Rocking Copenhagen

Whooarrrr, roraorr, wuahh…. This is the sound of our Copenhagen weekend. We got invited to the Copenhell Festival, where Soulfly and Marilyn Manson where the pop acts among all Hevay Metal bands. However, we used this invitation to explore the Scandinavian metropolis.


To have most of the trip, we start early on Friday morning. The flight from Berlin to Copenhagen only takes about 40 minutes. It doesn’t suprise, when the steward spills the coke on his suit. He is in a hurry. It seems like we start the landing approach right after we’ve reached our flight level. The weather-god means well, because against the weather forecasts it is sunny. From the airport we take a cab to the Hotel Fox. It is located in the city centre right at Jarmers Plads and across the street from the wonderful Ørstedsparken.

Already when you enter the lobby and see the paintings on the walls, you know that it’s something special. 61 rooms, 21 artists, 1,000 ideas. Each room is an individual piece of art – from wacky comical styles to strict graphic design, from fantastic street art and Japanese Manga to simply spaced out fantasies. You will find flowers, fairytales, friendly monsters, dreaming creatures and so on. Unfortunately our rooms are not ready, so we drop our luggage at the reception and leave for our first appointment at Universal Music Denmark.

With an population of about 550.000 citizens Copenhagen is quite accessible. Friends recommended to take bicycles to explore the city. Copenhagen is called Bike City. Everybody who doesn’t have to carry too many things seems to ride their bikes. As a tourist you can even rent bikes for free at certain spots in the city. That’s a great idea, but in reality it doesn’t always work right. We do see those bike stations every now and then, but there is rarely more than one bike available and you most likely won’t travel on your own, right? We knew we would need the bikes the whole weekend, so we just rent them at the hotel.

On our way to Universal, that is situated in Christianshavn, we discover a flea market that we put straight onto our to do list for later. Arriving at Universal we cannot suppress a little smile. You expect a pretentious glass and steel building or whatsoever. In Copenhagen you get an old beautiful building, traditionally painted in yellow with a little tiny sign next to the door – all through likeable. After our meeting we decide to go back to the hotel to check in to our rooms, of course with a quick stop at the flea market to successfully spend the first few Danish kroners.


 We bring our luggage up to the rooms. On the way I discover a nice roof terrace. It must be great to sit here and have a last drink before you call it a day. My room is #205, designed by the German artist team of Eike König and Martin Lorenz. The topic of the room is companionship. And it’s true, you don’t feel alone with all those little comic thingies looking at you.

After getting settled, we are ready to explore Copenhagen. We start with the area around our hotel, which is very Bohemian. There are many coffee shops and bars that held art exhibitions as well. Many young designers have found their home here. There is one great little shop after the other. Next to several vintage shops our two most favourite ones are located in the same house entrance: Wardrobe 19 and Project 4.

Everywhere in the city you find water. Besides the shores towards the Baltic Sea you find many many canals in the city. It seems like at least every five minutes you have to cross a bridge. Copenhagen is full of the most beautiful buildings. There are many old houses, but you find stunning modern art and architecture everywhere. For example the Skuespilhuset or the opera.

Since we are on our way to a festival we decide to have a first drink. Right at the – or better: at one of the, waterfront(s) – we drive by the Custom House, where not one, but three restaurants can provide you with delicious meals. Next to Danish/European and Italian cuisine you find the Ebisu, a Japanese restaurant, that is told to be one of the best restaurants in Europe. Because we are still repleted from lunch, we only have a drink on the terrace right by the water with view onto the Skuespilhuset and the opera.

The festival ground is situated on an island in the industrial harbor. The route takes us through Christianshavn again, where we stop at Freetown Christiania. I’ve heard a lot of strange stories about the district. Christiania is a commune founded by hippies back in 1971. It encompasses about 34 hectares. People from all over the world live in the shanties of the former military area. Christiania’s souls consists of the hippie movement and anarchy. It is mostly famous for its Pusher Street, where you can (still) buy hash and cannabis. An unwritten law prohibits hard drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy or heroin. We go for the very legal way and simply have dinner here.

With this reasonable basis, we finally head for Copenhell. The fact that we ride the bikes even to the festival still puts a smile on my face. It really feels like home to me. Cruising through the city, it becomes clear that Copenhageners love their bikes. The bikes and the people riding them are all perfectly equipped. Long before the festival grounds start, you see hundreds of bikes in rank and file locked onto the fences.

At our arrival we at first observe the audience. I can imagine, we might break ranks. Most of the people are dressed in black. Many of them wear cowls that look like their fathers have worn them before they did. Obviously they all can sew, or their mothers or wifes can, because their clothes are cluttered with the most colourful, though dark looking patches.

The festival area itself is not too big. We start our inspection with a bit of culture. In a rear warehouse we find a photo exhibition of Peter Best. The pictures of the band Immortal perfectly fit into this rundown environment. Next to the exhibition your find a big hall that is used as a cinema. They show documentaries about Heavy Metal here.



Next to the two main stages there is another small one and a tent. Inside the tent a band is playing live music and everybody is invited to come on stage to sing Heavy Metal karaoke. There is a lot of euphoria going on in here, because not just the person on stage, but everybody sings along.

There are several wood constructions. One huge skull and another, let’s call it huge wooden monster. That one will be burned at the end of the festival as we are told later. When we walk by a bar, all the sudden we totally understand why everybody already is unbelievably drunk. The prices on the banner show the bulk discount prices. You really have to search for the price of a single drink. That explains the beer bags everybody carries along, another highlight for me. They just make people look professional, like they could go to work with it.

Another reason why the area is perfect for a festival: across the stages you find little hills where you can sit and watch the bands (remember, most of the people can hardly walk here). Furthermore, the stages face into the direction of the water and Sweden. So they dont have to fear any complaints from the residents. Besides the photo exhibition, the cinema and the karaoke stage there are even some more, let’s call it fun areas. At one place you can destroy old car wracks. For 15 minutes you can go on a binge with anything you can find. If you really need to let out your frustration, that’s the place to be. Last but not least there is the beer banger. Here you get sensors tied around your head that count your bangs per minute. The heavier and longer you bang, the more beer you get for free. Man, besides the hang over pain, your neck will probably hurt like never before.

I could easily forget about the main reason of being here: music. We watch the band All Shall Parish. Yeah well, interesting. I don’t understand much other than: wwhoaarr, rrrhoaar, rrhuhuruhurrrrr… Though the music might not be quite my taste, watching the people is. Everybody loves it. People are so happy, they enjoy every bass pluck. Or maybe it’s still the beer.

Instead of music we decide in favour for the UEFA EURO 2012 and leave Copenhell to find a bar, where we can watch the Sweden:England game. We find a nice basement bar at cute Nyhavn, one of the most important sights in Copenhagen. With the construction of the canal Nyhavn the city built a connection between Copenhagen’s harbour and Kongens Nytorv square. It was completed in 1673. The colourful houses with their sharp gables were mostly built in the 18th and 19th century. Early on many taverns opened in the harbour milieu and until today Nyhavn with its many restaurants, cocktail and dance bars is one of the biggest entertainmant districts in Copenhagen.

The next day we have a festival meeting at 13:00, but still we want our daily Copenhagen dose. Right after breakfast we cruise through the Ørstedsparken towards the Nansensgade district. On our way we discover the Torvehallerne. Two big market halls with any food you can imagine. Too bad we just had breakfast. Next time I come to Copenhagen, the market halls will be a must go for a lunch break. At Torvehallerne I as well try my first Flødeboller. Whenever you go to Denmark, you must try one.

We stroll through the area of Nansensgade and pay a quick vitsit to the Hotel Ibsen, as well on top of my Copenhagen to do list. The area is perfect for dinner. Here you find many different restaurants. All of them look very inviting. Since we have more time to spend before the meeting, we cross the bridge towards Nørrebro.If you want to do a little shopping, the area along Ege-, Birke- and Elmegade are a great spot. You find many nice little young designer shops, popular names like Acne, many vintage design shops and of course: bike shops. I really should consider to come here by car and take the ferry one day. After a quick rosé wine stop, we drive back to the festival for our meeting. We stay a bit to watch some bands, but decide to go back into the city for dinner later.

We do not have a certain restaurant to aim for, so we accidentally end up at Atlas Bar. By the name you can guess, that you will be served dishes from all over the world. Usually I am not a big fan of restaurants that are not specialized on a certain kind of cuisine, but be sure: you will be happy happy happy with what you get here. The range stretches from Oriental Chicken, to Mexican tortilla, Pakistani lamb or Japanese style beef. I chose scallops with vegetable risotto – heavenly.

Atlas Bar has always been a darling of local hipsters, and you may want to join them for a slice of Copenhagen life often not seen by the casual visitor. The restaurant is divided in two parts, one in the basement and one upstairs. On the street level, the cramped, cozy Atlas Bar serves a busy lunchtime crowd, but slackens off a bit at night, when the wood-sheathed Flyvefisken opens for dinner upstairs. Upstairs, expect a bit more emphasis on Thai cuisine and its fiery flavors, including lemongrass, curries, and several of the hot, spicy fish soups native to Bangkok. Each table at the restaurant is decorated with a map so you can see where your meal comes from. For instance kangaroo or ostrich. If you aren’t into wildlife, try the chicken-salad or the fish patties. The restaurant does not have a menu as such – just have a look at the board at the bar and see what quality produce the chef was able to lay his hands on that particular day.

Vegetables – preferably organic – play an important role here. Atlas Bar’s home-made cole-slaw with almonds and ginger is always a safe bet as are the freshly squeezed fruit- and vegetable juices.

We end the day the same way like yesterday: find a bar to watch the UEFA EURO 2012. We are addicts, you are absolutely right.
On Sunday it’s time to say goodbye to wonderful Copenhagen, but since we feel like a Copenhagener already and still have some time before we need to go to the airport, we do what Copenhageners do: ride our bikes. We decide for a direction we haven’t been gone before. We drive up Nørre Voldgade into northeast direction. We pass by the Rosenborg Palace Garden, the Botanical Garden of Copenhagen’s University and the Statens Museum for Kunst, when all the sudden we discover some interesting architecture: Nyboder. It is a historic row house district of former Naval barracks. It was planned and first built by Christian IV to accommodate the personnel of the rapidly growing Royal Danish Navy and their families during that time.

Without knowing that we are on the right way towards the attraction of Copenhagen, we as well pass by the Kastellet. Due to the lack of time, we cannot go and visit it. However, there are tons of buses around and it gets busier and busier. We follow the masses with a vague notion what we might have discovered by accident. And yes, there it is: the famous little mermaid, the city’s major tourist attraction. A great example for the fact that little things in life count as well. That little girl is only 1.25 metres tall, but at this point right now I guess about 90 cameras take photos of her, from the water such as from the land site. I have to laugh, when I hear the tourist guide bordley shouting from the boat: “just in case you are wondering, she sits on the stone.”
See, just hop on a bike in Copenhagen. Somehow the city itself will guide you to the right spots. Let yourself flow with the rhythm of this city’s heartbeat – it’s one with a lot of love for everyone and it totally got me fallen in love with it likewise. I will definitely go back as soon as possible and for that, I will start working on a Copenhagen Destination button – win win for all of us.

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