Canals define and divide
. Much of the spectacular Danish architecture, both historic and modern, lies within sight of canals, making a tour by kayak a trip through history. It doesn't hurt that some fantastic bars and restaurants also line those canals. The water route is a natural for tourists.
Suiting up with provided blue waders, we climbed aboard sit-on-top kayaks with KayakOle in the Christianshavn neighborhood. Our group of three paddled the
toward the Royal Library's spectacular modern glass expansion called the Black Diamond, completed in 1999.
KayakOle's guide, Jimmi Dams Hansen, a former fisherman, has lived in Copenhagen for 11 years. He easily paddled through light chop, calling out to our group to watch for larger craft passing. Hansen pointed out Noma in the Danish Architecture Design Center warehouse building, named the world's best restaurant. We paddled on, by the elegant 1,700-seat Opera House, designed by Henning Larsen and completed in 2004.
Soon we were back in Christianshavn canals, passing swank condos in rehabbed warehouses, and by Christiania, a former military compound taken over by squatters in 1971 as a place free of taxes and open to marijuana. Though we couldn't see much of the area, because of heavy vegetation, Hansen assured us that there is a good vegetarian cafe and free Sunday night concerts worth exploring later.
We returned to the main Christianshavn canals, lined with pretty buildings, originally merchants' homes built in the 1600s by King Christian IV. Our trio carried on past yachts and houseboats, and after about an hour and a half, we pulled up to a waterside cafe for a drink. Hansen hopped out while we stayed in the boats, and he served us beer, soda and coffee. Now, that is service.
In this city of bicycles, we'd found the amphibious approach is not to be outdone.