31 May 2011

What if?

If you ask the average Copenhagen bicyclist what makes him or her feel unsafe in traffic, this is the initial and surprising reply: cargo bikes (taking up too much space, impossible to pass on narrow lanes), girls on granny bikes with loaded baskets (that would be me, then), bicyclists texting or otherwise busy on the phone and bicyclists riding in pairs, side by side. I know this because I had the occasion to participate in a survey on the subject. None of these answers are mine. Not one of them makes me feel unsafe, at the most I recognize them as mild annoyances. What makes me feel unsafe in traffic is reckless drivers, large trucks with low visibility and drivers preoccupied with their phones (I can't begin tell you how many I see every day, in trucks too). Once we got over listing what I can only call the annoyances, we all agreed that the "hard traffic" and especially trucks and taxis are the scariest (don't even get me started on Copenhagen taxi drivers).

The reason we were gathered was to evaluate the latest traffic safety campaign from the Road Safety Council. Nothing we haven't seen before. I will not bore you with the details, suffice to say it sucked, and I am willing to bet you it will not work. But done right it could save lives, and that makes this particular waste of money and advertising space so dangerous. An assignment this important should be offered to forward thinking advertising agencies, only the best, and never the same twice in a row (unless proven extremely effective). We need a fresh approach.

What if a campaign for once was not based on fear (!), or set on making us adversaries, banging the old Us Against Them drum? Imagine instead a campaign focusing on how we are in this together, how people in cars are the same as people on bikes (we are, you know), and at the end of the day what we all want is to get home in one piece, having caused no harm. Or what if you as a bicyclist was encouraged to take it easy, and enjoy the ride? Could that shave off some of the annoyance felt by those who just want to get from A to B as fast as possible? Or what if you as a photographic experiment turned all the cargo bikes into double-barreled vans, illustrating just how much more space they would then take up? How much more they would pollute? Maybe then we would not be so busy sneering at them on the bicycle lanes. And maybe then even the drivers would see us in a more favorable light.

I am not saying that all bicyclists are saints, when you factor in the amount of us riding daily, there are bound to be a few bad apples (hello). But overall I feel safe around other bicyclists, especially in heavy traffic. Even if we are just a small group, cars are less likely to take crazy chances around us. We ought to re-think the way we look at each other on the lanes because the more there are of us, the more privileges will come our way. Wider lanes, more lanes, clearly marked corners and so on. A good campaign could go a long way towards making traffic both safer and more pleasant all around. Imagine a campaign promoting not fear, but understanding? Dare I hope?

Cargo mom

One less car. 

27 May 2011

So not spring

Spring couldn't possibly suck any harder than this: windy, rainy, grey, bitter cold and last week we even had hail. Hello? At a time when the rest of the world suffer floods, earthquakes and tornadoes I am aware that whining is not allowed. I just miss spring, that's all.

In a brief moment of blinding sun I spotted this hand painted wood crate on a bike outside my supermarket. I knew it was good, but between the sun, the shades and the windblown wet hair I sort of shot it blind. It was not until I got home and had a closer look that the full extent of the yum revealed itself to me:

Mixed media beach scene

Mixed media, I love mixed media! Check out this little surfer dude. 

Hand painted wood crate

The style reminds me a lot of the underwater parking lot.

On the bright side the crazy rain is good for the vegetation. Guerrilla gardening on the bridge:

Guerrilla gardening

I love that bridge, did I ever tell you that?

26 May 2011

Free wheels

The new Copenhagen city bike has arrived, and after testing it I was all set to nag about it. It is heavy, a pain to park and you are not allowed to bring it anywhere fun (like the bridge areas). As if anyone had the leg power to push it that far. But then I thought about it: it is free and yours with a single coin deposit, so you are not really in a position to be anything but grateful. And then I learned that the free city bikes are built and maintained locally at the City Bicycle Workshop (Bycykelværkstedet), a job training project for rehabilitees. So much goodness, who cares if it weighs a ton? The bikes are mostly for the tourists, but a some of the locals seem to find them useful too. Some even consider the coin deposit more of a purchase, buying locks to secure their new investment.

The new model in a rare upright standing position.

What this sign is telling you is basically that your ride will be bumpy, with nothing but roadwork and cobblestones ahead. That is central Copenhagen for you these days.

Meatpacking district by night: a couple of free bikes spooning on the ground. Locked. Some kids don't know how to play...

...or put the toys back where they found them. Last years model dumped at the Central Station. 

If you spot one that is out of place or need fixing drop them a mail at: info@bycyklen.dk

Link to Bycyklen København, the organization behind the free city bikes: here

23 May 2011


Some days I feel like I was only put on earth to pay my bills. This is one of those days.

Tax pay'n sheep

22 May 2011

Copenhagen by night

To make it this far without mentioning the brown bars borders on neglect. Copenhagen blooms at night, and all the people worth partying with are broke, so we are revisiting the "brown bars". Defined by bad lighting, foosball/pool tables, reasonably priced beer and old fashioned smoke (small bars are exempt from the smoking ban so far). You reek like an ashtray when you leave, but you most likely hung out with the ultimate party people. Speaking as a non smoker it is totally worth it.

Last night I went to the re-opening of a classic brown bar "Høker Cafeen" across from the meat packing district. Bad lighting? Check. Foosball table? Check. Cheap beer? Party people? Check, check. And best of all: when I left, taking crappy pictures with the only camera I dare bring to the pickpocket bonanza that is Copenhagen by night, the owners good friend told me that his friends all love Classic Copenhagen. No need to take my bike home, I was floating all the way on cloud nine. 

A midnight snack: the classic licorice pipes.

Stine Hamann you rock. The pavement outside the bar. Is that not the most romantic thing you have ever seen? According to Google this girl is running the Copenhagen Marathon today, so that is probably what this is about. 

My phone may not be smart, but it gets the job done. 

21 May 2011

Dinner for one

A recent survey shows that couples fight on an average of 2455 times a year. I have to wonder: where do they find the time? Of course surveys can be tailored into showing all kinds of things, and it is not healthy believing everything you are told. But just for now it makes single life feel a little better. Dinner for one, Nørrebro style:

Dinner for one

Ha, I know: I nearly missed it too, look hard.



I don't believe in the Rapture, but Twitter came up with this ultimate song for it. I've heard it 10 times already:

Have a sweet and Rapture free Saturday.

19 May 2011


Sometimes the world cracks me up and I find myself the only one laughing at the invisible joke. I was riding along the lakes when I spotted the first batch of ducklings. This called for a close up, but I approached with care because the mother was anxious. And with the poisonous nutcase around that is exactly how it should be.

The first batch

I didn't want to stress her out, so I had a seat at the stairs nearby. And oh, look:

Dying pink

Dying pink. Look at the little antennae. As I was fiddling with my camera, I remembered how I just recently discovered the fish eye effect. Here comes the cracking up part (minus the identifying features, of course):

Joggers, hahaha.

Along with surreal drowning doll. Please..

Exit fish eye (and exit duck family, due to hysterically laughing human).

But the bird theme remained. Later I spotted a bird. On a Bert. I managed to freak out a cluster of American tourists, as I attempted to explain what was so damn funny. Talk about invisible jokes.

And the craziest thing was that it moved around, but only from one Bert to another. Oh, help me.

On my way home I passed a small demonstration. It looked peaceful, but there were heavy police presence. The protesters were boxed in by police vans, unable to move forward so they just stood on the middle of the bridge and chanted: D-E-M-O-C-R-A-C-Y. A bystander told me it was to mark this day back in 1993 when Denmark, despite the resistance was snug into the EU Maastricht Treaty by a political maneuver, and during the protests fourteen people were shot by the police. 

The protesters on the bridge were seriously outnumbered. I got a couple of fuzzy pictures, and right as I got on my bike to leave, the crowd yelled for action and I turned around and caught the response:

"Show us the bird"!

15 May 2011

Long live the revolution

The tourism industry (and not just the Danish) is ripe for a revolution. We travel more than ever and we recognise when we are being ripped off and herded like sheep. In Copenhagen the beginning of the revolution is appropriately marked with chalk outlines on the asphalt. They are scattered all over the city and after passing a few I had to look it up. Crime Tours is an hour and a half long guided evening tour of Copenhagen, zeroing in on the ghoulish past with a thousand years worth of filth, greed, murders and executions. I love guerrilla advertising:

Crime Tours

And this one I spotted on the same day. A cushioned cargo bike parked in the centre, with a sign offering the ultimate treat: a private guided tour of Copenhagen by a chauffeur with a master's degree in history. The History Bike:

The History Bike

Check out the cooler in the middle. And is that a seat belt? 

Copenhagen cargo guide

History Bike

It may be quiet, but I still smell the early onset of a revolution here. As a tourist I would rather have a local show me around, than rely on the established agencies. And you know they are on to something when even the locals get sweaty palms and want to join the fun. This is how it should be. Long live the revolution!

11 May 2011

Hold your horses

It's not like I'm turning into a Buddhist or anything, in fact I have been going ballistic on more than one occasion since we last talked, but only on those who deserved it I promise. But I feel the need to slow down and be more present. On the weekend that spring sprung I was not looking, suddenly everything was just leafy and green and now I sort of feel cheated of the process. Does that even make sense?

Fortunately spring happens gradually, and there is still time to stop and admire the lilacs, mind-blowingly beautiful, fragrant and short-lived. There are a few places in Copenhagen where you can (and should) ride your bike slowly past the lilacs, and just breathe them in. One is by the Botanical Garden, and another is by the National Gallery of Denmark.


Messing with the camera settings, demanding "wrong".. ah, sweet imperfection.

To make up for my neglect I have been reading up on the lilacs, and it turns out that they are a vanishing act, with less blooming every year worldwide. The key to prolong the blooming period is to plant more varieties, and have them slightly overlap. But whatever you do, don't take them for granted, they are only here for a few weeks every year. Had I not stopped for the lilacs I would have missed the ultimate in poster cool, the non-text-no-clue-whatsoever-poster:


Who is she? Do I even want to know? I am seduced by the mystery.

The garden behind the National Gallery, Østre Anlæg, is a hilly, spacious and somewhat overlooked garden with a lot more privacy than the nearby Kings Garden. How did I miss that? It even has the coolest playground with a "melting couch" and an over sized hollowed out TV. And wooden birds.

A mocked bird

I heard about the one in Frederiksberg Garden, but this is my first pacifier tree spotting:

Fruit from the pacifier tree

Pacifier tree in Østre Anlæg

Some of them even have little notes attached, these are the fruits of true sacrifice. 

And the crowning piece:

Fish ain't cheap

(One guess who?)

Imagine having missed all this? I am so glad that I stopped to smell the lilacs..

09 May 2011

A friendly warning

Here's a friendly warning: if you are in Copenhagen on a Saturday, stay far, far away from the centre. All you will encounter is pimple faced morons in daddy's cars, out of towners and crowds of misguided tourists. It is not pretty. But this Saturday I decided to go anyway because the press have been all over how Krogs seafood restaurant for the month of May is bringing the traditional fish market back to Gammel Strand (former kingdom of the fishmongers). I am not sure if a single table with a parasol and a box of fish, a fish market make? Anyway I was all set up to say something nice about it, until I encountered the unpleasant sales person who turned his back on me mid question, not bothering to answer. I'm sorry, but no fish is that fresh!

And right next to that was the weekly flea market, with an overpriced selection targeting the cruise ship tourists, you know the stuff most Danes won't touch. Again with the attitude. I have to ask: what is the matter with you people? Is that a way to greet our guests? You should be ashamed of yourselves. 

As I returned to Nørrebro, the mood changed completely. People hanging out in the sunny spots, and a warm and welcoming street party in Blågårdsgade with homemade banners, live music, DJ's, cup cakes, food and affordable beer. It is not rocket science, just treat people like you would want to be treated, you know what I mean? If street parties are not your thing, make a day trip to Louisiana, the most beautiful exhibition space in Denmark. Hit the bridge areas or go to a park and have a picnic. Just stay away from the centre because you deserve better.


Blågårdsgade street party. I can't stand crowds, but that seems to be an allergy with a built in amnesia: I only remember it when I get there. But then I love the debris surrounding it, and you can't have one without the other. 

The traditional home made triangle banners, patchwork style, I love how they always go all out to make it cosy. Very Nørrebro. I had to include this shot, because you can just spot the old and the new Copenhagen lamp hanging side by side.

Warning sign?

Half and half

(I miss Armsrock, haven't seen a fresh piece from him in ages)

A kiss on the wall

By the way, have you noticed how I have managed to leave a couple of hundred people out of the frame? I sort of impress myself with that, haha. Macro girl strikes again.

07 May 2011


The first time I met Bert, one of the first things he told me was "for the life of me I can't understand how you can be bothered to do all this work". Like blogging, taking pictures and hanging out in the comments section is a bother? Was he kidding me? It was only after that I recognised the irony of the words coming from this man, who carves and paints his wooden sculptures and sneak around at night trying to give his art to the people without getting caught and punished by authorities.

He does so wearing a tailor made disguise that is also in place for interviews and public appearances, like the nipple show at Helvetikat yesterday. In part, the disguise is to underline that it is not about the artist rather about the art, but of course nothing peaks your curiosity like a grown man wearing a mask of little girls pink pantyhose.. or is that just me?

Bert and Fimo in show

A double treat: Fimo & Bert

Nipple tree detail

Detail of the nipple tree. Or is it a totem pole? I forgot to ask. Love the innie very much!



Gud er cool

Badge on Bert "Gud er cool" (God is cool), Gud Gudesen: Danish street artist named after God. Stuff like that takes the edge off my religio-fobia. Is there anything street art can't do?

The show is running until the 31st of May.

Holsteinsgade 2
2100 København Ø

Opening hours:
Tuesday 17-20 (5pm to 8pm)
Saturday 12-15 (12pm to 3 pm)
and by appointment

Bert's own blog (link)
Bert spottings on flickr, by yours truly (link)