Assistens Kirkegaard on a sunny Saturday morning: Hardly a classic Danish flea market

There isn't really such a thing as a classic Copenhagen flea market ('Loppemarked', in Danish). But if there was, it would certainly
not be the one found in from of the yellow wall surrounding Assistens Kirkegaard along Norrebrogade every Saturday morning for the next few months. But there's no mistaking that it is indeed a flea market.

Nørrebro, as an area of colourful characters and great cultural diversity, is hardly representative of what typically is found elsewhere around Copenhagen, not to mention in the rest of Denmark. It is therefore hardly a coincidence that Nørrebro's Saturday morning flea market really pulls out in an amazingly diverse cast of characters - both a sellers and as buyers.

As one of the major veins running outwards from the center of Copenhagen, Nørrebrogade is a prime location for such a market. There are no shortage of those perusing for treasures. From elderly people in electric carts purring along the bike paths, stopping occasionally to haggle for one item or another, to those systematically trolling through the tables, and plenty who just happen to be passing by.

It couldn't be easier to get a table a table for your goods, if you're so inclined. Simply show up at Norrebrogade 92 between 7.30 and 8.30 any Saturday for the next few months, plunk down 200 kroner, and a 4.5 meter space along the wall is all yours for the next few hours - until 15.00 in the afternoon to be precise.
It's a surefire way to meet many of these colourful and amusing characters.

So this is how your truly spent the first portion of Saturday, with literally a couple hours of sleep and barely staving off a hangover, thanks to a couple of enthusiastic friends who decided some time ago that they would make a day of it (and a pile of unwanted stuff in the corner of our apartment that was otherwise heading for the trash). In truth, we had a lot of fun.

displaying one's (former) personal taste in apparel...

Hidden treasure? An amusing little historical document
from the 70's, known and beloved to many, available from
a neighbouring stand...

the professional approach to running a flea market stand (though
certainly not ours): endless tools and other household items...

...and our little stand - one day only! No reasonable (or unreasonable)
offer turned down! (Incidently, the stuffed monkey never did sell, apparently
destined for the girlfriend's nephew's giant pile of toys, after all...)

Vinstue 90: Where Carlsberg beer (improbably) comes to life...

I dislike Carlsberg beer. My reasons are legitimate. There are plenty of beers - both Danish and non-Danish, that frankly have a lot more (and a lot better) taste. Until a few years ago, Carlsberg played every trick in the book in order to choke the beer market in Denmark, which created a pretty dire state of affairs in the shops and cafes across the country. Carlsberg is still pretty good at it, but the jig has now been up for a few years since the door swung open to a wider selection of beers. In particular, thanks to micro-breweries around the country, it seems there is no going back. Supermarkets, kiosks, restaurants and cafes around the city are now stocked with a remarkable selection of beer - many of which didn't even exist a few short years back. Which means that Carlsberg is fairly easily avoided these days.

But the other day, I had an experience drinking a
Carlsberg beer that was frankly and utterly novel. That is, I enjoyed it. I mean deeply, truly and sincerely enjoyed it. But allow me to explain, for though this was seemingly a normal Carlsberg, it was in fact not quite a normal Carlsberg.

Rather, it was a 'slow beer', poured at
Vinstue 90 on Gamel Kongvej, apparently the only place in Copenhagen that actually knows how to serve a proper Fadøl (draft beer). Little did I realise there was actually an art to pouring a Carlsberg.

I should also add that while
Vinstue 90 looks at first glance like a typical bodega, smells at first smell like a typical bodega, and serves a lot of Carlsberg just like a typical bodega, it is in fact not at all a typical bodega. On second glance, you realise the crowd is not that of a typical bodega, nor is the service. And the atmosphere is pretty good, as well. Let's call it a 'chatty' kind of place.

Vinstue 90, it takes 15 minutes to pour a single draft beer. Yes, you read that right: 15 minutes! This is exactly the same sort of Carlsberg pilsner served at countless other establishments around the city. These is only one difference - and that is in the pouring.

First, it's poured with a lot of foam that is allowed to gently and slowly settle, before the glass is further filled and again allowed to settle. It's not unlike the way a properly served
Guiness is poured, in fact. That's indeed why the sign outside the bar proclaims 'slow beer'.

And the result is truly remarkable. One ends up with a
Carlsberg that is smooth and full of taste. In a blind taste test, I would never have guessed it was a Carlsberg I was being served. The normal sharp bubbly bitterness that (at least in my opinion) makes Carlsberg so unbearable after more than a couple bottles (and sometimes only a couple sips) is entirely absent. It's a remarkable transformation.

And to prove that it wasn't just a quirk of the taste buds on this particular evening, to end the night we ordered a normal bottle of
Carlsberg - rather than the on tap version. And there it was again - that characteristic bitter and essentially unpalatable Carlsberg taste. We left the bottle unfinished. But I will soon return to Vinstue 90 - for another slow beer or two.

Grillbar: Seriously, don't go there.

This is one place in Copenhagen that is all (bad) style and no substance. Yes, it looks sleek and spiffy. But it's complete devoid of atmosphere and character. And to top it all off, the prices are hopelessly lousy. Trust me, there is much much better out there. If somebody in your group suggests a visit to Grillbar, do everything you can to re-direct them someplace else instead. You'll be happy that you did.

A 50 kroner bottle of Heineken...what a deal!

Looking down...

A friend visiting town happened to be staying on the 19th floor of the SAS Radisson Hotel. The first time I've had the opportunity to have see this view - so I couldn't resist snapping this pic of the
soon-to-be-opening Tivoli. Not a view of the place most people get on a regular basis.

And I should also mention that, much to my surprise, the interior of this famous Arne Jacobsen designed Copenhagen landmark is remarkably warmer, welcoming and more cheerful - not to mention very unique - than the military green (and not terribly welcoming) facade of the place.

Springtime atmosphere

Late Sunday afternoon (around 18.oo), Sankt Hans Torv. Spring is in the air.

Spring arrives in Copenhagen...well, sort of...

Sunshine. Shades. Outdoor cafes. Blankets. Gloves. Winter parkas. Hmmm, it must be Copenhagen. A moment in time captured Saturday afternoon in front of Illum on the main walking street, Stoget (that is Støget, to be perfectly correct).

Cinema Tips...

In light of the ongoing Natfilm Festival 2008, here is the shortest of posts, one with only two purposes:

1. A little cinema tip: For those visiting Copenhagen (or brand new to the city) and looking for a cinema with a bit of character and an above average programme, Grand Teater would not be a bad place to start.

2. For looking for one and only one film to see this year at the Natfilm Festival, might I suggest Honeydripper. A beautiful film sure to put a smile on your face. And still one more showing at this year's festival.

Grand: Let the show begin...

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