Copenhagen on my mind

A tribute from a city kid to an old, sweet city. I can’t get Copenhagen out of my mind.

Most of Copenhagen has changed – but not all of it.

In 2018, one of Denmark’s most popular artists, Kim Larsen, died. In the song ‘Disguised as an Adult’ (‘Forklædt som Voksen’), he sings:

Suddenly I was there

In the middle of my old neighborhood

It was almost unrecognizable

When you’re old enough, you know that feeling.

I grew up in the center of the city in the 1970s and 1980s. We played at Kastellet (close to the Little Mermaid) and in Kongens Have (the King’s Garden). There weren’t that many others – neither children nor adults. Overall, there were not as many people in the city as there are today.

Shutdown at 2pm
At that time, Denmark had a so-called ‘closure law’. The unions were strong, so this meant that all shops – except bakeries – were closed from Saturday at 2pm until Monday morning.

If you hadn’t shopped groceries for the weekend, too bad.

It may sound like the Soviet Union, but the Warsaw Pact was also a force back then. Growing up in the city, it simply meant that the center was quite dead at the weekend and that Sundays were lazy, quiet and you could bike around quite peacefully.

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The metro did not exist, and there were places on Amager that seemed quite exotic, far away. There were a few tourists, but only in July and August, otherwise not.

Tivoli opened on May 1, closed in September and was not open the rest of the time. The Great Belt Bridge did not exist, so a trip to Jutland took place by ferry and lasted for hours.

In the opposite direction, you could travel to Sweden on a flying boat, a kind of speedboat. It was exciting and you would board the harbor of Malmö in 45 minutes.

Lots of peace in the suburbs
Time has passed and will not return. That’s alright. Today, Copenhagen is showing its great potential, and especially the entire harbor area with housing and bathing facilities is a huge step forward.

My wife and I have taken the journey that many parents of small children take sooner or later, from Copenhagen city out to the suburbs. There is more space – and so much peace and quiet that you can cut your teeth on it.

We have a romantic notion of moving into the city when the last child has left home. But I fear that the noise and all the people who today create a vibrant city has become too much. Maybe I’ve become too old for the city.

More lyrics from Kim Larsen and ‘Disguised as an adult’:

Once you’ve said goodbye

Then you can’t come back

Never come back again

You can, of course. However, it is not only the city that has changed. I have changed. What we liked back then doesn’t have the same appeal today. What we promised never to do when we were young, we appreciate at a later age.

Places to go and never leave
On that note, it is a particular pleasure to experience places that have not changed over the years.

Stroll around Østre Anlæg near Østerport Station. Then pay a visit to Toldbod Bodega on Esplanaden, where we used to celebrate great moments. This place still oozes with old-school Danish cuisine and Danish coziness.

I’m sad to say, Copenhagen Airport has lost its magic. Back in the day, two terminals were clearly separated. There was one for domestic flights (closed in 2015) and one for international flights. It was much smaller and less busy.

Today, thousands of people commute without skipping a beat, in and out of Copenhagen.

I can’t get Copenhagen out of my mind.

I can check out whenever I want. But I can never leave.