Tuesday, November 27

Discover: Denmark, day 2

No comments from yesterday, which must mean you enjoyed my Danish opinions. Or my American opinions on Danes. Whatever.


After the worst night sleep of my LIFE, D and I slammed down a massive Danish breakfast at the hotel. The bread here, and in Berlin, was absolutely delicious, some of the best I'd ever had. Go to the bakeries, for real.

Check out our canal tour! After breakfast, we headed to Nyhavn, which means "new harbor" and hopped on a boat. We were some of the last to get on, so we had to sit indoors, but the windows actually roll up so it wasn't too bad. And the heat was nice (did I mention it was COLD?)

The canal tour took over an hour, and was a great way to get a better perspective of the city. I like to do big tours on the first day, so you can scope out the things you want to do, visualize the routes, and get some history. 

Of course we took pictures of The Little Mermaid statue, commemorating Hans Christian Anderson. 

After the canal tour, we walked along the water to visit the library, commonly called "the black diamond". It's right on the water and is such a unique looking building. And you know how I feel about books.

We had to visit Lagkagehuset, a famous Copenhagen bakery. We stopped by the first establishment right over the bridge on Torvegade Christianshavn, though there are many throughout the country now. We got a strawberry confection and a "kartoffelkage", which apparently means potatoes (though there are no potatoes in it). It's pretty much a giant cream puff with a chocolate marzipan hat. It was literally the best pastry I've ever had IN MY LIFE. D agrees. The owner was there, and I told him it was super yummy, but we don't think he understood me.

Next was a climb to the spire at the top of Our Savior's Church. Let me just say, this was the rickety-est, unstablest climb I've ever done at a historic site. I have to say that in the U.S., they would NEVER keep a site like this open. I was scared enough to move very slowly and very cautiously, but the view was worth it. We happened to have some rare Danish sun too!

Next was a visit to Christiania, where we                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                          . .

Sorry had to censor. Drugs are free in Christiania.

Just kidding Dad.

But really, Christiania was very cool to visit, even just in concept. It's a freetown, a self-proclaimed autonomous region within Copenhagen. It's basically a commune protected by law. We didn't expect what we got- when you hear a place is full of hippies, wall art, cannabis trade, smoking, cafes and the like, you expect to meet some pretty friendly people. Not the case. We kinda just walked around and kept to ourselves- I'm not going to say people were hostile, but they definitely were not trying to make new tourist friends either. Which I get.

After, we walked along Stroget, the upscale street of shopping, like Newbury in Boston or Georgetown in D.C. Talk about your change of scenery! We considered buying his and hers Skagen watches, but decided to wait for Christmas.

At this point my phone died, so I had no more pictures. We went to Ruby for cocktails. I had heard of them while doing some digging for cool bars, and was drawn to their "spirit sessions", educational gatherings of 6+ people in the private bar downstairs. I had emailed ahead of time to ask if we could join one, but apparently they're for private groups. I got a very welcoming email back:

Just come down. We'll be as educational as we can. We don't do scheduled sessions with open attendance, but we love drink, and we love talk, and we especially love talking about drinking.

Don't have to tell me twice.

It's tricky to find, as all the best places seem to be. It's relatively unmarked, and is a few steps above street level; we walked by it twice before we made it. SO worth the trouble. This place is amazing. I know it's just a cocktail joint, but truly it was our favorite thing we did. We happen to really like booze though, especially artfully made booze by intelligent, witty, and generous bartenders. It's in a flat with high ceilings, wallpaper, dim lighting, comfy seating, dark wood bar, multiple rooms, two floors. Gorgeous, really. Rather speakeasy-esque, which is ironic, as the bartender later explained, because speakeasies (when they were necessary) involved easy-to-get liquor and a quick mixer in a dive, not the craft/art of today's nostalgic bars. And oh were they artful! The drinks were creative and delicious- I had a Currant Affair, Angastora rum with muddled currants, and D tried the Rapscallion, a smoky Scottish version of a Manhattan.

As much as the decor and drinks played a part, the true asset of Ruby was the bartender (I asked if he'd rather be called a mixologist, and he said that title is for post-grad poor kids slinging rum and cokes and beers. So that's a no?). I've just never met someone so utterly aware and educated on everything around him. First I say I like the lighting, so he explains where they're from and their custom design and how they debated the height for days. I mention the wallpaper and he goes into a monologue on the values of a raised wall covering. We wonder about the showmanship vs. use of burning an orange peel for a drink, and he shares that the founder of the trick said it was "just for tips", as a quick light only registers 70-80 degrees celsius, where as 110-112 is needed for true carmelization. Is this guy for real? He showed us how to make vanilla infused salt and best apply a salt rim, he let us sample at least 5 types of bitters and shared where to find them in the U.S., he poured us tastes of Ricard Pastis and Absinthe and explained the difference. He made D an "unreproduceable" cocktail (though not irreplaceable, as he corrected me) using a Danish dill-infused liquor, grapefruit juice, and campari. When I questioned how I could use up the remainder of my St. Germain, he recommended a French old-fashioned, made with brandy and chocolate bitters. When I questioned sloe gin, he poured us a taste and explained its origin. At one point, he walked out from around the bar and said he'd love to take us on a grand tour- we naturally obliged. We went downstairs and through a literal vault door into a smaller, sleeker, fancier room. Worn leather chairs, shelves of expensive booze, beautiful wooden table. He pointed out the chair where the US Ambassador to Denmark sat, saying she was a very classy lady and preferred Plymouth martinis. While all guests are VIP's, some people, like Metallica, prefer the extra privacy. Through this room we went to the downstairs bar, a heavier, more traditional room than the airy coziness above. He gave us a small clipboard with the drink recipes and information from the last spirit session, which involved the uses of butter in alcoholic beverages. We spent 3+ hours here.

Seriously, just check out their website. It's almost as cool as the physical spot. Are you judging me less for saying a cocktail bar was my favorite thing in Copenhagen?

With a nice buzz and a wonderful memory, we went to Gorms for pizzas, just a block away. Tried the margarita and the smoked duck with pickled cabbage, the best meal we ate in Denmark. 

Walked back to the hostel, after stopping at the ubiquitous and always-open 7/11 for 6 tallboys. Drank them all while listening to the badly outdated pop music on D's iPad. Got a call from the front desk that we were being too loud. At 11. Went out to a nearby microbrewery called Mikkeller, voted the best bar in Cope by Politiken in April '12. Their website is pretty cool too actually.

Phew! That's day 2.

I realize this may be a pretty boring week for any reader interested in my usual posting topics, but I wanted to share our tips for the trip, ways we saved moolah, places you shouldn't miss, and the memories we made. Our moms like it, so there. Regular design-based posts to continue after this week! Thank you for your patience and understanding :)

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how you like dem apples?