Copenhagen | Finally The Adventure Begins

A bicycle parked alongside a colorful door and wall in an old part of Copenhagen, Denmark.

I arrived in Copenhagen at the beginning of a 5 week european photography adventure. I put Copenhagen at the very beginning of my itinerary with the idea of having a very gentle start to my trip. Upon arrival I realized there was so much to see and to do that I got quite busy right.

Traveling to Europe from Australia

The fact is that Melbourne is, with the exception of New Zealand, a long way from anywhere. Getting to and from Europe really is quite an endeavor.

As Iceland and the Faroe Islands were the most important destinations on this trip I needed to arrive in a european city that offered flights to Vagar, the international airport in the Faroe Islands. From there it's only a short flight onto Iceland from where, after running a photography tour, I'd be able to take a flight back to europe. Copenhagen looked like a good choice and, as I hadn’t been there previously, I thought it would be fun to visit.

Hercules Statue at the Hercules Pavilion in the Kings Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Long And Winding Road

But first I had to get there. I decided to try the Reindeer Route offered by Finnair which would take me from Melbourne to Helsinki via Singapore and, from Helsinki, I’d fly onto Copenhagen.

The Melbourne to Singapore flight was fine, though nothing special. It’s a code share arrangement and Qantas provided the plane and on-board service. The best part about it was that there was quite a bit of space on the plane and I was able to find a row of 3 vacant seats to lie down on. I also managed to get a few hours sleep during the 9 hour flight.

The stopover time in Singapore was only about 2 hours but, as our flight was a bit late taking off from Melbourne, I had to hustle to make it to the gate on time. No problem, the exercise in the middle of these two flights was just what the proverbial doctor (who's name is Ashley) ordered.

Unfortunately, the Finnair flight from Singapore to Helsinki wasn’t all that great. It was jam packed and although I’d paid more for a seat with more legroom it was barely enough. With no opportunity to stretch out, and being stuck in the middle of the isle row, it was a difficult 12 hour evening flight during which time I only managed to get 1 hour sleep.

I was very happy to disembark at Helsinki and be greeted by friendly Fins. Only one problem: prior to the short final leg onto Copenhagen I’d have a 6 hour stop over at Helsinki airport.

Sleep - Get It When You Can

My good friend, Finnish photographer Vesa Loikas, had given me a great tip which made all the difference. There are sleeping pods at Helsinki International Airport where you can lie flat on a quite comfortable leather mattress, slide the lid of the pod closed and take a nap.

A pillow and blanket are provided and the mattress is in three sections, the middle one you can lift out allowing you to place your carry on luggage underneath you. I did what other folks did which was to leave my shoes outside the pod.

I believe you rent a pod for a period of time. However, with no staff member on duty and a sign saying that use of the pods was free until 10am, I made the most of it and got myself a solid 3 hours sleep. This made all the difference later in the day.

While a little smaller I found the Finnair plane that took me on the final leg from Helsinki to Copenhagen to be considerably roomier than the one I’d taken during the 12 hour flight from Singapore to Helsinki. I put this down to the fact that the seats were a different design, providing a few inches extra space between the knees and the seat in front.

A grand building on the edge of Kings Garden in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Arriving In Copenhagen

As usual I had a great chat with my taxi driver on the way to my hotel in Copenhagen, where I arrived mid afternoon. All up the total flying time was around 23 hours. However, from the time I left my place in Melbourne (a huge thanks to my friend Tony Pepper for the lift) to the time I arrived at my hotel in Copenhagen it was a very long and quite grueling 37 hours. Neither the toughest nor most difficult flight/s I’ve undertaken, but after a very hectic last few months I was ready for a rest. At least that was the plan.

An interior view of the dome and altar at the magnificent Frederik's Church, also known as the Marble Church, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Plans Need To Be Adaptive

I had planned to spend the rest of my first day in Copenhagen sleeping. But it was the middle of winter back home and the weather in Copenhagen was beautiful so I decided to grab my camera and take a walk to soak in a few rays and help acclimatize to the new time zone. Not knowing what photography opportunities awaited me I decided to take the lot. That’s a Lowepro backpack loaded with the following:

  • Sony A7Rii camera
  • Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f4 lens
  • Sony/Zeiss 24-70mm f4 lens
  • Sony/Zeiss 70-200mm f4 lens
  • Formatt-HiTech Neutral Density Filters
  • B+W UV and Polarizing filters
  • Really Right Stuff TQC-14 (travel) tripod
  • Really Right Stuff BH-40 tripod head

My First Night Exploring Copenhagen

I had a lot of fun. It’s always great exploring a new city and Denmark is an easy going, moderately sized city that’s full of splendid architecture. It’s also a very flat city which is great for cycling and walking. Unless of course, like me, you haven’t properly broken in your new pair of shoes. I left my abode in Copenhagen, the Phoenix Hotel at 5pm and, except for a short dinner break by the canal, walked until 11pm in the evening.

It was a great adventure but, walking with all that weight is a little taxing, on your feet as well as your back. I took advantage of the hotel’s bath for a nice soak to loosen up my back and leg muscles, but each of my big toes (i.e., one per foot) had developed a big old blister which I had to manage for the rest of my near six week trip. Needless to say I'd purchased a new pair of shoes, but hadn't adequately worn them in prior to commencing the trip.

Angel and christ statues at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The following day included a long sleep in and some online work prior to meeting up with my friend, Swedish photographer Jens Hauser, for an evening meal in the city. We enjoyed a great meal, outdoors on a lovely summer’s evening.

The next few days were divided between online matters and photo walks exploring the cities architecture and parks prior to evening photography sessions down by the canal.

One of the last places I visited was the Thorvaldsens Museum. I got there just before closing time and had to charm my way in. A quick ten minute dash through the building allowed me to make a series of hand-held photos with which I'm really happy.

More online work, a very late celebratory dinner and one hour in bed and I was ready for the next leg of my trip: the fabulous Faroe Islands.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru