A Slice of home in Copenhagen Words by Pia Gaardboe image by daisy freeburn
t’s four PM, but it’s dark – well, the sun has long been down at any rate. Garlands of fairy lights bridge the street while shops spill their welcoming golden glow onto the piles of snow swept up along the walls. Christmas trees – the traditional European kind, not the cone-shaped Australian ones – stand in windows proudly displaying candles on their boughs. Normally, tall, flat-faced buildings like the ones lining this street would feel ominous on a dark night, but at this time of year they block the biting wind out and trap in the smell of roasting almonds beckoning from the little stalls that stand at regular intervals all the way down the street. Snippets of English, Danish, German and French drift past me as an assortment of people continue on with their Christmas shopping. No matter the nationality though, everyone is wrapped from head to toe in scarves, coats, beanies, boots and mittens, and most people have red noses from the cold.
I shuffle through the snow, watching its drifting course to earth highlighted by each passing shop window – like dust spots in a ray of sun. I emerge at the end of Strøjet, next to a McDonald’s polluting the air with the smell of fries, and look over to Raadhusplasen, the town square, and its gigantic Christmas tree decked with cheerful lights. Somehow this vast square manages to look busy and cheerful all year ‘round. I empty the last couple of honey roasted almonds into my mouth and put the paper cone in a bin as I head away from Raadhusplasen and towards my Copenhagen home. There are fewer lights in the back streets, but the tall, flat, colourful buildings still provide shelter in a friendly manner, and the odd café or store along my way still emanates warmth as I half-heartedly try to hurry through the building snow that will be knee-deep by tomorrow. I turn on to my particularly narrow
street and have to squeeze myself between parked cars and shop signs and other pedestrians, as everyone is twice their normal size from layers of clothes. I don’t notice the shop I’m looking for until I’m just about in front of it, but the golden light from Tracks is more welcoming than from any other shop. I glance at the mannequins dressed in Australian boots and fur scarves and stamp the snow off my shoes as I push through the door. A slice of home in a foreign place. ‘Pia!’ Uncle Erik’s voice fills the little shop and makes my cold, stiff cheeks work to grin. ‘Birgitte is upstairs, I sink you should go and get yourself some kaffe to warm up!’ I nod vigorously and pass through the shop to the door that will take me up to the house, unravelling my layers and relaxing into the warmth as I go.
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