Finding Utopia. Denmark.

Copenhagen is an oddball weekend destination for Americans studying in Brussels. Even the other European students I’ve met, with the exception of those from Scandinavia, have admittedly never made it to Denmark.

But those who have been all say the same thing: Copenhagen rocks.

It’s an incredibly accessible, charming city with more Scandinavian grandiose than you may expect. The city’s public transportation is modern and efficient, its shopping is elite and it houses one of the top restaurants in the world. Meanwhile, there are sweet, pastel town houses that make you giggle, and blue, blue canals that leave you awe-struck. There are huge parks with mini castles and other huge parks patterned with lakes. There are quirky hole-in-the-walls with fantastic coffee and even better pastries.

I fell in love with the city. Fast. Part of it might be because I didn’t enter a single museum all weekend. I walked through cobbled squares, ate pastries, walked through parks, drank coffee and walked some more. It was completely ideal.

In terms of pastries, may I recommend Sankt Peders Bageri? Reputed to be the oldest bakery in the city, the goods are located right in the center of town. I did not feel remotely bad about eating three of their buttery, flaky wonders in one day.

And I haven’t even gotten to the city’s top tourist attractions yet.

Yes, the “real” Little Mermaid statue is in Copenhagen’s waters, but the number one tourist destination is probably Tivoli, the historic amusement park for little ones. In December, Tivoli is transformed into a Super Christmas Market, completely decked out in twinkle lights, garlands and everything festive you could possibly imagine.

We were stunned. The photos cannot possibly do the park’s magic justice. In December after dark, Tivoli is winter wonderland.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Copenhagen also holds an alternative, autonomous society: Freetown of Christiania. Christiania is a large commune of less than 1,000 residents, regulated by its own special laws. People cannot enter the community without the support of everyone within and all decisions are made for and by each of its residents. There’s been a lot of controversy recently surrounding drug use, but regardless, it’s a funky, fantastic neighborhood. Hippies and artists can be seen crowding into smoky cafes, drinking chai tea lattes, or riding bikes with two wheels in the front and one in the back.

Is Christiania utopia? Who can really say. But with the smallest gap between rich and poor in the world, Denmark doesn’t seem too far off.

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