30 December 2013

Access denied

Last night Danes took to the streets in a peaceful “light fest”. In Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, Randers and Skanderborg concerned citizens gathered to protest against the new anti-democratic Public Information Act, going into effect on January 1st 2014. In brief it denies the public access to selected governmental documents, allowing them to hide documentation from the very public, they serve. Before they put the proposal up for vote in June, the public outcry was massive. A united press spoke against it, and we gathered in front of the Parliament, to show our discontent. This was back in May:

Offentlighedsloven gavner os på borgen

Offentlighedsloven gavner os på Borgen / The Public Information Act is useful to the politicians.

Vi vil have arbejdsro

Mørklægnings Ministeriet / The Cover-up Ministry. Arbejdsro! / Peace to work!

It sounds like a joke, but those were some of the reasons stated. Hard to believe they got away with it.

Vi vil have åbent demokrati

Vi vil have et åbent demokrati! / We want an open democracy!

85.000 Danes signed the petition against the law, and the famous response when the signatures were handed to Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov, was: “Det er fino, hej hej” / “alrighty then, bye bye”. The arrogance of the proposal and the man behind it, is staggering. Fortunately, he resigned recently, urged by a case he would have managed to keep secret, if only the law had been in effect. The same square last night:

When I arrived the scene was lit up in a harsh spotlight, robbing the light fest of some of its magic. Towards the end they shut it down, and I asked what had been the purpose. It turns out the Prime Minister was taping her New Year's speech. If anyone plans to watch it, just know that whatever she is trying to sell you, right outside the window people were mourning the weakening of our democracy.

29 December 2013

Silent Sunday, car lurking


 Citroen 2CV
 Headlight reflection

Blue 2CV
 Born to rock

24 December 2013

A happy holiday

It recently dawned on me that giving in to a seasonal depression for a full month of the year, every year, means accepting that as a minimum 1/12 of your life will suck. How stupid is that? No more! When you think about it, jul is nothing but peer pressure. Enjoy it if you can, but if you don’t, ignore the sucker. I skipped the Disney TV thing, I didn’t buy myself any presents, I don’t eat jule food or torment myself with any jule related activities and as a result I don’t feel inadequate as a human being. 

Jul is for people with families. Preferably happy ones. If I should ever become part of one, I will most likely suck it up and play along. I know how to play jul. But until then, ha: I choose to be happy.

Someone has scattered oversized handmade Christmas/jule ornaments on Nørrebro. I spotted a really cool mini jule tree from my bike in passing, but when I returned to take a picture, it was gone. Irrisistible goods. They left tinsel too.

Perhaps because I have not been so absorbed by the julething, the good vibe in my neighborhood has really stood out. People are friendly and chatty to a degree that makes me wish it was like this all the time. Nørrebro really is the coolest place in Copenhagen, in every way. 

On the main street Nørrebrogade, the big stores have all paid to have the garlands installed, with lights and stars. But along the cemetery, the shops are smaller and they can't afford this luxury. So the City of Copenhagen has come up with a little festive alternative, to not leave anyone out.

Packages tied to the railings. How sweet is this? Even if they are empty, haha. (Spyo's Your money my ass, is still going strong)

But my favorite jule detail is this tree, in one of the gardens by the lakes. If I were in charge of creating a jule tradition, it would also be by decorating a living tree. Or creating an alternative version. 

This makes so much sense to me. 

I hope you have a sweet day, just hang in if it sucks, okay?

20 December 2013


Copenhagen my sweet onion, you will never run out of layers. We are in a relationship you and I, and it is sometimes complicated, but you are so worth it. Nordhavn, the North Harbour:



This part of the North Harbour is virgin territory, like something out of an old Danish Olsen Banden movie. Not too far from here, they are developing a new part of Copenhagen. It will look nothing like this, of course.

Fishermans nightmare

Gerda KBH

No access

I hope this area is allowed to survive, we can't live without the cracks and the people keeping places like this alive.

14 December 2013

Compassion? Look under imported goods

Once, when I got a nasty cough, the doctor prescribed a strange powdery inhalant. At the pharmacy, they insisted I try it out on the spot, to be sure I understood the procedure. Immediately after I felt dizzy, and I just wanted to get home fast, and pass out. I crossed the street with my bike, unable to ride it, and got about ten steps down a crowded street, before I had to sit down on the ground. So embarrassing. People walked by, pretending not to see me. When their children turned to look, and showed the proper response, they were pulled along.

I managed to wobble into a backyard, to hide my humilation and lie down. This was in December. Finally, someone approached me to ask if I was alright. From his appearance (and the fact that he spoke to me in English, of course) I could tell he was not a native Dane. He was friendly and concerned, and did not accept my reassurance that I was fine, and just needed to lie down. He stuck around for a while, keeping an eye on me, and that made me feel oddly safe.

This was years ago, and I remember feeling so disappointed in my countrymen. A friend of mine pregnant with twins, no less, said she had encountered something similar. Ugh. Last night my shawl got entangled in the back wheel, and I was locked to my bike. I called out to ask if anyone had scissors or a knife, but the only one who offered to help me out, was a non-Dane. He got his hands messy, and worked really hard to liberate me. Afterwards, I wanted to reward him in some way, and he gave me an exasperated look: “this is so typical of Danes, why should I be rewarded for doing the right thing?” “Where I come from, we look out for each other, and help when it is needed.”

If I am ever in need of assistance and compassion in public, I hope there is a non-Dane around. That’s all I’m saying.

Va rager de maj!

Va rager de maj / I couldn't care less

10 December 2013

TED and I

“Who are you and why did you come today?” I am in the UN City in Copenhagen, attending the TEDx Copenhagen Salon Green Natives event, and I can’t answer these questions in a way that would make any sense. Other than to say, they have caught me mid-journey on a road paved with trees, urban planning, bicycle infrastructure, with engaging people and keeping the city clean. Ask me later.

TED talks (in case you don’t know them) are a severely hyped American concept of inspirational talks in a tight format, by the chosen for a selected live audience. They are held all over the world, and subsequently uploaded to the internet, so you can skip the sucking at the inevitable kissykissy mingling part (hi), and watch them in the privacy of your own home.

I am not a fan of buzzwords and labels, and as such I don’t consider myself a “green native”, or even someone who attends TED talks. I always feel somehow out of place at these events, but I went because: trees. Among the highlights were Søren Hermansen off the small Danish island Samsø, who have turned it completely self-sustained by wind turbine energy. And food entrepreneur Søren Ejlersen founder of Årstiderne, a subscription of locally grown vegetables in season, delivered in boxes to your doorstep. But I was equally inspired by the charismatic catering lady, and the star shaped building framing the event.

As luck would have it, a kind member of the UN staff offered to give me a quick tour of the premises. The building designed by Danish 3XN, is highly energy efficient and eco-friendly, in clever ways that I was itching to check out. It bugs me that I had so little time to aim and shoot, it was just a matter of catching it on the run, in the fast fading daylight. Yes, the dungeon bugs me, as you can probably tell from my infrequent posting pattern. Ugh.

UN City, Copenhagen shutters

Adjustable, perforated metal shutters, taking orders from computers inside. Letting in daylight, but keeping the sun from overheating the building. On my way in here, holding up the line, to get this shot. Torture. I wish I could go back and position myself just a liiiittle better.

Between the star points are hilly lawns, with stairs leading up, and then down to the level below. Perfect for lunch breaks, and naughty house guests smoking funny smelling stuff...

Smokers in the mist

Smokers in the mist. Walking on top of the auditorium.

Star corner UN City

Looking back into the corner of the star.

Rainwater slide for re-use

Possibly my favorite detail: rainwater is collected and used for flushing the toilets. Nearly enough to eliminate the use of municipal water. Flushing toilets with drinking water does seem extravagant, when you think about it?

Despite the open center, with balconies all the way up, the acoustics were impressive. Almost like a living room. The roof is covered in solar panels, supplying the building with much of its own energy.

Birds eye view of UN City, Copenhagen

And then the floating stairs, in a polished lacquer finish, like a grand piano. So good.

Stairwell reflection UN City, Copenhagen

Not the least because of the reflections. Pushing the patience of the nice UN man here: just one more shot? One more...

Stairwell reflection UN City, Copenhagen

And just as I was getting warm... it was over. 

The linkfest:
As soon as my favorite talks are uploaded, I will link to them here.


As promised:

Søren Hermansen TEDx speak.

Søren Ejlersen, TEDx speak

(Søren's rule)

28 November 2013

25 November 2013

An icon a day

In the somewhat neglected Classic Copenhagen talent category, falls Emma Sivell. A Copenhagen based English illustrator, who first caught my eye with the Copenhagen skyline compilations. The clean and to the point graphics really hit me in all the right places.


Recently she launched the Icon a day project, with yummy daily slices of Copenhagen. Sometimes I wonder if a place is not seen more clearly, through the eyes of someone who didn’t grow up in the midst of it? I invited Emma to introduce herself:

I started illustrating Copenhagen about a year ago - my first piece was a cycle infographic featured on Copenhagenize. Then I moved on to buildings and Danish designed lamps… last Christmas I found myself taking my 8 year old son to Tivoli to photograph different design elements… I was definitely starting to display the kind of obsessive qualities necessary to run a blog, but didn't have the time. I was leaving my full-time secure job to go back to freelancing and needed to focus on that. A year on - I have a bit more time, but not masses. I wanted a project that would build, grow, change direction. I'm hoping that the Copenhagen, icon a day project, will be just that.


This reminds me that I have to tell you about DØP, the organic hotdog vendor. Soon.


A Tivoli lamp.

The Icon a day series launched on November 1st 2013, and are scheduled to go on for at least a year. I'm always exited when people make gutsy moves, and follow their dreams, only good can come from that. And I have a feeling that we are going to be hearing a lot more from Sivell Ink, in the future.


21 November 2013

Thank you for the music

Sometimes I will see something, and it will turn into a thought (that will turn into a train of thoughts). Sometimes it will just ignite a word or a feeling, a memory or even a song. And I have zero control over these things, I am just strapped to the ride.

Like it was the case with this piano. I passed it right before dusk, knowing it was too shitty to shoot. But I still had to dismount, and show the poor thing some appreciation, as it stood there, gutted and exposed. All I could think was: thank you for the music. And then ABBA started singing in my head.


Gutted piano
Piano gut detail
Thank you for the music

Dammit, here we go again...

..thanks for all the joooy you’re bringing...

19 November 2013

Election day

Wow. I have to say: I never thought a local election would be such a roller coaster ride. Today is the day, and this is the most informed I have ever been, on the parties and candidates. I even attended my first election meeting (which was such a letdown that I for a while seriously considered making a statement, by not voting at all).

With all the work I have done with Cykelrepublikken (the NGO for bike friendly cities) and the trees, I have become aware how important it is, to have the right people calling the shots, locally. But it doesn’t end there. The thing about democracy, is that you can’t just cast a vote every four years, and then let others do the work for you. You need to be involved, keep an eye on things and let them know if they have gone astray. You need to participate actively, to keep democracy healthy. It is not so much a duty as a right: don’t let anyone take your city away from you.

Election spam

Especially not this guy, hahaha.

All of the posters from this party pretty much crumbled one week in, and they just left them like that. It tells you a lot, right there: a bad decision (on the cardboard), and no follow-up to correct your mistake. Well, at least you know what to expect.

Mere kage! Dovne Robert / More cake! Lazy Robert

On the opposite end of the scale you have Denmarks most famous welfare client, running for office as "Dovne Robert" (Lazy Robert) a nickname invented by the press. He promises to work for more cake. The strange thing about this is, that candidates must pay for their own campaign material. And welfare will not even buy you busfare, let alone costly, weather resistant posters.

Oprør fra bunden

Rebellion from below. Lazy Robert. Something is fishy here. Worst case scenario: someone is using him to divert attention and votes from a party that could actually make a difference for the less privileged.

Back on the "right" side of politics (as in wrong, obviously), this guy has the audacity to demand more space for cars. Here, they have three rows and around the corner they are demolishing homes to build a parking facility. What's the magic word, then? "More." Unbelievable.

På tide med flere p-pladser, stem på Rasmus Jarlov (aldrig i livet!)

Sign reads: About time with more parking space. Vote for Rasmus Jarlov.

The easiest on the eye is not surprisingly the ones who are not trying to sell you anything, but just make you think. Ah, I missed you street art.

Forbrug uden ansvar / Irresponsible consumption

Consume without responsibility, List $, the Greed Party.

Frihed til forbrug / Freedom to consume

Freedom to consume. List $, Liberal Arrogance.

Oh, fellow Copenhageners, please vote wisely. 

15 November 2013

Four more years

Today it is exactly four years ago Classic Copenhagen was born. I could call it a blog, but to me it is so much more. A lifeline, perhaps. A self discovery tool. Through writing about Copenhagen, I have grown to love it more than I even thought possible. About two years ago, something changed: I went from writing about Copenhagen, to getting actively involved, and now there is no undoing it. This is what I want to do: fight for my city. To preserve what needs to be preserved, improve what stands improving and better what needs to be fixed.

And as half of blogging is the interaction with you, and knowing that you are still around after all these years (some of you have been along for the ride, from the very beginning), I want to thank you. It feels like a joint effort, somehow. Is that weird?

So far, I have been thanking you by not whining about the evil dungeon. I am not sure how much longer I can hold it in, though. Most nights start at four in the afternoon, and mostly it goes straight from grey to black. But once in a while, we get this: sunset on the bunkers, and the beautiful old trees, you helped save.

November sky


Happy birthday, Classic Copenhagen.

I would like four more years, please!


09 November 2013

Vintage virtues

On my way to the sweet tree-signs the other day, I caught some really cool house-action out of the corner of my eye. It was built by a foundation back in 1895, by the publishers and brothers Soldenfeldt. Back then the workforce in Denmark carried around a book “Skudsmålsbogen” in which employers made notes and graded the labour*. The book was mandatory and as the brothers had cornered the market, they made a fortune.

The Soldenfeldt brothers were famous for their great sense of social responsibility, helping out the poor, leaving instructions in their will to create a foundation, and build this house for women in need. “De Soldenfeldtske Stiftelser” was built by architect H.B. Storck, and the sad terracotta women, representing the female virtues at the time, are sculpted by Carl Aarsleff.

I find it suspicious that moderation, diligence, patience, purity, humility, faith, hope, love, peace, vigilance, wisdom and truthfulness, are all passive characteristics. Don’t make waves just mop the floors. Clearly I would have sucked as a woman, at that time.

The master plan was to return on a brighter day, but the wait got too long (failing at the third virtue, right there), so we have to make do with grainy shots.

De Soldenfeldtske Stiftelser / The Soldenfeldtske Foundations

Hiding in plain view, making me feel blind for not seeing them before. Sneaky house.

Behold a selection of the virtues:

Flid / Diligence

Flid / Diligence. Incidentally the only woman who look even remotely happy. Check the yummy copper detail.

Reenhed / Purity

Reenhed / Purity.

Ydmyghed / Humility

Ydmyghed / Humility.

Tro / Faith

Tro / Faith. (I like that women were accepted to the house regardless of religious belief)

Fred / Peace

Fred / Peace.

Klogskab / Wisdom

Klogskab / Wisdom.

Sandhed / Truthfulness

Sandhed / Truthfulness.

I found a lot of information about this house (in Danish, of course) at the Soldenfeldt.dk site. It is a pleasant surprise to see Copenhagen history preserved to this degree, not just the house, but also the detailed background story. These guys deserves to be remembered, for their generous contribution to Copenhagen.

In case you want to see it for yourself, here is the address: Sortedam Dossering 85 (with a view of the lakes), link to map here.

* Unsurprisingly the Skudsmålsbog led to abuse by employers, and by 1920 the dreaded book was abandoned.