Sunday, October 22, 2017

Copenhagen: Blondes & Bikes

Copenhagen: Blondes & Bikes

View from the Round Tower
This beautiful city on the water is home to the happiest people on earth – which makes sense given Tivoli, an amusement park in the city center! With great food, beautiful boys, and even the city square named for LGBT equality, Copenhagen provides much for the gay (as well as not gay) traveler – but don’t come without being ready to part with some cash.

I visited Copenhagen just for one weekday (and weeks later, a few hours on a layover). With incredible luck, my day was a Tuesday with an annual celebration that ensured late-night partying: high school graduation! Of course, in the US this would have meant house parties – but here, where the drinking age is 16 and you can drink openly on the street (remember happiest people…) meant an exuberant evening until at least 4am.

Can you tell what his custom
message is?
Here, high school graduates (and some from specialty schools) wear special caps – rounded (usually white) hats with a custom message or your name on the back. Of course, you can only really wear these hats around graduation time – they are a one-time-thing – but it’s a sort of rite of passage – so the city was filled with these youngsters, including, of course, each gay bar.
These Swans are in protect mode!

My local friend walked me through the maze of shopping streets in the center – he also pointed out the “lakes” dotting the city center where I found these incredible swans on my return trip. Also we were too late to go up the Round Tower - I saved for my layover – the best view of the whole city. As we walked, we ran into graduates with their hats – and more than some shouting - “The right hat is red” (Den rigtige hue er rød) – because the national high school uses red – other schools and vocations are not. Finally, our destination was yummy dinner along Rainbow Square – recently renamed to commemorate LGBT equality - eating outside (it was almost warm enough as the sun set) at Oscar Bar & Café.

G-A-Y Club Copenhagen (weekends only)
Oscar Bar & Cafe
Then it was time to bar hop. What surprised me most was that these bars were the smokiest I’ve observed in Europe (well, at least since Prague) – the law allows smoking in bars of a certain small size – but it appears exact size that now only can financially exist, at least on a Tuesday. Sadly I missed the gay club G-A-Y - open only on weekends.

Gay Street - Studiestraede
The most unique, chill bar is the Jailhouse – located on the main LGBT-filled street, Studiestraede. More of a bear-friendly bar, its simply a non-pretentious gay bar – where friendly tourists and locals chatted us up. All the kids were at Cosy, smoking and dancing up a storm. For this celebratory weeknight – everyone seemed to end up at Never Mind, where I enjoyed a private mirrored bathroom – and met a couple out for one of the boys’ graduation celebration.

Book your accommodations early – even I held out thinking I would just grab a hostel, but that cost $40 for a bunk in an 8 person room. Of course, I only slept a couple of hours – after walking home from Never Mind as the sun was rising. But I stoped into the room early on long enough to catch a conversation with a Thai guy traveling across Europe. Sadly, I didn’t use the free drink on the rooftop bar at the Generator.

Real castles from this roller-coaster
While the world’s oldest amusement park isn’t in Copenhagen (it’s called Bakken just 10 km north!), but the second oldest is Tivoli and opened in 1843 – right in what’s now the city center! My return layover included a few afternoon hours here. What struck me most about this locale: they didn’t need to build a fake castle nearby for scenery (a la Disney); real castles nearby date to the 1600s. There is one decent roller-coaster, a drop and of course swings that take you very high – but otherwise, the rides are for young kids. Still the park is more about sitting on the green, enjoying a wine, taking in a concert and watching the world go by.

Nyhavn Street/Docks
Tivoli Tourist Note: Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into partaking in the “virtual” roller-coaster – they give you a headset that blinds you to the beautiful sights – as you watch a virtual reality chasing a dragon – that’s about as good video quality as a Nintendo 64 game. Enjoy the beautiful sights you wind rapidly through the park – it’s a quick ride, but the best one I could find.
At least I got a pic with the hat...

Finally don’t forget to get your picture at the docks at Nyhavn street – where beautiful alternating colors stand out against the (typically) grey skies. Also, for new cheap (and not so cheap) eats visit the Meatpacking District – where I ate a great burger and wandered around at this hipster zone that’s revitalizing.

Copenhagen’s beautiful architecture, friendly people, and ease of life will attract you back – I didn’t get my white cap, so I’ll have to be back in June next time!