Let's Rent Bikes: Copenhagen!
My first trip whilst abroad is finally completed! It was a whirlwind of a trip, but one that was absolutely beautiful and more than worth it. This is a long one, so make a cuppa and settle in!
Our trip began early on Friday morning with a 5:10 am Terravision bus to Gatwick Airport. We picked up the bus from Novotel, which was only a 10 minute walk from the flats. The bus ride took a little more than an hour and was very convenient and very cheap- only 6 pounds! We could have taken the Gatwick Express, which is faster, but it is much more expensive and not close to our flats, so the time spent traveling to get to the train would have ruled out the benefits. Shout out to being too tired to spell “begins” correctly..
Gatwick is a beautiful airport. We got through security with no problem and time to spare, so we grabbed breakfast at Nando’s. As you know, I am a big fan of Nando’s, but I wasn’t impressed by my breakfast. I had their omelette with chicken, green onion, and tomato, but it was rather dry and lacked filling. With that said, it was still a nice place to relax in as we waited to board because in most European airports, as I’ve learned, you don’t get your gate assignment until it’s just about time to board. This leaves you plenty of time to shop and explore, which is why the airports end up feeling like shopping malls!
8:45 am finally rolled around and we boarded our Norwegian flight with no problem. The actual flight was less than 2 hours and I slept the whole time. We landed at about 12:00 pm Copenhagen time, and then we were off! Immigration was a breeze, simply showing our passports, and we were able to find ticket machines for the train pretty easily. This is where I encountered a little bump in the road: Some places in Copenhagen do not accept American Express. I use AMEX because my other credit card has transaction fees, so thankfully I had gone to Marks & Spencers before I left and had withdrawn some Danish Kroner. I was able to pay and soon we were on board towards København H, Copenhagen’s central station. Tip: Always have cash on hand in both the currency of the country you are in, or your native country’s currency for emergencies and additional exchanges.
We didn’t realize it at first, but the central station was actually only a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb inn Vesterbro. Our Airbnb owner Frederik told us to meet him at the station close to the Airbnb, but it ended up being only one stop away. Still, it was nice to get our bearings and know that it was so close to the central station. Frederik was lovely! He left us a map with all sorts of places nearby to try, walked us through the flat, and answered all of our questions. The actual flat itself was very chic and homey, it basically looked like it came straight out of an Urban Outfitters ad, though the pull out bed I slept on left some comfort to be desired.
After we settled in, we were quickly off exploring! Tip for traveling: Bring Snacks! In order to make the most of our time and money, I ended up bringing some Special K Breakfast Bars to nibble on during the day instead of eating lunch. This worked perfectly, because we wanted to make one of Copenhagen’s free walking tours. We hopped on one of Christianshavn that left from Højbro Plads, a square off of the Strøget, a pedestrian only boulevard with lots of stores, squares, and beautiful architecture. The tour lasted about two hours and was a good way to learn about some of Copenhagen’s basic history and get our bearings, though it was absolutely freezing out! We did get to see a few canals and The Church of Our Savior, known for it’s spiral tower. Here are some photos!
The tour ended with a brief walk through Christiania, which is essentially a commune-social experiment. It’s been around since the 1970s and is still going strong, though it is mostly known for, well, there is no polite way to put this: Weed. Christiania is so notorious for selling marijuana that you are not allowed to take photos along Pusher Street, the main drag where it is sold, or run down it otherwise people will believe you are being chased by the police! I didn’t take any photos in Christiania for this reason.
By this time I was sure my toes had frozen off, so we headed to find a cafe as it got dark out. Luckily, we stumbled upon one pretty quickly: Baresso. I am now a true and true Baresso fan. Their coffee is great, their baristas put in the time and effort to do designs, and they managed to make a carrot scone taste absolutely amazing! Big fan, 10/10. Tip: Bring a portable charger. During our time at Baresso, I also charged up my phone after a long day of traveling and moving about. I use google maps quite frequently while traveling, so it was nice to have extra juice and not have to worry about getting stranded.
Once we had defrosted, we ventured out to explore the Strøget and find someplace to actually eat dinner. I was a big fan of two stores, of course: Disney and Lego. Lego is based in Denmark and your know, I love Disney. I went into both, but the Disney store was just like any other Disney store, just in Danish. I took some photos in the Lego one, though! Dinner ended up being at Cafe Norden due to the recommendation of Annie’s friend who had just finished studying in Copenhagen. Though expensive, even though everywhere ended up being around the same price pound, the burger was DELICIOUS. I would go back in heartbeat!
After dinner, we were pretty much all toast. We walked back to the flat and called it a night to get an early start the next morning in order to do something a bit off the beaten track- The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. First of course was breakfast, and this breakfast was the best one I’ve had while abroad. I had a pastry, I don’t even know what it was called, but it had custard in it with almonds on top and I just about died. I think I got diabetes just from looking at it, but it was sooooooooo worth it. I paired it with a cappuccino and then I was ready to go!
Located in Humlebæk about an hour outside of Copenhagen via train, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art was very unique. On the outside, it seems like a French countryside estate, but soon you immersed into a series of halls and rooms that have a ton of windows in order to see the beautiful nature around the museum, including the ocean! Seeing modern art juxtaposed with the natural beauty of nature was a very cool experience, but little did I know what also was in store for me at the Louisiana..
Immersive art is always something that I have wanted to experience, and I finally got it due to Yayoi Kusama’s brilliant work. Playing with patterns, mostly polka dots, and mirrors in order to play with the idea of infinity, I found myself a part of her art. Literally. One of my favorite pieces is called the Obliteration Room. Kusama created a completely white domestic environment and viewers are given colorful, round stickers to place as they please. Being that I love music, I put mine on the piano. I personally liked that some people had been connecting dots to make streamers off things, or where little patterns had emerged- You could get lost in a second! Tip: Museum or exhibit maps and tickets make cheap, small, and unique souvenirs, so don’t throw them out!
We toured some of the other galleries, but eventually returned back to Copenhagen to visit Nyhavn. This was probably one of the most beautiful parts of the trip, for it is the quintessential European canal. We got there right as the sun had set, so it was a brilliant blue out. Between the wooden ships, cute cafes, and lively spirit, I felt right at home. We walked around a little, exploring the neighborhood and the waterfront before going to seek out Dinner.
This is where things get, well, not so great. Among our excitement, exhaustion, and what not, somebody I was traveling with left their backpack on the ground to take a photo and had forgotten to pick it back up. Inside was nothing too important, just their passport. Which when you think about it is pretty damn important. We didn’t notice until we sat down for dinner. After lots of searching and running around Nyhavn, it was nowhere to be found.
The worst part was that in Copenhagen, there is basically no police or CCTV. All, literally every single police station in Copenhagen, was closed and it was only 6:00 pm on a Saturday. We couldn’t file a police report until the next morning and the person who lost their passport had to stay an extra day in Copenhagen to get a new temporary one because the US embassy is closed on the weekends. Thankfully this was easily fixed, but it was a very frustrating experience and unfortunately put a bit of a damper on the rest of the trip. Tip: Wear a money belt! We had our passports on us because we didn’t want to risk leaving them at the AirBnb. Money belts slip under your shirt and are virtually undetectable, so invest in one in order to carry around documents and emergency money with ease!
After we learned of the lack of police availability, we decided to get dinner and that didn’t help much. We were very tired and settled on a place called Mama Rosa’s on the Strøget. My advice to everybody and anybody: DO. NOT. GO. It is way overpriced and terrible. The service was poor and the food was even worse. You know I love food pics and this… This was just wretched.
Determined to save the evening at least a little, we headed back to the flat and got some wine and ice cream. There’s nothing that a little booze and sugar can’t fix, right? The guys working at the little grocery store, similar to a bodega, were hysterical as well, so that helped lift the mood. We went to bed a bit happier, very much needing the rest.
Our last day in Copenhagen then arrived. With one of us gone trying to figure out how to get back to the UK, the rest of us got a little breakfast at Baresso before heading to the Rosenborg Castle. It was a 45 minute walk to get there, but well worth it. This is one of my big tips for traveling, especially Copenhagen: WALK, WALK , WALK! Copenhagen is a very expensive city, but it is even more beautiful! Save money and enjoy a free, self guided tour!
We got to the castle and decided to walk around the park it was in rather than go through the castle because part of it was closed and the hours it was open were pretty short. The castle itself from the outside is beautiful, and looked very spooky in the fog that had covered Copenhagen that day. It even had a moat, which I loved!
Side note- One of the things that I notice in Copenhagen is that there were ducks swimming around the freezing canals and seagulls flying about! Isn’t it interesting to think that these rather common birds can survive in arctic conditions, and on beaches?
Back to it! One of the highlights of my trip was actually walking around the gardens. There were long rows of trees and hedges that looked like we were in the countryside and went on for miles, mostly due to the fog. It was all very spooky and beautiful. There was even a kids playground, which made for some very fun pictures! I would highly recommend it to anybody visiting.
Lastly, we did something very stereotypical for Copenhagen tourists: A canal boat tour and drinking along the canal. We went back to Nyhavn and sat in the outdoor seating of one of the restaurants and shared a plate of fries while we drank Gløgg, which is essentially warm, mulled wine. This was one of the highlights of the trip because we got to relax and just enjoy our surroundings while enjoying a piece of Danish culture. After we finished, we hopped on a canal boat tour. The boat tour itself was pretty good and the host was friendly, but it was too foggy to really see a lot. Still, we learned a good amount of Copenhagen history and it was very cool to sail through the harbors, canals, and under Copenhagen’s copious amount of bridges.
After the tour ended, we made our way back to the Strøget to get something we had been eyeing all week: Chocolate covered waffles on a stick! They were absolutely delicious and brought a lot of laughs (mostly due to the chocolate going everywhere and anywhere), so I would recommend them. Soon after we were back to the Airbnb to clean and pack. Once it was all back to pristine condition, we headed to the airport via the train. We ended up getting there pretty early, so we ate in the airport only to later discover that our flight had been delayed an hour! Thankfully, the Copenhagen airport is absolutely beautiful (and has free wifi!) so we made the most of our time and boarded our flight with ease. Getting through immigration was easy and we even made it on the last bus back to the stop near our flats, so we were home at last!
Overall, based purely on what I saw and excluding the emotional ups and downs of a friend losing a passport, I would give Copenhagen a solid 8.5. There was definitely a lot more to explore, including nightlife and museums, but uncontrollable events got the better of us. Personally I’m just glad I didn’t get run over by a bike! I’ll be doing a series of pros/cons of each city I go to, so look for that very soon!
Until next post, see you later!