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Art In the Raw, Just Half an Hour from Copenhagen

A museum in Denmark named after an American state? This is not the only fetching fact about Louisiana. Located in the small town of Humlebæk, some 35 kilometres north of Copenhagen, Louisiana draws thousands of visitors each year to its alluring interior and exterior. Its contemporary art collection is truly extraordinary, as is – perhaps even to a greater degree – its siting, opposite the cold waters separating Denmark from Sweden, nestling in a vast area of parkland, trees and cliffs. Likewise its architectural design, seamlessly integrated into its surroundings.

The museum was founded in 1958 by the Danish businessman and philanthropist, Knud W. Jensen, who commissioned the first stage of the project to the architects Vilhelm Wohlert and JørgenBo. Oddly enough, the museum is not actually named after the American state, but on account of a coincidence – the previous owner of the land happened to marry three times, and each time his wife was named Louise! As the museum’s private collection is far larger than what can be displayed, many of the constituent works are loaned from one place to another. The building houses works by Lucien Freud, David Hockney, Asger Jorn (one of Denmark’s leading 20th-century artists), the Spaniard, Juan Muñoz, photographers such as the German, Thomas Demand, and the New Yorker, Cindy Sherman. And, what is likely the jewel in the crown – a room where a painting by Francis Bacon, and one of the most striking sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, are placed face to face, as if in the throes of an ongoing dialogue. In the garden we find several weighty sculptures, including one by Alexander Calder and another by Joan Miró – set just five metres apart and permanently chaperoned by the sea in the background – in addition to works by Louise Bourgeois and Max Ernst, among many others. 

You have just until the end of January – be quick! – to see a long-distance exhibition hosted by the museum, as well as an installation which raises eyebrows. The exhibition reviews the extensive, colourist and provocative work of the multi-disciplinary Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama (phallic sculptures, rooms painted in polka dots, rent garments and other marvels). The installation is a huge sculpture by the Canadian, David Altmejd, called The Flux and the Puddle, which takes up a whole room and is well nigh impossible to fathom – it involves a visceral, high-impact blend of methacrylate, food, taxidermy, strings and mirrors.

Louisiana is easy to reach from Copenhagen – at the Central Station in the capital, you take a Helsingor-bound train and get off at Humlebæk. That’s all. On your return, you are urged to explore the district of Vesterbro, adjoining the aforementioned Central Station. Once the haunts of prostitutes and crooks, it is now one of the most exciting and bustling city quarters, brimming with galleries, stores, cafés and restaurants. Make sure you stop off at Bang & Jensen, in Istedgade, which is open all day. Their lentil soup with curry and cilantro comes highly recommended, and you can also play some pinball and Arkanoid. Another landmark worth seeing is the so-called Meatpacking District, the former fish and meat market reconditioned as one of Copenhagen’s cool areas, where you can choose from among a host of appetising culinary offerings. For lovers of music and vinyl, the best spot in Vesterbro is undoubtedly Sort Kaffe & Vinyl, a small record shop cum bar. Or vice versa – a café with records. Its claim to fame is a small but carefully curated selection of folk, jazz, electronic, exotic and experimental music. For sleeping over and putting away a hearty breakfast the next morning, here are two recommendations in the same district: Bertrams Guldsmeden (very near Værnedamsvej, one of the prettiest streets in the city), and the Avenue Hotel, which has a beautiful patio if you happen to be there in spring or summer.

While the city itself is well worth the visit, the chance to see Louisiana and even spend some hours in Vesterbro makes this a well nigh compulsory trip. Why wait to book your flight to Copenhagen?


Text by Carles Novellas for ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Carles Novellas and Anna Higueras

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Down A Fine Danish Beer

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and its largest city, with a population of almost two million inhabitants, including its metropolitan area. Not bad for a northern city with long, harsh winters. However, the high population density is actually the result of brilliant economic planning. Copenhagen has managed to become the main trade hub between continental Europe and the whole of Scandinavia. Its healthy economy has led to such sectors as the leisure market expanding inordinately in the last few years. This has in turn prompted an upsurge in the number of restaurants, discos, bars and countless beer houses. We are going to recommend the ones we consider most inviting, but we will also be focusing on Carlsberg, the mother of all beers in Denmark. The label is a veritable institution for the Danes. And, we urge you to visit the Carlsberg brewery, one of the oldest in the world.

Possibly the Best Beer in the World

Before venturing into the vaporous world of Danish beer houses, let’s take a stroll through the crown jewel of that hops culture. I am referring to the Carlsberg Brewery, located in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro district, just 2 km from the Central Station. Buses no. 8A and 26 have stops very near the entrance gate. There is also a free shuttle bus which leaves every hour (from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) from Vesterbrogade, 6.

The Carlsberg Brewery is sited in one of Copenhagen’s most vibrant districts. On arrival, the first thing that drew our attention was the iconic Elephant Gate – Elephant is one of the label’s most popular varieties – in addition to numerous architectural monuments, including contemporary ones like the Bohr Tower. This year sees the completion of a whole new quarter adjoining the brewery and a new train station named Carlsberg has been unveiled, further facilitating travel to and from the city centre.

Housed in the factory complex is the Carlsberg Museum. It is made up of several historic buildings containing rooms replete with art objects. Some of them were originally the private showroom of Carl Jacobsen, founder of the famous brewery. However, nowadays most of the collection is housed in Glyptoteket, in downtown Copenhagen. If you dine in the restaurant, you will be escorted by 19th-century paintings by Krøyer and empresses in marble. We were awed by the mosaics on the ceiling and the marble columns.

In the summer months, admission is free on Fridays. The brewery is turned into a bar with a patio where you can enjoy a cold beer or eat a barbecued meal with a funk, jazz or groove DJ session in the background.

The Best Beer Houses in Copenhagen

Denmark’s most famous beers are Carlsberg and Tuborg, but these two pilseners are not your only options when touring the city, as its beer houses offer a seemingly endless variety. Here, then, is a list of our three favourites.

1) Mikkeller & Friends

One of the most popular beer houses in Vesterbro. They have also just opened another venue three times as large in Nørrebro, and offer up to 40 different types of barrel beer. The interior is divided into compartments which are opened as and when the premises fill up. At Mikkeller & Friends you can also buy beer to take away – they have a list of 350 types of bottled beer from all over the world.

2) WarPigs

Here you will find a large variety of beers – they have 22 fonts on the bar counter. WarPigs is actually an enormous Texan-style barbecue restaurant with two breweries on the premises. One belongs to the Danish brewer, Mikkeller, and the other to the American brewer, 3 Floyds. The two of them came together here with the aim of creating the best beer in the world. We don’t know if they achieved this, but, what we do know is that they crafted the only Danish-American beer on the planet.

3) Dia’legd

We regard this as our great discovery, hands down! Dia’legd lies in the heart of Vesterbro and is home to beer from the island of Fionia. Dia’legd focuses heavily on the Danish brewer, Refsvindinge. We heard the story from Michael Jensen, Kim Hoffmann-Madsen and Claus Jordan, the three friends who decided to specialise in this spectacular beer. “We offer the whole range of Refsvindinge beer, of which there are over 20 types, from pale ale to bock lager, pilseners, wheat beer… right down to porter,” remarked Claus Jordan, enthusiastically. If you visit Dia’legd, be sure to try the Ale no. 16, which was acclaimed the best Danish beer of 1997.

Why wait to cool down on some of the most refreshing beers in the world? Come and discover them for yourself – check out our flights here.

Text by Los viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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Europe’s most curious Christmas traditions

From logs that “poo” presents to Santa Claus’s evil alter ego who scares children... Did you know that there are lots of different Christmas traditions across Europe? We share many Christmas traditions, but there may be some that you’ve never heard of.

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Christiania A Hymn to Freedom in Copenhagen

One of the unusual features of Copenhagen, which also happens to attract flocks of inquisitive tourists from all over the world, is Freetown Christiania (Fristaden Christiania). Located in the central borough of Christianshavn, it has the odd privilege of being autonomously ruled by a neighbourhood community which declared its independence from the Danish State and the European Union, as clearly marked on a sign at the exit from Christiania which reads: “You’re now entering the EU”.

The origins of Christiania go back to 1971, when a group of Danes occupied what was a derelict military precinct with abundant green areas which they decided to turn into a playground for their children. Guided by the spirit of the times, their move sparked a debate about what to do with that abandoned area. Members of the counter-culture movement known as Provo ended up occupying the area and founding a community where they set about putting into practice their anti-system ideas. After the occasional attempt at evicting them by the government, the latter gave in and allowed the neighbourhood community to flourish under self-management as a social experiment.

Amazing as it may seem, that hippy community, which now numbers some one thousand members, is still operating 45 years on. Be it the free atmosphere, the overridingly friendly vibes, or interest in seeing a small sample of Utopia in operation, the fact is that Christiania is the second most widely visited spot in Denmark after Copenhagen’s paradigmatic icon – The Little Mermaid. The community can be visited by guided tour or just wandering about freely, although visitors have to observe a set of rules voted by the community. Among these is a ban on private property, talking on mobile phones and taking photographs. Outsiders should particularly heed the latter, the most controversial prohibition and one that has at times threatened the survival of the community, where the smoking of cannabis is allowed.

The main drag in Christiania is Pusher Street, where you will find bars and vegetarian restaurants for engaging in “slow food”, as well as shops where you can buy craftwork and souvenirs of the city. One of the advantages of this area is that items are cheaper and no taxes are paid. Among the major charms of visiting this “freetown” is the contrast it strikes with the rest of Copenhagen. Untarred streets with no cars – and therefore no noise – military constructions converted into homes or common areas and a huge amount of colour and vegetation everywhere. A wholly anarchical picture in an atmosphere of total calm in which time seems to stand still.

Be sure to make a foray into this unusual enclave of freedom in the Danish capital – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by News Oresund

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