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DANNY ROBINS' INDIE TRAVEL GUIDE TO... COPENHAGEN

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Jon Teamlaverne Jon Teamlaverne | 12:21 UK time, Thursday, 2 September 2010

Being married to a Swede, I shouldn't really be bigging up the Danes. They're rivals - like the Bloods and the Crips but in a open topped sandwich, cool design-obsessed Scandinavian way.

 

Denmark's capital, Copenhagen (or CPH as the cool kids call it) is only just across the water from Sweden, separated from the Swedish city of Malmö by a bridge. It's a city probably best seen by bike - as we were saying when we talked about cycling a few weeks back, it's a model for cycle-friendly town planning. It's also the source of the most influential cycle blog which is also a useful guide to cool places to hang out in.

 

Music-wise, Denmark hasn't been anywhere near as prolific as its neighbour Sweden when it comes to churning out indie bands, but Copenhagen has a strong indie scene with good live music venues and great bars. It's one of those cities that attracts a lot of foreigners to settle - so there's been plenty of English and American influences to the local scene.

 

One word of warning: Denmark is well expensive. You'll really notice it when out eating or drinking.

 

Where it's at...

 

Formerly run down and crime ridden, the area of Vesterbro is now hip as hell. It was taken over by young trendies due to the fact that it was pretty central yet property was cheap because it had a reputation as being sleazy - it was full of sex shops ever since Copenhagen earned itself a reputation as the first place to legalise pornography in 1967.

 

Now, it's one of the best areas to grab a bite to eat; it's full of great places to go out and in summer it even has it's own beach - Copencabana (see what they did there?) - with sand, palm trees, a beach bar and music.

 

Like New York it's got it's very own Meatpacking District - Kødbyen, which literally translates as 'meat city'. It was home to loads of butchers but now it's being taken over by trendy ad agencies, galleries, clubs and bars.

 

One of the coolest bars is Jolene, run by Dora and Dora. It was forced to move from another location because it was too noisey and settled here. It's in a converted slaughterhouse, it's named after a great song, what's not to like...?

 

They don't seem to have a website or an up-to-date Myspace, but this Facebook group seems to be a good source of what's going on...

 

Also, check out this Vesterbro record shop and café - Sort Kaffe og Vinyl. Good coffee and good vinyl.

 

Have a beer and wash your clothes...

 

Packed full of Indie kids who've come here for one of two reasons - either to wash their smalls in one of the washing machines (it's a working Laundromat) or to have a beer and some food. Good place to meet people in the evenings.

 

It's in Nørrebro, one of the most multicultural parts of Copenhagen and also home to one of Copenhagen's more unusual tourist attractions... The Barbie Museum - an insanely large private collection of Barbie dolls. The museum is only open by appointment with its eccentric owner, Lene Darlie Pedersen, who will also act as a guide.

 

Christiania

 

One place with a big reputation in CPH is the area of Christiania. It's basically like a sort of mini Amsterdam where 'anything goes' and it's the reason Swedes see Copenhagen as a den of iniquity.

 

It's existed since 1971 - inspired by Woodstock, a group of hippies squatted in an area that had formerly been a military barracks, creating a commune based around hippie ideals. Recently the Danish government have been cracking down on the area a bit - the dealers along the main street, imaginatively known as 'Pusher Street', used to have permanent stalls but these have now been removed so it's not quite as flagrant as it was.

 

It's still got a really strong sense of community though - that 'us against them', 'sticking it to the man' vibe. Cars are banned. And they still have 'direct action days' - especially now the government has clamped down and stepped up police patrols.

 

They even have their own currency. Although the Krone is accepted, the official currency is the Løn. They used to have a currency called the Klump. Don't know why they changed the name. They also used to have hemp tokens which could be exchanged for guess what...

 

Like Amsterdam's red light district, it can feel a bit seedy, especially in the daytime, but it's still home to some great venues:

 

Den Grå Hal (The Grey Hall) hosts some big gigs (we're talking Metallica and Bob Dylan amongst others) and also markets and parties.

 

Loppen - a smaller club that plays host to a lot of indie bands, the low stage puts the band at eye level with the audience which creates a good intimate vibe.

 

Roskilde

 

Roskilde, Denmark's ancient capital, just a 25 minute train trip from Copenhagen, plays host one of Europe's biggest music festivals every July. It's been going since 1971, around the same time Glastonbury started. It now attracts up to 115,000 fans. If you're going to the festival next year, you could easily spend time in Copenhagen too before or afterwards.

 

If you're going outside festival time, you won't find any evidence of the festival in Roskilde; it's all rather Jekyll and Hyde - the rest of the year it's a picturesque medieval town where the idea of rock n roll seems rather incongruous. Makes a nice day trip though and they have a cool Viking boat museum.

 

Sausages...

 

If you're running all round town you may need to end up grabbing some food on the go. You can't got to CPH and not sample something from the pølsevogn - literally "sausage wagon". They do unfeasibly big sausages in tiny buns. The wagons are also a good place to get chatting to locals. Make sure you buy Cocio cocoa drink to wash down your hot dog. Sounds weird I know but apparently it's what the Danes do...

 

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