Get Away: Copenhagen, Denmark
It's no wonder this week's book, The Elephant Keepers' Children, flirted with whimsy and poignancy, considering its author's origins. Peter Høeg is a Dane, born and raised in Copenhagen, the city that classic children's author Hans Christian Andersen also called home. Though the two writers' works differ in nearly every way – from content to length to focus – Høeg's latest novel shares much of the wide-eyed observation present in many of Andersen's classics, such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. Such perspective allows readers to see what the writer does, and to learn from him as well. Read our recommendation of The Elephant Keepers' Children.
Now, I realize this is a travel wish list and not a comparison essay, so I'll get on with my point. Andersen's legacy is Copenhagen is so beloved that, in 1909, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries commissioned a statue of The Little Mermaid, which was presented to the city four years later. Today, the girl is visited by thousands of admirers every year. Resting on a rock jutting out of the water in the Copenhagen Harbor, the mermaid is a symbol of the city's heritage of love and storytelling.
Unlike many American cities, Copenhagen welcomes cyclists with open lanes. In fact, there are so many bikers there that they sometimes clog the streets. Bike City Copenhagen reports that 55 percent of Copenhagen residents bike nearly 1.2 kilometers (nearly 750,000 miles) each day! As such, renting a bike in the city is an easy and ideal way to get around. Outlets like Baisikeli Bike Rental loan out cycles on a daily basis, and donate about 1,200 refurbished ones to residents in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania each year. With a bike from Baisikeli or any other rental location in Copenhagen, you can get from The Little Mermaid to your dream hotel in about 15 minutes.
Built upon a man-made island in the Copenhagen Harbor, Hotel Copenhagen Island is a modern, minimalist option with amazing views of the water. Conde Nast Traveler says of this glassy wonder, "Gleaming and minimalist, it has real Scandinavian style thanks to architect Kim Utzon. There are 325 bedrooms, including four suites. Rooms with the dazzling harbour views are worth the premium, and the glass-walled Harbour Restaurant has stellar views."
Though Danish food has a reputation for being rustic, restaurants like A.O.C. are eschewing that image. "Young chefs are championing Nordic ingredients, pushing Copenhagen to the forefront of Northern European gastronomy," says a review in The New York Times. "The chef Ronny Emborg, a veteran of El Bulli, jazzes up rustic Danish ingredients like lumpfish roe, veal and cranberries. Highlights include roasted lamb served in walnut oil with crunchy razor-thin apple slices and tiny forest mushrooms. For dessert, try the red beetroot ice cream, which comes on a bed of black licorice pellets. Four courses are 550 kroner, or about $92 at 6 Danish kroner to the dollar. The curvy, cavernous white complex of rooms is filled nightly with black-clad couples and suited businessmen." If you ask me, that sounds seriously sexy.
Your turn: Have you been to Copenhagen? Share some travel tips in the comments!