ve also figured out that writing in a physical journal while I’m traveling works for me. First, it’s amazing how difficult it can be for me to boot up the laptop, connect to wifi, and sit myself in front of the laptop for hours when it feels like I should be interacting in the space around me instead. True, I usually end up writing in my journal at night or in the comfort of a café—something I could always be doing on the laptop as well. It’s different, though, because writing can involve pausing, can involve looking around to consider the people and place that brought you to a certain thought. It forces me to take my thoughts more slowly, to build them up the way I speak internally—honestly, securely, with less care and (frankly) pretense than my voice online might allow me to. I’m also hoping that having an honest first draft will also make it fun to put together on the blog with polished photos and all. So we’ll see!

This post is also coming after a strange malaise I’ve slowly and somewhat unexpectedly found myself slumping into these past few weeks. Perhaps it has to do with the election, or sitting in front of a computer 60-70 hours a week, not including commute time and meals. Or perhaps it’s the long-coming product of being out of touch with my emotions and friends and my inability to summon the type of resolved attitude I used to have when approaching every little task. I’m not sure which it’s most the product of, but I’m sure it’s a bit of everything. Last night, as I lay in my bed not wanting to move or do anything or drive back, the thought of starting this blog up again (can I say “again” if I’ve only posted once? HAHA) is what got me up and at em. I don’t know quite why, or whether it’ll help at all, seeing as I have a huge backlog of photos and memories to go through. I was also strangely gloomy and spacey as I drove here on local roads—Temple City, California—but I think this away-therapy might be what I need. Either that, or it’ll get worse.

Won’t know until I try, right?

Here goes.

My life is not graceful

aka

Copenhagen, Part 1

After getting off the plane, my path to the AirBnb was impressively noodly. I strode down the halls toward baggage claim, then proceeded to balk at the sight of no free benches. O well. Time to plop on the ground and change shoes. As I waited for my suitcase, I talked with Helene, my AirBnb host, about getting to her place. Mind, this was at about 4pm.

After grabbing my suitcase, I somehow got sucked into a rush of people going past passport control. Guess who almost went into the line for EU citizens? All the while, I was wondering in the back of my head whether there would be any customs process. There were no cards handed out at the end of the flight like there had been for other international flights I’d been on before; was I supposed to take care of that myself?

So I kept moving and soon found myself at the train station. Weeeeelp, guess not.

At this point, I was determined to one-up Ma and make sure I got on the train that went to Copenhagen Central Station instead of Sweden Central Station (SERIOUSLY MA), so I completely bypassed the ticket counter, found the right platform, relished in the glory…

… and yeah. Just stood there. Relished in some good ol’ glory.

Some of my thoughts at this point were: Do I go down to the platform? But I don’t have a ticket. Should I condense my bags? But my breaddd. I’m hungry. I need to use the bathroom. Where can I get some water? Burger King’s chicken nuggets are 15DKK… so about $2?! That sounds so good right now. Why don’t we have a 24-hour Burger King near us?

I ended up looping around to the downstairs bathroom (the elevator had a sticker indicating which floor the bathrooms were–so cute :’D) and condensing my extra bag into my carry-on and suitcase. I dumped my bread and crackers into an easy-to-carry 99 Ranch bag, figuring that real would recognize real, yknow? Okay just kidding. But I will gladly rep 99 Ranch all day err day.

Went back up, thankfully finally noticed the ticket machine, and bought a ticket without any major injuries (pretty sure I whispered bless when the chip card worked). Went downstairs and was super hungry, so I pulled out a piece of bread JUST as the train pulled up… which meant I was wolfing down the last half of my bread while trying to board. See what I mean? Super graceful.

Finally saw the Copenhagen sky–a gorgeous, cloud-speckled blue, something that apparently doesn’t happen often in Copenhagen. It was a quick 10-minute ride to the Central Station, a ridiculously picturesque station that made me feel like I’d gone back in time. UGH CLICHE ALERT. Oh well, I’m probably going to use at least a thousand more this trip.

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worthy of cliches, even though the photo does no justice. criez.

Fast forward to me being a sad potato and wandering in and out and around the station for the longest-ass time, debating whether I should bear the 15-minute walk to the AirBnb or try figuring out the bus system (I think I had the wrong zone ticket anyway?). Ended up gritting my teeth across the cobblestone paths and getting some exercise in lel. But it was nice! I’m Asian and therefore 99% likely to be a tourist anyway so who cares if I stand out? Just not to the point where I get robbed, please and thank you.

Surprisingly, the walk and suitcase-lugging didn’t result in me becoming a gross mess by the time I found myself on Helene’s doorstep. Or what I thought was her doorstep. Cue me walking between 92 and what I thought was 94 (this place looks like a salon ?!) for the longest time… Apparently odds and evens aren’t on opposite sides. Despaired for a bit cuz I didn’t have wifi or data, but T-Mobile unlimited texting came in clutch and got me in touch with Helene. ^_^v Settled in (that only took until 6pm, aka a pathetic hour and a half) and ran right out to catch some last bits of sunlight…

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obligatory pre-adventure photo!

So Copenhagen, finally.

First off, it’s such an odd sensation, being around white people that look like they could be walking around LA but not hearing English come out of their mouths. I know, I know, classic U.S.-centrist attitude… but seRIOUSLY.

On a more chipper note, I can see why people use the word “storybook” to describe Copenhagen. From what I gathered in the two hours I was walking around, it feels like one huge, bustling neighborhood. Some of the roads are tiny, and even the big ones aren’t even half as foreboding as Huntington during rush hour. The bikes definitely add to the small-town feel; they bring me back to Davis, where people transport everything from kids to books to dogs in their bikes. Forgot to get a picture of the locks that made the bikes look like they weren’t locked (when they were), but hopefully I’ll remember that tomorrow!

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the wall art here is ridiculously cute.

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this could’ve been SUCH an epic photo if I had focused correctly.

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wonder what this couple was thinking as they walked past me snapping pictures.
hun, there’s a tiny Asian chick taking pictures of us.
I know, just let her be. Maybe we’ll be Tumblr famous.

I walked up to the lake because it was a fairly quick, dumb-proof walk; Helene’s brother’s girlfriend (I forgot her name T_T) suggested I visit Nyhvn, but that’s a bit further away. I’ll check it out (perhaps bike there!) tomorrow. For now, I am to be easily appeased with sights of a pretty lake at sunset.

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can you imagine if this were the view on your everyday jog?

One of the things I noticed was that as outdoorsy as Danish people seem to be (there were a ton of people running around the lake; I passed several crossfit gyms; the bikes go without explanation)… they like to smoke. A lot. It’s intriguing.

img_9191-2 tell me, what’s more picturesque than a Copenhagen intersection with a cyclist passing through and a bike sign right above him?

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here’s a silly little streetlight pointing at nothing in particular except a construction site.

All in all, a very wonderful first impression based on my two-hour stroll around Copenhagen (excluding travel time qq). I love that Copenhagen’s built for a communal living experience. There are large parks and open areas where people can come together to hang out or drink or, heck, fish. People seem to get off of work at a decent time and I saw families out and about both at the train stations and parks.

Shout out to the stupidly cute Asian/mixed? boy on the gorgeous yellow road bike.

Time to figure out my adventure for tomorrow. ^_^