Copenhagen, Expat life, Home, Personal

Life Update: 4 Months in Copenhagen

This week there is a little break on the Sunday Museum post, because it’s time for my monthly update on my life in Copenhagen 🙂

Wow, it sure feels like I’m so new to the city I’ve barely scratched the surface, but also like I’ve been here forever (in a good way). It’s wild – on the one hand, there’s a pandemic going on and it feels like the world is ending. And yet, if I can be permitted to make a selfish comment, I’ve never felt more aligned or secure in myself in my entire life. Maybe moving to a new place and going outside of my comfort zone has made me less jaded, more open-minded, and renewed my zest for life – something like that. I feel like I’ve engaged more with what life has to offer in these past few months than I have in the past 4-6 years. I mean couldn’t tell you what I’ve changed in myself or my life in the years of my PhD in the UK, except for friendships and relationships and things like that – typical ups and downs of life but no radical changes to how I identify with myself.

But now? I’ve been more social than ever in some ways – I seem to somehow freely meet and cross paths with people who are inspiring me in some way. My energy level has completely changed. I’ll go out when I’m tired just to meet new friends. I reach out to people a lot more, whether it’s online or in-person. I’m very open about my life. I feel like I can talk to anybody some days and like there are interesting people out there who add value to my life. I’ve really loved meeting new people here. I don’t think about ways to avoid social interaction.

I don’t know about you – maybe this stuff comes easy to some people – but it honestly wasn’t obvious to me in previous years that people aren’t just a big energy drain, or individuals who you risk trusting that you later on inevitably regret trusting. Maybe that sounds kind of miserable, but I guess although I seem to get away with pretending that I’m holding it together, I’ve really struggled to relate to people in my life, and my peers generally, with the exception of my dear and close friends. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’ve always looked to people with so much hope, and always poured my energy into cultivating friendships, and been disappointed and betrayed in the worst case scenarios. I always wondered how others seemed to find people on the same wavelength as them, with seemingly little effort, whilst I would drain myself trying to be liked by people who were supposed to already care about me. Every year that passed I would trust people a little less, and close my heart in greater haste. But it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do anymore at this stage in my life.

The biggest shock is that random people actually talk to me sometimes, and they will literally say that I had appeared approachable somehow, whereas before I felt like if I didn’t expend effort to initiate conversations with others I would be the unnoticed person in a group of people or at a party. So I’m really surprised – especially in Denmark where locals have the reputation of being difficult to make friends with or to get to know (but I guess I tend to befriend internationals anyway). Now I’m not even saying I suddenly have lots of great friends or know many new people particularly well. rather I’m fascinated by my shift in the way I see people and how that has seemed to affect how people see me too. I can only hope this leads in a good direction.

I’m also a lot more consistent generally than I have ever been – the fact that I’ve even maintained this blog since May with multiple posts a week, on top of my new job, relationship, whatever, is actually surprising to myself. I tend to be the kind of person that trails off when it comes to new hobbies – like if I’m not good at something I’ll just give up. I’m paradoxically so much of a perfectionist that my aspirational projects never get off the ground in the first place – like I’d have to have perfected the formula of blogging, or whatever else it is, in order for me to continue trying to execute that interest and feel that it was ‘worth’ the effort.

But now? What am I even maintaining this blog for? I don’t even know, it’s not like I have a large readership or people who rely on me to post regularly. And yet I’ve made it this far, and I think it’s part of a general trend that I’m noticing in myself – a change in the way I’m managing my own hobbies and interests. Less scatterbrain, more organisational; less flighty, more committed. And yet it’s all very organic somehow. I really don’t agonise about doing stuff or put pressure on myself, I just kind of figured out what I want to do with my time, and I’ll just do it when I feel like it. It just so happens that the ratio of all this has balanced itself. I don’t know what triggered those changes, it probably happened quite gradually, but I guess this blog is just one of the things I have to show for a kind of second nature commitment I’ve made to upkeep something that I can call mine. And of course I am going out and taking photos consistently. I guess there’s a lot of different things which previously my overtly perfectionist side would have prevented me from pursuing and enjoying to the full extent, which I now treat more as therapeutic (or just plain fun) activities to do or things I value. And I guess it helps that I actually have the time to do all of these things, thanks to a job that doesn’t force me to unofficially work overtime!

Finally, the biggest change for me has been in how excited I am to think about the future these days. Before, the future was just a source of constant anxiety and deportation-related nightmares (which I’m sure I’ll face again, but still), now it seems full of possibilities and reasons to be optimistic. Probably my relationship is a big reason for this optimism – I’m just realising now that I’ve never seriously considered a long-term trajectory with a person before. Now, at the grand old age of 28, it seems like the most natural thing to do. I often felt like I would never find someone I could be in a long-term relationship with unless I drastically lowered my standards for what should pass in a relationship, and I had seriously considered whether it would be wiser for me to settle for less or different to what I really want if I want to avoid dying alone (ha). When you want to avoid thinking about the future with a person, you tend to make up excuses to justify that avoidance – that you haven’t known each other long enough yet, that it’s just too early, and so on. Whatever happens in my current relationship, I discovered now at least how I should feel when I am with someone – and it really is nothing like settling for less, or looking for excuses to hold back, and everything like I’m exactly where I should be.

Apologies for the long text – now please enjoy some recent photos I took around the city, sun-up to sun-down 🙂 It’s mid-September and I’m already freezing indoors, I do miss the last of summer…

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Louisiana – ‘Fantastiske Kvinder’ (exhibition)

(featured photo is ‘Tree Pantomine’ by Rita Kernn-Larsen)

It’s another Sunday Museum post! But this one is going to be a little bit different – I’m just going to be sharing with you some photos of paintings and illustrations, mostly, from an exhibition I went to at the Louisiana showcasing surrealist artworks by women (including big names like Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite – Remedios Varo)!

If pictures of paintings is not your cup of tea, no worries, I’ve got plenty of museum posts that showcase others. Also, my camera is annoyingly bad at taking photos of paintings – so some of these images may be a bit blurry. But if, like me, you are fascinated by art and perhaps take an interest in surrealism, I hope you will keep scrolling to see what this fantastic exhibit was all about.

I am the first to admit that I don’t “know” anything about art. But I love the way that artistic expression stretches the human imagination, I love that art is a creative process, I love that art is a narrative, and, well, I also like how it reminds me that the human brain is a weird, beautiful, and profound place. I often walk around worried that everybody else is normal and that I’m not – and art can be a real consolation in that respect. It helps me understand that I am not necessarily a lone weirdo in existential free-fall, but rather that the world is full of weirdos, each of us bound to one another through shared yet unspoken passion, sadness, frustration, rage, dreams, nostalgia…and that we are all here with something to say, something to express, no matter how little, big, trivial, or meaningful our message, and no matter how quiet or loud our voice. That moment of connection and understanding when I recognise that shared experience in art moves me. Just how certain artworks evoke these feelings seem totally mysterious, yet at the same time artworks demystify life for me as well – as if a clearing fog, art presents immortal, priceless, and lucid moments that stand out in the nebulous tangle of human experience. But enough from me on my personal take on the value of art – it’s one of those things I might ramble about forever.

Anyhow, I feel like this exhibit really ticked all the boxes for me – all these aspects of art that keep me going back to museums and galleries. It was really inspiring to see some of these pieces. Even though I’m no artist, the sudden feeling of inspiration, and wanting to create something, is just so rare and wonderful. I can only hope I can return to these sources of inspiration for time to come. What are your sources of inspiration?

Below, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite works displayed in the exhibit – ones that I found thought-provoking, strange, funny, or just nice to look at. As usual I tried my best to credit the artist.

Remedios Varo, Creation with astral rays
Remedios Varo
Bridget Tichenor, The Surrealists/The Specialists
Rachel Baes, Le Leçon de philosophie
Rachel Baes
Elsa Thoresen, Surrealistic Composition
Rita Kernn-Larsen, The Party
Valentine Penrose
Edith Rimmington, Museum
Eileen Agar, Ladybird
Leonor Fini
Valentine Penrose
Frida Kahlo
Valentine Hugo, Paul Eluard and Greta Knutson
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim, Mona Lisa’s Eye (I recognised it straight away, ha)
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark

Broens Gadekøkken (Bridge Street Kitchen), Copenhagen

Broens Gadekøkken is basically a mini Reffen, a street food market. It’s smack dab in one of the nicest areas to stroll around in the city centre – a short distance past Nyhavn and right across the bridge from The Playhouse. As it so happens it’s walking distance from my workplace as well. All I need to do is get out of my building and walk in a straight line down the road. Working in the heart of the city makes it almost too easy to get distracted by vibrant places like this, especially on a sunny day!

The food I tried was pretty good, though there aren’t as many options as you’d find in Reffen – so I suggest you do your research on the various stalls before going. It’s definitely a nice place to stop over for a quick lunch or refreshments, and I look forward to trying out a few more stalls when the city gets sunny again.

What lovely views crossing over the bridge to the street food market!
The stalls are bright and colourful.
Hygge.
Dumplings for appetiser.
Greek-style veggie pita for my main. I think having experienced cheap fresh Greek food in Greece spoiled me. This is the problem with trying new food in Denmark – I keep comparing to food I’ve had for cheaper and fresher elsewhere!
Coconut-based vegan ice cream from Nicecream – everyone I know who’s tried this place, vegan or not, speaks highly of this place.
You face some nice canal and harbour views from the market…
…like so.
There seem to be other venues worthy of a visit nearby too.
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

ILLUM, Copenhagen

ILLUM is a department store smack dab in the middle of Strøget, one of the longest pedestrianised shopping streets in Europe. I’ve been to a fair few fancy department stores (hello, South Korea) and ILLUM strikes a good balance – it’s not intimidatingly big (it’s almost cosy!) and there’s a decent selection of stuff to browse, ranging from clothes and accessories to quirky trinkets and household items. And though this particular department store doesn’t make a point of having a massive food court or anything, there are a couple of cafes/restaurants to stop by for a bite or drink on the top floor, where you can get some really nice rooftop views of the city and the busy streets below. Keep scrolling to take a look at my aerial shots!

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (outdoors)

It’s another museum Sunday post, and I’m thrilled to share this great place with you today!

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, situated near HumlebĂŚk (a 40-minute train journey from Central Station Copenhagen) is worth a visit for the forest and proximity to beach alone. It definitely helps that it so happens to be an awesome museum as well – a complex of glassy halls surrounded by forest and an outdoor sculpture gallery. It makes for a great day out, with an immersive indoor-outdoor experience, and there was also some experimental live music outside when I was there! I saw a wonderful exhibit here on surrealist women painters, which I’ll post about separately on next week’s Sunday museum. For now, I’ll share the outdoor sculpture gallery and natural settings alone – you’ll see the place is quite vast with lots of different scenes to view when walking about. I especially loved the silver balls (?) floating around in the museum garden pond.

Enjoy!

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Vesterbro, Vesterbro

Tivoli, Copenhagen (Part 2)

If you haven’t seen my first post on Tivoli, I suggest you have a look here 🙂 In this post I will share another set of pictures from Tivoli, with captures of the marching band, arcades, restaurants, and funny little items I saw in the cute shops dotted around the place.

Isn’t everything absolutely adorable?

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Vesterbro

Tivoli, Copenhagen (Part 1)

Tivoli is apparently the second-oldest operating theme park in the world, having opened in 1843. I must confess I didn’t think much of Tivoli when I visited during my trip to Copenhagen in 2017 (probably because I went alone…), even though I do remember it being a cute place. It’s consistently in “Top things to do” type of articles on Copenhagen and well…I just didn’t see the hype.

Well, I’ve completely changed my impression of the place now. I got my boyfriend a year pass to Tivoli for his birthday (clever me found him a birthday gift that would benefit both of us, haha) and we visited just to have a walk around. And I must say it was so fun and completely magical, even though we didn’t go on any of the rides.

This time, I really noticed what a nice and well-kept amusement theme park it is – when I think amusement park, I tend to get these images of rickety, rusty, run-down rollercoasters and creepy music running in the background, or I think of tacky arcades and Ferris wheels in some nondescript seaside resort town. But Tivoli is nothing like that. It hosts upscale restaurants, a cute marching band, pantomime shows, proper concerts, perfectly manicured gardens, vibrant arcades, specialty gift shops (including a fancy liquorice shop with items like gold-dusted liquorice – very Danish) and a great balance of fun-to-look-at rollercoasters. There is definitely something for everyone, and all age groups – not just kids!

The other big amusement park I’ve visited in Europe is Disneyland Paris, and though Tivoli is a lot smaller, I think it really does compete for amusement and recreational value (and the entry fee isn’t too bad in comparison). The rollercoaster rides are much more interesting and it’s definitely a plus that the park is very much accessible as part of a city break – it’s located right in the heart of the city, basically a stone’s throw from the Central Station, Glyptoteket, and Strøget.

But I think the photos will do a better job of explaining the appeal of Tivoli, so I’ll just leave you with some images below. There will be more in my next post, so keep your eyes peeled 😉

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life

Stadens Museum for Kunst (SMK), Copenhagen

If walking around for a good few hours admiring European art sounds like your idea of a good time, SMK may just be the place for you. It’s not necessarily my favourite museum, or the most impressive collection I’ve seen – but the way this place was designed to be experienced has something of a Danish vibe to it. Maybe something like hygge. So as a leisurely indoor activity this place does not disappoint.

I personally like to check out the major museums in cities I visit, so of course SMK (The National Gallery of Denmark) was on my list. I think the museum shop and cafe are themselves worthy of a visit – I like how good Denmark is at making their cultural spaces attractive and places that are pleasant to really hang out in! The glassy modern extension in the museum building that houses the sculpture gallery is lovely too – you’ll see below where the newer architectural style meets the old. As usual, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Expat life, Travel

Assistens Kirkegürd, Nørrebro

One of the first things I noticed after moving to Copenhagen is how well kept the cemeteries are – none of that haunted or creepy feeling about them. They are honestly quite beautiful green spaces. Assistens KirkegĂĽrd in Nørrebro is certainly no exception. This is reflected in how people use and pass through the cemetery as well. People come in here to have a picnic or drink with friends in the grassy areas, to lay in the sun, and have a quiet chat on the many benches dotted around the place. There are also cycle and walk paths through the cemetery that allow you to make shortcuts across parts of the neighbourhood.

Some of the individuals buried here whose names you may be familiar with are H. C. Andersen, Niels Bohr, and Søren Kierkegaard. For this post, however, I’ll share with you the more garden-like features of the cemetery, rather than the gravestones.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Uncategorized

Indre By, Copenhagen

Copenhagen town centre is an aesthetic, cosy, and walkable area (as is many other areas of the city, really). Compared to many capital cities I’ve been to, it’s not super congested either in terms of vehicle traffic, and public transport tends to be efficient and reliable if needed (though pricey, I will give you that). Honestly, it’s up there as one of the nicest cities to walk around in Europe in my opinion, because it’s got a really nice balance of things to do and see. I have to laugh when people point out to me the parts of the town centre that are apparently more ‘grungy’. Having moved from a neighbourhood in Bristol where it was pretty standard for me to dodge broken bottles and other, even more questionable trash on a daily basis, I have yet to find ‘grungy’ here. If any of you have lived in Copenhagen, I’d be curious to know what you think about that.

To me, the city centre is very clean, there are plenty of colourful buildings, a mix of older and more modern architectural styles, cute streets, cobbled courtyards, flowers and ivies climbing up houses, parks and gardens every other corner, design-focused shops, and stylish cafes and eateries to grab a bite or people watch. Even in rainy weather (which I must say is quite a lot of the time…) there is something romantic about the vibe in the city. Hopefully the pictures below capture something of that atmosphere. You can see that even on gloomy and cloudy days, and in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, the city is just nice to look at.

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