Flashback a few years ago to when my friends and I found ourselves in Copenhagen, Denmark for a weekend getaway during our study abroad. Since the trip was so last-minute, we really didn’t have any planning time beforehand, and the majority of us were heading into the unknown. We knew Copenhagen had places like Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid statue, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple, and some cool restaurants, but didn’t know enough to keep ourselves busy (or so we thought). Upon arriving in Copenhagen, we learned of a place called Tivoli Gardens and decided to check it out. It was described to me like a European version of an older Disneyland. While I don’t necessarily agree with that description, I was intrigued. Wouldn’t you be?
Walking amongst the crowds lining the walkways and carnie-type games, I found myself content with life. I grew up extremely comfortable with crowds, chaos, loud noises, etc., which is exactly what I was experiencing at that moment. Instructions for the games in Danish simply added to the romantic intrigue of my surroundings, rather than confused me. The constant buzzing of foreign languages (mixed with a few that I could understand), coupled with the random roar of the roller coasters, smells of sugar and duck poop, reminded me of the years I spent working at Disneyland. Further proof you can feel at home in a country far away, where you don’t understand the language, and barely know anything about the customs.
While I was in Europe during my study abroad, I was on-the-go virtually 24/7. I slept for 4 hours at a time, country-hopped on the weekends, and spent many nights in transit on busses and trains. I can’t even begin to explain the ecstasy my friends and I experienced when we were able to do something as simple and child-like as feeding the fish at Tivoli. There we were, walking amongst the beautiful gardens and greenery that abounds within the grounds, when we came upon one of those little dispenser machines. We quickly turned out our pockets for coins and pooled our change. The brown little turd-like pellets smelled. The ducks and other fowl crowded around us like a posse from a mobster movie, waiting to pounce. Little kids surrounded us, asking (we think) to take a turn. Throughout all this, it was was weirdly therapeutic to just stand at the water’s edge for a few minutes in time, mechanically picking up a pellet from the cup of our hands and lobbing it into the water. And of course, we had to have a contest to see who could chuck one the furthest.
This next photo requires some explaining. I love Dr. Pepper. When I was traveling around Europe, I was always hard-pressed to find some, so I tried every kind of cola I could find (my favorite being Kofola from the Czech Republic). While we were wandering around Tivoli, my friend and I noticed these little stands that had a Pepsi logo on the side. Curious, we approached and found someone who could explain it to us (in German). Apparently you can purchase a small bottle from a stand and a wristband, which gives you free refills on the Pepsi. Judge all you want, but this was a cheaper option than purchasing water.
One of the surprising things we learned about Tivoli was the fact that it’s also a large concert venue. I have absolutely no idea who the artist was, what type of music I could categorize it as, nor which language they were singing in. All I can tell you was the excitement in the air was palpable and infectious. We swayed with the rhythms and oohed and ahhed with the crowd. Our entire bodies were treated to a spectacle that capped off an amazing day discovering Tivoli.
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Have you ever been to Tivoli Gardens before? What did you think about it?