“Watch out for the car!” I yell in a slightly higher than normal pitch at my daughter, who is racing ahead of me on her little Puky bike. My heart pounds heavily as a black Volkswagen Polo passes her on Sandkaj just a tad too closely for my comfort.
It’s totally in the car’s right to do that, as the road is shared space for both pedestrians and vehicles. I’m happy that most cars respect the speed limit too. Still, I wish that I didn’t always have to be on the lookout for the well-being of my endlessly curious wayward daughter.
I once read somewhere that the original plan was to have a completely car free zone in the heart of Nordhavn, but I’m not really sure why it changed. And I know after the neighbour meeting with By&Havn that nothing is going to change anytime soon. However, that’s the reality of the situation and it makes this new part of Copenhagen just a notch less kid friendly than it could be.
The Nordhavn I enjoy centres mainly around Sandkaj and Göteborg Plads. As an adult I love the great quality restaurants which almost never need booking, the increasing pastry and ice cream options, the beautiful harbour bath, and the sun-bathing and kayaking opportunities. But as a mother to a threenager and an infant, I sometimes experience wary parent syndrome.
It’s in the small things. Like, I often sigh that most restaurants don’t provide changing tables. Some don’t even offer high chairs. Pss, I’ll let you in on a secret! Families also want to go out for a nice meal once in awhile, and we eat earlier than your usual clientele. There is a business opportunity out there for any restaurant willing to accommodate us! I dream of the day where a chef whips up a restaurant concept which is called “family friendly fine dining”.
As for the amazingly swimmable harbour of Copenhagen, I have to actively nudge my daughter away from the water whenever she veers too close to the edge. The last time my father visited from Australia, he told me as we were walking along Nordhavn’s wooden promenades that he was amazed that there were no barriers to prevent people falling into the water. If an accident occurred Down Under, it would be the local council’s liability to compensate the persons involved in any incident. Even if Australians are not as lawsuit trigger happy as Americans, the local authorities would still want to negate the risk of an accident and avoid bad publicity. My husband responded half-jokingly, “It looks better this way without barriers. Also, the worst that can happen is our kid will fall into the water and I’ll jump in to pull her out”. That’s my husband. Ah well, in Denmark it is all about the aesthetics, right?
Having played the role of the shrew, I must say that my family and I are very happy to live so closely to Nordhavn. There is not one, but two fun playgrounds in the backyard (the stunning Konditaget Lüders being one of them). Plus it is amazing how much a set of large funny shaped stones in a square can entertain kids of all ages. Another surprising source of entertainment for kids is, believe it or not, Meny! From the child sized trolleys to the endless supply of sample drinks and food available at the supermarket, it is always a pleasure paying a visit there.
Perhaps the most important aspect about Nordhavn is the engaged locals who make up the community. Ending up in notoriously heated neighbour meetings. And hearty discussions in Facebook groups. I have often read in the local newspaper about the different workshops and activities available for kids at Kulturhuset or organised by enthusiastic citizens. It’s fantastic that these opportunities exist.
I know that there are working groups whittling away to get Nordhavn greener. That would be amazing to have more green spaces, more play areas, more safe zones. I just hope that when new businesses and new developments are approved, children and families are also thought into the process. It’s fair enough that a new island might have ‘diverse residents’ due to the different sizes of homes that will be for sale, but hopefully these different residents will also be catered for.
Besides green spaces and more safe car-free zones, I’m dreaming of baby bio and a children’s movie club at the new cinema house; a shallow, kid-friendly basin area in the harbour bath; and of course, that pearl of a restaurant that offers “family friendly fine dining”.
Tanny Por moved to Copenhagen in 2017 and lives on Amerika Plads. Finally she has the time to discover the city and its localhoods while on maternity leave. She has two kids and is always on the search for new friends with common interests. A marketing and communication professional hailing from Australia, she works in developing Greenland as a tourist destination (where she ended up living for nearly five years just before Copenhagen, kind of by accident). She can’t really tell a great wine from a good one; wonders why everyone around her runs marathons; and likes to have a life that revolves more than just around her kids. She forgets winters are dark when summers are bright, and that’s probably how she swings life in general.