Making Her Mark on Copenhagen, One Bike Ride at a Time

By Tara Martinelli


After a few weeks of acclimating to London, Tara takes on Copenhagen. (Courtesy of Tara Martinelli)

Where in the world is Tara? Well friends, this week I decided to kick off a semester of Euro adventures in what many consider to be the happiest place on Earth. No, I did not go to Disneyworld, but rather headed for the colorful streets of Copenhagen, Denmark! I would have loved to be able to greet you all in Danish but sadly, in my four days there, I did not once learn how to say hello. In my defense, it was not for a lack of trying. I tried Googling, like any modern 21st century woman would do, but my Google findings just made me all the more confused about the language. I asked people I met how to say it and everyone just said, “Hi or hello is fine!” No one took offense and luckily, everyone in Copenhagen speaks English.

The best thing about Copenhagen is its size. It is very quaint and easy to get around, so being in the city for four days was a perfect amount of time. Many consider Copenhagen to be one of, if not the happiest place on Earth populated with the happiest of people. Tara’s assessment: this is mostly true.

Because Copenhagen is so small and has giant bike lanes, my friends and I thought the best way to see it all would be to rent bikes from our hostel and hit the open road. Eat my dust, Copenhagen! Yeah, not so much. I had not been on a bike since probably age 12 and was convinced that I would be the one person on Earth to actually forget how to ride one. Let’s just say that I wasn’t totally wrong. I was able to ride the bike but was also very aware that I was much more skilled in this art at the age of 12—not great for the ole’ self-esteem.If there is one thing that’ll piss off the Danish, it’s a little American girl not knowing how to control herself in the bike lane. That’s right, I managed to get yelled at by the happiest people on Earth. What can I say? It’s a gift.

Another strange thing about Copenhagen is how different the parts of the city are from each other. One minute I was on a colorful canal tour through Nyhavn, the next I was meeting the royal horses (which are just as smelly and scary as regular horses) and later went to Paper Island to eat some of the best (and only) pulled duck I have ever had in my life.

The most interesting part of Copenhagen, by far, is Christiania. If you have never heard of Christiania, I would recommend some Googling. The only way to describe Christiania is as an anarchist zone which at one point was not even a part of Denmark. My passion for rule-following would keep me from ever being able to live here. The streets are dirt roads with people on either side selling test tubes of hash (concentrated marijuana) next to metal trash cans with flames coming out of the top to heat the area. No, I did not buy any marijuana—can you imagine how lethal I would have been once I got back on my bike?

While walking along a lake in Christiania, I had no one the most surreal experiences of my life. We somehow managed to stumble upon a funeral procession. The neighborhood has no more than 900 residents and it seemed as though everyone had come out for the ceremony. After being encouraged to join the procession, we respectfully slid in the back of the line and followed the crowd towards a bridge. Why would we do that? Because we’re Fordham students and have no fears! Very quickly, a friend of mine realized that we were about to witness a Viking funeral. That’s right. You just can’t make this stuff up, folks.

A Viking funeral consists of sending the urn of ashes out in the middle of the lake on a boat, setting the boat on fire and watching it burn until the boat sinks. After the sendoff, the mood in the crowd changed. It had become a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death. We were all very confused after leaving Christiania, but definitely happy that we had gone.
My suggestions to anyone who wants to visit Copenhagen: know how to divide by seven very quickly in order to be able to know how much money you’re spending (one US dollar is about seven Kroner—don’t be fooled, you will not save money), bring a hat and gloves or may God have mercy on your soul and eat some Danish food; it’s so yummy! Oh, and one more thing: be prepared to never want to leave.


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