Travel Advent Dec. 10: The Best Unconventional Way to See a City

My favorite way to see a city is by collecting bottles. In Denmark, and in fact most of North-Western Europe, you pay a deposit anytime you buy a drink and can then return those bottles and cans to receive the deposit later. You can do so in any supermarket, and it’s a great way to encourage recycling and serves as a nice micro-economy for people down on their financial luck.

For me and one of my best friends from Berlin, it was the perfect way to see Copenhagen. On a rainy day, we had several hours without a plan. It started quite playfully with me seeing a still unopened bottle of beer and stashing it in my bag. Then it turned into her grabbing the next bottle, and placing it in a plastic bag. Then we made a game of it: whenever we found a bottle, we would travel in the direction the bottle was pointing until we found a new bottle, then we would continue in the direction that one was pointing.

Several hours later we had amassed a healthy $12 worth of recycled bottles, and seen the parts of Copenhagen left off the guide books. For me, those are the best parts of a city: the parts where people live, where people moved there because they could afford the rent or they liked the nearby school or it’s close to their favorite cafe. This is the best way to see a city and to collect enough money to buy a six-pack afterward.

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