What do to in Copenhagen on a winter Sunday (or not)?

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Last Sunday we woke up in Copenhagen, Denmark – and thought: What should we do today? It’s February, only a few degrees celsius and our meeting about rare diseases finished at noon, while our plane is leaving at 10 o’clock at night.

I have visited Copenhagen many times before, but never in winter time. Mostly when Norwegians visit Copenhagen in summer their first stop is the charming harbour area Nyhavn (because that is where the ferry from Oslo used to dock in the old days). That’s why the Norwegian tradition is to have a beer in Nyhavn as the first stop in Copenhagen. For some people, it also becomes the last stop (before the boat back to Oslo)…

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Pedestrian street Strøget. And make sure you stay away from the tourist trap Mamma Rosa!

For the shopaholics – the next leg is usually Strøget – the pedestrian street with expensive shops like Gucci and Versace. But the closer you get to Town Hall Square (Rådhusplassen) the cheaper and more touristic the shops get. Strøget is fairly flat, without cobblestones (unlike Nyhavn) and easy to wheel. But unfortunately quite a few of the buildings have steps to go inside. This goes for many buildings in Copenhagen, including hotels. This is why, despite its charming fairly flat streets, the city is disqualified from being one of my favourite wheeling cities. A nice and interesting place to visit though…

After lunch I spoke to my friends about our plans for the day. We googled the options. Museums were closing at 5 o’ clock. Shops were open (closing early), but it was cold outside and not very tempting to walk around for long. We therefore decided to be cultural instead and pay the modern art museum Arken a visit. I had heard a lot of positive things about it.

We left our luggage at Scandic Sydhavnen and asked the receptionist to order a car with a large trunk (in Denmark called ”stationcar”). We also asked how far the ride to Arken was, and she told us about 15-20 minutes, since the museum was situated South West of Copenhagen. It would probably cost a few hundred DKR.

The taxi arrived after 3 minutes and we asked him if he knew where Arken museum was. ”Arken?” he said confused, with a bad accent. ”Never heard of it. I am new to this job. Do you have the address?”. I googled the address with my smartphone and gave him. ”Skovvejen 100”. Skov is the Danish word for forrest, so it’s not unlikely that there are a lot of Skovvejen in Denmark. We have one in Oslo as well. The driver plotted it into his GPS and asked: ”Is it Skovvejen in Gentofte? This is the only Skovvejen I can find on my GPS”. ”Uhm, we don’t know” we said – having no clue about Danish geography (neither did he it turned out). ”We will check.” So I googled again (using the rest of my megabyte quota) and through my phone’s GPS, I found the direct road description from the hotel to the museum. ”Take us here”, I said and pointed at the blue dots on my cellphone. The driver looked at it for 5 seconds and started driving…

And we drove. And we drove. After we had been driving for around 20 minutes the meter was showing 400-something. Eventually we were in something called Skovvejen. But where was the museum? I thought it was supposed to be situated by the sea, and now we were in an estate neighbourhood. No museum in sight. The cellphone had to be used again, and to my (shouldn’t have been such a) big surprise we were 25 minutes North East of Copenhagen! The complete wrong direction. I told the driver this, and asked him what his plan was. He said ”I don’t know. I am new to this job. Do you still want to go to the museum…?”

"I am new to this job. I don't know how to turn off the meter."
Meter still running…

Well yes, obviously we still wanted to. But the museum was closing in a few hours and I must say, I was starting to loose faith that this driver was capable of finding anything except maybe his big nose. After a long discussion where all the alternatives seemed pretty lousy, we agreed that the driver would drive us back to Town Hall Square (the easiest place to find in Copenhagen) if we paid him what the meter said now (470DKR). ”I don’t know how to turn off the meter he said”. ”Well, that is your problem” I responded. Take us to Råhusplassen!”

So we headed back to the city centre. The meter kept running and I wondered what was going to happen when we got to Copenhagen? Was he going to be angry? Was he going to call his manager? Was he going to let us out of the car if we did not pay what the meter said?” Nothing of this happened.  When we got there, we paid 470 DKR as promised and he even gave me a receipt (which he made me sign for one reason I  never quite understood). When we got out the car, the driver looked down and said: ”I am very very sorry you didn’t get to see the museum.” Somehow I felt sorry for him and got a feeling that this man wasn’t going to last long as a taxi driver in Copenhagen…

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Welcome back April 11th!

Oh well, what to do now? Town Hall Square was full of construction work, and it was chilly. So we decided to take some time to think (and drink) at Hard Rock Café next to Tivoli.

The cafe was one of the few places I remembered, where they had level access and a disabled friendly toilet. Tivoli – the amusement park was not an option, since it is (probably wisely) closed during winter. We therefore comforted ourselves with some frozen (yes it’s a bit weird in winter) strawberry drinks, and talked about the crazy taxi experience and what to do next.

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After sitting there for a while, we decided to find a restaurant to have dinner. We asked the waitress where to find good but not too expensive restaurants and she recommended the side streets on the left side of Strøget. We headed down Strøget, which has a mix of cheap kebab joints, expensive lunch restaurants and restaurants with steps to enter. We also passed a really really bad restaurant I went to last time I visited Copenhagen (Mamma Rosa). Stay away from that one! We also passed a lot of shops, including one that sold a bag-version of Rebecca and Knut Erik’s cat Josefine. But no accessible restaurants.

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Who killed the cat?

I remembered having seen some nice restaurants next to the big square Kongens Nytorv, so we headed in that direction. The first one was Italian and looked really nice with a lot of people inside. Unfortunately it also turned out that they had replaced the accessible entrance with a wardrobe. However, the restaurant was full so we went to the next one – called Geist. We took a short glimpse on the menu – and saw that they had fish, meat and different stuff. Allrighty then! Since the restaurant had level access and tables available, we decided to try. The first impression was good. The interior was very cool and we soon realised that we (unaware of it) had ended up in quite a trendy place.

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This was confirmed when we looked at the (I must say a bit peculiar) menu, consisting of small courses with 2 ingredienses each. After asking the waitress a bunch of silly questions (which she answered very friendly and professionally), we ended up with 3 different choices: Mashed potatoes with crab for me, chicken wings with carrots for Rebecca and steak with beetroot for Knut Erik. The food was…let’s just say interesting.

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Where is my crab…?!

Since the dinner was quite modest in size – the girls decided for a sweet dessert, and Knut Erik went for a dark Danish beer instead. My dessert looked cooler than it tasted, but Rebecca claimed hers was the best piece of chocolate she had tasted in her whole life.

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In chocolate heaven
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Pear with caramellized almonds

The Geist restaurant is cool with a nice interior, level access, disabled friendly toilet (although used as a storage place), friendly staff and interesting food. If you are really hungry and want a traditional meal, do go somewhere else.¨

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Disabled friendly toilet with designer sink

It was interesting to see the expression on people’s faces when they took a closer look at the menu.There were some raising of eyebrows going on and my thoughts went to the emperor’s new clothes – a childrens story from the Danish author H.C. Andersen. But if you want to try something different – try Geist! We don’t regret it.

Eventually it was time to collect our bags and head to the airport. At Kongens Nytorv there is a taxi stand. Since we had two small manual wheelchairs, the 3 taxis who were there already, decided they were all too small to fit both our chairs. They were probably right, and since our wheels where dirty from Danish winter streets, I didn’t want to suggest the Rio de Janeiro-method (chairs inside car). But the second taxi driver was helpful and called his brother, who were just 10 minutes away. In the meantime – a stationcar actually arrived at the taxi stand, and we considered taking that one instead. But when he saw our two wheelchairs he panicked and litterally threw his car out in the street again with a crazy maneuver, and drove away.

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Copenhagen has many kinds of taxi drivers. We tried the whole range.

The other drivers were outraged and embarrassed, and said he was a disgrace to the taxi business. He probably thought we were just in need of a short ride, and he didn’t bother to stuff our wheelchair into his trunk (which would take him the gruesome time of 3 minutes). Little did he know that we were heading to the airport and that we paid the very friendly brother of very friendly Turkish driver 2 a huge tip. Just to make a statement, that wheelchair users can also be good customers and not just a hazzle…

Speaking of hazzle. Security checks can be quite a hazzle these days. Please empty pockets! Please remove coat! Please don’t forget your brain! Can I feel you up madame?

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But still, it doesn’t keep us from travelling. And Copenhagen Airport is definitely not the worst place to be. Actually Rebecca concluded that the airport had almost all her favourite shops. Alas they were just closing when we got there. All of them besides Victoria Secret. So I got to buy myself some sexy lingerie, but left the little cute bag in the bathroom since it was not very practical to carry.

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Bye bye bag…

Also we got to try a brand new airplane (boeing 737) on our way home. It was the aircraft’s virgin flight. And because of some dance contest in Copenhagen, the airplane was filled with dance celebrities (Skal vi danse?) and young and handsome models. To be honest I have never seen so many pretty people in such a small space. We fit right in… 😉

”The more you travel – the more you save”, some airline says. Well, maybe not money – but you do collect a lot of experiences. We can agree on that… 😉

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