Tag Archive: Christiania


Dan-före-dan-före-dopparedan!

This is how you make glogg – take two packs of glogg, and one pack of glogg mix. Have a beer for encouragement. Throw all of the above in a pot and max out the heat. Have another beer. Forget about the glogg and enjoy life.

 

Christmas for me was rather traditional this year. At first, we gathered at my place for some beer, glogg and some hyggelig holiday appreciation. Then we had dinner and after that everybody went home without incident. At least that’s what Christmas would’ve been like if any of the above was true.

 

In reality, the Erasmus delegation ended up visiting the Christmas dinner at Christiania’s Grey Hall. Every year the Christianites organize a free dinner on Christmas eve and everybody who wants to join the festivities is free to do so. Indeed, it looked like everybody had joined as the place was rather crowded. We didn’t mind though, as the line moved quickly and it took us only five minutes to get a “homeless meal” – potatoes, meat and a salad-like creature. It tasted like Christmas and tears.

 

In all seriousness though, the food was nice and surely appreciated by all the hungry students. The atmosphere was that of joy and the Grey Hall itself had been decorated to look like a scene from Hitchcock’s “Birds”:

Move slowly. Move very slowly.

 

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a true Christiania Christmas without the thick and omnipresent smell of weed. Pretty soon we started losing members of our party to the few open drug stalls and after just an hour and a half we decided to retreat to the comfort of the Norrebro apartment, for we were sure nothing irresponsible could happen there.

 

Thirty minutes into our arrival, the music was booming and the beer was flowing. The Christmas dinner quickly turned into a rave and soon enough the apartment smelled like Christiania. That is, it smelled like duck, glogg and weed. For obvious reasons, Santa never came.

 

Christmas is all about spending some quality time with your friends. Or family, if you really insist. But technically the ways of spending that time and the quality thereof has never been specified, so I’m forced to assume partying till dawn and watching “Die Hard” with a hangover is a lovely way to celebrate the holiday.

 

A lot of other things have transpired since I last updated this blog but going into the details of these things would take too long. Most notably perhaps, I finished all my essays and passed the Danish culture course. At a pompous ceremony not unlike the 1st of September at Hogwarts, we were all given certificates for succeeding in attending 80% of all the lectures and excursions, making this the most easily attainable accolade ever.

 

“12 POINTS FOR... ah nevermind, everybody fails.”

 

 

P.S. Today is New Years Eve. I hope I will not be hit by rockets. It is a very, very real concern.

 

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Bingo?

You really haven’t lived until you’ve been to a Danish Julefrokost. On the weekend I was fortunate enough to attend one. Although I must say, this was the first time I actually got drunk before the dinner.

 

I’ve mentioned before that the Danes get incredibly excited about Christmas. Then again, who wouldn’t? Well, terrorists maybe, but a country that celebrates the start of the season with a Tuborg sponsored holiday has to rank quite high up on the list of “baddest countries ever“. Christmas in Denmark then has gotten me truly excited about the holiday for the first time since “socks” surpassed “toy dinosaurs” for me as the most commonly occurring present under the tree.

 

Unlike many other Erasmus students I will not be going home for Christmas as I’m trying to maximize the little time I have left here. Instead, I have decided to try something completely different this year.

 

No, not that completely different.

 

It turns out that Christiania will once again host a Christmas dinner for the homeless and the lonely and I am dead set on celebrating the holiday there for as we all know, should Santa drop by at Christiania, neither he or his beloved reindeer will be in a condition to leave before the New Year’s.

 

Santa or not, it's still a DUI.

 

I have no idea as to what the “celebrations” in Christiania are going to look like. When I mention this plan to the Danes they usually look at me as if I had falled on my head one time too many, before forcing their expression to a worried smile. Depending on how sad the Christiania Christmas dinners really are, my plan to spend the holiday there is either the greatest idea I’ve ever had, or the worst. According to official sources though, Christiania Christmas dinners rank somewhere between “Bambi” and “Keanu Reevesacting career” on the international sadness scale.

 

OK, maybe not that sad.

 

But Christmas isn’t only about eating (with) the homeless. It’s also about playing Bingo. Apparently. So it came to be that on Sunday we headed to Mellemrummet for a round or two of bingo. The problem? None of us really knew how to play the game.

 

Enthusiasm however, was high.

 

Mellemrummet itself is a cozy cafe on Ravnsborggade that also functions as a laundromat because hey, why not. While you’re waiting for your laundry you can have a cup of coffee while enjoying historical photos of graphic violence made fun with the clever use of a banana:

 

"Ha ha just kidding, I love commies. Here, take this banana."

 

 

Not long into the game I managed to get not one, but two winning tickets, only to have the host explain to me that I had cheated. Granted, I did so unwittingly, but ignorance never excuses a crime. The shampoo and the conditioner then, for which I had so valiantly fought, were promptly confiscated.

 

As our frustrations neared critical mass due to our inability to understand Danish instructions, I finally brought up the courage, walked to the bar and did something incredibly stupid – I asked the staff to explain me the rules of bingo.

 

Understandably, they thought I was mentally challenged and proceeded to explain me the rules. They did so slowly, in the simplest possible words and with no shortage of sarcasm – “cross out the numbers and yell “bingo!” when the card is full”. Utterly perplexed, I returned to the table only to discover I had in fact been the only one in my group who didn’t grasp the subtle art of playing bingo. Unwilling to accept that fact, I returned to the bar for the second time and again asked the staff to elaborate on the rules of the game. They did.

 

Now, at this point, you would think I had embarrassed myself enough for one day. And you’d be wrong. In a stubborn effort to destroy what little reputation I had left, I got up the third time and asked the other players to carefully explain to me the rules one more time. And again, they did, but not before handing me a mouth guard, some adult diapers and a lollipop. Accompanied by judgmental gazes I sat down and shut my mouth for good. Well… at least I should have. I won’t say how the day ended, but it included a heavy dose of horse tranquillizers and an overnight stay in a windowless room.

 

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“Or do you only know the Disney version?” asked the lecturer when introducing us to the religious motifs in “The Little Mermaid”. I shook my head faintly and then turned my head in shame.

 

I left the lecture with my thoughts still with the foxy fish woman and headed to the old Amager campus to catch the 4 o’clock happy hour (15 DKK beers anyone?) and discuss the plans for the cheap dinner night in Christiania as well as the upcoming Culture Night. As the Culture Night takes place today we bought our “culture kits” at the campus bar. Costing 85 DKK, the kit included a booklet with all the events, a city map full of lies (the Little Mermaid is in China and inviting the disabled to a robot dance workshop is just mean), a pin and an event pass. The pass itself grants you free use of the metro and the S-trains, aside from functioning as a ticket to all of the 900-odd events in the programme. Maria’s kit included all of the above times two, which made me somewhat jealous. The programme, I discovered much to my dismay, was all in Danish.

 

Thus I’m not sure what 85 DKK will get me but I think getting to “feed the carnivores at the zoo” and “tank rampage at the army base” were implied.

 

 

This is both the face of confusion and exuberance.

 

With the happy hour coming to an end we proceeded straight to Christiania for some general merriment before the 20 DKK dinner at Loppen. We also linked up with my former flatmate Ivo and after discussing the lack of dinosaurs in the modern era (it made sense at the time) we headed for the dinner.

 

We arrived a bit late and found ourselves at the back of a long queue. Maria decided to stay put but Ivo and I, slowly starving to death, embarked on a mini-burger hunt in the city. After some initial trouble we ended up in Irma and somehow managed to explain to the clerk what it is that we’re after. She sent us to Dogn Netto and, after getting lost in the aisles there, we emerged triumphant with a pack of mini-burgers each. For 14 DKK, it is both the tastiest as well as the most shameful midnight snack in Copenhagen. The make-believe dinner had enough juice though to keep us going through a quick concert at the Operaen and a rock gig at Drone later on.

 

Also, yesterday I found a puzzling and a downright sadistic sign near the new Amager campus:

 

 

The Danes would call it “keeping things tidy”, but I would call it “genocide”. In either case, congratulations Copenhagen, for you’ve clearly managed to starve the poor ducks to death.

 

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Bevar Christiania

Q: How much time does it take to get out of the EU from Copenhagen?

A: fifteen minutes on a bike and five in the liquor store.

As I’ve mentioned before, Christiania is a bit of an odd one out in Copenhagen and as a rogue anarchist state it gladly welcomes all refugees seeking shelter from the normality of Denmark.

Our first joint excursion into Christiania last week took us to Loppen. To us, the starving refugees, Loppen offered a deal on food like no other in the city. For just 20 DKK you get a nice vegetarian meal (the good kind, not shit on a stick). In addition to that, you’re welcome to take as much pastries with you as you please. Apparently, judging by the sheer volume of people who visit Loppen every Thursday, free pastry is the bees knees.

Our faces stuffed with cake but hungry for soul we proceeded to Operaen for a jazz concert. Not the gargantuan National Opera house, but the elegantly scruffy club on Pusher street.

Enouraged by the success of our first trip, we took to Christiania again on Sunday to catch the republic’s 39th anniversary celebrations. And boy, do they know how to celebrate.

On every street corner, on every alley, there was something going down. We passed a motorcycle show, checked a lively hip hop gig (“puff, puff, pass!”), a mock-rock concert, swam through the thick beats of Daft Punk and ended up staying for an utterly chaotic jam session at the Jazz Club. We were never really sure as to which band was playing or how many musicians were on the stage at any given time, but blasts were had, and that is really the most important thing.

Meanwhile in Copenhagen, I’m legally still a non-person. I wonder if I should apply for a living permit in Christiania instead?

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We should’ve guessed that our trip to Christiania was going to be different that day when, as we were walking alongside the river, ten riot vans rushed past us, sirens wailing and all.

I, along with a few peers, had just walked out of a fascinating lecture on Scandinavian mythology. Before that I didn’t know that macho one-liners were already used in the Icelandic Sagas, a thousand years before Schwarzennegger was even born. Because phrases like “this spear looks good in my skull” were far too much to handle even for the biggest action fans of us, we opted to have a few beers down at the uni’s cafeteria. Enter “M”.

“M” is an Estonian girl I had met by chance on Facebook a week earlier. She lives in Malmö. For those of you who are geographically challenged – Malmö is in Sweden. This is why she’s not particularly happy about having to commute to Copenhagen for her classes. So it came to be that we, tired as we were of Copenhagen’s routine and cleanliness, decided to head for Christiania for some coffee, refuge and some more beer.

We sort of figured, judging by the route the police column was taking, that their destination was Freetown Christiania. It made sense, seems as Christiania is a tad bit too free for the authorities’ liking. Of course, Denmark is by far a more liberal country than Estonia, but even here some laws still exist.

When we finally turned a corner on the dodgy alley right next to Christiania, we indeed saw that, aside from its regular inhabitants, the place was swarming with the boys in blue. As we were simply shopping for coffee, we proceeded undeterred straight to Nemoland, only to be chased away by the very-Danish prices. Christiania may be a hippie town, but capitalism still reigns supreme.

After some wandering around the many colourful bends of the self-proclaimed autonomous republic, we eventually settled at “Woodstock” for some much-needed warmth. Warm it was indeed, especially the barman. Or he may just have been very, very drunk.

M was chatting away when I suddenly noticed the crowds getting more restless outside. Earlier, as we were walking along Pusher street, we’d been told by a street vendor that there was indeed a police raid in progress, and that someone had been arrested. Despite the high-profile police presence, things were still quite calm as the vendor handed us our “Christiania” eco-brews.

But now, there was definitely something going down and little did we know that we were about to witness something Christiania hadn’t seen in a long while.

We hurried out of the bar to get closer to the street the cops had cordoned off. Some bystander was just telling us how someone had been nicked and that the police were about to leave, when I noticed the crowds get progressively louder. And then I saw why.

Instead of turning around and driving out into the Kingdom of Denmark, a large wire shield covered riot van started inching forward, further into Pusher street. The crowd was having none of that, and had already blocked the street with a heavy bench. Seeing that they were not going to disperse so easily, the police climbed out of their van and started clearing the way, grenade launchers strapped to their vests. And as we all know from Chekhov’s work – you don’t put a gun on the stage unless it’s gonna go “bang”.

I don’t know who threw the first rock, but pretty soon the riot van was being bombarded with various projectiles. After a short while (that is, after being hit in the leg with a bottle) I decided to comply with the cops and we joined the anxious crowds, the action suits close behind on our tail. Curiosity, however, got the best of me and, after M’s initial reluctance, we stuck around to see the events unfold, just a short distance away from where the van was.

Now, being quite new to the whole riot scene, I failed to follow the first rule of unruly mobs, which is – when you see people run, you run with them. It wasn’t until I saw a group of policemen in riot gear dash past me and the white contrails of teargas fill the air that I figured the people must be running for a reason. To be truthful, we didn’t really go on the move until we discovered just exactly why teargas is such an effective means for dispersing crowds.

We finally stopped at a riverbank, harbored safely between the many small improvised dwellings that litter Christiania. M was still trying to convince me how, in dire situations, instincts always come before curiosity, but I reckon she must’ve been secretly happy about this little adventure, seems as the likelihood of getting into a riot, as well as the likelihood of anything else interesting happening is far lower in Malmö. Our discussion was cut short though as the teargas caught up with us and we had to escape it’s invisible grip once more.

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We re-entered Christiania just fifteen minutes later, after having been forced across a small bridge to the other side of the river. We stood there, bewildered as we were and questioning our own sanity, because the place looked as if nothing had happened. There was not a trace of the cops and the people were going about their daily business of singing, drinking and general merrymaking. We joined that merrymaking and reclaimed our table at “Woodstock”, the gas now having given way to an all too familiar thick sweet smell.

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Off The Beaten Path

Ever since I got my bike I’ve trying to do a little bit of exploring every day. Or rather, my explorations have taken me to two locations that I consider particularly noteworthy.

Sure, the city centre is full of generic cathedrals and churches, but I find myself more drawn to the odd sites, the ugly ducklings that are typically not to be found in tourist brochures.

The first place that struck me was, unsurprisingly, Christiania. Now, these days there’s nothing too special about visiting Christiania as most younger travellers coming to Copenhagen are usually quite aware of it’s existence. Nonetheless, cliché as the idea of visiting Christiania may seem, it does offer a much appreciated contrast to the utter Scandinavian cleanliness of Copenhagen City.

It’s not that I dislike cleanliness and order, quite on the contrary, but every now and then you want to catch a different, more alive vibe. Too much cleanliness can kill the vibe. Allow me to demonstrate – think of Helsinki in Finland and say the first adjective that comes to your mind. Chances are you said “clean” before lapsing into deep thought and into the futility of looking for other words. I mean, you’re not even reading this anymore, are you?

My first trip to Christiania was more of a probe than anything else, because as I wasn’t looking for anything specific I stayed there for a very brief time after semi-accidentally stumbling on it’s rear entrance. Now, for many travellers Christiania is famous for one thing, and one thing only – drugs. And while I will certainly not be using this blog to condole the purchase of marijuana (75 DDK per g, you’re welcome) I will say that due to the drug fame I did limit myself to taking only one photo at the place (of a mural depicting Nazi stormtroopers, butterflies and a naked chick).


This was in no way drawn by someone higher than a kite.

Later as I was riding back home, I stumbled upon the headquarters of the “Hell’s Angels MC” Danish chapter. I did manage to snap a photo of the place and live to tell the tale, seems as these days the Angels have abandoned the use of excessive violence, rocket-propelled grenades and the use of excessive violence using rocket-propelled grenades.

Not pictured: rocket-propelled grenades

Seems as my bicycle has so far sustained zero missile hits, I will be taking my beauty out for a ride in the Norrebro district soon. I will not be doing this willingly, seems as I have to visit the State Administration to apply for a living permit and my CPR (personal identification number). And while checking out the Norrebro ghetto will be cool, the same cannot be said for the Danish bureaucracy, the callous apparatus of which will force me to take many trips to various institutions before I can finally call myself a resident of Copenhagen. A word of warning is certainly in order for all Estonians intending to stay in Copenhagen, as all official affairs must be conducted using (and it pains me to say this) paper. That’s right, you can forget about limiting your dialogue with the State to simple online interactions. They want your face. So they can paper-cut it.