Monday, 12 April 2010

nothing says Easter like some angry hippies with hash

Easter break was spent this year in Denmark.

Following a relatively stress-free journey to Stansted where Jess and I managed to once again run through an airport terminal to our flight, and an hour long delay on the plane while they attempted to fix some sort of technical problem, we made it to Odense, the third largest city in Denmark.

Staying with the wonderfully hospitable and charming Jensen family, those two days were full of getting chased at by an angry horse, partying Danish styles and raiding Cecile's parent's well-stocked fridge.

With very little sleep, we made our way over to Copenhagen and as the city had pretty well shut down for the holiday weekend, Jess and I found ourselves at the one place in town that was sure to be open - the Hard Rock Cafe. After taking a very long nap, we ventured out in the drizzling cold weather to find a place to eat dinner, then to find the elusive Ice Bar - which surprise surprise, turned out to be closed.

Monday was our official sight-seeing day. We saw boats, brightly coloured houses, squares, walked along the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe and stepped outside the European Union for about an hour into the strange strange land of Christiania.

Formerly a deserted military ground, a group of hippies in the 70s took over the space and formed a separate state within Denmark. It's kind of like a strange Mad Max world, of ram-shackled and run down warehouses, make-shift shelters made from driftwood and old pieces of metal and bonfires in garbage cans.

A large sign with 'No Photo' spray painted on it deters tourists from documenting their time here, and the rough looking residents of Christiania enforce it. Really the only friendly face I saw was from a woman on "Pusher Street", but that was just before she gestured down to a table of hash invitingly.

It's an interesting "social experiment", a commune of sorts, where people have gathered for decades to celebrate peace, love, legalized cannibis, and who knows what else. What's even stranger is that it's become a tourist zone. A must-see attraction of Copenhagen, as iconic as the little mermaid statue or the brightly coloured townhouses that line the pier at Nyavn. In a way, being a tourist attraction legitimizes Christiania. Because it's so popular with visitors, it's become engrained in the identity of what makes Copenhagen what it is. While many Danish people resent the Christiania residents for living on prime property without paying astronomical taxis, in a way I wonder whether they also take some ownership, pride even, that this "social experiment" has gone on for decades in their country. Something which surely would have never happened in any other country that I've been to.

At any rate, here are the obligatory photo-ops from the gates of Christiania:

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