Christiania

He walked with eyes wide open, a long, old dormitory sort of stone building to his left, wooden walls painted with colorful faces and then a small field with blue picnic tables to his right.  A marketplace emerged, vendors in a small plaza type space selling pipes, tees, hats, baked goods.  He walked further past a shawarma shop and a burger and fries stand and some other store fronts until he found a path up a grassy hill and took it.  He stood above it all for a while, observing people and the lay of the land. 

Then he walked back down the grassy hill and approached a different area with just as many vendors, these selling other goods.  He passed a fence where a painted green leaf flourished beside a painted syringe broken in half by a painted fist.  He walked back up the hill and found a bench looking out on an inlet in one direction and the heart of Christiania on the other, a bird’s eye view of trash can fires interspersed among the merchants, kiosks, residents, tourists.

A while later, he rose from the bench and approached a store for a soda.

“Ginger ale, please.”

“Sure, that’s fifteen.”

“Thank you.  Hey, does everyone here speak English?” 

“Yes, everyone, except for the ones who don’t.”

He laughed.  The storekeeper, perhaps in his mid-fifties, his hair grayish white and his face clean and smooth, remained still-faced until hearing the laughter, seeing the smile, and then erupted into a loud guffaw himself.

Ginger ale in hand, he strolled in another direction, beneath a sign that read ‘You are now entering the E.U.’  He switched to Carlsberg as he stopped into multiple pubs, exploring the streets and canals, occasionally walking in a bike lane before hopping back up to the sidewalk.  He noticed how people would leave their bikes at a train station or outside of a shop, unchained, and wished he could do the same back home.

(Links to information about Christiania on Wikipedia and a Google-translated version of Christiania.org)

2 comments:

  1. It is a little funny to read your tale of a sunny vacation spot where you don't need a bike lock, then to click the Wikipedia link and see topics including hard drugs and evictions. One'd certainly like to live in an ideal spot, but if a place is really free, any element can get in.

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  2. Thanks, John, for the insightful comment. It's a fascinating place, Christiania. I've heard it referred to as "Copenhagen's answer to Amsterdam," though it's really nothing like Amsterdam. Anarchy reigns there, technically, but I think a better characterization would be "self-governed." Certainly you're right that anything could happen there, and that's a bit scary. An experiment in living, to say the least.

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