Indeed, the coolest, the most cosmopolitan, exciting and as Danny Kaye said, the most wonderful city in entire Scandinavia (let’s give it a rest, Stockholm) is Copenhagen (København). And it’s a our next city to explore on a frugal note, after our take at Paris under 50 Euros. The joie de vivre in the air is unmistakable where reverberates fascination – oozing from café on a summer day or from gazing at the sculptures in Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.
Copenhagen is not cheap. Not this way or that. But economical? Well that can very well be managed. The city’s brilliance is so apparent that it is not a necessity to shell out those Krones to take in the best.
Morning: Harry’s Place, Døp hotdogs and Abnormal Analogies
“As big as winning the handball world cup” – one of Copenhagen’s most loved chefs said this when, noma, René Redzepi’sgastronomical masterpiece which tried to pay the world’s due to the Nordic produces was declared the best restaurant in the world. It is important to have Danish or particularly pure Parisian blood running through the veins to understand the importance of that analogy. However, the prices are queenly and relatively, the chances of finding an empty table here is just as likely as being invited to the Queen’s Palace for dinner.
However, all hope is not lost. In fact, quite the reverse. The locals, voted on their favourite newspaper Politiken for their most loved Copenhagen eatery, and the winner was the humble hotdog stall of Den Økologiske Pølsemand (literally, the organic hotdog man). Better known as the Døpfor short, it makes for the perfect breakfast stop. Sitting right next to the Round Tower in the city centre, it dishes out lip-smacking grilled pork and beef sausages along with buns that are nurtured from slow-fermented sourdough bread and linseed.
For a more classic variety, there’s Harry’s Place on the outskirts of the Nørrebro district. The place has been around for over five decades now and has among its glitzy list of patrons, two of Copenhagen’s former prime ministers. Its pièce de résistance is a 150g wiener called Børge, allegedly named after a lorry driver who used to consume three of the sausages during his daily visits – Comments The Guardian.
Cost: A Børge with bread and condiments (ask for the secret “gun powder” sauce) comes for 3.49 Euro, an brillaint organic hotdog at the Døp for 4.84 Euro.
Day: The Cycles and Vintage falafel
9 in 10 Danish adults own a cycle (bike if you prefer). The Cycling Embassy of Denmark is an organization that promotes biking in the city and has done a mighty good job out of it – Copenhagen is among the most bicycle-crazy cities on earth. For us, it translates into an ultra cheap mode of travel, coupled with lovely sightseeing opportunities. Exploration while on a saddle is a snap, it is also the best way to get the best out of Copenhagen.
For a leisure pedal, there is the grassy Assistens Kirkegaard cemetery (here is buried many luminaries the likes of Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard), a great place for some sober wandering and then some picnic time – a favorite to many Danes. Alternately, a more dotted experience is to cruise along the city center while admiring the flamboyant but stately Amalienborg Palace (Slotsplads), where live the reigning Queen Margrethe II lives, and the Dutch Renaissance-style stock exchange called the Borsen – a very unique facade, specially with its dragon-tail spire.
Not to mention, there are fantastic view of the city’s orange-tile roofs and green copper domes to look out for. The vistas from atop the gilded candy-twist spire of Vor Frelsers Kirke (Sankt Annae Gade 29) are particularly striking.
Cost: The Baisikeli (Turesensgade 10) has rentals from 6.72 Euro for a half-day.
A unique decor complete with old time accessories mounted on the walls, a lovely intimate atmosphere, furniture from the 50′s, fantastic food and service that is just perfection, the Kalaset (Vendersgade 16) makes choosing difficult. Essentially organic, they get their ingredients from bio-farm. One more reason to try out this place. Definitely worth trying out is their falafel. And the potatoes with rosemary, French fries and cheese are to die for.
Cost: Around 2 to 5 Euro for a lunch.
Afternoon: Medicine, Music and Breweries
Hidden away right at the end of Bredgade, is Copenhagen’s Museum of Medical History (also called as the Medical Museion) which is a part of the University of Copenhagen and this museum is quite certainly one of the city’s best hidden gems. Containing many historic medical instruments which rather often look like methods of torture, chairs that were meant for examining prostitutes and cholera stretchers amongst many other exhibits. The atmosphere is known to get particularly ghoulish for some.
Cost: Entry 7 Euro
The Carlsberg Byen (yes, that particular brand) has been around for hundreds of years, at the very heart of Denmark’s brewing industry. The bulk of the brewing process has however been moved elsewhere now but that has only helped in rejuvenating this amazing industrial quarter into what it is now; a collection of vibrant galleries, lovely theaters and other attractions.
Carlsberg Brewery (Source: jill, jellidonut… whatever)
There’s a quite dramatic elephant archway which stands at the entrance on Ny Carlsbergvej. Quite a few things to check out here – the gallery complex of Ny Carlsbergvej 68; the amazing dance theater and center DANSEhallerne (not to mention its foyer cafe, Elefanten); the calm and serenity of J.C. Jacobsens Park; and of course, the brewery’s museum. But we need to choose any one of these so that we keep within both the time and money constraint.
Cost: DANSEhallerne entry at 7 Euro, show tickets usually start around 6 to 10 Euro
Evening and Night: Books and Gypsy Trumpets.
For this one, one needs to have the eye. For long, Norrebro has ben the working-class mixed-ethnicity melting pot of Copenhagen. And now, also a very diverse party spot. For one, the neighborhood is literally covered in punk street art.
The Underwood Ink feels more like a living room full on eclectic intellectuals than a drinking hole. There are bookshelves packed with international literature (these are for sale), some obscure paintings by even more obscure European artists (also for sale) and the tables piled are stacked with with microbrewed Danish beer bottles. A local recommends the sweet-sour Porse Guld.
A few blocks away, is the meeting place of world-music geeks, hippies and grad students where thy swig Cuban Cristal beer. The Global is a cozy little space with an elevated stage showcasing some really wide-ranging acts the likes of Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate and scores from the rather popular Serbian Gypsy trumpet legend by the name of Boban Markovic.
For dinner, an ideal place would be the Tight, where is an authentic Danish lifestyle; with mix of cuisine, prompt service, both indoor and outdoor seating, and of course, great food. Particularly endearing is theirseafood pasta, the amazing white wine and steamed mussels.
Cost: drinks at Global or Underwood Ink at around 8 Euro and dinner at Tight for around 6 Euro
There’s a lot to travel that is best done frugal. And often, they are the best ones.