DOKK1 in Århus

I have been over to Århus a few times this year as I am supporting Copenhagen Housing‘s Århus arm in offering packages to people relocating to this city. One morning there I stopped by the public library/space DOKK1.

It is hard to define this fabulous places as just a library as it offers so much more. It is a library in the traditional sense with books etc to loan and it also houses a borgerservice section, but the rest of the library is dedicated to places for people to meet and have fun. All the spaces connect so the children’s section is not hidden away from the rest of the space. There is a feeling of flow and connection within the building and this makes it a very flexible space. One day a section could be a play area, another day an auditorium.The part that really blew me away was the children’s section, with games, places to play, dressing up boxes, a puppet theatre and a section where they can play with things we forty somethings remember from our childhood like a typewriter, something completely alien to our kids in the smartphone generation. There are also sections for study, relax, enjoy a coffee and also places where events take place. DOKK1 has an extensive list of monthly events.

A lovely little quirk is that this huge gong sounds every time a baby is born in Århus Hospital.And the best thing is all this is free as it is a publicly funded place, through taxes and business support. If you are in Århus, I would definitely recommend a visit to here. The architecture inside and out is amazing and if you are with kids of any ages it is a wonderful to spend an hour or two.

Whilst we have great library facilities in Copenhagen, I think the city could really benefit from a place like this, aimed at the community and used by them.

Guide to using the post in Denmark

How to use a post office varies from country to country so I thought I’d write a quick guide to using the post office here in Denmark. This is also useful to people who have been living here a while as when PostNord took over the postal service here there were some changes to how it works. There are also very few (if any) separate post offices and they tend to be in supermarkets etc, which gives longer open hours. For that reason I have referred to them as post houses rather than post offices.Sending a letter 

You can send a letter up to 50g within Denmark for 8dkk but it can take up to five working days.

There is something called Quickbreve which is 27dkk for up to 100g within Denmark and they go everyday but you need to go to the post office i.e. in the supermarket etc to do post this.  There is more about the mobile apps below but if you want to use this on the app you need to swipe up to select it. Don’t post in a normal letter box though!

Sending parcels

It is very expensive to post parcels here. One way you can save a little is to print your own label using your home printer or to use the system at one of the Pakkeboksen (Parcel Boxes). These are red box systems located in various places such as stations and smaller supermarkets. You can sent parcels up to 20kg outside Denmark and 35kg inside the country. Link here

Other option for posting parcels are pakke.dk (you again need to print out your label) or DHL.dk

PostNord App and website

Once you have downloaded the PostNord App (Mobilporto) you can do a lot of things without having to go to the post office.

  • You can buy postage for letter up to 2kg (so this covers smaller parcels), you get a code to write on your letter in the place of a postage stamp.
  • You can buy package labels

By clicking through to Postnord (at the top righthand side of the app)

  • You can follow your package
  • Arrange Modtagerflex, which allows you to register with the post an agreed place where they can leave your parcel. It is in English.
  • You can sign up to Pakkeboksen (more later)

On the Postnord website you can

  • Find postcodes, post houses, Pakkeboksen and post boxes.
  • You can register a change of address
  • You can register Nej tak to having junk mail in your letter box i.e. brochures from the supermarkets etc.
  • And buy postage.

Pakkeboksen

I have mentioned these above. They are red boxes where parcels can be securely sent and received once you have registered in the website or app. You select the location best for you (this can be changed). There is a search section to help you with this. You then use a unique number and the address of the pakkeboksen when you are shopping online. You then receive a text or email telling you when it is ready to collect.

Collecting parcels at the post house

When you have a parcel to collect you need the slip of paper from the postman or your text/email with the parcel details. Take care to check which post house it has been taken to as sometimes they can send to a different one (there have been time when I have assumed it is the usual location and it is somewhere else). You will need some ID to collect it – usually your CPR card is enough but its a good idea to take some photo ID just in case.

You can have someone else collect it on your behalf but you must complete and sign to Engangsfuldmagt on the back of the slip. Usually I write that I have given my husband (and name him) to collect my parcel.

Tips to make your post house experience better

You will need to pay by cash or Dankort. They do not accept foreign cards.

You can pay bills at the post office if you don’t want to do it online.

Taking the correct ticket to queue can be tricky and usually they are kind if you have made a mistake and are clearly not Danish. If there is an option that says afhentning this is for collecting parcels etc, the other option (which seems to vary) is for other services. Like most places here you take you number and wait for it to come up.

Tons of free resources

Over the last four years of writing this blog (I had to work that out and it shocked me) I have written a number of useful practical guides to life here so I thought that I would gather them all together as downloadable PDFs over on my Dejlige Days Welcome website. I will be writing some longer guides to aspects of life here which I will be selling but it is important to me the still offer a lot for free. I will be adding to the free guides in the same way – the information will appear here on my blog first and then be available as a free download. So please do pop over and download any that seem useful to you. I would also really appreciate it if you could add a comment here telling me of any other guides that may be useful to you.

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Yoga and Exercise Classes in English

As we start a new year, many people are looking for ways to exercise more. There was a post recently in one of the expat forums here about finding exercise classes in English. It is possible to join the main gyms here (Fitness DK and Fitness World) and ask if there is the possibility that the instructor can speak in English. They are not obliged to but I have heard in many cases they are happy to. It is probably best to check first before taking out a monthly membership. yogaYoga is an area where there are a number of studios offering classes in English and I have gathered some here. Do add in the comments any I may have missed and I will add them here.

Yoga Centralen in Frederiksberg is a super cosy yoga studio which also offers vegan meals.They have a number of classes in English including antenatal yoga and mother and baby sessions. Website

Yogamudra has two studios – one in Christianshavn and one in Østerbro. They offer a wide variety of classes in English Your membership is valid in both locations. Website

Yoga Factory in Hellerup offers some alternative yoga classes such as aerial yoga and most classes are taught in English. Website

Hot Yoga CPH offers hot yoga in various types. They are centrally located and claim to have the most relaxing yoga hall in town. Website

Astanga Yoga Studio in Østerbro offers a variety of classes but also an unique open studio concept. Website

There are many, many yoga studios in the city. If this interests you, why not simply pop in to your local one and ask about lessons in English or at least partly taught in English is there is demand.


Other exercise classes, as mentioned above, it is worth asking about English classes. You may find if they are a niche type of class, the instructors will be less willing as there is less demand. However the more inquiries they get the more they are likely to consider it. Maybe you have a group of other friends interested, if you mention this they again may see the benefit of offering it. Of course Danish is the language here so there is no obligation for them to accommodate you but asking nicely and showing what is in it for them may tip the balance.

Charlottehaven close to Nordhavn is know as a good place to get instructors willing to teach in English as the residents in the complex are often international. Website Also Powerhouse CPH offers a variety of less common classes including TRX. They have extensive information on their website in English. Website

 

Five Co-working spaces in Copenhagen

Increasingly I am finding that I am working out and about in coffee shops and whilst this is cosy and adds variation to my day, it has its downsides. The biggest one in the cost of having a coffee and the feeling that I can only sit there for a finite amount of time. Having said that I have never been asked to move but perhaps I am a considerate table hogger. If you are looking for cafes that are great for freelancers this post will help.

Co-working spaces offer more than just an office outside the home but the chance to connect with other lone workers and entrepreneurs, something that people who work alone miss. As well as meeting spaces and events.

I thought today I would share five of the co working spaces in the city at caught my eye.

Republikken, Vesterbrogade 26, CPH V 1620screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-12-58-33

This place is the one that is the best fit for me as I can pay 376dkk (plus MOMS) a month to use their members’ space in the cafe area, there are great free benefits such as tea and coffee and printing. You also get access, at a reduced cost, to meeting spaces as well as networking opportunities. There are other memberships that offer flexible or fixed spaces with more benefits and start from 1875dkk a month. The location is very central and easy to get to. This one gets a definite thumbs up from me. Check out their website for all the details, prices and benefits.

Greencubator, Nørrebrogade 20, 1 Sal, 2200 CPH Nscreen-shot-2016-09-09-at-12-57-30

If you are looking for a space in Nørrebro then the Rreencubator is worth looking at. They don’t offer a casual membership like Republikken but flex and fixed rates which they define as part or full time. Part time is two days a week and full time you get your own desk and storage space. Prices start at 1200dkk for the flex space. Besides a desk you become part of a sustainable community with social activities, community lunches, lectures and workshops. Additionally, they offer meeting rooms with technical equipment, printer/scan / copy facilities, and the opportunity to rent Greencubator for your own event. Check out their website for all the details, prices and benefits.

The Rabbit Hole, Frederiksberg Allé 25, 1820 Frederiksberg C

Heading over to Frederiksberg is The Rabbit Hole, a small co working space. They have a flex three day a week membership for 1000dkk per month as well as full time and fixed memberships depending on the stage of your business. Check out their website for all the details, prices and benefits.

Rainmaking Loft, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 4, 1434 CPH Kscreen-shot-2016-09-09-at-13-06-56This place is aimed at tech start ups and they have a very open door policy so you can check them out first. Of course, like all the others they offer flex and fixed packages but also a day pass for 150dkk and non residents can pop into the coffee shop. Check out their website for all the details, prices and benefits.

Dare2Mansions, Vermundsgade 13-15, 2100 CPH Øscreen-shot-2016-09-09-at-13-13-37

This dynamic space over on the edge of Nordvest is aimed at entrepreneurs who want to make a difference and it is a very creative and bohemian environment. In their event space they run Lego Serious Play Workshops – what’s not to love? There are flex spaces for solo entrepreneurs and fixed spaces for teams. They run tons of events and there are great networking opportunities. Check out their website for all the details, prices and benefits.

 

Things to do with children under three in Copenhagen

Living in Copenhagen with under school age children can pose a problem if you decide not to send them to daycare or if you are waiting for a place in one. I wrote about things to do with preschool age children here but I notice that there are a lot of parents with under three year olds looking of ideas to keep them entertained, especially when the weather isn’t very playground friendly. So here are my ideas of places to go (all of these are things I did with my son when he was this age).Blegdamsremisen, 681x426px

Blegdamsremisen at Trianglen, Østerbro

If you are looking for a soft play place then this is the place for you. It is housed in a huge, old tram garage and run by the Kommune. There is a large room with climbing structures suitable for babies and toddlers plus open space to run about in. Outside the main room there is a cosy area to eat snacks, warm up food and refresh yourselves (no food is provided) plus a large Lego room (which is separated so littles can’t get in), a room with a few pets such as fish and gerbils and other toys such as Brio train sets and dolls’ houses. It is open throughout the week and manned by specialist staff. Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8.30 and 12 noon it is open for only 0-3 year olds. It is always free entry. For more information visit their webpage here (in Danish).

Capella Play, Fields Shopping Centre

This is another soft play centre but this one you need to pay entry for. It is located on the top floor of the large Fields Shopping Centre and has areas for younger children. It can get busy. For more information visit their Facebook page.

Libraries

All libraries in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg offer children’s play areas, some are larger than others. The best ones are in the main Copenhagen library on Kristalgade, Frederiksberg Main Library located close to Frederiksberg Centre and the one in Ørestad Library. You can expect to find toys such as wooden forts, galleons, dolls’ houses, soft bean bags and of course access to books and other toys for loan. The libraries offer a programme for children of all ages (usually in Danish) so it’s worth looking at their websites for this and getting on mailing lists. Østerbro Main Library has a programme specifically through Copenhagen Cultural Network for English speaking children (and adults).

Music classes in churches

Many churches offer music classes for under threes where they can sing, bash instruments and socialise with other babies and toddlers. If you have a church nearby check out their notice boards for forthcoming classes. You usually need to book a place quickly and you need to commit to a block of sessions. These classes are usually relatively inexpensive and even if you don’t speak Danish they can be stimulating for babies and toddlers.

LINK playgroup

LINK ( Ladies International Network København) run a weekly English playgroup in Hellerup which is open to anyone not just LINK members and you pay for each session. It is on every Wednesday morning 9.45-11.30. They also have a Music and Movement class also open to non members every Friday 10am – 10.45am. There is no need to book, just turn up. Latest information on both these can be found here.

Rygårds Playgroup

Rygårds International School in Hellerup also run a playgroup in their canteen every Monday from 9.15 until 11.15. For more information email rygaardsplaygroup@gmail.com

Sweet Surrender, Vesterbro and Laundromat, various locations

This is probably the only cafe specifically set up to directly welcome young families. It is cosy with nice food and run by volunteers. There is a lovely little play area for babies and toddlers and the perfect place to meet up with other mums.  The Laundromat Cafe (three locations in the city) is also very gear up for younger children with a dedicated play area with big chunky toys and a child-friendly menu.

Museums

Don’t avoid museums with babies and toddlers. Many of the museums here have specific sections dedicated to small children and it is a great way to stimulate babies and toddler plus helping them get used to how to behave in different environments. You can read my thoughts on museums and kids here.

Swimming Pools

Most swimming pools have baby pools here – some you need to book slots in specific baby session and others you can just turn up. Although one of the more expensive pools in the city, DGI has a huge, shallow pool for babies and toddlers and excellent changing rooms. Here is the programme of classes to book. Full list of the city’s pools here and the one in Frederiksberg.

Cinemas

Cinemas in Copenhagen offer what is called Baby Bio where you can take your baby into the cinema with you whilst you watch a movie. The cinema is kept a little lighter and the film less loud so you can bring your baby into the theatre with you. But if your baby needs to sleep you can leave them outside in the lobby in their pram and the cinema staff will keep an eye on them and alert you if your baby starts to cry. Check your local cinema for listings.

Photo credit

Getting hold of English books in Copenhagen

I am a huge reader and my son is fast taking after me with his love of books. After eight years of living out of the UK I still really miss being about to pop into a bookshop of a good browse. The good news is that books shops offering a good selection of English language books are on the increase in Copenhagen. So here is a short guide of the places I know that sell English books but please do leave me a comment if you know of others and I will add them in.


New Books

Books and Company – Sofievej 1, 2900 Hellerupbooks and coI have written about this bookshop before here and I still maintain that the selection here is outstanding and the assistance they give is amazing. Well worth the trek to Hellerup from the city.

ARK books – Møllegade 10, 2200 København NDSC00422Again this is a place I have written about here and if you are looking for more usual books or to try something new this is the place. Their motto is “Home of the best stories you’ve never heard”. Run by passionate volunteers who love literature its a great place to visit. They also run a selection of courses and events in English. There are other bookshops in this street which are also worth a visit if you can read Danish.

Palermo Hollywood – Jægersborggade 31, 2200 Copenhagen N

This is a little quirky boutique on the trendy Jægersborggade that carries an interesting selection of books by female authors. I have made some great discoveries here.

Thiemers Magasin – Tullinsgade 24, 1618 Copenhagen Vthiemers mainThis is another little independent bookshop with a small selection of English books, they also have book readings and events. Here is my post about this bookshop, located off Værnedamsvej.

Arnold Busck – Købmagergade 49, 1150 Copenhagen K

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This Danish bookshop chain has a huge shop on Købmagergade and carries probably the largest selection of English books, fiction and non fiction, in the city.

Magasin – Kongens Nytorv 13, 1095 Copenhagen K
The book department on the third floor at Kongens Nytorv has a selection of English adult fiction books.

Second-hand Bookshops

Rasmussen the book trader – Skindergade 23, 1159 Copenhagen K

This second-hand book shop has been around for years and if you have the patience to poke around its busy interior you may come out with a treasure.

Næste Runde at Riccos – Sluseholmen 28, 2450 CopenhagenDSC01215The Riccos coffee shop in Sluseholmen is home to a second-hand bookshop run by Næste Runde as well as selling great coffee. The books are sold by a separate business but you can pay for them at the counter. Again some interesting books here.


Public Libraries

The library system in Copenhagen has a central website where you can search for specific titles and either reserve them (if they are out on loan) or order them to be delivered to your closest library (if you have a CPR number). You can also return them there. The main library at Krystalgade 15 has a large English language section if you want to browse including a number of books for children and young adults.


Kindle books

If you are looking for Kindle books then you may not be able to buy them from the UK Amazon store but you can from the German one.


And thanks for my readers for the following suggestions:

Academic Books – online and at various University locations in the city.

Owl Books – this is a book rental scheme that you need to sign up to.

Book Swap in a Pub monthly meet up – details here.

Facebook group – Free your books

Cinnabar close to the round tower – The shop presents a handpicked selection of international, visually inspiring books on graphic design, illustration, architecture, street art, fashion and industrial design.

St Albans Church summer fete – check their website for details but it seems it takes place in June.

 

Libraries in Copenhagen – more than just books

The library system here impressed me right from day one but it has vastly improved its offering over the last eight years. I thought today I would do a low down on how the system works and also the benefits.IMG_4666

Libraries are free to use once you have registered your CPR card and chose a pin number. You can then access all the books on the library system and order them to be delivered for collection at your local library. There is a relatively good selection of English books citywide. You can read newspapers and magazine in the library and back issues are available to borrow. There is also free internet access in libraries. I recall a story about a homeless man in Århus who wrote a whole book in his local library that was later published and helped him get off the streets.

In most libraries there is a children’s play area which varies in size but the one in Ørestad and the main library in the city centre are particularly good.

A relatively new innovation that many libraries now offer is out of hour access using your CPR card and your registered library pincode.

There are also other services offered through the libraries here.

Many have a Borgerservice desk in them – this is where an advisor from the Kommune will be located and offers various Kommune services. They can also offer advice on NemID and Digital Post. A good starting point for questions about municipal things.

There is also Lektie Cafe which is a time when volunteer organisations such as the Red Cross, youth organisations and Dansk Flygtninge Hjælp (Danish Refugee Help) are available to give advice.

There are also sessions to help with job searching and CV writing.

On the fun side of life, Copenhagen Libraries organise tons of events and workshops for both kids and adults. Most of these will be in Danish but there is the Culture Network that offers things for non Danish speakers. There are specific clubs run through the libraries for a multitude of interests again both for adults and children including International Snakkeklub for both Danes and non Danes. Finally if you have a baby and are at home there is the Barselcafe where they run first aid courses, baby music and health visitors come to some libraries at a set time to give advice.

You can find your local library here and for more information.

 

 

 

Smiley System explained

Having suffered from severe food poisoning nine years ago in the UK thanks to a pub storing raw chicken with salads, I am always extremely vigilant when it comes to food hygiene standards so the Danish government’s Smiley system is very important to me. It helps me feel confident that the food I consume is kept and prepared well. It also means that I, and other consumers, can make educated choices about the places we use and not be dependent on hearsay of places that are ‘dodgy’ or not.  If I am honest I only ever eat in places with an Elite, even Bispebjerg Hospital has this level!

smiley

So how does the system work? Smiley reports were introduced in 2001 in Denmark and in 2008 the Elite Smiley came into being. Food inspectors check, unannounced, all food premises up to three times a year. The frequency is decided by the type of place it is. The report then must be shown prominently in the premises and on their website. Whilst the notes are in Danish the Smiley is pictorial so anyone can understand the system and the rating the establishment has.

Here are the Smileys and what they mean.

smiley2

 had no remarks

 has emphasised that certain rules must be obeyed,
 issued an injunction order or a prohibition,
 issued an administrative fine, reported the enterprise to the police or withdrew an approval.

Enterprises with hazardous health conditions are closed down until problems are fixed.
Elite Smiley Elite-smiley
The elite-smiley is awarded to enterprises with the best inspection history.

The introduction of the Smiley system has raised standards in food hygiene in Denmark and offers a very transparent system for consumers. in 2010 87% of premises had the happy Smiley, 59% the Elite and only 1.6% the bottom, sour Smiley.

Smileys are displayed in all supermarkets, bakeries, food sellers such as butchers and greengrocers etc, restaurants, takeaways, work, school and hospital canteens and hot dog stands.

To check an establishment’s Smiley you can search here

How to enjoy a swim in Copenhagen

I love swimming and as a late starter (I learned to swim when I was thirty), it is my favourite form of exercise but swimming in a Danish swimming pool can throw up some daunting cultural differences if you come from more modest countries such as the UK or the US.obro2

I recently started swimming at Øbro-Hallen in Østerbro. This is a beautiful art deco swimming pool and I am really enjoying it. I am used to how swimming pool changing rooms work so I wasn’t flustered by the sixty year old, completely naked lady who struck up a conversation with me in the shower whilst I was also starkers.

Generally there are only a few private changing cubicles in the changing rooms (and this varies from swimming baths, as Øbro Hallen is pretty well served on this front) but in general swimmers are happy to get changed in the open areas with benches by the lockers and will walk around naked very happily (don’t panic the changing areas are single sex).

One thing I notice is how clean the changing rooms are especially compared to ones I remember in the UK and Berlin. You don’t find strange things stuck to your feet! One of the reasons for this is the strict hygiene rules in the pools here and the life guards are not slow in telling you if you have obviously not followed them, the common misdemeanour is obviously dry hair. Although the rules are prominently displayed, they are often in Danish so I thought I’d do a quick rundown of the hygiene rules here.

  • Persons suffering from infectious diseases, diarrhoea, colds, sore throats, ear infections, skin inflammation or other infectious diseases, especially skin fungus and foot warts, may not use the swimming facility.
  • Pools and sauna may only be used after thorough washing with soap. All shampooing must be without swimwear. After shampooing rinse thoroughly. The rule also applies to hair – alternatively you must use a bathing cap.
  • After using the toilet made further thorough washing with soap and rinsing.
  • Bathers must wear a complete and clean swimsuits. Underwear must not be worn under swimwear.

Some other tips

In many of Copenhagen’s public swimming baths there is a sauna that is available to all users, at no extra charge, and many have spa and sauna facilities that you pay extra for.

There are many ways to save money on your swim. There is the opportunity for clippers where you pay for a number of swims up front and save on each swim, a monthly pass or swimming during the green Time (grøn tid) usually up to 3pm, where the swim could be half price. It is worth working out how frequently you plan to swim to see which is the best deal for you. There is also baby swimming offered in most pools and it is well worth signing up for this even if your Danish isn’t great.

For details of all public swimming pools, their facilities and prices click here and for the privately owned DGI Byen here