The Forgotten Giants

They said that Sunday was going to be the nicest weather that Copenhagen has seen in a long time. With the weather app showing a full sun icon during a week of cloudy and rainy, I had no choice but to get outside somehow. Luckily, a bike and a good attitude can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go in Copenhagen– and I wanted to see the giants.

The 6 Forgotten Giants” are part of an open-air art installation by Thomas Dambo, aiming to bring attention to beautiful but overlooked nature spots on the outskirts of the city. With the aide of the treasure map below, you can go on your very own quest to find all of the giants, and see some fantastic scenery along the way. We visited the closest one on the map, number 2 (also known as “Hill Top Trine”), which was nestled into the side of a hill by the Quark nature center.

The park was about a 45 minute bike ride from our dorm through the city and out into the suburbs. Copenhagen suburban neighborhoods are a bit like those in America, except with more charm and less McMansions. We collectively decided that we HAD to live in one of the many quaint houses at some point in the distant, fictional future.

Although Denmark is known for being flat, the wind was strong enough to make us feel as if we were biking up a steep hill. I’ve found that sometimes the sunniest days can be the coldest and the windiest here. Really though, we were so distracted by the scenery and the joy of seeing the sun that we didn’t really mind.

The park not only houses this friendly giant, but also several goats, sheep, and chickens. During the weekdays there are activities for children, and right beside the hill there are shelters and a fire pit for camping. The seagulls overhead also told us that we were close to water– although we didn’t make it to the bay, I think it would be worth coming back another time to stay the night and venture out a bit further. We only made it to one giant that day, but we still got about 40 km of biking under our belt.

Stopping to admire the view of the canal on the way back

We of course treated ourself to some excellent hot chocolate at a small cafe on the way back– the perfect way to simultaneously celebrate and cancel out a long day of fitness. Although we’re only just a week in, I’m constantly marveling at the hidden gems of this city, whether it be cafes or nature parks. I think we spent our day of sun well– getting to know new parts of the city, besides the ones that every tourist visits and posts on social media. While the famous landmarks are great, I look forward to exploring more of these hidden giants.

Copenhagen at First Glance

Flower market located in a central square near DIS

As I sit at my desk looking out the window at the fairy-lit apartments and quiet streets of Amagerbro, I’m struck by how at home I already feel in Copenhagen. Although it’s only my third day, my housemates and I have started to settle into a comfortable ease around each other, sharing blankets on the common room couch and tossing around jokes as we cook in our shared kitchen. I was immediately surprised when I arrived not only by how nice the living accommodations of our LLC are, but also by how friendly the people were after only knowing each other for a few hours. Our LLC, which is Outdoors themed, has already had a couple opportunities to get to know each other better– first with a pizza dinner on arrival night, then with some icebreaker/trust-building games at the local gym, and today by walking around the city center and hanging out in the common room together.

Monday was the busiest day so far, as we attended the opening ceremony and got our first look at the DIS facilities. The ceremony was held in the Wallmans Circus building, where they sometimes hold Danish music awards and other performances. We got to hear from former DIS students and the DIS director, as well as listen to a musical performance by an up and coming Danish artist named Drew (check out her music here!)

Some of my LLC housemates and I at the opening ceremony when the DIS director told us to “take a selfie”

We then walked around the city streets and checked out some the bookstores, vintage stores, and of course, spent about an hour in the Flying Tiger (a very popular danish chain for basically anything you would ever need). We also grabbed a cup of coffee from Next Door cafe, where they were expecting the rush of DIS students and coincidentally had country music playing on the radio. The coffee was cheap for Copenhagen, about 30 DKK, but the quantity was much smaller than your average Starbucks cup.

Me and my roommate with our chocolate croissants from Next Door cafe

In the afternoon, we attended “living like a local” talks, where we could learn about biking in the city, local fashion trends, where to get affordable food, and more. It was a really great chance to hear from both Danish locals and former DIS students who now live in the city, and get to learn about some really cool deals and spots that I will definitely be checking out.

I’ve had the chance the last couple of days to use the Metro and the Bus, as well as my bike (from ABC bikes). The public transport is extremely clean and organized, and super convenient– I already know that the DC Metro is going to seem grimy and dark by comparison when I get home. I’m particularly a fan of the honor system, which means that you not required to swipe in to the subway. Instead, officers sometimes do checks to make sure that you have actually purchased a transit ticket. This makes things go much faster and smoother, especially during rush hour. Speaking of which, I had my first experience biking during rush hour, and I definitely have a lot to learn. The bike lanes here even have turn lanes, and locals seemed to bike two times faster than me with minimal effort. Despite struggling with all these new concepts, I found it extremely refreshing to bike home over the canal and watch different parts of the city pass me by. I am excited by the autonomy that biking allows, and I look forward to exploring on my new wheels.

A typical Copenhagen “parking lot”

My first impressions of Copenhagen are that of wonder and amazement. Despite the fact that it has been rainy and cold for the past two days, I find myself feeling more energized and excited than I have in a while. I cannot wait to get to know Copenhagen inside and out.