August 2021


A Wasted Afternoon (but not for me): Christiania

So here’s my secret destination: I’m in Køpenhaven for a couple of nights. I picked Copenhagen for a weekend getaway because just over the border is one of my former Jena/Weimar colleagues and the actual intent of my trip is to visit her in Sweden.

Instead of going directly to visit her, I decided to spend two nights in Copenhagen so that I could (1) claim, realistically, to have been in Denmark, and (2) go dancing with the cute Danish boys. I can now claim (1), but, to the best of my ability to tell, (2) isn’t going to happen because Copenhagen’s gay scene is surprisingly tiny and the only dance club I could identify is only open on Saturday night.

Entering ChristianiaI also know next to nothing about Copenhagen and haven’t done much planning—other than being told by a friend that I should be sure to visit Christiania, which, as it was described to me, was this fantastic artistic community that lives tax-free and independent of Denmark—I forget the details of how it was described to me, but the basic fact is that awhile back, when the Danish military abandoned its base in Copenhagen, the base was taken over by a large group of militantly anti-military peaceniks and other hippies.

Maybe I am mischaracterizing it a bit—I haven’t read an official history, nor have I taken the official tour. Instead I decided to wander through it my first afternoon in Copenhagen—in part because it’s the closest “attraction” to my hotel (which is “between” the Copenhagen Airport and Copenhagen City in the same way that Staten Island is between JFK and Manhattan).

Whatever it is idyllically supposed to be, in reality it is the largest open-air pot market I’ve ever seen in my life.

Seriously—and I say this as somebody who lived for a month next to Görlitzer Park in Berlin.

I will say this: there was a lot of young eye-candy in Christiania – lots of cute young Danish men – perfect skin, great hair, and bright smiles—but there were only cute young Danish men there: the older Danish men in the market showed the serious consequences of being addicts to pot—that glazed look on their face, a lack of interest in basic hygiene, and generally unattractive—people who do not understand the concept of marijuana in moderation.

For me it was a profoundly creepy and disturbing place to visit.

A mere 15 minutes after entering the free and independent land of Christiania, I returned to the EU convinced that surely there were better and more interesting things to do in Copenhagen than pick my way through the pot dealers.

Exiting Christiania

Like being in the EU is a bad thing?

I still have no idea what to do in Copenhagen—for now I plan on spending Friday afternoon wandering the streets, poking my head in whatever I find—which will hopefully include a decent restaurant for lunch.

4 comments to A Wasted Afternoon (but not for me): Christiania

  • When you tweeted you were someplace expensive, I suspected Denmark. My second choice was the duty-free shop at Tegel.

  • The boat tours in Copenhagen are not bad – coming from someone who doesn’t usually get into that sort of thing.

  • Adam, skip the street-wandering and head north of the city by S-Bahn to an incredible park that has a huge flock of deer in it – or at least it did about a dozen years ago when we were there. It’s an amazing spectacle to see them at sunset. It’s about 12km north of the city and is called Jægersborg Hegn og Dyrehave. Enjoy your Scandinavian scamperings.

  • Scott – Is there a duty free shop anywhere that’s inexpensive? Maybe only relative to the destination (say Tallinn versus Helsinki), but certainly not Tegel versus downtown Berlin…

    CN Heidelberg – Thanks for the tip – I only took a short waterbus ride — lot of fun, great architecture seen from the water.

    ian – that sounds like fun — but I didn’t see it in time and by the time I got back to the hotel last night, I wasn’t going anywhere.