Copenhagen, Denmark: my first Nordic country explored (& in Winter!)

Copenhagen, Denmark: my first Nordic country explored (& in Winter!)

After spending nearly a week exploring LONDON and seeing a gorgeous castle a bit south in Leeds, ENGLAND (which I’ll write about in a future post), the time had finally come for COPENHAGEN, DENMARK! I couldn’t hardly wait any longer because not only was it a NEW COUNTRY for me, and a NEW REGION: THE NORDIC COUNTRIES, it was also the reunion with my Roman!! Finally! We had discussed meeting up during the Christmas Holidays though unsure of which country would be the best choice. Initially, I wanted to be somewhere warmer than Lugo/Galicia for the nearly 3 weeks of vacation I had. I am always craving sunshine and a tan, as I’m from California after all. But in the end, I threw SWEDEN and DENMARK onto the table and although my Roman had already been to both of these countries’ capital cities, we agreed on København (the Danish way to write Copenhagen). Flights were reasonable from Roma (where he would be) and from London (where I imagined I’d spend Christmas).

I love hatching travel plans and sending my MAGICAL INTENTIONS out into the Universe, who I know has my my back.

Soon the tickets were bought, the Airbnb accommodation was reserved and on December 28th we met in the Danish capital, where we’d stay together 4 nights/5 days. In the airport we each bought our COPENHAGEN CARD for 3 days, which cost about 85 EUROS a pop. I know what you are thinking, Wow Denmark IS as expensive as they say. But I’m going to refute that right now. . . For what you really get when purchasing that card, ALL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION on buses, trains and the subway system & ENTRANCE to 73 MUSEUMS and attractions (of which we saw about four in those 3 days), the card does pay for itself. Some of my first impressions of the city of Copenhagen were:

It’s cold and gloomy in Winter so you better bundle up!! SNOWSUIT ONESIES are envious! LOOK:

Tiny Dane rockin’ this ONESIE; #Winterwardrobe

Little cafes and restaurants throughout the city offer quality food for all the foodies out there:

Even though I had googled several traditional Danish restaurants that were on “MUST LISTS”, by walking around the city we stumbled upon many excellent food spots that were utterly satisfying. We had authentic Chinese cuisine, Mexican Cuisine and a burger with goat cheese that rocked my tastebuds. I love Lugo (and Spain for that matter) but you won’t hear me brag about how progressive they are with fusion food or about tasting foods from around the world here, because it just doesn’t happen. In cities like London, Berlin, and now Copenhagen I can confirm they are serious about their exploration of food and that foods from many cultures are readily available. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: a passionfruit margarita paired with guacamole & plantain chips followed by a massive veggie burrito from BARBURRITO (just click for link) or a noodle dish at a very low key restaurant called CHIN CHIN ASIAN STREET KITCHEN (click for link). Both places I’d recommend in a heartbeat. Barburrito seemed to be in high demand and you should make a reservation, which we didn’t know so we sat at the bar to eat. Chin Chin was great because it was open just a little bit later (til 10PM) than other restaurants which close their kitchens around 8:30 or 9pm. The Danes eat much earlier than other parts of Europe, so don’t forget this when planning your nights out. It’s tied to the fact that the sun sets much earlier up in these Nordic parts.

There are limited hours of Sunlight in these Nordic Countries so Start Visting Places Early if you can:

Copenhagen's colorful buildings
Just a few more hours of light followed

Copenhagen Views

How is it that the sun can set so early? I wish it wasn’t so but at 4/4:30pm the sun was usually setting. That meant less lighting for photography and exploring, also colder temperatures in the evening and night and to top it off museums and castles didn’t stay open late either because they have Winter operating hours. Some closed as early as 4 or 5pm, so starting your day EARLY is advisable and checking museum/attraction times online is good idea too.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS IN KØBENHAVN, DANMARK:

Rosenborg Slot

Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, DenmarkGardens of Rosenborg Slot, Copenhagen

A visit to Rosenborg Slot on a gloomy day including a walk through some of the gardens prior to entering is a great activity to do in the heart of the city. Slot means CASTLE in Danish. It was the first official tourist stop we made (included in the purchase of the Copenhagen Card) and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. This is a 17th Century Castle with lots to see. . . 4 entire floors of Castle in fact. You could easily spend a few hours exploring, as the Danish Royalty has collected a lot of treasures in the past 4 centuries. They even keep the “Crown Jewels” in the basement of the Castle. Sure they are impressive all bedazzled and such, but I didn’t feel compelled to linger there or photograph them. Smaller artifacts called my attention more and also the hundreds upon hundreds of representations of the Danish Royals; It’s like they wanted to become immortal or something.

Danish Royal Family's ArtifactsRosenborg Slot, CopenhagenThe Royal ThroneJewelry of the Danish RoyalsPerks of being Danish RoyaltyPorcelain in Rosenborg Castle

Gløgg and Æbleskivers: Seasonal Treats

If you visit during the Winter/Christmas Season, YOU MUST TRY GLØGG & ÆBLESKIVERS.

Tis the season for Danish Gløgg, Denmark
Need to warm up? Gløgg!
Seasonal Danish Dessert
ÆBLESKIVER: Danish Treat

GLØGG is the Danish version of Mulled Wine served up hot hot hot on a Winter’s night (or day, I’m not judging)! I think it’s pretty unique because they put more almond slivers then I remember in the British version. . . and it’s strong. It will surely do the trick to warm you up from the inside out and give you a good sweet little buzz too. When ordering it, pronounce the Ø like a hard “u” like in the word “Glue” and the final GG almost like a soft “k”. If you don’t do it perfectly don’t worry, but every time I pronounced GLØGG like it rhymed with Blog they looked at me funny or didn’t understand what I wanted. If you pair this scrumptious drink with a sweet dessert like an ÆBLESKIVER then life feels a little bit brighter for those moments. It’s sort of like a small round Donut made of batter. Once cooked, you dip it into powdered sugar and jam before biting into this warm delectable dessert. Traditional recipes used to have apple pieces inside, but I couldn’t tell you for certain if the ones we ate did. Feels nice to treat yourself even as an adult and at the same time, try a local food. If you feel so inclined to make your own Danish Gløgg at home here is a Danish Woman’s blog I found with detailed instructions (just click here).

Tivoli Gardens

Magical Tivoli Gardens during Christmas SeasonTivoli Gardens Winter WonderlandTivoli lit up for Christmas, CopenhagenEntrance to Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens during the Christmas Season is transformed into a Winter Wonderland. GLÆDELIG JUL/MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours, this amusement park is full of Christmas Cheer in the form of lights, giant ornate JUL trees, winter treats for children and adults alike. . . Hello warm cup of GLØGG (actually the first place I got to taste the local drink)! You like rides? They’ve got them here. You like sweet eats? They’ve got them here. You like Polar Bears? They’ve got them here. Not real ones but Look:Tivoli Gardens Winter Feels, Copenhagen

Without a doubt, a visit to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is a MAGICAL EXPERIENCE during winter because they set the mood for you. There was even a light show set to classical music, which was projected on the lake in honor of the Nutcracker Ballet! I’m glad my Roman was so vocal about wanting to visit Tivoli because I had completely left it off my initial list. It was also included on the Copenhagen Card. Tivoli Gardens won’t operate again until APRIL 6th though so plan accordingly.

Freetown Christiania

Quick Photo in Christiania

A quick Photo outside our preferred Cafe in Freetown

Visiting the Chill Freetown Christiania community is something most of tourists do because it offers a peek into a different way of living. This is an area of Copenhagen that has proclaimed autonomy from the rest of the city (and country for that matter??). With nearly a thousand residents or so, they seem to run completely independently of the Danish government. Founded in the 70s it has hippy vibes with a history of CANNABIS trade, paintings and Murals on the walls of buildings, a bicycle culture and a sense of exclusivity. They don’t allow you to take pictures inside the community, which is why I only snuck these two photos. Also, you can only pay cash here at their shops, cafes, or tourist stands (because some of them in the community don’t mind making a profit off tourism). We wandered in after dark and the lights were very limited inside the community. I felt like we were wandering into somewhere forbidden. We saw lots of giant trash cans with lit fires for warmth, also vendors of Weed each claiming space for their business, and some bars/cafes of which we ventured into two. There was one Veggie-friendly cafe with the yummiest coffee cake I had during my entire stay in Copenhagen. It was surely Homemade with lots of LOVE!! Here they also sold soups, stews, vegetables, coffee/tea and desserts, and ***BONUS the little collection of board games they offered. We played a very intense game of YAHTZEE in this cozy spot. Later we entered a Pool Hall of sorts which had music, funky paintings and art on all the walls and was packed with people. We played a quick game of Table Soccer and then cruised through the dark streets of Christiania. Do your own research before going to decide if it’s something you want to see. I wish we could have seen it operate during the daytime as I’m sure at night it has a different feel.

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace, CopenhagenChristianborg Palace in Copenhagen,Denmark

Ancient Norse Mythology, Christiansborg
Ancient Norse Mythology

Danish/Norse History in the form of tapestries
Nordic History on Ornate Tapestries
Danish Royal Dining Hall
Royal Dining Hall
Chandeliers at Christiansborg Palace, Denmark
Italian Crystal Chandeliers

I hope I didn’t give away too much with my photos. . . but Christiansborg Palace is a stunning building full of precious and intricate artworks. If not the paintings on the walls or ceilings that impress, the crown moldings and crystal chandeliers might, or the mythological details in the Great Hall which are a shout out to Denmark’s Nordic past, representing 1000 years of its history. It’s good to explore where your intuition calls in this palace, as we quickly ditched the free tour that was boring/too formal for my taste. This Royal Palace is also included on the Copenhagen Card.

Places we Missed. . .

WE DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE MOST TALKED ABOUT TOURIST ATTRACTION: THE LITTLE MERMAID

Although I grew up pretending to be ARIEL for a good part of my childhood. . . “I want to be, where the people are. I want to see, want to see them dancing. Walking around on those, what do you call them? Oh! FEET.” Sorry I digress… Copenhagen yes, has its very own Little Mermaid Statue which tourists flock to. In Danish it’s called Den lille havfrue. She is made completely of bronze and was designed by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen. She sits atop a rock on the water surely to honor one of Denmark’s most famous authors, HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, original author of the tale (1836). So anyway, we didn’t get around to visiting her. I was sad. The girl inside of me, the little mermaid girl better said was ignored and I can only make it up to her by re-visting the city. **SOME ADVICE: Skip the Hans Christian Andersen Museum which is really poorly done, just not worth it (though at least it was free for us who had the Copenhagen Card). Although I learned a few things about the author’s life the exhibits were really amateur and cheesy. If you are on the fence and don’t want to take just my word for it, check it on TripAdvisor but you’ll have to read the Average and Terrible reviews to see what I mean. If you haven’t yet read his class tale Den Lille Havfrue: click here and read it. This is no Disney story, SORRY TO SAY, but it is an imaginative and fantastic tale about impossible love, or love that is worlds apart.

SOME ATTRACTIONS ARE CLOSED FOR THE WINTER SEASON: VOR FRELSERS KIRKE

Bummer that you can’t climb those 400 stairs up the Church of Our Savior for some iconic views of Copenhagen City, and we didn’t know this until we arrived because the info isn’t available online. However you can see the interior of this church which is quite beautiful. We even got to hear a bit of music while they were practicing on the grand organs. Also, the surrounding neighborhood of Christianshavn is great to explore and it’s a close walk to Freetown Christiania.

Vor Frelsers Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vor Frelsers Kirke/ Church of Our Savior
Churches in Copenhagen, Denmark
Baroque Interior

Lessons from Copenhagen. . .

We Loved Copenhagen, Denmark

There were MANY!!! I learned not to worry about not having enough time or the luck/right-timing to see all the spots on my personal Copenhagen list. We had so much fun just being together again, cozying up in our Airbnb watching Il Padrino Due (The Godfather 2), drinking champagne to ring in the new year to the sounds of local Danes’ fireworks (which lasted all day and night and due to proximity sounded like they were exploding in our own apartment at times), & having some lazy mornings in an extremely comfortable bed too. I consider myself a great planner, used to packing a schedule when I’m in a new country/place. . . and this trip allowed/forced me to slow down and enjoy the little moments. . . Missed the most famous statue in the city, so what. Didn’t get picturesque photographs of Nyhavn neighborhood along the river because of lack of light/the early sunsets here, that’s okay. Missed our Flight back to Berlin because of 5 minutes. . . was just fine with me. WAIT WHAT?! That’s a lie because at the time I REALLY WAS IN NO WAY FINE WITH THIS. Our tickets combined, we had just lost over 100 EUROS, down the drain and were forced into a bit of a panic to figure out how to get back to Berlin since EVIL NORWEGIAN Airlines (which I will boycott from now and for the foreseeable future) closed the Check-In on us. It’s a longer story though. . .

We were mistaken on our actual flight time, but upon discovery of the earlier departure hour we rushed as fast as we could to the airport and arrived within 5 minutes of the allotted time to check-in. At this time, the Norwegian attendant decided to make a phone call (to the pilots supposedly) to see if they could clear us only upon our insistence. And then just like that they said no, because in those 5 minutes no one answered the phone on the other line. We argued. We insisted. I cried of anger, and it was all for nothing. They didn’t offer us anything; they didn’t give a fuck actually about our situation. . . Norwegian you suck big time and yet there are multiple lessons to be learned here; I will just admit the tiniest accountability for having arrived with too small a window for that flight. When you fly out of airports that you don’t know, you have to get there with plenty of time. If Norwegian had been out of Terminal 3 and not Terminal 2, we would have maybe made the flight. Terminal 2 was another 4-5 minutes deeper into the airport at the speed we were running (longer if you walk) and we didn’t know that. All we knew was that we had to rush and hope for the best. In this case, there was no hope. Another thing, when you fly with CHEAPER AIRLINES THEY TREAT YOU CHEAP. In other words, you don’t really matter to them as a customer; they don’t care about customer service and they won’t do anything to help you (although sadly this is the case for A LOT OF AIRLINES THESE DAYS). So plan try to make your flights, and when you don’t make them and you can’t get an Airline to throw you a bone, CALM DOWN and DRY YOUR EYES if you must (yea I was crying at Copenhagen Airport) and come up with a plan.

My Roman was great because he googled buses and trains, also other flights which were all too expensive at the last minute, and we made the decision to take a 7 hour bus from Copenhagen to Berlin the next morning. That was the most affordable solution and we made the decision together. It turned out to be a much slower journey than a quickie flight, more like 9 hours as there were some delays on the road. Life sometimes allows/forces us to SLOW DOWN a bit, when we think we are in control of all the elements. Overall it was a GREAT SOLUTION traveling by bus (and FERRY too because our bus drove onto a ferry at one point and crossed water for 2 hours), we even had a movie onboard for our entertainment. Most importantly I realized money isn’t everything. I was still the happiest woman traveling with her man to continue her holidays for several more days in the city that I love to love: HALLO BERLIN! 

More Capital Cities:

QU-EEN London England

Click to see what there is to do in this absolutely classic Capital city!! 

All photos taken DEC 2016-JAN 2017 ARIANA DEL RÍO.

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