Copenhagen Central Station
By Thảo Đinh
A parade of doves unfold their wings, simultaneously flying up the rainy sky arching over the ancient towers of the grand Københavns Hovedbanegård, typically known as the Copenhagen Central train station. It’s another afternoon of typical Denmark weather. Gushing gray fall winds howled at the sturdy ash-red bricks of the station’s entrance, inviting hundreds of hurried visitors to board their next adventure. Still, the facade gives off the feeling of a rusty building withstanding the flow of time. Given that it was built in the cold December of 1911, it knows things you don’t even think of. The repetitive columns of the station’s entrance are aligned so precisely, one could almost be hypnotized by its classical symmetry. If one day, this bustling station got abandoned, the massive exterior would still be as welcoming as it was intimidating, as if one can be transported to a different world once they stepped in.
In a sense, that is true. Most people who come here have somewhere to be and someone to meet. It’s a train station–you arrive to depart. Only a few pause and enjoy people-watching, which is rewarding if you can spare a bite of your luxurious time.
There is constant sensory stimulation from all directions. The current of walking people intertwine, each with their own pace and destination, but harmonize beautifully like ballroom dancers in this enormous hall of an art nouveau-styled station. Multi-lingual conversations, public train robotic announcements, and fast pitter-patters dragging luggage across the tiled floor blend into a mixture of exciting white noise, never dying down. It’s not rare to find a loving couple exchanging a warm kiss or friends hugging and laughing for a reunion in the middle of streamlined foot traffic. Light is abundant, pouring down from an opaque ceiling stretching the entire length of the station’s spine. Standing inside, I feel like a small shrimp engulfed by a blue whale, now gazing up at its bare wooden ribs. The humidity of the wet air only makes my imagination more convincing. Tracing down the arches, I lose count of the identical faux corridors holding up the triforium, partly reminding me of Romanesque churches. Two heavy chandeliers hang from the ceiling, dripping golden upside-down candle-like light to add a magical illumination in midair. Along the wall hang more giant oval light bulbs, two on each side of a metal arch bending down from the ceiling, sandwiching alternative flags of Denmark and Ukraine. It must be vital to boast diplomatic representation and support in public spaces.
Further down, bright, artificial light from busy 7-11s and Starbucks attracts travelers like how neon light attracts bugs. The sweet smell of creamy, toasted Danish pastry and steaming, roasted coffee penetrates through crowds, mesmerizing any passers-by after a long day at work or at school. Several guests pop in then out in a minute, swiping their cards and grabbing a French hotdog as if programmed to do so. Some others circle around the store, studying the inflated prices on monotone umbrellas to fight the upcoming freezing thunderstorms. A black-and-white city dove boldly pecks at my black-and-white Nikes; I must have sat still for so long that it mistook me for a statue. The world of the train station moves rapidly around me, I cannot keep sight of a single person for too long before they speed away. On one of the big promotional banners high up, I read: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.”