If you’re travelling to Copenhagen, don’t be as naïve as I was: think, before entering Jægerborgsgade. Do you enjoy flea markets, trunks full of blankets and pompons? You’d spend hours contemplating a cake baking in the oven, watching the rain trickle down the window, rails running away from your train? Just to be clear: In Jægerborgsgade you’ll find none of these things. That said, if your answer to some of those questions is yes, by entering this street you’ll take a big chance. Why? Because the atmosphere of this place, an alley that stretches for no more than 400 meters, could hold you hostages. If not forever, at least for one long day.
I ended up in this alley almost by accident during one of my wanderings: it’s their fault if, after 10 months in Copenhagen, I still haven’t seen all the tourist must-see places in Copenhagen. But it’s also thanks to them that I realized how much I like getting lost and finding the way, and getting lost again, especially when walking around the Nørrebro neighborhood.
These days, Jægerborgsgade is my favorite alley in Nørrebro. And only after my discovery, I also found out that this street is a favorite of many Danish young people, that its nickname is ‘Little Berlin’ and that the shop owners along this alley are bound by the same philosophy: let’s do things fairly, in a good and nice way.
Believe what you see, trust what you hear, but in Jægerborgsgade let your nose take the lead. Inge says that it’s not her pottery that smells so good, but the balsa wooden boards on which the ceramics wait for their turn to be glazed. Careful with your backpacks when you enter the Keramiker workshop: Inge’s creations are thin as paper, so thin that they almost let light in.
Across the street from Keramiker, you’ll find Ipsen & Vigel attracting your attention. The Karamellieret sign hanging outside their shop doesn’t need a translation to be understood, but if you still aren’t sure what’s it about after reading the sign, remove all doubts walking down the steps of this shop. Smooth and soft toffee will parade in front of your eyes: at first reacting with disbelief, they’ll turn to pure joy when the owners of the shop will wrap some of that toffee in paper andoffer it to you. It’s not so common to taste a fresh-made candy. My suggestion? Try the Bornholm liquorice ones too and forget the mermaid: only after this stop, you’d be able to say you have tasted a bit of Denmark.
After this sweet stop, cross the street again and let yourselves be charmed by an exhibition gallery so beautiful that no exhibition would be necessary to attract your attention. It’s CMYK kld, where a printer is hidden in a washing machine, the counter in a vintage movie theater cash register and where chairs hang down the wall and are used as shelves. Were it not for the candies that fill your pockets reminding you where you are, the silver paint covering the furniture would trick you into believing you’re on a ’70 space movie set.
Mademoistella’s strong point is vintage too, a thing she makes no secret of. Secondhand clothes and toys are packed in the two small rooms where you can often listen to Bon Iver, but the bijoux are my favorites. You can find them in the glass cabinet at the end of the shop. They’re not that affordable – we’re in Copenhagen, after all – but they’re definitely beautiful.
And now, let’s get down to brass tracks: food. If you traveled to Copenhagen, if you took the trouble to reach Jægerborgsgade and if you happen to feel hungry at this point, there’s one place you want to try: Lyst (the Danish word for ‘craving’). I highly recommend the Sunday brunch with pancakes, here. Pick anything from the menu (you’ll find it in English and Danish, no worries), because the best thing at Lyst is the atmosphere that the open and colorful kitchen creates. Cakes are home-made, juice is freshly squeezed and tap water awaits you on a small coffee table. You’ll easily feel at home.
Before leaving Jægerborgsgade, stop at Gågrøn (in English ‘go green’) to buy some eco-friendly souvenirs, at Meyers bageri for the world famous Danish pastries and for the only thing you must buy before leaving Copenhagen: the rugbrød, easy-to-fall-in-love-with brown bread which will change your life forever. From a bakery point of view, at least
How to get there: the map is here! From Nørreport Station use the bus line 350 S to Ballerup St and then the bus line 18 to Friheden. Near Jægerborgsgade you will find Assistens Kirkegård, the burial site for many leading figures of the epoch, such as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard.
Enrica, born in Turin, Italy, ended up living in Copenhagen almost by chance. Always by chance she got back to her hometown after one year in Denmark. She has one small flaw: too many fleeting ideas. The ones which survive more than one day are so rare they deserve special care; among these is a blog written by and for Italians abroad (Cervellifuori.it). She loves to wander carrying around her restlessness and her camera, she has an addiction to Nutella and toast, or just plain Nutella. She dreams a lot, not only when sleeping. She devours music and TV series and maybe someday she’ll write one. In the meanwhile she writes notes that she files away in the meanders of her hard disk, thus losing them. Maybe, she’ll stumble upone them again in a few years. She loves surprises.
(all photos by Enrica Crivello 2011)