Why do you keep on traveling? What is it that you are looking for? People always ask me these questions that I practically lost count how many times I answered them.
I travel to search for a place where I belong. I travel to experience an unspeakable high. But my main motivation for leaving the comforts of home, and embarking on grueling journeys, is to satisfy my endless desire to see the raw, sheer beauty and simplicity of this world,
A decade after taking my first step into the backpacking circuit, I know that what I have seen so far is just a mere fraction of what this world can offer. Every country I visit, gives me a piece of the puzzle. But during my recent visit to Copenhagen, the main gateway to Scandinavia, I think that I was given more pieces than I have ever been given before.
Copenhagen is such an astoundingly picturesque capital that it took my breath away.
In particular, the city’s crown jewel, “Nyhavn” or New Harbor, froze me in my tracks during our first ever encounter. It also left a long-lasting impression on me, that I know that I won’t be able to forget its magnificence anytime soon.
Nyhavn is the main commercial and tourist district in Copenhagen. Its canals are lined up with 17th and 18th century houses boasting of strikingly colorful facades. The collection of houses were built side by side each other, painted in various colors in the most vibrant hues.
Along the canal, ancient and modern wooden ships were parked. Set against the bluest sky I have ever seen, it was almost like a landscape portrait, it almost didn’t seem real. I just had to take a moment to admire and adore its beauty.
During the 17th and 18th century, Nyhavn was a hectic port that served as the convergence point for merchants and sailors from all the countries in the northern hemisphere. Ladies of pleasure were also known to be a constant fixture along Nyhavn’s canals. Denmark’s King at the time, Charles V spearheaded the construction of Nyhavn and commissioned Swedish prisoners to dig up the main canal.
Nowadays, Nyhavn has become the commercial and entertainment hub of Copenhagen and the houses had been converted into expensive restaurants and clubs offering beer and traditional Danish delicacies such as smorrebrod (spread bread) with a choice of toppings like herring, beef or seafood.
Sheer beauty comes at a price. As Nyhavns cements its reputation, as the place to be in the city, expensive clubs and restaurants with prices 30 to 40 percent higher than other cities in Europe, started mushrooming, catering to tourists who have the extra dough to burn.
I was told that such a scene is the quintessence of everyday Copenhagen life.
Because of a very effective tax system, and a government that cares, Denmark has been voted as the happiest city to live in and its people as the happiest and most contented on the planet and leisurely activities such as chatting with friends and family at the banks of the canal, is the favorite pastime among locals.
As the day crawls to an end, locals indeed converge at Nyhavn to see the sunset. I was in Copenhagen at the tail end of winter and at the early stages of spring and the crowds arrive in droves, probably to take advantage of the abundance of sunlight.
Completely captivated by such scene, I ran to the nearest convenience store and purchased a six pack and some sausages.
I originally planned to spend only a short time in Nyhavn and linger at the other places of interest in the city, instead. But I was overly enamored by this gorgeous place, that I just decided to join the multitudes of travelers and locals alike, in just simply chilling out at the Nyhavn quay.
When dusk came, the sun cast a yellow hue, giving the harbor a dramatic, almost sepia look and feel. The sky’s reflection on the glistening waters, and on the brightly colorful houses created an unforgettable scene that I know, would be forever ingrained in my heart and soul.
Today, weeks after leaving Copenhagen, I am still haunted by the sheer beauty and the very welcoming and relaxed atmosphere of Nyhavn and I am constantly praying to the universe to re-align the heavens and stars, and let me come back to that place that just completely stole my heart.