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Cruising in Copenhagen: How Having a Bicycle Saves Crowns
By Eugene Kobiako (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copenhagen, Denmark. Most people first imagine the Little Mermaid, a lot of herring, and no sense of humor. Well, my experience as a foreign exchange student in Denmark is the exact opposite of what most people first image, and below you will find a detailed review of this Scandinavian gem.
First, arrive to Copenhagen by air, as it turns out it is the hub for all Scandinavian travel, and the airport is easily navigable, not to mention everything is written in both Danish and English (for those of us linguistically challenged). There are also trains that go to Malmo, Sweden quite frequently, where you can connect to various Swedish cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg. The opposite direction will take you to inland Denmark and eventually Germany. Use Iceland Air, especially if you are on a budget, and enjoy the two free bags that are included in your ticket price, not to mention a mandatory stop in Reykjavik, Iceland where you can trade in your ticket to enjoy the isolated Atlantic island and its beautiful nature, the Blue Lagoon, and exotic cuisine (ever eat whale or shark?).
After finally getting my bags, I made my way to subway, or metro, which I quickly found out is quite expensive. A one way ride costs 25 DKK (or about $5). You can ride the metro for an hour, but only in a limited amount of zones. More zones cost more money, as does the time. The good thing is that the other modes of transportation in Copenhagen are well integrated, meaning you can hop off the metro, get on a local train, then take the bus back, all with just one ticket (but only if it’s the right zone and you still have time on it). Most Danes rely on public transportation only if they live really far away, have a serious meeting, or cannot get to where they need go without using it. The rest of the time they ride bicycles, and Copenhagen has a wonderful and advanced biking culture. The roads are wide and provide bicyclists with enough room, signs, and even their own traffic lights. The drivers are polite and respectful of the bicyclists, as most likely they bike themselves. One of the first things I learned about Denmark (and specifically Copenhagen) was that I had to invest in a bicycle in order to survive. Although tried and true, I ignored this and ended up using public transportation as it turns out there are a lot of complications with owning a bike in Copenhagen. More on that later.
I finally arrived in my place of residence, which was in a young and modern part of the city. I lived on an island that has relatively recently been built out of manure by Dutch workers, and is therefore referred to as “shit island”. This place is called Amager (but pronounced Ah-Mah…Danish language…don’t ask) and is only 20 minutes away from the city center and my university campus by metro. Across from my “collegium” (or half-dormitory half-apartment style housing complexes where young people and students live in Denmark) was Scandinavia’s largest mall called Field’s that had a grocery store called Bilka, which was reminiscent of Walmart. It was absolutely great, as it was a one stop shop for all my needs, as it had everything from rubber gloves and printer toner, to orange soda and rye bread.
Finally settling in and buying some basic groceries, I went to explore the capital of my host country, and had to buy another ticket for the metro, this time for another zone. Arriving promptly 20 minutes later (which is surprising, seeing as how throughout my stay, the metro never again arrived on time), I got off at Noerreport Station, the biggest stop and the center of the city. Climbing the stairs, I was greeted by giant red buildings, thousands of bicycles, and the hustle and bustle of a typical modern city. I then proceeded to walk down one of the famous pedestrian streets, Frederiksborggade, and saw many shops, expensive cafes, student bars, and even a watchtower.
Stay tuned to hear more about being a student in Copenhagen!