Monday, November 26

Discover: Denmark, day 1

Hiiiiii! Happy belated Thanksgiving! We are happy to be home and really looking forward to Christmas with our families, but I'm mourning my European trip already. It was absolutely fantastic. International travel can be expensive, stressful, and planning-intensive, but once you're there it's incredibly rewarding and exciting to navigate a new culture, a new landscape, a new language. Obviously worth the investment.

I'm quite jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, but I wanted to start the process of sharing what we did, where we went, what we would recommend, and what wasn't worth it.


Graffiti is ubiquitous, but more artistic than I see around the US.
We got into Copenhagen after an overnighter from DC. It's a direct flight with Scandinavian Air, which is part of the Star Alliance (good news for me, as I usually fly United for work). The flight was perfectly fine, though we were in the two middle seats of a row of 4 (yuck) and so were a little crowded. At the airport in Denmark, we visited the tourist desk to get maps, check out the discount flyers, and to buy the 72-hour transportation passes, which were quite worth it. 

We were tired when we arrived, but managed to make a morning of it after dropping our luggage at the Hotel Ansgar, where we stayed. Fantastic location just minutes from the main train station, technically in the trendy red-light district of Vestebro. Super small rooms, like the smallest in the world- couldn't even get my carry-on-sized roller luggage around between the bed and the wall. Private and clean bathroom, small desk and closet. Awesome breakfast included, and as Copenhagen was pretty expensive, this was a big plus. Free and fast wi-fi, which as we would come to find out, is rare.

We used for all our bookings, as they have an indiscriminate stay-ten-days-get-one-free across many hotel brands and frequent site-wide discounts. Oodles of choices (and reviews, and photos, and booking options) across the entire globe. Worth checking out!

D in the cemetery
We went out to the Norrebro neighborhood, which is to the Northwest. It's known for amazing thrifting, authentic Danish shops and restaurants, and the Aissistens Cemetery (burial place of Soren Kierkegaard). Weather was iffy and we were sleepy, but I'm glad we made it out there. We walked along Norrebrogade, Ravnsborgade, and Ryesgade, checking out vintage home decor, glassware, lighting, and clothing. We ended at Abningstider (Ryesgade 1) for a delicious and relatively inexpensive breakfast (for us, lunch, though it was only 10am). D went with an American meal of eggs and bacon, but I tried the traditional Smorrebrod (open-faced sandwich) with pickled herring, cabbage, and dill on dense Danish rye bread. I liked it, especially once I removed the fish skin, which apparently they leave on. Good coffee, too- be careful, because many places in Europe use machines to make their espresso drinks, which I think makes them watery, weak, and not worth it.

Russian-themed Christmas decor in Tivoli

After lunch in Norrebro, we checked in, took a quick power nap and much needed shower, and headed out to Tivoli Gardens, literally less than a 5 minute walk from our place. It may look very dark here, but it was only 4pm- there was so little sunlight it was comical.

Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world, mainly a pleasure garden with holiday decor. Apparently it was an inspiration to Walt Disney himself, and I could see why. Happy music, exotic buildings, a varied and beautiful natural landscape, plenty of tourist-focused shopping and eating. They had their Christmas decor up already, which I greatly appreciated, as we missed most "Christmas markets" in Denmark and Germany by just a few days. 

Though D refused a roller-coaster ride, we did get to experience a very well done laser light show on the main lake. Lights, lasers, and fog machines rolled over the fountain perfectly orchestrated to the score from the Nutcracker. This is a personal favorite, probably because it's been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. Got a little teary eyed, standing with D on the bridge, watching the show, remembering all the wonderful evenings I associate with this music and my family. It was a great moment of my first day.

It went on for at least 20 minutes, and we only happened upon it by accident, so I don't know how much we missed. I felt like this spontaneous activity was common during our trip, and perhaps in Europe, at least to tourists. Maybe this light show, the highlight of our night, was actively promoted and marketed online, on signs around town, at the entrance to Tivoli (in Danish, of course). Maybe it's an annual tradition, and the Danes knew about it already. Or, maybe it was meant to be a surprise, which is how it felt to me when we walked curiously towards the music. Whether because of our ignorance or because of their whimsy, many of my favorite memories had a flavor of spontaneity and unplanned revelry, which made the trip that much more exciting.

For dinner we got Schwarma, which was everywhere in Copenhagen and later in Berlin (called kebab or donor). Yummy, cheap, and quick, as it was time to go back to bed.

One other note from our first day- Danes are reserved (yes, I'll use this week to make sweeping generalizations based solely on a few days in a nation. Feel free to comment and correct). They are private but sincere- they may not ask how you are, but only because they consider questions like that to be intimate and requiring of a real response, making it an awkward or inappropriate question for a store clerk or ticket seller to ask. We thought they were cold and unfriendly on this first day, which was challenged later in the trip. In any event, it doesn't seem to be a translation-error when they said things they were very fond of were "ok" and "fine". On one tour, a guide made fun of a few Swedes who admitted that if they truly loved something, it was "very fine". Ha! Quite the contrast to Americans, who at least verbally find everything to be awesome, great, amazing. In fact, I often have a hard time coming up with new adjectives to describe my weekends. Just an observational tidbit. More to come all week!

No comments:

Post a Comment

how you like dem apples?