Monday, 3 June, 2019 - 22:24

#MobilityIsMyLifestyle: Part 1 - Copenhagen

Let me introduce you to a pocket-sized fairytale, a city small enough to cycle from one end to the other in twenty minutes, but large enough to offer you bundles of new ideas, sights, designs and cuisine.

When I was a kid, the book “Around the world in eighty days” by the French author Jules Verne made me wish I was the main character of the novel, so you can probably imagine how excited I felt when the team of Mov’in Europe messaged me saying that I won the #MobilityIsMyLifestyle competition and that I’m going to travel around Europe in fourteen days. If Jules Verne were still alive, I would probably message him saying “Hey Jules, I made it! Now I’m writing my side of the story!

I packed my suitcase, assured my mum that everything was going to be okay and blew my siblings kisses from the car. Being from Croatia, the journey from my hometown to our first stop took me 12 hours, but the time just flew by. In a blink of an eye, I was in Copenhagen, the city where I met my travel buddy, Justyna.

Like any real mainstream tourists, we explored all of the most famous spots on the first day. It wasn’t hard to agree on our first stop, Christiania. This is a small district in the central part of Copenhagen, filled with chill people and colorful graffiti (one of them saying: “foreigners please don’t leave us alone with the Danes”). Not even 10 minutes away by foot, we stumbled upon Nyhavn, the most instagrammable place in Copenhagen. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me give you a hint: rainbow houses pushed together like LEGO bricks to frame both sides of the canal. At this point, it started getting colder and as the sky turned pink, we settled for our last stop, the Little mermaid statue. By the way, it was far smaller than we expected, but we were in Denmark, so we had to see it!

Coming back to our Danhostel Copenhagen Amager, a charming hostel surrounded by nature powered by HI hostels, we had an international dinner organised by the ESN members. While trying delicious food from all around the world, our amazing company of international students shared some hidden spots of the city with us. We still had a day and a half to see as much of the city as we could, and there was no better way to do it than on bikes! Everybody owns a bicycle in Copenhagen, and you cannot fully experience the city without renting one.

While cycling around the city, we saw so many parks and lakes that it soon became clear why it was chosen to be the “European Green Capital” back in 2014. PersonalIy, I also found it fascinating how many religious buildings they had for a country that is mostly atheist, and how happy and welcoming the Danes were, even though they lived in a country with depressing weather.

If you are traveling to Copenhagen soon, I want you to know that on Tuesdays most museums are completely free, so it is worth checking them out. This was exactly what we did. The Design museum and Glyptoteket left us completely mesmerised. Their timeless, minimalistic and edgy designs don’t overrule the beautiful old sculptures and paintings. There is a museum for anyone's taste!

My favourite hidden gem of the city was the “Black Diamond”, a huge library named after the beautiful contemporary building where it is situated. I also loved the big graveyard where we found the grave of the one and only, Hans Christian Andersen. Graveyards in Copenhagen are not sad places but rather a form of park. There are always people sitting and reading a book on the bench, jogging or just enjoying the first sunny day in a while. Sadly, we couldn’t experience Tivoli, the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world, because it wasn’t open when we were there, but hey, we might come back!

The only thing that didn’t impress me in the city of Copenhagen was their coffee, but this might be just me, because drinking coffee on the Balkans is a sacred ritual. The average cup of espresso in Croatia will cost you around one euro, while in Copenhagen it is three to four times more expensive and not even half as good. But I definitely encourage you to try one and see how you like it! Same goes for food, it might be organic and delicious, but I had a heartache any time I had to open my wallet and give so much money for a meal. I’m not going to lie, I lost some pounds (both money and weight).

During our stay, our main goal was to experience hygge [pronounced hue-gah]. If you try to translate this word to English, you will lose its meaning. But if I had to explain it, I would say it is a mood of coziness that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking a chocolate cake or spending time at home with your family.

Some say that hygge might be the secret recipe behind the smiling faces of Danes, which I don’t find strange at all because every bit of Copenhagen was designed for life and built to suit a person. From their urban structure, organised public transport and developed technology to their tradition, healthy cuisine, and free education and health care. It is a blend between old and new, concrete and nature, history and technology.

Justyna and I put our postcards in the mailbox and rushed to the airport. We send you all hugs and kisses from Copenhagen!

Written by Roberta Bajčić

#MobilityIsMyLifestyle is a competition organised by ESN and several of our partners - StudentUniverse, Hostelling International and Thalys - where participants can win a paid trip to six European cities in the period of two weeks. To enter the competition, the participants had to record a 45-60 seconds video of themselves talking about the topic “What is international mobility for you?”. This competition is a good example of a successful collaboration between an organisation and its partners in achieving a mutual goal - promoting and providing young people with more opportunities to experience mobility.

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