This will be our first Christmas away from home. A 30 hour flying visit back to NZ wasn’t an option for various reasons, so we opted for the next best thing – a one hour flight to Zealand. Like New Zealand, Zealand is an island consisting of a north and south section, home to over 2 million people, and also the location of its country’s capital, Copenhagen.
I even had suitable attire. I’d fit right in, just like a local. I just needed to cross out the ‘New’ part.
We arrived at 7am, Christmas Eve and, with hotel check in some hours away, proceeded to explore this Auckland sized city.
Something wasn’t right.
For a city with ‘Open’ it’s it name and slogan, it was very much not.*
We were alone.
And that’s when we learned Europeans, for the most part, celebrate Christmas on the holy day, the 24th of December. The 25th is usually back to business as usual.
Safe in the knowing we weren’t left behind in an unscheduled rapture, and that the Danes were busy celebrating Christmas, we took a bit more time appreciating the surreal quietness.
To complete our Scandinavian Christmas experience a visit to a Christmas service was in order. There are plenty of churches to choose from in Copenhagen. With our religious expert some thousands of kms away, we were lacking advice. Which once was the best one? We settled on a reform church that had a combined German and Danish service.
The church was gorgeous, with some magnificently intricate wooden carvings, and an impressive organ. But the list of attendees rather sparse. Nonetheless we enjoyed the mostly incomprehensible service, followed by a peaceful afternoon twilight stroll back to our hotel bar for drinks.
Copenhagen. First impressions: Gorgeous. Devoid of people. Like Bergen, but bigger and without the rain, mountains, and oil.
*Well the English name is Copenhagen, the Danish/Norwegian/Scandinavian name is København – pronounced ‘sherp’n-harven’, roughly translating to ‘shopping port’
All photos here: