Archive for February, 2010

Copenhagen (Part 2)

Posted in Travel on February 1st, 2010 by Becci – Be the first to comment

(Not that it particularly matters as they’re both disjointed and flow in no particular direction, but for chronology’s sake – read Copenhagen (Part 1) here first, if it piques your interest.)

After a long stint of not updating and people rolling their eyes and claiming “you’re never going to update on Copenhagen, are you?”, here it is. Hand-rolled and clumsily written, I’ve done it at last.

I had a flight back to the UK that afternoon (emissions offset!), and so we only had time to visit a place that was enthusiastically recommended to me by a kind volunteering partner at Klimaforum. She said: “Visit Christiania! It’s … something else entirely. Copenhagen’s worst kept secret.”

Here’s a nice shot of what I mean by Christiania:

Christiania

It’s easy to fall into misconceptions. Graffiti. Low-rise buildings with a ruffled look about them. Barrels with naked flames on the street with people huddling around them. No cars in sight. Sleepy cafes, sparsely decorated.

But I think it’s a place of rich history. Known as “Freetown Christiania”, it claims to be autonomous. According to the fascinating Wikipedia page, some portions of the law behind supervision have been transferred to the state (under the Christiania Law of 1989). There are some regulations and rules of Christiania, created independently of the government. Razi affectionately commented, later on, how such a place demonstrated how true democracy could potentially work. Major matters in Christiania were apparently decided by voting, and it enforced its own sanctions.

I cannot remember exactly, but there has been a long history of conflicts about the supposed tolerance of cannabis in that region and numerous episodes of governmental authorities trying to regain control of the region. Christiania stood for freedom, liberty and art: it was a focal point for gay activism, for example, and it was (at times) belligerent and bellicose to government authorities. But of course, the tensions have somewhat settled down into a comfortable status quo. We found it a lovely place to walk around and it was obviously one of the biggest tourist hotspots. There were small stalls selling Christiania merchandise and I suspect the massive thrusts of tourism to the area brings welcome profit.

Just outside Christiania.
Just outside Christiania.


The outer regions of Christiania.

null

null

We had a quick walk around the area and encountered a formidable (?) looking building with very interesting looking chairs:

null

null

null

null

We were tempted to put our own signature on one of the walls, but decided against it. It was a lovely little place though, even though everything was closed in that building that day.

At that time, there were also small, independent art exhibitions held in Christiania pertaining to the climate change summit. They were largely activist in nature, with some very striking models – almost caricature-like, even. Some of them seemed solemn in nature, while others grieved for a world already ‘lost’. Some seemed to gleam with a sense of hopefulness, depicting children holding hands together to protect the earth. A few of them were satirical in nature, criticizing the ‘greed’ of green capitalism with grasping hands and painted bank notes. All in all, an interesting viewing, even if I remembered only to take a few photos of them:

Forgive me, but my memory is quite fuzzy. I remember taking the long tube ride back to Copenhagen airport (after making a few wrong stops) and just hanging casually with Razi. The planeride back to the UK was pleasant enough, and it all left a sweet taste in my mouth. :)

If I were to give Copenhagen a flavour, it would be hot chilli with potatoes and leek. It would sound like a bamboo flute and smell like clovers. I really enjoyed it, and even though I arrived in Copenhagen with no real noble agenda, it was really interesting to taste the culture, meet amazing people and be part of such a well-organized academic forum. I liked the organic food and all the bitterly cold nights, even. I enjoyed speaking to the funky people on the bus, and I will remember those moments where we all held our baited breaths as the police stopped to examine our bus. I adored the confusing train ticket dispensers, that funny Cantonese-speaking restaurant owner, the crowds of protests, the strength and solidarity of it all … it was what Morshed would call a perfect ‘hippie-venture’. Also, I thank Razi and friends for accompanying me (or did I accompany them?) on this. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Next stop: Sahara! Just kidding. Somewhere a little closer – Edinburgh, maybe? ROAD TRIP!