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Thursday, September 16, 2021
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Notes from Copenhagen

There is no lockdown in Denmark, which means that the Danes are free to come out to eat and shop as long as they take the recommended safety precautions and wear masks in public places

A major part of 2020 has passed away in reading travel books rather than actually travelling. The feet remained itchy though. So, when the Danish border opened for residents of southern Sweden (where we live), we lined up to take the train to one of our favourite cities — Copenhagen.

From the city of Malmö in Sweden, Copenhagen is normally a 40-minute train ride. However, given the border checks that have been put in between, the travel time has stretched to more than an hour. The train was running full even on the weekends, which indicated that there were many like us who were waiting for the restrictions to ease.

Upon entering Denmark, we donned our masks. (Wearing them is not mandatory in Sweden, yet.) We got off at Copenhagen Central, the city’s main transport hub, which felt as crowded as it has always been. To reiterate, there is no lockdown in Denmark, which means that the Danes are free to come out to eat and shop as long as they take the recommended safety precautions and wear masks in public places.

Just outside Copenhagen Central is the entrance to one of the city’s main landmarks, Tivoli. On a normal weekend, even those outside this amusement park can hear the shrieks of children taking rides. However, today the park seemed muted. Wondering why, we peeked inside and found that there weren’t many queuing to get onto the rides. The kids might have been turned off by the seating restrictions and the burden of wearing masks.

Cheer in the air

We decided to walk on Storget, the pedestrian street in Copenhagen. Usually, this street is lively, come summer or winter. Though it was the tail end of summer, the restaurants still had their tables out. Storget was definitely more cheerful than Tivoli, for there were many of us outside — shopping, eating or just randomly walking outside on what was turning out to be a pleasant sunny day.

We walked all the way to Nyhavn, the vibrantly coloured, joyous neighbourhood at the end of the walking street, marked with multiple cafés and bars. Here it seemed as if nothing had changed, for the cafés were full and there was a general cheer in the air. A street singer occupied a corner, rendering Bob Marley songs, while a painter was busy painting the brightly coloured buildings that mark Nyhavn, unmindful of the several of us who stood there watching his art.

We paused for a few minutes, and took in the breeze that wafted from the Baltic Sea. For the few minutes that we stood there soaking in the sun — while the street music trickled in, punctuated with the pop of beer cans and easy laughter of people having a good time — it all seemed normal, as if the pandemic was a mere nightmare that had vaporised the instant we woke up that morning. In this moment, everything looked perfect, as it should have been. So, we got ourselves a table in the sun at one of the restaurants and joined the festivities.

The adrenaline rush-seeking travel writer lives in Malmö, Sweden.

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