Denmark disrespected my pockets. Yes, it stripped me naked several times when it came time for the bill and left me praying that every bit of my coins stretch until this trip ended. I was aware Copenhagen was expensive but just wasn't fully aware until I got off the plane with a taste for some pho which is reasonably cheap, depending, and was left flabbergasted while looking at a bill for 31.00€. That is equivalent to 213.47 Dkk(corona) and $32.00 USD. I can get this in Spain for 4.00€ and in New York for $9.00, but I digress. It was what it was, and I just had to bite the bullet and take myself to a nearby ATM machine to take out a little more than I had planned, but...
...So I didn't. I was going to work with what I had and just reconsider what meal was the most important one to eat as I traveled in one of the most expensive countries within Europe. I stayed in the SteelHouse Hostel, which had a high rating on hostelworld.com as the beds replicated something you'd find in a spaceship portrayed in sci-fi movies with a state of the art gym, swimming pool, cinema room, and television room, game room, a kitchen, and heated bathroom floors! HEATED, I say! I think that was the best part about my stay there. Upon entering my room, I was greeted by a Slovenian woman that decided to complete her business trip with a mini-vacay during the weekend and made it known that she is NOT in support of Melania Trump who just so happens to be from the same country. Finding myself at ease after she made this statement, we found ourselves having booked the same tour guide the next morning and decided to just stick with each other throughout the duration of the tour which led to us just sticking together throughout the rest of her trip. It was comforting because although I enjoy traveling alone, there's nothing like meeting a new, SANE person that you can exchange life experiences with and find out how much more you have in common than not. During our free tour guide which consisted of us walking throughout the city in cold and wet weather, we managed to visit the Copenhagens city Council, Colorful Nyhavn, visit one of the many Christmas Markets, circle The Round Tower and finished with seeing the changing of the Royal Danish Guards at the Amalienborg Palace where the Queen resides.
After the tour guide was finished, the Slovenia girl and I, let's call her Annie, managed to connect with more people who wanted to do the same things we had planned on doing for the remainder of that day; visit the Little Mermaid statue, go the Christiania Market and end the night at Tivoli Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in Copenhagen that was still up and running and known for it’s winter wonderland fairytale aesthetics during the Christmas holidays. So BOOM, we had a plan, and we were going to execute it. Now, did the fact that I couldn’t feel my hands stop me? Nope; Delayed me, as I stopped into a store to find some gloves, but didn’t stop me. And now we were off! As we made our way to see the Little Mermaid, there was a statue of a black woman that caught and captured my attention. I read about this woman that was created by two local black female Danish artists in memory of her. Her name? Mary Thomas a.k.a Rebel Queen. She was captivating, regal and confident sitting on her throne making people acknowledge her presence. To give you a brief history lesson, Mary Thomas was one of the three women in St.Croix to lead a fiery revolt against Danish colonialism that spread amongst fifty plantations. Now, if that ain't a true O.G., I don't know what it. As described in a New York Times Articles written by Martin Selsoe Sorensen, the two artists Jeannette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle, wanted to display to the Danish public their masterpiece titled, I am Queen Mary, to challenge the narrative that they have been led to believe regarding Denmark's involvement within the slave trade. Read more of the article here.
After admiring the statue for about fifteen minutes, I caught up with the rest of the group, and as we walked, I could see in the distance signs guiding us to the rock that the fish-human I obsessed over as a kid sat on. My excitement grew more and more as her frame in the distance became closer but unexpectedly smaller. The Little Mermaid was indeed just like her title described, small as hell. It wasn't as disappointing as when I saw The Mona Lisa, but it was definitely a lot smaller than I expected. However, deep down in my gut, I could feel myself wanting to belt out a "Part of their World" as someone snapped my picture, but I wasn't trying to embarrass myself, at least not today. So, after a few photos had been snapped of the sculpture, the group and I headed to the next site.
Christiania, a town the tour guide was telling us about, while I was not paying attention. This part of the trip was where I just tagged along, not knowing at the time that this small village was known for recreational drugs and their tension-filled relationship with the local authorities. At the time I had not a clue and entered the village bright-eyed and bushy tailed ready to take a photo until a guy, who seemed a bit off, runs up to me in a panic asking me to delete the picture. "Why?" I ask. He then begins to explain that the police might find him and his friends. And at this point, the whole dang place became suspect, and I proceeded with caution.
Oh, you thought I was going to leave? Well, that probably would've been the best idea, but I was reassured that this little community had different rules than the rest of Copenhagen and the rules were legal; one of them being that soft drugs were allowed. So, tourists from all over come here to witness what it's like to be self-governed and not "live by" the rules of the Queen. Once known as the barracks of the Danish army, it was later abandoned and taken over by a group of young people in the seventies with the objective to create a peaceful, coexisting autonomous community. Their rules. Their way. Soft drugs would be seen as legal only used and sold within their vicinity. In the beginning, the local authorities didn't have a problem with this, but as soft drugs started to be mixed with hard drugs, the government began to grow concern, and undercover police started to be a growing threat within Christiania. However, as of today, the small town is said to have returned back to using and selling only soft legal drugs having much fewer problems with the authorities. Nonetheless, picture taking is still frowned upon, and there will be days when the townspeople may look at you as though you are the police about to make a drug bust. Other than that, as you walk around the grounds of Christiania, you'll find an indoor Christmas market, artistically made homes, a live band and of course gardens of street pharmaceuticals being grown next to the people selling them. It was an experience, to say the least.
Tired and exhausted, we decided to head back to each of our hostels, rest, and meet back up to take on Tivoli, the grand finale. Two hours after a deep nap, Annie and I headed to Tivoli to meet the others. What Tivoli ended up being far exceeded my expectations. Snow, lights, majestic ornaments, the screams of children on roller coasters that zoomed above us; we had stepped into a divine abode that brought out the inner child in us as we wandered around with mulled wine anticipating the next show of lights that awaited us around each corner. It was spectacular, to say the least, and a hell of a way to bring in this Christmas.