It’s the last day of school for the kids and it’s clear to see that I’m more excited than them to break free. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I’ve got a flight to catch. It’s my first trip back to Europe since 2010! My girl friend (KJ – who has never been overseas) and I made travel arrangements to visit Scandinavia back in October and the time had finally come to get our passports stamped.
Day 1 – Saturday. After an easy overnight flight on Air Berlin and a quick stop-off in Düsseldorf (Germany), we arrived in Copenhagen. Since we purchased a 48-hour Copenhagen Card prior to our trip, were were able to take the Metro directly from the airport terminal into the city centre. It was about a mile walk to our Air BnB, but because we didn’t feel like lugging our suitcases along the way we hailed a cab and arrived at the our weekend home’s front stoop.
We rented a cute one-bedroom flat in Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s “hipster” neighborhood. Brick and stone apartment buildings characterized our street while handsome churches, fresh produce markets, delightful florists, trendy restaurants, aromatic coffee shops, and chic boutiques lined the main roads leading back to the heart of the city. We couldn’t wait to see what else this charming place had to offer.
KJ and I live in Florida where every day is essentially summer, so we were surprised to be greeted by a beaming sun and 78*F in a city on the same parallel as Alaska. My first thought: I didn’t pack for this 😑 Second thought: I didn’t bring sunscreen 😖 (thankfully my girl had us covered – literally). After freshening up and changing into the only short-sleeved shirts we packed, we set-off to explore Københaven.
We made our first stop at Bang & Jensen. The cafe’s colorful outdoor seating caught our attention but, little did we know, we were about to enjoy our best meal in Denmark. We shared a fresh greens salad with grilled goat cheese and a plate of baba ghanoush served with homemade bread and sliced veggies. It totally hit the spot.
k goodness we fueled up first. We walked over nine miles that day, criss-crossing through the streets and visiting the main tourist attractions downtown: the Round Tower, the Ruins under Christiansborg Palace, Nyhavn, the Freetown of Christiania, and Tivoli Gardens. We also checked out the city’s Canals and caught a glimpse of the Little Mermaid by boat.
We totally indulged in Denmark’s eye (and mind) candy as we continued through the day. It felt like the entire city came out to play because the weather was so nice! People were literally lining the waterfront quaysides like a herd of sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. Some even took the liberty to disrobe and dive into the sea with the hopes of cooling off 😻 Totally SnapChat worthy.
Aside from admiring everyone’s noticeably good looks (both the men and women), I was amazed that nearly every person we encountered spoke Danish, German, and English. I was enamored by (and slightly jealous) of their linguistic capabilities and, well, the fact that they were all so tall! Late into the evening, there was a huge celebration near Nyhaven that culminated in fireworks and confetti. I never did find out why, but it felt as if the city was courting me to fall in love with it.
Day 2 – Sunday. We slept in and enjoyed the city at a much more leisurely pace. Since our Copenhagen Cards included public transportation options, we navigated our way around the city by bus and visited the remaining sites we had planned to see: Amalienborg Palace and Frederiks Kirke. I, however, was most excited to visit the Church of Our Savior. We’d see the glistening golden spire from every other angle on the ground, and I was thrilled to finally experience the enchanting view from above that I read about in other blogs. Somehow, I missed the memo about how strenuous the climb would be, but we managed to maneuver through the narrow passageways/ladders/crowds of tourists and scaled the 400+ stairs in sandals to reach the very top. It was from there that I decided I would some day call Copenhagen “home” #SpeakingItIntoExistence
I hadn’t had coffee that morning, so I was delighted to stop at a local bakery and enjoy a two of my favorite delights: a warm chocolate croissant and an iced hazelnut latte. I can be a bit of a coffee snob, so when I tell you that it refreshed my soul, I can’t even pretend that I’m exaggerating. I wish I could remember the name of the place, but they used frozen coffee as ice cubes and a precise ratio of sugar, syrup, and whipped cream to perfect their drinks. It didn’t hurt that the barista was as delicious and sweet as the desserts on display 😉 KJ and I decided to relax for the next hour on a Netto Boat. The tour essentially took the same route as the one from the day before, but we enhanced this voyage by purchasing a bottle of champs. **Side note: this seems like the most appropriate time to appreciate the Danes’ generous open container policy, as locals and tourists alike can freely enjoy their preferred beverages throughout the city. Nonetheless, our hospitality award undoubtably goes out to the honest vendor who told us it would be much cheaper to buy a bottle from a nearby kiosk than at the outdoor bar he was working. Thanks to him, we saved over 600DK ($60!) on a delightfully generic brand of bubbly #YouDaRealMVP 🥇👏🏽
Sundays in Europe are characterized by resounding church bells and Sabbath traditions. Shops, if opened at all, tend to close early. But! We were surprised to learn that even restaurants adjusted their hours. With our hangry meters reaching dangerously high levels, we sulked and struggled to find a place for dinner at 8 pm. We ended up settling on our only available option: an Indian/Pakistani joint called “Columbia.” At first glance, we may have seemed a little out of place, but we found comfort in the menu. In typical American fashion, we satisfied our cravings with a fresh salad and pizza but mediated the apparent cultural divide by selecting one that included tandoori chicken. The cutie behind the counter shared an “expert tip” by recommending that we top our slices off with a fork-full of salad 👌🏽 #PakiBae also hooked us up with fresh, real-fruit strawberry milkshakes to enjoy on our walk home. Kindness is universal, but it’s a beautiful thing when worlds collide and something special is shared between the two ❤️
Day 3 – Monday. Sadly, it was our last day. The morning air was crisp, but the sights and sounds of Copenhagen’s daily life were soothing. We passed school children at play and adults happily biking to work. Despite our mere 48 hours in this foreign place, I felt welcomed by the city’s sense of community. To pay homage to it’s history and it’s people, we made our uphill pilgrimage to the Danish holy Mecca – Visit Carlsberg. After strolling through the historic building, learning about the company’s history, admiring their renowned beer bottle collection (which is actually featured in the Guinness Book of World Records), and debating whether to collect a free souvenir from the gift shop or trade in the token for an extra beverage sample, KJ and I delighted ourselves in some beer for breakfast. Our empty stomaches were thrilled to find that the “free samples” included with our tour were legit full servings 🙃. As one could imagine, some of our best SnapChat memories were filmed in the green carpeted pastures of this delightful brewery 🍻 #LovelyLibations
We finally gathered ourselves and took our felicity back to the town center in search of one of the many hot dog vendors we previously passed on the streets. After some much needed noms, we walked up the steps to City Hall and marveled at it’s marbled interior. We crept through the long (but empty) passageways, peered into meeting spaces, and whispered conspiracies about the matters would be handled in such a grand edifice.
We left the official business behind and crossed the street to check out the Hans Christian (H.C.) Andersen Fairy-Tale House. We should have know it was going to be an interesting experience upon discovering that this “museum” shared it’s space with Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Needless to say, it was a strange little exhibit. The old-fashioned dolls and poorly operational “special effects” used to recant the author’s most famous stories totally weirded us out. If it weren’t for the fact that I was in Hans’ hometown and that I wanted to pay homage to the guy who created tales like “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling,” I really could have gone without seeing this place.
During my next visit, I plan to visit the Cisterns, Frederiksborg Castle and Ferry, the Glyptoteket, Kronborg Castle, KOS Museum of Art in Public Spaces, The Victorian Home, the City Hall Tower, the Roskilde Cathedral, and, of course, Tivoli at night.
Unfortunately, our time had run out. We needed to head back, retrieve our luggage and make our way to the train station for the next leg of our trip. At this point, we were comfortable with the bus routes, so we waited with our bags for one heading into town and scanned our City Cards with only a few minutes left to spare. It was bittersweet to leave the city behind, but we were comforted by the thrill of the adventures waiting for us across the channel inSweden….