My name is Jinna and sometimes, I’m an idiot. This is the story of how I almost got arrested in Copenhagen, Denmark.



How I Almost Got Arrested in Copenhagen | Grease and Glamour


We arrived into Copenhagen after an early morning flight from Stockholm (READ: 10 Things To Do in Stockholm) – and that mixed with late night partying led to absolute exhaustion. After a quick and efficient train ride from the airport to Norreport station, we stepped foot into the city to see this – a sea of bicycles.


Bikes on Bikes on BIkes | Copenhagen | Travel


First thought: Wow. So. Many. Bicycles. Never. Seen. So. Many. Bicycles. We’d get used to it very quickly, though – Copenhagen and Bicycle go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly.


Copenhagen | Travel


We decided to meet up with my friend Dennis  – a photographer based in Copenhagen to go explore the city.  We were grateful to have a local take us around the city – specifically his favorite spots to capture glimpses of the city’s architecture.


Explore Copenhagen


A very short, few blocks later – we ran into a crowd surrounding a memorial.


Copenhagen | Travel


We realized then that only two days before, just a few short blocks from our hotel, a security guard was killed outside the Great Synagogue during a terrorist shooting. It was a cold, grey day, and the mood was somber – we had a moment of silence in respect for the victim and continued on to get a feel for the city.


We saw more bikes than cars or pedestrians combined. There are supposedly over 5 million bicycles in the city alone.



Copenhagen | Travel


We wandered around The Lakes – it was a bit too chilly to sit and soak in the view like we wanted to, but the few moments we spent here were absolutely wonderful.



Copenhagen | Travel


We waved hello to some city workers along the way.



Copenhagen | Travel


Copenhagen is perfect and easy to explore because everything is reasonably close. You can walk, or of course – bike almost anywhere.


Copenhagen | Travel


Eventually we came across the #HappyWall, a huge wall filled with tiny doors, covering tiles of various colors. You could flip open or close shut the doors to spell words or create pictures.


Copenhagen Happy Wall | Travel


So I thought I’d spread some positive vibes to this wonderful city.


Hope | Copenhagen Happy Wall


We then journeyed to the HAY store in Ostergade – an interior decor heaven filled with inspiration of all shapes and sizes. This place was perfect for souvenir shopping.


Copenhagen | Travel


Three floors up with an amazing view – it’s filled with functional, minimal design books, furniture, office supplies and home furnishings.


Design | Copenhagen


After that we stopped by Emmerys cafe for some Danish pastries and coffee.


Emmerys Cafe | Copenhagen, Denmark


We entered the Amalienborg Palace on Frederiksgade street.


Copenhagen | Travel


And said hello to the Royal Life Guards.


Copenhagen | Travel


He didn’t smile, he was perfectly still and had no reaction whatsoever, but he did look at the camera – and that was all I needed.


Copenhagen | Travel


We soaked in this view of the entire city from the top of the Round Tower.


Copenhagen | Travel


Walked to Nyhavn to explore the Canal.


Copenhagen | Travel


Wander a few blocks around this area and you’ll see beautiful pastel colored buildings… with more bicycles.


Copenhagen Streets | Travel


…and friends hiding in between them.


Copenhagen Streets | Travel


Wandered over to the Royal Danish Playhouse – a beautiful glass building that sits right on the waterfront, with a brilliant view of the Opera house across the water.


Copenhagen, Denmark | Architecture | Travel


Stopped by the Torvehallerne Farmers Market to grab a quick bite.


Copenhagen | Travel


At this point we decided to meet up with Max, Dennis’s friend, a photographer also based in Copenhagen. Both Dennis and Max are in their early 20’s with incredible eyes for architecture, design and composition. They’re also the adventurous type – going to great heights to get the perfect shot (sometimes that means climbing to the top of a crane).


No crane-climbing today.  They brought me to the Aller building – an incredible place covered in glass that looks like this.


Copenhagen Architecture | Travel


We decided to take it a step further and bring in a prop – a smoke bomb.


How I Almost Got Arrested in Copenhagen | Grease and Glamour


The results of using this were absolutely magical.


How I Almost Got Arrested in Copenhagen | Grease and Glamour


After this successful first attempt of getting photographs with the smoke bomb, we decided to give it another go in a different location.


Now, finding a location that’s open enough yet enclosed enough – is a bit difficult.


If it’s too windy outside and you’re out in the open, the smoke will blow away way too quickly, taking away from the effect. If a space is too enclosed, I would have probably choked to death. We spent around thirty minutes exploring the area, trying to find a place that was both interesting yet open enough to do another quick shoot.


So we wandered around a bit more and finally found a stairwell leading into a parking garage. It was perfect. Cool lines, enclosed but open at the top, allowing ventilation. We set up our cameras, got ready to shoot – then I stood in the middle of the stairwell and lit the smoke bomb.


How I Almost Got Arrested In Copenhagen


I was immediately engulfed by a thick cloud of bright blue smoke. Trying to pose, hold your breath and keep your eyes open at the same time was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  My eyes burned, I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t even think about trying to not look like I was extremely, extremely uncomfortable.  The smoke finally dissipated and I looked like a smurf. My face, hands and previously-white shirt were all lightly dyed blue.


How I Almost Got Arrested In Copenhagen


Great. I hope that was worth it.


We got out of the stairwell and started walking away from the area until we noticed a man walking towards us.  The man was wearing a security uniform.  Some of us thought about turning around, only to spot three more men following us from behind.


These men were not wearing security informs. They were wearing police uniforms.


Welp. No way to escape now – we stood and waited for the two groups of uniform-clad persons to converge and trap us in the middle.


Immediately, one of the police officers asked us questions in Danish.  Max and Dennis spoke to them while we were nervously waiting to completely freak out.


The officers came over to us and asked us where we from, then asked us to give them our forms of identification.


How I Almost Got Arrested in Copenhagen Denmark


After noting down our information, the older and obviously higher-ranked Danish police officer turned to us and asked:


“Do you know what’s been going on these past few days in this city?”


We all turned to each other, and immediately the guilt set in. Of course we knew what had been going on the past few days. The shooting. The memorial. The police officers walking around right outside our hotel carrying huge guns and patrolling the streets.


Us: Yes, officer. The terrorist shootings. 


Officer: So if you know all this is going on, I’m trying to figure out how the HELL you can stupid enough to light a smoke bomb outside of a police station. 


Wait, what?


That’s right, we were standing outside one of the main police stations in this city, and two days after a terrorist shooting, we lit a colored smoke bomb to take photographs.


Us: Yes, yes, a million times yes, we are complete idiots, and we are so absolutely sorry.


After a few more seconds of glaring at us underneath his glasses, he proceeded in his questioning:


Officer: You’re all from New York?


Us: Yes. 


Max and Dennis looked on.


Officer: Here in Denmark, we ask people their names before we shoot them. They don’t do that in New York.


Awkward silence.


Us: Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for not shooting us. We had no idea this was a police station. We are complete idiots, and we are so so sorry.


We were as sincere as we could be, but more embarrassed than anything else.  He was absolutely right, and we were still trying not to pee our pants.


If I were arrested, how would I get home?  What if I missed my flight and couldn’t find a lawyer? What if our court date was so far away that I’d have to get some kind of visa? Were they allowed to throw me in jail?  Holy sh-t.



The head police officer looked at all three of us one more time and went back over to Max and Dennis. He looked them both up and down, and told them to put out their hands.


Dennis and Max put out their hands, palms up.


He told them to turn them around.


With their palms facing down, the officer smacked the tops of their hands, and then told all of us to get the hell out of there.


…so we got the hell out of there.


We didn’t end up getting arrested, but I don’t think anyone reading this story would be surprised if I had.


Traveling opens your eyes to people, things, places, methods, sights that you haven’t seen before – it’s also an opportunity to learn and pay respect to that new destination’s culture and way of life.  We all looked like sad puppy dogs walking back across the town to our hotel – mostly shook up with a tiny amount of relief-filled excitement.  The gratitude we felt to the non-arresting officers was off the charts.  They let us go, but still taught us better.


The entire experience was a lesson well-learned – it also became a piece of our lives that will always connect us as a story to be told, and a memory earned.


And that’s how I almost got arrested in Copenhagen.


I put together a short 1-minute video documenting the various things I saw while walking around this amazing, inspirational city. Watch below.


Big thank you to my friends who helped me with these wonderful photographs. Follow all of them on instagram for more beautiful, inspiring photos.

Dennis: @denfrandsen
Max: @mxmadsen
Alex: @sobiecki
James: @imjamese
Me: @projectinspo



Any crazy travel stories you’ve got to share? Leave a comment for us below!

  • Damn girl! What a day, one I’m sure you’ll never ever forget. One effect travelling has had on me is to be super aware of my surroundings and anything I may do to disrespect another culture or, yes, get myself into trouble. Luckily, I have never had any problems, but it just goes to show how careful and aware you have to be.

    A lesson learnt no doubt! I’m glad you’re all okay!

  • Allison

    Wow that must have been terrifying. A friend of mine was arrested in Stockholm for essentially being too drunk in public, and it ended up being a disaster. So glad you didn’t have to go through with that. On a more positive note, your photos are beautiful! Glad everything was okay in the end!

  • I am glad you didnt get arrested! That would have made for an even more interesting blog post….lol


  • Anna

    I LOVE your photos here – makes me want to take a plane to Copenhagen immediately!! Though you learned a well lived lesson, smoke pictures are BEAUTIFUL. 😉 What program did you use for your video? You did such a lovely job capturing the city…loved the music in it as well – a perfect fit.

  • Oh wow, unlucky placing and setting for you to be in! Luckily it takes a lot for the police to actually arrest you in Scandinavia, so not much harm done except left scared!
    LOVE the pictures, though. So awesome!

  • So happy you didn’t get arrested but couldn’t help chuckling a bit at the story (well what came after the whole New York reference..)

  • a great lesson for me and for you, but i can’t help it to say THE PICS WERE BEAUTIFUL?? WOW Nabila x

  • MissLilly

    First of all, really love your photos! The smoke ones are really outstanding as well as the city ones too. Well, I have to admit I would probably have done something as stupid, simply because I don’t realize where I am. I think it served you a lesson (and to us readers as well), that we need to mind the space and the context a bit more.

  • wanicullen
  • I’m from Denmark and it makes me so happy to see people from different contries liking our little country (:

  • Feyi A

    wow thats crazy but in a couple of years hopefully you can laugh about it

  • I love the way you re-capped the day with photos– it felt like I was there with you. What a crazy story though, now you’ll always have the pictures as memories of the crazy day. I’m glad it all worked out!

    — Mel //

  • Andrea TheBloggingMama

    Beautiful photos. I’ve only passed through Copenhagen, and hopefully will be going back soon (I’m moving to London for 2 years in June, so lots of opportunities!) My husband has spent a lot of time there for work though, and loves it. It is a very different world sometimes, and things like your incident with the police definitely make you think. We lived in Germany for 4 years and right after moving were stopped on the train by the police, and the removed from the train. We forgot to punch our ticket when we got on because we were trying to get a seat for our 4 year old. They took our passports, called to the police station, it was very hard not to cry honestly. They let us go with just a fine of about 60 euros each (ouch), but I never boarded a train and tried to get a seat again- without first punching my ticket!

  • I was just in Copenhagen last weekend and absolutely loved it. And you’re right about the bikes. They’re everywhere.

  • Julie Olum

    Shit! Well, I hope you were able to enjoy the rest of your time in Copenhagen-it looks great!
    And I LOVE the picture from the stairwell ^.^
    Julie xx
    Frame Ambition by Julie O

  • Linda

    I’m glad you went to Scandinavia, but you missed the best country to visit: Norway! It’s stunningly beautiful, you won’t regret it! (Be sure to save up a bit before you go as most people find it quite expensive.) And thanks for a great blog:)