The Love for Copenhagen | Lena Tarasyuk
Travel blogger Lena Tarasyuk is originally from Ukraine, but now lives in Copenhagen, the beautiful capital city of Denmark. Using it as a base, Lena travels all over Europe and the world, but always enjoys returning to her adopted home city. Nordique caught up with Lena to get some top tips about Copenhagen, and what it is that keeps bringing her back.
How did you end up living in Copenhagen?
"It must be the most frequently asked question that I get... But it’s fair given that I come from abroad. My way to Denmark went through Lithuania first, where I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree. After graduation, I managed to get into Lund University in Sweden, which was my first introduction to Scandinavia. And man, did I enjoy it! It was so different yet so similar to where I was coming from. I fell in love with Scandinavia and decided that I wanted to stay. Copenhagen ended up being a favourable place to start a career as a new graduate. It took me two weeks to find my first job here and I stayed ever since. This spring I celebrated my 6th year anniversary of living in Copenhagen!"
How does life differ in Denmark from your home country of Ukraine?
"It is very hard to compare now that I feel more like a Copenhagen local than a person from any Ukrainian city. However, I vividly remember my first impressions after moving to Scandinavia. Here, everything just WORKS. I mean, you won’t understand it until you experience life in other countries where things are not always as you wish them to be: roads are not perfect, elevators are old, local communities can’t get their requests through to the authorities. Here, in Denmark, life is simple, everything is done for the people. For example, when I first moved here, I was surprised to see the bicycle pumps just sticking out of the building to use for free if you have a flat tire. It’s such a small thing but it already makes it so much more convenient to move around!"
"But my favourite thing about Copenhagen is that I feel free here to express myself in any way I wish. In provincial town of Ukraine, like the one I am coming from, being different will get you some disapproving stares from the people and you have to take what others might think of you into consideration. That sets some limitations on your creativity."
What do you love most about the city?
"A lot of things. I keep saying to people that I think Copenhagen is the best city in the world. And I don’t say that with disrespect to other places. Clearly, I haven’t visited all for the cities in the world but I travel a lot and every time I come back, I feel happy to return to Copenhagen.
I won’t name the clichéd things, like clean air, safety, beautiful streets, which are all important factors, but Copenhagen is so much more than that. It is the city with a soul rather than perfect looks and that’s what I love the most. You have to live here to truly get the idea of the city, it is hard to see, you have to feel it."
If you only have one day to explore the city, what must you do? What is your ideal day?
"I have a lot of people visiting me now and then and I try to show them different things that best depict Copenhagen style of life. I might not necessarily take them to see the Amalienborg Palace or the Little Mermaid, but I’d make sure they see people having a good time doing grills and swimming in the Islands Brygge outdoor pools because this is what ‘hygge’ is."
Favourite places to go for a coffee?
"Coffee shops are often my working spaces as I feel the most creative when I sit next to an (already cold) cup of latte typing my blogs. So, my favourite places to hang out and work are the Living Room on Larsbjørnsstræde for its coziness, Shabaz on Sværtegade because there are always artsy people around, and Coffee Industry Sweden on Fiolstræde, because there is always a nice free space."
Favourite places to eat?
"I absolutely love brunches! Copenhagen has some amazing brunch spots and my husband and I go eating out every Sunday morning. The last few that I tried which were absolutely amazing are The Union Kitchen and Far’s Dreng in the centre, the Baryl on Østerbro, Uggi’s Coffee on Amager. And we always love to try something new as well."
Any hidden and unique places in Copenhagen you have found to love?
"I have to admit that I still find new exciting places in Copenhagen to this day, even after living here for 6 years. The city has so many cute little gems and it also constantly changes. I’ve recently discovered a few special places in Nørrebro which not so many locals even know about. For example, the Banana park, which is a big playground and yard surrounded by buildings covered in tastefully done graffiti. It is a pleasant place to come for a picnic."