Daniel Pountney

WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL

Daniel Pountney
WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL

IMAGINE standing in the middle of a Tour De France stage where every rider is a supermodel.

Heidi Klum narrowly misses you with a handlebar before Claudia Schiffer rings her bell to tell you to shift it.

That’s what it’s like walking around Copenhagen – everyone’s beautiful and they’re all on bikes whizzing from super-cool cafe to stylish art gallery.

Pedal power is the only way to travel in the Danish capital and a big reason why traffic is minimal and everyone looks so healthy.
Pick up a City Bike at any one of the 125 racks around the city, our guide book told us.
Just insert a few Kroners in the shopping trolley-style slot, and you’ll get your money back when you return it.

 

A great idea indeed, trouble is, there just aren’t enough of the things.
We spent hours wandering around the city and we found one missing a wheel and another without pedals.
It’s a much better idea to just hire a bike from the Tourist Information point as soon as you arrive.
And once you do, you’ll find Copenhagen to be full of places to see and things to do.

Edward Eriksen’s sculpture The Little Mermaid should really be seen, if only to say you saw it, and if you’re in to history the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum and the Museum of Danish
Resistance are worth a look.
But in all honesty, it’s easy to forget Denmark’s proud past as you cruise around the streets of its capital because it’s a very modern city now.

Cafes spill out on to the streets from boldly-coloured old buildings, little art galleries and cool jazz spots are around every corner and in the Vesterbro region there are hip designer shops and cocktail bars.
Right in the centre of town is the Tivoli Gardens theme park which crams a few serious roller coasters into some pretty gardens and also provides a venue for live bands.

Eight years ago the Orsesund Bridge was opened linking Copenhagen with
Malmo, the third largest city in neighbouring Sweden.
The two cities are now around 30 minutes apart by road or rail.
Malmo was once one of the most industrialised cities in Scandinavia and had a long struggle with post-industrialism.
Since the turn of the millennium though, it has built impressive architectural developments, pulled in investment from hi-tech industries and seen a massive influx of students to its university.

The most striking of the new developments is the Turning Torso skyscraper with its 54 storeys which twist a full 90 degrees.
Inside is mainly office space but at the bottom is a wonderful cafe and restaurant which show off why this is the design capital of the world.
You leave with the intention of changing every room in your own house to match its cool interior.

If the Turning Torso, with a skateboard park and waterfront apartments at the Western Harbour beneath is Malmo’s newest hot spot, then Lilla Torg is its oldest.
Our rather grand hotel The Mayfair was once graced by The Beatles and is a great central point from which to explore both areas of the city.

Lilla Torg is a charming square surrounded by 16th century
buildings, one of which houses the Form/Design Center.
At night the square is full of people eating and drinking on its cobbled
street kept warm under patio heaters and wrapped in blankets that are draped over every chair.
I was falling in love with the place until it was time to pay for the drinks as £6 a pint was about the average.

That’s the only problem with the Orsesund region as a whole – it’s not just beer, everything is so expensive.
Your budget is something that needs to be planned well for a visit.
On the positive side, there aren’t any drunks or gangs of unruly kids and
there aren’t any English stag parties in sight.
We left this northern corner of Europe thinking the Scandinavians
might have just got things right – they ’re all beautiful and healthly, they
live in stylish homes in clean cities and hang out in super-cool cafes.
With so much to be happy about, it’s little wonder they don’t wince every
time they see the price of a pint.


This feature first appeared in Weekend magazine, part of the Gloucestershire Echo and The Citizen newspapers.