Hygge [Copenhagen, Denmark]
Day 1: Green, then blue, then green again. The landscape could not make up its mind between those two colours, but it was oh-so pleasing to watch land and water blend into each other from above. Not so much from ground level, however, as our taxi driver sped past the emeral fields and a few red lights. It had been a long time since I'd travelled with my mother, so I was more than eager to leap at the opportunity when it presented itself (surprisingly) no more than a week earlier.
Our destination was a small hotel dangling above a railroad. If I stood on the window, I could wave to the passengers of the trains as they slowed to a stop near the station. I had to admit, this was the most unusual view I'd had yet, but it was certainly exciting.
After resting for a few minutes, barely enough for me to regain any of my strength, we set out for an early dinner. We felt drawn to a quaint cafe poking out from undeneath a rather imposing building. As it often happens with these places, it was completely empty but for us and the waitress. She happened to be a ray of sunshine from Ukrania. We could communicate in English quite happily, but we chose to have a bit of fun by using Bulgarian, Ukranian and Russian interchangeably. The food was delicious and the chai latte would keep us coming back for more.
Day 2: I confess to not having researched Denmark prior to this visit. My only associations with it were Hans Christian Andersen's haunting faiytales, fleeting glimpses of Copenhagen gleamed through Shakespeare's Hamlet, and a quick Google search of the capital. All in all, I expected to see architecture reminiscent of the tall, narrow houses of Amsterdam. And similar they were, in some aspects. I found Copenhagen to be much more "grand": in stark contrast to Amsterdam's spiderweb of tiny streets, many of the ones here could serve to land a small plane in a rush. As for the buildings, they stood tall and proud, like stone soldiers parting in neat rows to allow one passage. "Rome meets Amsterdam" was a thought that ran through my head, though this would hardly serve to encompass its entirety. I do not think that I could try to do so in writing, either.
We spent half of the day asleep, and the rest of it being lost. This gave us ample opportunities to browse the omnipresent souvenir stores for gifts. I could not resist giving a rather hefty sum for a fine specimen of a felt Danish gnome. He will serve to protect my home from harm, but I was given a strict warning not to forget to leave some rice porridge out for him on Christmas.
We passed many tourist attractions, but visited very few (something I will probably regret eventually). It might simply be my lack of knowledge of the city, but somehow I did not feel drawn to any of its sights, be they historical or other. In the evening, we took a stroll in the Botanical garden, located at a rather convenient distance from our hotel. I let myself lie down on the patchy grass and dozed off for a while.
Day 3: We spent our final day in Copenhagen at the Blue Planet Aquarium. This was my favourite part of the trip, I think, as I yearn to be as close as ethically possible to animals. With walls almost a metre thick, it housed a myriad of creatures straight out of Wonderland, and they were swimming in more water that one person could drink in their lifetime (not that humans would want to drink salt water). I took every opportunity I could to educate myself about as many of these beings as I could, which yielded some rather surprising results: I no longer fear sharks as much as I do the grouper fish, a species I had never heard of until that point. Who would have guessed?
With naught else left to tick off our list, we set off to find the final landmark we wanted to see before we left: the statue of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid. The images we'd seen of it had left us with the impression that it would be a rather large work of art. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised by a small, dainty little thing perched atop a rock just out of reaching distance. She was turned to the sea and her gaze was full of such heartbreaking, solemn longing, that for a moment I resented the hordes of loud, cheerful tourists posing for photos in front of her. My own mother asked for a picture, but her eyes were teary as we walked away.
All in all, Denmark made an unexpectedly wonderful first impression on me. Though I had no time to search for evidence of spellcastings or to follow any enchanted creatures through the more secluded parts of the Copenhagen, I now understand the country where the beautiful mind of Hans Christian Andersen drew inspiration from a bit better. If I were given the opportunity to revisit it for a bit longer, I would surely take it in a heartbeat. Thank you for the wonderful time, Denmark.