I eased out of bed today and headed in to get a sense of Copenhagen. It's been three days, but I actually spent some time in the city centre. And sadly, I don't feel like I really know it yet. It ticks all the European checkboxes - architecture, people, public transport - but it's lacking a certain identity or character, at least to me. Though again, that's only a couple of hours in.
I was heading towards the Stella Polaris music festival, an open air, free event held in a park just behind the National Art Gallery. I had lunch in a bakery in the city, that was like an upscale Bakers Delight in that half the shop was dedicated to the ovens and food preparation area. In fact, they were showing it off, with a glass barrier enabling you to eat staring at the bakers.
I knew that the better acts were probably playing later in the day (it started at midday and was scheduled to end at 9pm), so I didn't feel pressed to get there straight away. I wandered through the parks around the area, one of which holds the Rosenborg Castle, the old home of Danish royalty. Quite a nice building, but with a steep entry fee and the festival in the back of my mind, I didn't go in. I also toured the Botanic Gardens, which lacked dinosaurs and were mid-renovation, so I headed up in the direction of the booming bass.
The festival, which I'd passed and had looked at a glance fairly roomy, had of course filled significantly in my time wandering. I was also a bit underprepared - the facilities were limited, with the expectation being that you'd bring a blanket and picnic. I found a place on the side on a wall, so I didn't have to sit on the wet grass, and settled in. Of course, the announcements were all in Danish, so I didn't really know who was playing at any one time, but it was a mix of cool electronica and more upbeat dubby dance. Of the bands playing, the only name I recognised was Royksopp.
It was an interesting crowd. There were plenty of families with young children -I guess a Sunday in the park with music is fun for kids too - but even babies swaddled up in blankets. There were children with earmuffs on, a sensible choice given the noise, but it does beg the question of whether they should really be there amidst the drunken revellers in the first place. There was an interesting trade in beer cans too - several people were roaming the grounds picking up empties, presumably to redeem for cash upon recycling. The attendees were nevertheless predominantly hipsters, again proving that button up flannelette is a worldwide scourge. Thankfully, though, the shaved side of head but longer mohawk trend hasn't caught on back in Australia. Yet. (It is everywhere over here.)
I enjoyed the atmosphere for about four hours, at which point the lack of company to enjoy it with. increasing rowdiness of the crowd, suggestion of rain, and my hunger all prompted me to move on. I found a Chinese place by the main station that looked authentic and had that traditional poor service you hope for. The place was admittedly understaffed, and it took me five minutes to be seated and fifteen to get a menu, but they still cleared empty tables before taking my dish away or asking if I wanted anything else. I needed to ask twice for a menu, once more for chopsticks, and again for condiments. Still, I had nowhere to be.
On the table next to me, a Chinese guy was introducing his female American (?) friend to the culinary delights. Her face as he raved about frogs legs, chicken feet and pork hooves just about made up for everything. Plus, it was cheap for Copenhagen. As they were speaking in English, you can't help but eavesdrop as it's the only thing you can hear that you can understand. I couldn't pick if it was a date, or just friends, but there was something about a shoe store. And every now and then I got the feeling she actually lived here in Copenhagen despite the American accent. Makes me wish I'd asked them, but I'd already been caught smiling at her reactions earlier and didn't want to accentuate the stalker vibe. It's a problem I have a lot, actually.