Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Travel

The Black Diamond, Copenhagen

First things first. What is The Black Diamond? It’s this onyx-like structure which is an extension of the Royal Danish Library. Take a look below.

It’s got some nice views facing the waterfront:

When you face away from the water, you face the Danish War Museum which is just across the road from The Black Diamond.

Do keep scrolling, because the coolest features of this building are yet to come.

Inside this building is a massive open hall that reaches all the way up…
And up…
And up.
This photo kind of looks like one of those impossible M.C. Escher illusions to me, ha
Really liked all the interesting views from each floor of this place.
The views by the water cycling back out weren’t too bad either.
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Copenhagen, Home, Uncategorized

Design and Homeware stores in Copenhagen

One of the first things I noticed walking around Copenhagen was the lovely array of design/home/concept stores. Of course I had to make some purchases (or ten) for my new abode here in Copenhagen. I won’t include Flying Tiger (or just Tiger as it is known in the UK), which is the most obvious and well known (and super affordable compared to other stores in Denmark) homewares/decor/everyday items store dotted all over Copenhagen.

Here’s some other places I checked out:

Notre Dame (Nørregade 7, 1165 København)
This is a really cute little shop tucked away close to Strøget, the main “downtown” shopping street. Expect lots of earthy tones, ceramics, flower pots and hanging plant baskets. I didn’t take photos from this shop but the cute little clay flowerpots featured in my banner image for this post are from Notre Dame!

Stilleben No. 22 (Frederiksborggade 22, 1360 København)
This shop is a stone’s throw from Torvehallerne market and Nørreport Station – a very obvious place to drop in if you’re walking about town. I was attracted in particular by the colourful ceramics.

African Touch (Frederiksborggade 20, 1360 København)
A couple doors down from Stilleben you have another eye-catching store, full of bright colours and prints, decorative figurines, accessories, and so on.

Søstrene Grene (Amagertorv 24, 1160 København K)
This place is super cute – has a lot of baby/children’s items, stationery, home decor, and some “fancy” food items (ok actually just fancy looking jams, candies, etc.). I bought a fleecy rug from this place along with some cacti (yeah, I’m basic). Compared to the others, it seems pretty affordable too.

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Bristol, Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Travel

Harbourside – Copenhagen edition

To those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning (or my friends in Bristol, ha), you already know my favourite thing about living in Bristol, UK, was access to the lovely Harbourside. It’s where I’ve spent much of my time and taken many a walk to contemplate, have deep chats with friends, check out the CARGO eateries, and get sunburnt in the summers. By the way, Bristol recently made national headlines when the Colston statue was dumped in the harbour during the recent BLM protest – a huge moment given Bristol’s maritime history.

Anyway, it pleases me greatly that there’s plenty of that Harbourside living in Copenhagen. I’ve only just begun exploring around Islands Brygge/Sydhavnen. There’s a lot of hanging out and swimming in these areas, plenty of modern buildings, and pedestrian paths by the water are very clean and well-kept.

Have a lovely day 🙂

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Copenhagen, Expat life, Personal

New job, new country: Life in Copenhagen 1 month update

So, in lieu of my Sunday Musings (abstract overthinking?) series this week, I’ve decided to do a little update on how things are going in my life given that it’s been exactly a month since I moved to Copenhagen.

Where to begin? Hard to believe it’s already a month since I arrived, though it actually feels like a lot longer. At this stage, I’ve just about opened up a Danish bank account, in good time for my much anticipated, much needed first paycheck. I haven’t minded dropping basically all my savings on this move to Denmark, but all the spending I’ve done in terms of upfront costs have barely been sustainable for the month (plus I’m trying to live that good life over here, ha). I did get extremely lucky to not have any “gaps” between pay checks, but I genuinely could not live in Copenhagen making what I was making on my old paycheck, that’s for sure. I’ve also only just got round to getting a Danish number, after having the same number in the UK for 10 years. I bought a bike, though I’m riding very precariously at the moment and embarrass myself on the daily with my clumsiness. I mean I haven’t really cycled in a good decade – and especially not when I was living in Bristol, which is full of the most hellish hills.

I’m already a few weeks into my job now. Even though in some ways I have a lot more to accomplish in this job, I don’t feel like I’m tripping over myself to do my job properly – I don’t feel like a headless chicken. The work culture actually does make me feel like I’m doing “enough” for once, or at least that being the most productive as humanly possible really just isn’t everything. Even though I’m the first one in my office and the last to leave, I feel like I spend a very reasonable time at my desk. I still probably work a bit more than what I’m supposed to (oh, the joys of academia), but an actual 40 hour workweek is a welcome change from the ungodly amount of unpaid extra hours I was putting in my previous job.

I’m interested to see how my latent imposters syndrome develops, if at all, in this new role. Ever since I started my PhD, I felt like I had no idea what was going on, that I was being policed by my peers about how much I work (PhD competition is real – I really don’t miss that), and that anything I did accomplish was a fluke I didn’t deserve. All those feelings stayed with my even when I finished my PhD. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty realistic about myself and I can definitely say all three of the aforementioned were and are true at points. It definitely feels like everyone else around me has done “more” than me, and I’m sure that feeling is not baseless. And it’s not like I suddenly “know” what I’m doing now, one year post-PhD (in fact, my new role involves research in a field that I did not specialise in). Moreover, there’s a very quiet but nagging voice in my head that tells me I objectively probably do not deserve the job I have now, even though I worked so hard to get it. But, well, who cares? I’m here, aren’t I? The difference now seems to be that it doesn’t feel like the end of the world even if it were true that I “could be better.” It’s just not a cause for despair anymore. My “incompetence” and “flaws” are part of a learning curve, which I get to experience in a tolerant and supportive environment, as far as I can tell. Talk about work-life balance and emotional well-being! I’m sure part of this newfound confidence is down to actually starting a new job and being really excited about it, but I’m definitely experiencing a trend towards having a little more faith and just trusting myself a bit more.

Collegiality seems to be a big thing in the working environment here, which is another positive. You don’t notice much of a hierarchy between the different “rankings” of academics. The difference between a PhD and a postdoc (that’s what I am) seems rather minimal, even in terms of pay grade, which is a good thing. In the UK I would say the difference between a PhD and a postdoc is basically a doubling of salary (with PhDs being underpaid, that is). That much should be explanatory of some of the differences in British and Danish academia. So yeah, when I got this job offer I already knew it was my dream job offer, but now that I’m living it, I can only confirm how happy to have this job, beyond all expectation.

The frustrating stuff about settling in? Not knowing the language. I mean it’s so easy to get away with only speaking English in Denmark, and sometimes you actually forget you’re in a non-English speaking country (well, bi-lingual at least). But for me personally, I’m not used to being in a situation where I cannot communicate or comprehend something perfectly. So when I go into a Danish supermarket or receive bank letters in Danish I’m reminded that I’m sort of helpless in that aspect, and that I need to be a lot more proactive about learning the basics. I mean, I’ve even avoided using my work desktop because it came with a Danish keyboard that I just could not get used to, ha.

Weirdly, though, I’ve been kind of enjoying the fact that most people I’ve met here assume I speak Danish (maybe because borders are still closed to most tourists) and will speak Danish to me first (before I respond in English, ha) rather than assume I am too foreign to speak the language. So all that’s left for me to do is to actually live up to those expectations and try to integrate a bit more.

I guess I’ll be back in another month with any progress 🙂

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Valbyparken, Copenhagen

Goodness, this place was an amazing surprise. A big green park a mere 20 minute cycle ride from home, and with a beach? In the city? Yes and yes.

My cycle going there and back wasn’t very pretty – it was a hot sunny day, I’m very road-shy, I had no idea where I was going and had to stop and check my map every 2 minutes. I also haven’t quite perfected my cool cycle chic look. Regardless, I would definitely brave the trip again to revisit this park.

I’m guessing these are poplar trees?
Either way this long path lined with trees is a distinctive entry point into the park, and very nice to cycle down.
Loved the little peeks of water through the trees.
Plenty of folks windsurfing at this place!
It was an almost blindingly bright day.
I skipped on a few stones by the water 🙂
I can’t say I’ve ever seen people windsurf before, but it looks fun!
Clear water at the beach.
Just beautiful, isn’t it?
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Reffen, Copenhagen

This post is going to be super visual and truly drool-worthy…consider yourself warned!

The weather forecast wasn’t looking great, but my friend and I were determined to visit Reffen, a food market set up like a little village on the other side of the water from Copenhagen city centre. Thankfully it didn’t rain on the day we visited – we even caught a bit of sun. It’s a short trip up with the bike/bus/water taxi from town – we went with the water taxi, which would be a great option for a sunny day.

To my knowledge, this place is one of the few Street food markets in Copenhagen (apart from the fancy Torvehallerne by Nørreport, which is dangerously close to my workplace…) As someone who used to work in a food stall in multiple food markets back in the UK, I’m a little surprised that there aren’t more of them in the capital here in Denmark. But I’m not complaining – the selection is good.

Reffen has a bit of a grungy vibe with lots of containers around…kind of reminds me of the Cargo project in Bristol (my favourite Harbourside eating area in Bristol basically)
This photo says it all – everything is contactless and there are reminders everywhere to keep up hygiene.
I definitely don’t need to be told twice to get ice cream. The ice cream shop is called “BadHabits” by the way – very fitting.
Honestly, the ice cream here was really good.
Outdoor stalls and seating around the food “village.”
Love how colourful everything is!
More food, more containers…
Cute outdoor dining area right next to the water.
How very Danish 🙂 I did mention in a previous post how difficult it is to take photos here without some kind of a bike in it, did I not?
Now for some food! That’s freshly grated truffle – cost me an arm but it was worth it.
So many options…
There’s also some cute shops around that aren’t food stalls.
Me being an embarrassing tourist.
Hope you’re not too hungry after reading this, ha.
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Home, Travel

Fredriks Kirke/Amalienborg, Copenhagen

This is another very photogenic area in Copenhagen at golden hour. What I just love about this place is that if you look one way from Amalienborg Slotsplads (the courtyard of the Royal residences) you get a majestic view of the rococo-style “Marble Church” Marmorkirken/Fredriks Kirke; if you look the other way, you get a view of the water and the very modern looking Copenhagen Opera House (Operaen) which was built less than 20 years ago. The opera house was built in alignment with Amalienborg. Take a look below.

Hope you’re all well.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Sundown in Nyhavn, Copenhagen

Yesterday evening I met up with a fellow photographer/hobbyist to take a couple of shots around town for golden hour. I can’t emphasise enough the fact that Copenhagen on a summer evening is definitely the place to be. The vibes are good: there’s food, there’s music, and the sun takes forever to set. I’ll leave you with some shots from the iconic Nyhavn harbour (which was relatively uncrowded thankfully – not so keen on the place when there’s big crowds)

The promenade down the harbour
Just look at these sun-soaked houses!
I adore all the colourful buildings around Copenhagen – they are everywhere.
Rainbow promenade.
Crossing…
How adorable is this outdoor dining set-up?
I think it’s pretty much impossible to get a shot in the city without bicycles making an appearance 🙂
Shimmering sunset reflected on the windows.
And some more bikes 🙂
And finally a photo with the water 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this photo-heavy post, have a great weekend 🙂

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Expat life, Home, Travel

First impressions of Copenhagen: Then and Now

I confess when I visited Copenhagen for a short weekend trip a few years back with a friend, I didn’t think it was anything special. There was the usual warnings of “It’s an expensive place”, of course, but looking back I think my enjoyment of the city was affected by the dynamic between myself and my friend. I was under the impression we were going to visit this city to explore together and have lots of fun. She didn’t really want to do much, and she spent most evenings texting and talking on the phone with other friends (I mean it was pretty much 24/7 – funny what you learn about your friends when you spend full days with them, I even struggled to vie for her company while we waited around at the airport). To top it off, we had a random but pretty big argument during the trip that soured our moods. All I did on that trip was visit a couple of really touristy spots by myself because I had already bought the Copenhagen Card which gave you access to all the touristy stuff. I thought everything was nice, but also very run-of-the-mill (probably something to do with comparing every European city I visit to the loveliness of Vienna, where I used to live). I probably wouldn’t have visited again.

How things change – and how I’ve changed! I would not in a million years have guessed I’d end up back here, for a job no less, or that I’d be this ecstatic about it. I genuinely don’t remember ever being this happy. I guess regardless of me ending up here in particular, I also just didn’t think I would secure my second academic job less than a year out of my PhD and that everything in my life would be accelerating so fast. This entire situation really is a massive surprise to me and I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to it – or that I will ever not feel like the luckiest person in the world.

And well, my ‘first impression’ now is that I’m totally obsessed with Copenhagen. I’m sure some of that magic feeling will settle down eventually, but I feel very differently to how I felt when I first moved to Bristol for example (my previous city). Bristol was a very slow and gradual process of nurturing a kind of fondness – and it was probably around the fourth year that I started really enjoying Bristol. In Copenhagen, I feel a bit like someone who is falling in love for the first time. It’s exactly the kind of place I want to be at this particular stage in my life, that’s for sure. It’s bigger than Bristol, which was starting to feel way too small for me. It’s a European Capital, which fulfils one of my life goals – to live in a European Capital as an adult. But it doesn’t feel massive or overwhelming. It’s a pretty modest size. It’s a good life. It’s a beautiful life. And it’s flat! I’ll happily walk 30-60 minutes at a time to get places (I don’t have a bike yet) since it’s so damn easy to walk around and pretty straightforward to navigate. I’ve been told there are a couple of seedy areas, but that hasn’t been a hinderance on my impression of the city so far – I feel safe walking around. I got lucky with my apartment as well, which is in a central enough location, in close vicinity to shops, cafes, and restaurants. There’s lots of natural light coming in, which makes me feel very comfortable at home. Obviously the weather, my workplace, and how I’ve been welcomed in my job has a lot to do with how I feel in the city as well, but I’ll maybe save the job stuff for another post!

Copenhagen is a pretty amazing place to be in the summertime, and even better if you live and work here as the wages should match the cost of living. I’ve already been begging my friends to consider moving over here since there are certain skills that are needed in the country which should make it possible to find a job (here’s a “list” of job shortages in Denmark, by the way – I went the researcher track but again I can write about that in another post). But I’m getting way ahead of myself. For now, I’ll leave you with some of my first snaps of the city:

My route to and from work.
You can ride on these “swans” in The Lakes, just avoid the real ones as they’re not friendly 🙂
I’d probably get to work 5 minutes quicker if I didn’t take photos on the way, but can you blame me?
I took this photo in Ørstedsparken, which is pretty close to The Lakes (the route I take to go to work)
One more from Ørstedsparken – I really like this park.
A beautiful sunset at The Lakes. Pretty sure it was already past 9.30pm by this point.

As you can see, there’s a sense of serenity and tranquility even in the city (though I’m not sure if that’s because less people are out nowadays because of Covid-19). Even in my limited knowledge of the place, I’ve been able to find plenty of spots to enjoy a bit of nature and found it very easy to avoid big crowds and so on.

More to come in the following weeks – let me know if there is anything you want to see or are curious about! 🙂

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Bristol, Bristol, Culture, Home, Uncategorized

Bristol (Bedminster)

Bristol has this reputation of being the next best thing after London when it comes to desirable places to live in the UK. I’m pretty skeptical about that reputation. The supposedly “cool” features I read about Bristol are way overblown, like the fact that Banksy is from Bristol (most of his works in Bristol have been destroyed, by the way), that Massive Attack is from Bristol, that it’s “cheaper than London”, or that it’s a “diverse” and “multicultural” place (diverse or multicultural in terms of what?). Truth is it has its fair share of flaws like any other major city: it’s difficult to find housing, it has a homelessness problem, there are stark inequalities between neighbourhoods.

Having lived in the city for a number of years of course gives me a different perspective compared with that of a non-resident or tourist. But I’m also surprised at how unsentimental I feel about Bristol now, despite having left the city under such exceptional and bittersweet circumstances. I mean Bristol really is the place I’ve lived the longest since legally turning into an adult. I had many Big Life Moments in Bristol, like getting my PhD there. And so many people I care about and have extremely close and meaningful relationships with still live in Bristol. In the past year especially I was really “finding my way” and gaining important experiences in terms of my career and relationships – despite many mishaps.

In the end, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had to deport myself out of the UK with no chance for proper goodbyes thanks to the ongoing lockdown. You’d think it would feel like leaving part of my heart behind. You’d think I’d agonise about the “what ifs” I never got to live out on account of everything. But no. I only cried tears of joy because I felt like I finally arrived when I made it to Denmark, having spent the last couple of months in Bristol feeling like I had somewhere else to be, yet nowhere to go and no chance of going. When I finally got out, it was as if I was released from some kind of purgatory. I’d been futilely waiting for answers to questions people still stuck in the UK have to ask themselves constantly – “What is my immigration status? Will I or won’t I get in trouble with the Home Office?” Still, my ambivalence about Bristol is not merely down to this hassle. I think I had my moment of “I’m ready to leave Bristol” for a pretty long time now, like way before this new chapter in Denmark materialised. But how did that feeling come about? I’m not sure.

It makes me think a person’s relationship to – and experience of – a place has more to do with the meanings a person happens to attach to that place, rather than about any ‘objective’ feature about it. You won’t love a place just because it ticks a bunch of boxes. You won’t hate a place just because it doesn’t. And while it’s certainly true that we can measure the “good” of certain places with lots of factors, I think a person’s physical placement in the world really is like an intimate relationship. It’s a type of relationship that is not only characterised by lofty ideals (like when people buy a one-way-ticket out to big cities to make their dreams come true), but also by one’s being embedded somewhere physically, spiritually, and in Time (like if I were to say, “I am a true Bristolian now”). Of course, there’s lots of reasons and explanations for why a person may come to be in a particular place. Yet how a person makes do with that place, how a person fits in with that place, and the veering back and forth between love, hate, and everything in between for that place – that seems to me as inexplicable as the constancy between pairings of significant others through thick and thin. There’s always an X factor when it comes to how we end up seeing, being, and treating ourselves in different parts of the world. Any thoughts?

Well, maybe I’ll save that topic for another day. I can’t believe I’ve just become one of those people who feels compelled to share some banal life story just to share a couple of pictures, ha ha. But I do still want to mention some things about Bristol that really did grow on me. I can’t complain about the food scene (if you ever visit – do ask me for recommendations for places to eat), the lovely aerial views you get in different neighbourhoods thanks to all the hills (though I hated the actual hills), the Harbourside on a sunny day, the circus artists you see juggling or slacklining in basically every green space, the fact that people play psytrance of all things on the boombox in family-friendly parks, the general celebration of creativity and artists around the city, and the cool/weird/wild music scene and night life enjoyed by most age groups without shame (inexplicable 4am bonfire raves in the middle of the street and all – if you live in certain areas).

Now, one place I do think brings together some of the likeable elements of Bristol quite nicely is North Street in Bedminster. Bedminster is a neighbourhood fairly close to the Harbour. It houses plenty of pubs, restaurants, and cafes – on a “normal”, nice day, the place would be teeming with people (I guess in the UK a nice day is just one that doesn’t rain and isn’t impossibly chilly). I even used to work at the Tobacco Factory Market, which hosts some of the best food stands in Bristol and is one of the liveliest place you can be on a Sunday afternoon in the city.

Even during a lockdown, the length of North Street is a great place to explore because there’s so much street art to look at. Normally every year in summertime it plays host to Upfest, the largest street art festival in Europe, which explains the particular abundance of murals in the area. Last year a Greta Thunberg piece was commissioned by the Tobacco Factory which went on to get approval from Greta herself and garner worldwide attention. I’ll share below a couple more pieces that I spotted on North Street. I’ve identified all the artists responsible for these wonderful murals, so do check them out as well.

Beautiful work by Bristol-based artist Nick Harvey (Kin Dose).
Fantastic psychedelic piece by Bristol-based artist Andy Council
Another one by Andy Council.
Photo of me walking past a collaboration piece between L7 Matrix, a Brazilian artist, and Paul Monsters.
Zoë Power‘s mural above Zara’s chocolates. This has got to be one of my favourite pieces.
Recognise any robots? This piece is by Angus, another Bristol local who utilises ceramic and mosaic! Unfortunately my fixed-lens camera didn’t capture the entire piece, but above the mosaic it is written “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge!” 🙂

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