Lan and Jane 'do' Western Europe travel blog

At Torvehallerne

One of Peter Pietersen's linocuts, Workers Museum

At the Stork Fountain, Strøget shopping street

Lego cycling!

We had to head out for breakfast this morning as the fridge in our apartment was broken and so it was difficult to buy groceries for breakfast. At first we thought we’d never be able to find a decently priced breakfast, but then we came across a lovely little café, Zaggi’s Coffee, whose claim to fame is that it sells coffee, tea and snacks for just 15 DKK (about A$3) each, which is an absolute steal for Copenhagen! Most places here charge A$5-8 for a cuppa, which is a bit eye-watering.

Our stomachs thus appeased, we continued down Frederiksborggade to Torvehallerne, a lovely market selling high quality fresh foods, deli stuff and other interesting comestibles. Fortunately it has two large covered halls, as it had started raining by this time and it was pretty icy outside. We spent some time browsing around the delicious looking displays, making mental notes about what we might like for lunch!

When it came to finding other rainy-day activities, though, we were having a hard time, as Monday is the day when pretty much every museum and gallery in Copenhagen is closed! Fortunately, just around the corner from the market is the small but interesting Arbejdermuseet (Workers Museum), which is the only museum here that opens on Mondays. Denmark was, of course, one of the earliest pioneers of workers’ rights in the world, and the Workers Assembly Building in which the museum is now housed is the oldest of its kind in Europe.

There were fascinating exhibits documenting the history of the labour movement and workers’ rights in Denmark, and the policies that developed as a result of their struggles. For example, they explained how the concept of allotments arose (we explained yesterday that Pia and Flemming live on an allotment), and how pensions became essential for workers as they aged.

In addition, there were exhibits showing how people lived in 1915 (through donated household goods from the Sørensen family) and in the 1950s, and a wonderful display of the work of illustrator Peter Pietersen, who created very expressive and dynamic linocuts and drawings of what were then rather grim workers’ lives.

By the time we had explored this museum thoroughly, it was pouring outside, so we nipped back to Torvehallerne for a delicious lunch of fiskefrikadeller (fish balls) and fried fish on rye bread. Delicious!

The rain was to turn off and on again for the rest of the day, with even a few showers of hail to spice things up. Every time we thought it was safe to put away our brollies, we were showered again, so it certainly kept us on our toes!

However, it was intermittent enough for us to brave a walk through the lovely shopping area known as Strøget. This is reputedly the longest shopping street in Europe, especially if you count its various offshoots, and is closed off to cars, making for a very pleasant experience. Many of the shops are the usual international brands, including Ecco (where Lan bought a pair of shoes) and Royal Copenhagen (of course!) There is also a Lego store (also of course!) which contains some large impressive Lego models of Star Wars figures, a cyclist and a huge dragon. All good fun!

While it was lovely to stroll along the cobbled streets to explore this area, it was also a bit sad that there were only a few uniquely Danish shops. This is, of course, a condition that has affected all Western cities as they have become more and more similar in their offerings; we have become overtaken by the likes of Zara, H&M and even Uniqlo (soon to open in Copenhagen!), which is both a blessing and a curse!

Finally, we popped into the Rundetaarn (Round Tower), which was an astronomical structure built by King Christian IV in the 17th century that features a helical corridor (wide enough for horses) leading to the top. This made for an easy climb, with almost no steps to negotiate. There was a lovely exhibition of tapestries half-way up, and at the top we were treated to a wonderful 360º view of the city. From there we could see how low-rise the city is, with the old town mostly featuring distinctive red roof tiling, pierced intermittently by various church steeples.

We dropped in again at Torvehallerne for an early dinner - chicken and salad wraps, with the wraps made of egg rather than standard flour dough. This was because the store specialised in paleo food, one of the many fad diet outlets that we’ve seen in the city. Every second eatery seems to offer vegan, gluten-free or other type of specialist foods, so there certainly is plenty on offer if you want to go down that route!

On our way back to our apartment, we rather rashly decided to rent a couple of bikes from a local bike store for the next day, but they would turn out to be really cheap rubbish that were only just ridable! But more of that tomorrow...

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