Biking to Carlsburg City

Although we had some rather rainy, very cold days earlier this week, the past couple days have been some of the most beautiful days ever, so I’ve been trying to use every opportunity that I’m not in class to be outside. Usually, this just means grabbing lunch by the fountain in the square right down the street from school.

But today I had the whole day, so I made plans to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend to go find this outdoor flea market (aka cheap things in Copenhagen!) and explore other places. Initially, I was just going to take the train in and meet them as per usual, but then she told me that they were going to be biking. I figured the only way to keep up with them would be to bike myself.

Let me give a little backstory. Any of my friends who were around me when I first decided to go to Copenhagen will know how excited I was to bike around the city. I really love biking, but I find DC too hilly to bike (and Roanoke is basically mountain biking). Plus, after my bike got stolen last summer, I really lost motivation (and ability) to bike around. Once I actually arrived here, I realized that I am living too far out of the city to bike in. Since I have to take the train everyday anyway (and I am only 8 minutes from the train station walking), it didn’t seem worth it to invest in a bike. Plus, I’ve been terrified to get on a bike here. Yes, it is a bike friendly city. Yes, there are a ton of bikers. But that means everybody knows what they’re doing. I don’t want to be the American spaz who gets in their way and causes near accidents. Nobody likes that person.

But I knew I would have to get over that eventually since I don’t think you are allowed to come to Copenhagen and live for four months without at least biking once. I figured a nice day like today would be better than when the weather really starts to go downhill. So, I borrowed my host-mom’s bike, grabbed a helmet (which I didn’t end up wearing–sorry parents, but nobody here does), and biked to the train.

I took the train a few stops in (it’s too far for me to bike the whole way), and then met my friend at her host family’s house. Her host-sister made us fresh rolls for breakfast. Even though they make these all the time here and I eat way too many (actually, I just eat way too much bread here), I enjoy them every time. Who doesn’t love fresh, warm bread in the morning?

My friend Emilie and I contemplate buying traditional dresses at the flea market.

Then we biked to the flea market. It was basically a giant outdoor garage sale that they have every weekend. It was kind of reassuring to see that the Danes seem to accumulate just about as much junk as us Americans do. Their junk, however, is a lot classier. After sifting through a lot of grandma’s china, outdated Euro fashions, and a pair of Octoberfest dresses, I managed to score a deal on a silk blazer and we headed out.

Our next stop was the old Carlsburg Brewry, where they were having a huge festival to celebrate the bicentennial of the company. We wandered around lost for awhile, because the place was massive and everything was in Danish, but eventually we found the museum where we got to learn about the history Danish beer and the company. A couple cool things I saw/learned there:

  1. Carlsburg actually considers the area a city because it is so large, and they have projections for expansion in the future.
  2. When we were walking around I kept seeing swastikas in the architecture and even on some of the old bottles. I was really confused, and starting to wonder if I should continue to support Carlsburg. Luckily, the museum explained. Turns out, swastikas are an old Indian symbol meaning something along the lines of “that which is good.” Carlsburg adopted it as one of the symbols of their beer in the late 1800s, but dropped it after World War II when it gained all of it’s negative connotations.

    That's a lot of beer. Really old, dusty, disgusting beer, but a lot of it.

  3. The old Carlsburg brewery holds the largest collection of unopened bottles of beer in the world, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. The current count is 20,431 bottles of beer on the wall,  but I think there were only some 16,000 on display (yeah, only). They come from throughout the years and all over the world. It was pretty cool to see all the different labels and such. Too bad I can’t taste any of them…
  4. No, that calls for five Carlsburgs.

    I encountered some brilliant Danish beer design. Because who doesn’t need a way to carry around five beers at once (ten if you’re double-fisting)? And I love the motto.

  5. Enjoying the metamorphosis of beer: green juice on the left and final product on the right.

    At the end of the brewery museum you got to taste two things. First, we got a small cup of the “green juice,” which is the result of mashing the grains and steeping them in hot water. It is basically the beer before hops are added and it is fermented. It sounds really unappetizing, but it was actually pretty good–tasted kind of like a sweet, very flavorful herbal tea. If you’re interested in more details about beer production (I was), this is a pretty basic explanation! After tasting the green juice, we got to taste the beer that it would become. It was interesting comparing the two flavors–it’s amazing how much it changes during the process.

I’d say it was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday in Copenhagen. And although I still don’t feel like I am the ideal Copenhagen biker, I survived and didn’t cause (much) chaos, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I do think I’ve caught a case of the Copenhagen bike love and I will definitely be doing it many more times before I leave. I’ll probably enjoy a few more glasses of Carlsburg before then too.

2 thoughts on “Biking to Carlsburg City

  1. Bike on Erin and don’t be afraid to clingle your bell. It is more to let someone know you are there, not like a car horn. The flea market sounds wonderful. I’ll bet you feel like you know a bit more aboutthe real Copenhaven now.

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