We stayed in a beautiful Marriott right on the water – with a slide right outside! A really exceptional hotel.
I’m not sure we have been a place that takes fun as “seriously” as Copenhagen – you can literally trampoline on one of the streets. Enjoy a full day (or even open till midnight) at Tivoli Gardens, get caught up in all the fairytale that is Copenhagen. Have a cocktail and a great seafood dish along the harbor at Nyhavn. The Little Mermaid Statue is sweet but always mobbed and little bit outside the main drag so unless you are a massive fan, if you have a tight timeline, save it for another trip.
THE BIG SCOOP: [THE WHOLE STORY]
From Stockholm we took a quick flight to their Nordic neighbor, Copenhagen, Denmark. While our “good weather luck” ran out and we had a decent amount of rain, we had such a fun few days exploring and eating.
When we first got off the train at their really magical train station, we proceeded to Torvehallerne – jokingly called “not a supermarket. A super … market.” Like in the markets of Budapest and Reading Terminal, there were stalls on stalls of fish, meat, spices, sweets, and our lunch, an open faced sandwich from Hallernes– what the Danes call Smørrebrød. They are sandwiches commonly composed of fish, shrimp, egg, chicken or roast beef on rye bread spread with butter, and always washed down with a Carlsberg.
We spent the afternoon exploring the Rosenborg Castle, built in 1606 as a summer residence by the beloved King Christian IV. On display are the crown jewels and outside is the King’s Garden. It is the oldest royal garden in Denmark and is visited by more than 2 million tourists each year. We also had a wonderful stroll through the beautiful Ørstedsparken public park nearby. It was so charming and peaceful!
Next, nearly any travel guide will tell you to check out the autonomous anarchist neighborhood Freetown Christiana. They have a cannabis selling “The Green District” where about 900 residents live in somewhat of a collectivist commune. Again, the weather sort of dampened our experience and I wouldn’t call it my favorite, but worth seeing if it tickles your fancy! You cannot take any photos in the Green District, and on your way out you will see a reminder that you are leaving Christiana and returning to the European Union!
On the walk back to the gorgeous Marriott, we couldn’t help ourselves but to jump on some trampolines in the sidewalk.
We loved this Marriott even if we didn’t use the slide. If you are a platinum member, you have access to the excellent executive lounge which serves complimentary breakfast in the mornings, and appetizers, drinks, and dessert in the afternoon and evening. We regularly try to save our pennies (especially in a city as expensive as Copenhagen) by staying in hotels that serve breakfast so we can fuel up on a large and complimentary first meal, and do a smaller lunch.
After enjoying happy hour in the Marriott lounge, we had a really wonderful dinner at the Nyhavn harbor. Nyhavn (“New Harbor”) was once a busy commercial port where sailors would dock and take in Copenhagen revelry. Many bars and restaurants continue to line the canal as well as the iconic houses, which frequently belonged to artists. The fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen who wrote famous works like the Little Mermaid and the Princess & The Pea was one of these artists. This Little Mermaid statue is not near the harbor, and again is cool but I wouldn’t recommend seeing if you have a short trip planned – unless Ariel is your favorite Disney princess.
The Little Mermaid statue celebrates HCA
A plaque commemorating Hans Christian Andersen at Tivoli
The oldest house dates back to 1681 and the colorful neighborhood has become an iconic shot of the city.
In Danish hygge fashion, though it was a bit cold, there were lots of heaters and blankets so we could eat cozily outside. Hygge (hue-guh) like fika in Sweden, is the appreciation of enjoying the present moment. I’ve seen it described as “the art of creating intimacy” which makes a lot of sense to me – the Nordic countries get brutal weather, and sometimes simply just recognizing the beauty of snuggling up with a candle, a hot drink, and connecting with friends can help abate that! Danes just embrace challenge and have fun with it, and we followed suit on our own cold and rainy day!
The next day, I was thrilled to go to the palace and see Queen Margrethe on her 78th birthday at the Amalienborg winter palace. Each year, she greets the Danish people on her balcony accompanied by her family with a wave. This year was especially significant as she recently lost her husband Prince Henrik, and the Danish people were very keen to support her. Huge crowds bustled out with flags to cheer her on and sing. It was such a special and unique experience to soak up their love for the royal family.
Crowds leaving the “birthday party” and walking toward Frederick’s Church – the largest dome in Scandinavia, just opposite of Amalienborg – reminded me a bit of the Vatican dome!
Following my brush with royalty, I ventured back to the Old Town and soaked up some hygge by way of Copenhagen’s celebrated coffee culture. Because I am a millennial, I ordered espresso and avocado toast at the very cool Cafe Atelier September, a coffee kombucha at the Coffee Collective, and in my great highlight of the day, enjoyed some delicious latte art at the best view in town – Original Coffee at the Illum Rooftop. The rooftop is home to restaurants of all types and the perch at Original Coffee is full of folks of all ages sitting for hours with friends, or quietly reading the paper. As in Sweden, the design in each shop was really impressive – very structured, minimalist furniture with lots of mood lighting. It was just stunning and so COOL.
An afternoon of coffee sampling
An afternoon of sampling – lots beautiful design and candles!
Scandinavian design at Illum
Scandinavian design at Illum
The rooftop partially overlooks the Strøget, the pedestrian walkway full of shops and restaurants in the Old Town.
That evening we enjoyed dinner at Restaurant Cofoco, as I mentioned above, the mussel soup was my favorite and in that hygge spirit – there were so many beautiful candles and flowers. It just felt wonderful and made you remember how much ambiance enhances the restaurant experience.
After dinner, we passed by Tivoli on the way home and couldn’t resist going in to ride the rollercoasters – which by the way, are very legitimate loopy-go upside down-potentially lose your mussel soup rollercoasters.
As we trepidatiously crept up the clankity-clank-clank of the highest peak, it hit us for the millionth time how fortunate we are to be enjoying this sometimes challenging, always rewarding, expat experience. To have the ability to stroll by an amusement park at 10pm in Denmark on a Monday and decide to pop in for beers and cheap thrills is something we will never take for granted, and its a night we will always remember.
If you can’t tell – we adored Copenhagen and hope to return! Like in Stockholm, it was a bit pricey (currency is the Danish krone), nearly everyone we met with spoke English, and were absolutely delightful and friendly.
Coming up next is a vineyard day with our dear friends, and paragliding!
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