Incognito in Copenhagen….and a bit on the side.

Copenhagen is a multicultural city – a melting pot of cultures and religions. The other cities I have been to on this journey have had some diversity however have mostly been culturally homogeneous. I am totally unnoticeable. Even if it was less diverse, I would still be so unnoticeable as I look like a Dane as many of the women there are tall and blonde. I have experienced situations where after speaking English I was still asked if I was Danish and one guy told me that I speak English very well! (I would hope so considering it is the only language I know!). I had a film crew stop me in a skate park while I was walking the hired bicycle to a coffee shop and ask me to be in a Danish government film. Once it was established that I wasn’t actually Danish, they weren’t worried as no one would know. Anyways, it was interesting to fit in so well into a country that isn’t actually mine, nor do I have direct heritage (although it appears that although my father was English, his ancestors were Vikings so maybe I do have Danish in me!).

Copenhagen is an incredibly beautiful city with extensive green parks and wicked street art. While I was there, it was noisy and colourful and full of life. There were a lot of open trucks driving around the streets full of young people obviously celebrating something. I asked someone and was told that they were celebrating graduating from school. It went for 3 days with other drivers honking their horns and others waving to show their support of these young people’s achievement! I think that is pretty cool.

I hired a bicycle for 3 days to ride around and see everything. I had plenty of time as sunrise is around 4.30am and it sets around 10.30pm (it’s dark a lot of the time in winter). The roads are amazing and created just as much for bikes as they are for cars. There are bike lanes in most places and the road rules which apply to cars also basically apply to bikes. It’s strange being given way by cars and not have them pissed off (which can happen in Australia). Anyway, riding around on the first day looking at the historical buildings and major tourist sites was very cool. Because I was riding I saw a lot more of Copenhagen than I would have otherwise.

The next day I went hunting for street art which took me to new places to explore. I ended up in Christiania which is the hippy area in Copenhagen. They have markets which sell the usual markety stuff however in the middle of the market there are mainly pot and hash stands. I was asked not to take photos there as, I quote, ‘everyone is a criminal’. Although Christiania likes to see themselves as separate from Copenhagen, they are under the same laws which includes drugs being illegal. One of the guys who live there told me that originally the area was military land and buildings and then became a squat for hippies when it closed down. The community eventually purchased the land from the government so it is now legitimately owned by them.

When I was younger and living in Sydney, I always wanted to live in a commune in Nimbin, however, my feelings changed as I realised I had a romanticised perception of life in a commune and I observed the dismantling of their ideals over time. Although it was great to visit Christiania, I could never live there either. I felt a sense of despondency and a lack of freedom which comes from living in a homogeneous sub-culture. It is one thing I love about living in Kingscliff. Although I disagree with the views of some sections of my community, at least there is diversity and the freedom (to an extent) to have ones’ own beliefs and opinions.

On my last day, I looked around for more street art, however, it was raining off and on so I spent some time at the place I was staying. It was a sparsely furnished one room studio apartment with a bathroom, a small storage room and a patio. I actually really enjoyed staying there. I loved the minimalism and simplicity of it. The apartment is in Nørrebro which is culturally diverse and included a large Arabic community. I settled in and felt like I was living there and was a little sad when it was time to move on. Copenhagen has been so easy in relation to my travel experiences. I definitely could live in Copenhagen although I would have to refrain from buying too many coffees as they were 40 danish krone (around $8.70 AUD) for a latte! (The same as I paid for a kebab!). And the weather would probably not suit me as summer has an average temperature of a Kingscliffian winter and the winter is freezing!

I left Copenhagen to go to a retreat in the countryside about 1 1/2 hours south of Copenhagen where my son is now living. It was lovely to see my beautiful boy (yes, he’s a 30 year old man but he will always be my beautiful boy!). Especially as I haven’t seen him for over 2 years. I spent some of the time riding a bicycle through the countryside to the sea absorbing this beautiful part of Denmark. Most of my time was spent immersing myself in a Kama Sutra Immersion Retreat. An interesting way to spend time in the countryside of Denmark! To many of us, the Kama Sutra is a book of interesting (and at times impossible!) sexual positions, however, it appears that originally it was much more than that. It was a philosophy of life as well as love… a ‘map to living’ according to the teacher (and Wikipedia!). It describes erotic energy, as adverse to sexual energy, which involves emotional intelligence and a hell of a lot of non sexualised, erotic touching. It was an interesting experience and pushed me way outside my comfort zone on a number of levels. I learnt a lot about myself and I had to face a lot of the fears instilled in me by my childhood, my self perpetuating insecurities and inhibitions, and the country where I grew up.

After speaking to Danish and Swedish people at the retreat, I realised just how prudish, archaic and debilitating Australian culture can be, especially in relation to nudity. We hide our bodies like they are something to be ashamed of and we only show them if they are socially aesthetically ‘acceptable’. It is really sad as I think it incubates feelings of insecurity and shame especially in young women (and more than likely young men as well). Sadly, young people in Sweden are reverting back to ‘modesty’ possibly due to the influence of American TV according to my Swedish friends.

Shamelessness was one of the topics at the retreat and one which really impacted on me. Shame stops us from being spontaneous, curious and free to be ourselves. I also think it contributes to us doing things that we would rather not do in a clumsy attempt to abolish the power shame has over us. I have definitely experienced that. Not every aspect of the retreat resonated with my values, however, my philosophy in life is that there is something to reflect on and learn from in every experience, and I feel that I learnt a lot from this one. There were many important principles which I have taken with me on my journey to further digest. I also made some beautiful connections with people who will continue to be my friends into the future.

So, this journey continues to challenge me and to be a reflective and learning process as well as bringing me joy… and I continue to be grateful for the amazing opportunities, be they challenging and/or pleasant, that open up before me.

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