This one was a bit of a surprise. Having worked on an AI application to the Super Mario Bros game for the last month, Diego and me managed to secure funding to go to the conference where the competition was being held (CIG'2010), which this year was in Copenhagen. And so I finally visited a Scandinavian country.
We arrived Tuesday afternoon, and after settling down, we went to see Christiania, a self-ruled community in the Christianshaven area. Despite the constant smell of cannabis in the air and the groups of people huddled around old burning petrol bins, one still feels quite safe in there, as long as the (few) rules are respected (namely no photography, unfortunately). After a stroll around the rest of the area, we found a nice Danish-French restaurant for dinner, before going back to the hotel.
Wednesday we were at the conference the whole morning. In the afternoon we sneaked out for a couple of hours, and decided to go check out the harbour. We had however an unwelcome friend - rain! (the cold and intense type). We resisted for a while, but finally gave up and took refuge at the Danish Resistance Museum (Frihedsmuseet), where after a coffee to warm up we ended up staying for a visit. Sometimes the unexpected plans are the best; the museum was very pleasant and well organised, not too small or large, and it was really interesting.
Back to the conference (after an insanely expensive taxi ride, to make it back in time, which we didn't), we watched the final presentations and poster session, and then enjoyed some food and beer at the University's bar, while watching psychedelic VJ-ing mixing computer games and 60s films!
Thursday, after watching another morning full of presentations, we took the afternoon off and went back downtown, to enjoy the wonderful sunny weather that had finally decided to turn up. That, and the lovely neighbourhood that we went to visit completely changed my view of the city. We started by visiting the lovely botanical gardens, although we couldn't visit the "living museum", already closed when we got there (ridiculously early, like most sites in the city).
We then moved on to Rosenborg Castle, obviously already closed, and chilled out for a while in Kogens Have (the King's Gardens).
Copenhagen is a nice and compact city, so we then carried on by foot to the Latin Quarter around the (old) University. There we enjoyed a nice beer, sitting in a terrace somewhere along the old cobblestoned streets, and finally we made our way to the Tivoli Gardens. These are the main attraction of the city, and for good measure: a nice, old, tacky amusement park in the middle of the city, complete with arcades, restaurants and beer gardens. We had a look around, and then found an Italian restaurant, where we had some great pizza (lovely Calzone for me, obviously, filled to the brim!). We lingered for a while, and ended up being almost kicked out, as the park closed at 11pm! So we walked all the way back to the very useful 24h driverless metro (why doesn't every city have one of these!...).
That's pretty much it. Friday we took the morning off, and went for a second go at walking along the harbour, this time with great weather. The lovely Nyhavn canal, albeit being overcrowded with tourists, was a much nicer site with sunshine!
The new opera house was also quite impressive.
We then walked all the way to the the site of the little Mermaid, which this year took a holiday and went to the Shanghai Expo for the whole year; it had to happen when I came here! It was quite funny though, there was a videoscreen installed, with a live view of the statue in China. I couldn't resist taking a snap! We visited the pleasant Kastelet, and finally went back to the University, where we had lunch discussing AI techniques with a friend from France. I then went back to the airport and then to Dublin, leaving Diego to represent us at the competition.
All in all, a nice quick break, and a great introduction to Scandinavian cities!