Copenhagen Through a Writer’s Eye

On a walking tour of the Danish capital, writer and publisher Camilla Zuleger takes us to her favourite places, where she finds not only beautiful things, but also inspiration and peace of mind

For a capital city, Copenhagen is small, yet strikingly multifaceted. As a resident, but also as a guest, you can explore and experience a wholly different city. Like plenty of other visitors, you’ll be checking sites such as the picturesque Nyhavn, the infamous yet beautiful mermaid, one or many museums and the Queen’s home off your list. You might take the design route, enjoying stunning art, from classic to contemporary, visiting various interior brand showrooms, exploring Danish design, past and present. If you have a passion for food, experiencing Copenhagen's ever growing restaurant landscape, ranging from Michelin-starred cuisine to traditional Danish Smørrebrød, will keep you more than busy too; not to mention all the wine bars, cafés and bakeries. And in summer, you must go to the beach or enjoy a refreshing dip in the harbour. Phew, where to start? For this time, I decided, I want a completely different perspective and to see Copenhagen through somebody else's eyes—Camilla’s!

Imagine growing up just 8km from the city hall square and still not considering yourself a real Copenhagener… But the streets of Copenhagen, the city of fairytales and costly baked goods, have formed Camilla Zuleger, even though she thinks of herself as someone who moved here from the suburbs as a young adult. “When I was 20 I felt that even our capital was too tiny. But after half a year in Berlin, I realised that small and not least, coastal, are two central components of a perfect city. It takes 20 minutes to get everywhere, and even if you mostly have a headwind, nothing beats getting everywhere by bike,” Camilla says of the city she now calls home. A writer and publisher, she spends most of her time with words—in her home office, in bookstores, or consumed by conversation in a natural wine bar. Back in 2017, she founded Nord Verlag—a publishing house for Nordic literature translated into German. Five years and five books later, she’s taking some time to consider the future of what she originally started as a rebellion against the hygge hype. “But more books will follow,” she promises.

So when Camilla agreed to take me on a tour of her favourite Copenhagen places, I was equally excited and curious because I love books and words, too. And because with her I had a feeling that it would not take us down the hygge road…

Darcy’s Kaffe

Darcy’s Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening, the famous writer Gertrude Stein noted. And at Darcy’s, a local coffee shop just off the doorstep of Camilla’s Nørrebro apartment, it’s all happening. Set against the bold blue paint of the facade, the patio is already busy with guests getting their daily morning coffee. Inside, the warm and friendly atmosphere instantly gets you—Darcy’s is an incredibly welcoming place; gentle music, people chatting, a tasteful interior bathed in soft light coming through the big windows. And limited space for laptops, which definitely adds to the atmosphere. “I come here several times a week—not just for the incomparable oat milk cappuccino, but also to meet friends or indulge in one of my favourite activities: people watching,” says Camilla while I take a moment to admire the deliciously looking home-baked pastries and goods on the counter. If you love coffee, this is your go-to place: Darcy’s is not only offering a top notch selection of the world’s finest coffees, but Darcy himself is always up for coffee talk—the nerdier the better. And for a while we just sit there, enjoy our delicious coffees and watch the hustle and bustle as Copenhageners start into their day.
Assistens Kirkegård

It is almost difficult to leave, but what is a city guide with just one place? So off we go! Only a few minutes later we pass a big iron gate and enter, what, a graveyard? “I know, there’s something slightly upsetting about spending too much time at a graveyard…” Camilla ponders. But today, Assistens Kirkegård is a graveyard, cultural site and final resting place of some famous Danish personalities—and park where one is not only allowed, but encouraged to sit down and rest. For Camilla, it is proof that life and death go hand in hand. Bustling with people—from parents trying to get their babies to sleep in a fancy pram to joggers and dog-walkers. Or simply writers like Camilla in an attempt to clear their heads and escape the blinking cursor of an empty document. “It’s not big, so it takes a couple of rounds or several detours down the small paths to get a proper walk out of it, but I love it here. It’s a romantic idea, but I come here for the fresh air or to walk past the grave of one of my favourite writers, Michael Strunge, in the hope that some of the talent will rub off.” And as we walk, I can feel it’s a good place, a green and peaceful oasis in the centre of Nørrebro.

My Favourite Things

Leaving the silence behind, we cross busy Jagdvej and enter Jægersborggade, a street you could dedicate a day to. Nestled in between the many other small workshops, cafés, shops and restaurants is the small gem My Favourite Things, offering a fine selection of organic beauty products, high quality fashion and accessories. “I’m not all that into shopping, but I do have a terrible bent towards beautiful clothes and expensive hand lotion,” confesses Camilla as we enter. “If I could exchange my wardrobe for just one store, it would be this. The owner has impeccable taste and the vibe and smell of the store is amazing.” As I let my fingers glide over the clothes on the rack, feeling the high quality of the materials; test a bit of a cream from an unknown brand with an peculiarly earthy scent, I think that Camilla is more than right. Everything here can become a favourite thing, valued and cherished every day. Sometimes merely looking at beautiful, well-crafted objects can serve as inspiration and bring joy. But be warned, it’s quite hard not to buy anything here.
BRØG Litteraturbar

Speaking of favourite things, while we head south towards the city centre, we talk about books a lot. “Natural wine and a fine book selection is my idea of heaven,” Camilla raves, guiding me towards the next stop on our tour, BRØG Litteraturbar, a small independent bookshop and café in Fiolstræde in the heart of Copenhagen. “A perfect spot for my professional meetings and to unwind after a work day, I come here as often as I can,” explains Camilla, as we sit down in the café to eat. On the menu is a small selection of ecological dishes and snacks for breakfast, lunch, coffee or afternoon tea. The beautiful bookshop is an inspiring heaven, so we take our time to explore the hand picked book selection afterwards. BRØG, the name a tribute to the Danish thinker, writer and icon Suzanne Brøgger, wants to introduce you to the great world of literature: From emerging to established to unexpected; from fiction, cultural literature and poetry to graphic novels to other literary finds. “Unfortunately, it’s only open during the day so I have to cut my working hours short. But with my line of work, this place should count as work, too!” muses Camilla with a smile.

Eventually we say goodbye to the books and start again, passing Nørreport, which is bustling. We continue between the lakes and over Dronning Louise Bro, a popular hang out spot, especially in summer. Taking a turn left, we enter Blågårdsgade, a quiet neighbourhood street lined with small shops and places to eat and drink. Our next destination is Kræss, a small boutique with only local artists that opened recently. “Just as with the clothes, I need to surround myself with pretty things, for my wellbeing but also to find new inspiration,” Camilla says. “I love the enigmatic and surprising selection of quite affordable art here.” Colourful artworks and posters lining the walls, beautifully framed; unique ceramic pieces, candles and other small objects displayed on the shelves, all from independent, local artists and makers. Kræss is a fantastic address if you’re on the lookout for a gift for a special one, or for yourself.

As we walk further north along Nørrebrogade, a seemingly never-ending stream of cyclists on their way home rushes past us. It’s time for dinner now! Located in Nørrebro, Omar is serving delicious food and, naturally, good wine. “I love the idea of being a regular at a bar or restaurant,” Camilla explains. “With new, exciting places opening every week, it’s hard to obtain in Copenhagen. Still, Omar is almost that to my partner and I.” The chef’s menu serving eight specially selected dishes to share comes not only at a good price, but is truly amazing. We opt for the pescatarian version. All dishes look beautiful and taste more than great, with a dessert with homemade ice cream and currants and another glass of juicy orange wine as the grande finale. Kitchen service is for lunch and dinner, but Omar is open from noon until late, so just drop in for a snack, a double Espresso or a Sportcola (another classic to discover) at the bar. Omar is both intimate and welcoming; a reason it’s one of Camilla’s favourites. “A down to earth menu, more natural wine, and only ever old school hip-hop from the speakers, it feels like being invited for dinner at a close friend’s place.”
Hotel Cecil

Having walked quite a bit despite how small Copenhagen is, we jump on a bus that takes us swiftly back to Nørreport. From there, it’s just a few steps to the last stop of our tour, Hotel Cecil. Formerly known as jazzhouse, Hotel Cecil has an intimate feel with an upstairs bar and downstairs venue. “Writing all day, I need something to get out of my head and thoughts again,” explains Camilla as we sit down. And nothing does the trick better than a concert. “Loud music and the physical sensation of the bass feel almost therapeutic to me, and I love coming here. Whether you go for a concert or just a DJ on the weekends, the atmosphere is lovely. It’s the perfect mix between club and concert venue.” For now, we just sit at the bar, having one last drink, our bellies filled with delicious food, our hearts filled with joy and inspiration. Thanks Camilla, for sharing your Copenhagen with us. Definitely places I wanna go back to sooner rather than later, I think to myself as I make my way to the 25hours Hotel Copenhagen Indre By, just a stone’s throw away…

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