I awoke to another traditional Danish breakfast of pastries and juice, this time opting for half of a chocolate one and half of marzipan. The marzipan was definitely the favourite, perhaps chocolate pastries should just be left in the capable hands of the French? We enjoyed a nice chilled morning before getting ready and walking over to the National Art Museum via some very pretty parks.
The museum unfortunately recently added an admission fee albeit I got a discounted entry rate for being under 30. It was the first and only museum of the trip and given the eclectic mixture of old European art alongside some really Modern works I had high expectations. We started out in the European Art section which covered many different countries all the way from 1300 – 1800. There were a few famous pieces of Rembrandt and Rubens but by far my highlights were from Italian artists Guardi and his The Bucintoro Festival of Venice and Paninni’s Inside the Pantheon. Both were fantastically detailed pieces and while I can accept the skill in some of the older European works I find a lot of it very dark, religious or portrait based. These landscapes were much more to my taste although I think this particular exhibition was so varied and large it would probably have something for everyone. I then headed through to the Modern Art section which you access over a bridge and is located at the back of the gallery along a long narrow corridor. Again there was so much variety but I enjoyed almost all of the pieces, especially the diversity of installation art, mixed with videos alongside paintings. They had arranged it chronologically and it was very interesting to see how it has developed in the last 100 years. I particularly enjoyed Jorn’s Scultura Figurata, Sondergaard’s trio of Landscapes, Rasmussen’s The Anxiety but my favourite had to be Roepstorff’s Desolation of the Beast.
After the modernity I headed back through to Danish and Nordic art. I noticed a huge contrast between the work here and the European works with a lot more landscapes particularly associated around the sea, something I enjoyed very much. They still had the portrait style works but they seemed to hold a lot more light and be generally much detailed and interesting pieces. This was a huge surprise for me having not really seen many pieces of work from the Scandinavian regions before. The time period was a lot later and so that could be why the style was a bit more to my eye being from 1750-1900. I loved Sodring’s The Ruins of Brahehus near Jonkoping, Sweden, a gorgeous landscape focussing on ruins. However, I also enjoyed the slightly more modern Fjaestad painting; The First Breath of Cold on the Water which was more abstract but still beautiful. Luckily, I had left the best until last without even meaning to do so. I am particular fan of a lot of French work and the final exhibition was from 1900-30 covering a lot of fantastic pieces. This was by far the smallest gallery and easily the one I spent the most time in. The Matisse work, with almost a whole room dedicated to him, was the highlight of the entire gallery for me. They had The Green Stripe, a wonderfully bright and intriguing painting and Nude with a White Scarf which I could have looked at for hours. They also has Interior with a Violin which while also by him is in a much more precise geometric style. I would definitely say the gallery is value for money, particularly for people interested in a wide variety of different styles of work and a great way to spend a good half day in the city.
After finishing up in the museum our stomachs led us in the direction of food. Having loved the Smorrebrods of the first day we attempted to check out Schonnemanns, one of the best places in the city to eat these and very traditional. Due to it’s popularity the waiter almost laughed at us when we rocked up just after 2p.m asking if they had a spare table. The restaurant offers 2 services for lunch and it is essential to pre-book if you want to eat here. With hunger pangs looming we made our way across the street and ended up in a square where we stumbled across Café Phonix. It seemed busy enough and offered inside seating so we could escape the rain. I ordered the chicken special, consisting of a middle eastern themed platter of chicken kebab, humus, salad and 2 salads. It was served with warm pitta and was perfectly nice although didn’t come near to the standard we encountered elsewhere. The portions were huge and we both rolled out as we made our way to our second walking tour of the trip.
One of the things I had heard a lot about prior to arriving in Copenhagen was Christiania – the free town located inside the city where they choose to live by their own laws and so don’t follow the rule of Denmark as a whole. It sounded very intriguing and after enjoying our free walking tour of the city on the first day we decided to join the same company for another free tour, this time focussing on Christianshavn and particularly Christiania which is located on the island. We had Dan O as our guide and while originally being from Australia, has lived on Christianshavn for over 10 years and so was able to point out lots of architectural anomalies such as the sinking houses and old mills alongside the shiny new Nordbank buildings. It was known historically to be the less affluent area of the city although now it is very popular and seen as the cool area to live in due to the character. We passed by a very interesting bar with kayaks to rent and a beach just beside one of the bridges that links onto the island. I would say for those interested in the tour that the guide does not actually guide you around Christiania itself, instead the tour focusses more on Christianshavn as an island and then a short talk is given about Christiania before you walk through. Christiania offers their own guides for those interested in tours of this in more detail. We were warned by Dan of the 3 main rules prior to entering, no running (those selling weed may panic and think it’s a police raid and so dispose of their stash), no photographs (the dealers don’t want their pictures all over social media) and finally have fun. The walk through was eye-opening, I have never been anywhere, including Amsterdam, where cannabis is grown and sold so openly. As you walk down Pusher Street there are lots of little booths with people selling their wares for all to see. Due to the police raids, all of the sellers wore balaclavas which certainly added an element of danger and made both me and my mum a tad uneasy. I am glad I visited but I am not sure how safe I would have felt to walk around ourselves.
Luckily, around a 5 minute walk down at the coast is one of my favourite places in Copenhagen – Copenhagen Street Food at Paper Island. The concept is basically an old converted warehouse with lots of different food stalls and bars inside. The food is reasonably priced (for Denmark) and very good quality, plus the amount of choice is just great. After our pretty big lunch we weren’t too hungry and so I settled on a small bacon and parmesan cheese hot dog from Polse Kompagniet just as you enter the building. Hot dogs had been on my list of must try foods and while this one didn’t really fit the authenticity brief and the many standard food trucks you see around the city it was so good! We enjoyed sitting outside at the shore on the large seating tables whilst eating and just watching the world go by. Unfortunately, the rain started and so we headed back to the apartment to chill out, ensuring we picked up a cheap bottle of wine en-route. Living the dream!