number 15 , the yellow house in the middle

Apartment 1 in the Central Canal Apartments, Wildersgade, 15, in the Christianshavn neighborhood in Copenhagen is snug. No rugs for bugs and no room for much else. A rack accommodates clothes on hangers but stuff that would go into drawers must stay in suitcases. The kitchen is efficient and spacious…but a space heater fills up the corner that might have accommodated a table or cabinet.

The bathroom. The bathroom is, shall we say, efficient. The little silver thing next to the sink is the shower. One pulls shower curtains around, sets the shower head on the bracket on the wall, and hopes for the best. I soap up and rinse off with a handheld shower head, turned it off; then I soap my hair, rinse again and done. No lingering in the pleasure of cascading warm water.

toilet, sink and shower

When I realize there is no washing machine and determine that the nearest laundromat is a 17-minute walk or a metro stop away, I devise a solution that is hyggelig in its own way: soak our dainties in the kitchen sink and hang them in the bathroom. That toasty-warm bathroom with heating under the tiled floor makes an excellent drying room.

The bed is comfy although it slides all over the wood floor with the least push. As I read, propped on pillows and wall, the frame moves inexorably toward the door. There are little wedges to be shoved into the wheels, intended to stop such perambulations, but they don’t work. At all.

Torvegade crossing the canal

Our neighborhood is truly a neighborhood. Two or three minutes away is the plads with the Christianshavn Metro stop and bus stops for several lines including the Red Bus Hop-on-Hop-off double-decker. A grocery, two bakeries, a Dansk Bank, a 7-11 and sundry other establishments encircle the space. Flower and fish vendors regularly set up in the plads as well.

Each morning, having performed those complicated ablutions, I run to our local Lagkagehuset, a wildly popular chain that serves pastries and bread, coffee and sandwiches. After a few days experimentation, we determine that we like best the spandauer and the kanelstanger, so I get one of each to share. Spandauer is a Dansk wienerbrød, a miracle of puff pastry, custard, toasted flakes of almond and a squidge of white icing. Kanelstanger is a cinnamon bun. Ultimately all puff pastry leads to arguments about its invention. Is puff pastry a Viennese adaptation of phyllo dough brought in by Muslims or was it a serendipitous invention of a Frenchman Claudius Gele (often conflated with the 17th-century painter Claude Gelée later known as Claude Lorrain). Doesn’t matter to me.

Sometimes I also stop in the grocery called SuperBrugsen to pick up orange juice or tea or toilet paper. It is a ritual, those errands and the purchase of fresh breakfast breads, to which I am addicted. It starts the day with a little walk and a treat, something impossible at home where any shopping starts with starting the car.

Then I am vej hjem, on the way home, crossing streets only when the green signal indicates I am safe from cars and most especially from streams of bicyclists plugged into their devices, intent on getting to schools, workplaces and other destinations.

I arrive to find my Dear One has made hot strong tea to go with the weinerbrød. Hyggelig, indeed.

Smørrebrød at home