Christmas in Copenhagen – back to reality

ØrestadOur final day (morning, really) was the first cold day.  It was about 5°c outside, and fortunately not raining.  Oh, to have this weather for the whole trip – I could have worn my snow boots a lot more.

My Copenhagen trips used to follow to set formula for the last day:

  1. Lazy long breakfast
  2. Wander in either Magasin and/or Ilums
  3. Walk through Rosenborg Castle Gardens
  4. Baresso in Kongens Nytorv

This trip wasn’t much different – I am a creature of habit.  We did consider adding a stop at the DØP hotdog stand to the itinerary but we were still full from breakfast which was a rookie mistake.  Still regretting that.

Ilums tempted me with many pretty homeware items that I cannot afford, so after fondling a million very soft throws and putting a number of Ferm Living items on my wishlist, we headed out.  Although not before a quick nosey around Sephora (quick, but long enough for me to whine about the fact there isn’t a Sephora in the UK).

I even allowed Husband a visit to Lego, although you’d have to be crazy to actually buy Lego in Denmark due to the exchange rate so we left empty-handed.

Rosenborg Castle Gardens were as lovely as ever, and we were treated to the insane sight of a woman brushing her corgi out in the freezing cold, surrounded by birds who she then hand-fed with bird feed from her handbag.  We could not stop watching.  Husband (having never had a dog) was asking me if it was normal that someone brushes their dog in a park.  No.  No it is not.

And then it was time for our final jul latte in Baresso, where we managed to get a seat before hundreds of tourists appeared.  There were so many people, we couldn’t actually get out of the shop.  I think we got too cocky in assuming ‘our’ Baresso would always be quiet.

We were very sad to be leaving our perfect anti-Christmas bubble (although not before I was felt up by security as Kastrup airport.  Must find a nice non-wired bra for my next flight).  The airport itself was crazy busy – I guess now Christmas had finished, everyone was taking the opportunity to fly here, there, and everywhere.

As for me, I already started planning my next trip before we even landed.  Definitely somewhere warm next time though.

Bella Center metro

Christmas in Copenhagen – Kick-Down Christmas

The 27th doesn’t have a cute Danish name, which honestly, really messes with my holiday blog nomenclature.  However, we came to know the time after Jul as “Kick-Down Christmas” because everywhere we looked, decorations were being ripped down.  I quite like this concept – Christmas is over, kick it all down.

Øresund BridgeAnyway, as alluded to in my previous post, this was the second day that we would be spending somewhere other than Copenhagen.  And the second day of terrible weather. It was also the day that business began to pick up in the hotel – it had felt like we’d had the place to ourselves but we saw more and more people at breakfast.  I guess everyone was getting ready for New Year’s Eve.

It was another day on the trains for us, but this time it was east from Ørestad to Malmö in Sweden.  It still amazes me that you can just get on a train and be in another country in 30 minutes (yes, yes, I know – quite common in Europe).  The only delay was from the reinstated border checks at Hyllie where we had to show our passports to Swedish police.  Not sure how long they’re going to do this for, but other than that, it was super easy.

We were back on our way to Malmö central soon enough, and arrived just in time for it to pour down with rain.  We got soaked on our way to the Malmö Museum, only to find the exhibition we wanted to see was no longer running, so we dejectedly walked back into the town for a coffee.

Lilla Torg, MalmöAs it was a Sunday, there was no one about and none of the shops had opened yet, but this made it easier for us to find a table in Lilla Kafferosteriet for coffee and kanelbullar.  There was a noticeable difference in the Swedish voices around us as opposed to the Danish of the previous days.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on how or why, and I still had no idea what anyone was saying, but it definitely felt different.

Some of the shops were open once we were done with our fika but it was mostly the same stuff as in Copenhagen just with a slightly different exchange rate, so we wandered about for a bit appreciating the lovely Christmas decorations.

And then we found our way to this random building:

Saga Norén, Länskrim, MalmöI guess for most people, a crappy old hospital building isn’t particularly inspiring, but for Husband and I who are obsessed with The Bridge, we were stupidly giddy at being in front of Saga Norén’s office.  I’d already got a bit silly crossing the Øresund bridge earlier in the day and I was just as excited here, leaping about saying “Saga Norén, Länskrim, Malmö“.  Not wanting to be complete dorks in front of normal Swedish people, we only took a couple of photos, and then took the long route back to the railway station.

In hindsight, it was somewhat odd that we went all the way to Sweden for a cup of coffee and a photo of a hospital, but hey – I don’t judge your holidays.

Back on Danish soil, I had convinced Husband that Field’s Mall (an old haunt of mine), wasn’t like other malls.  Danish people didn’t go to it – they much prefer the individuality of the stores in the city centre, and every time I had visited, it was practically empty.  So on the way back to the hotel, I told him I just wanted to quickly pop in.

Well that was a mistake.  It was the first day of sales and it was INSANE.  I have never seen it so rammed full of people.  I could see the fear in Husband’s eyes so we quickly did an about-turn and decided to visit a bit later (brilliantly, the mall is open until 10pm most nights).  This allowed me some more precious nap time before dinner which was to be at a pizza place called Gorm’s just outside the mall.

Gorm’s is fairly new to Fields and I loved it.  Such beautiful pizza, and the cheapest meal we had our whole trip.  I really love how the restaurant was set up as well, with amphitheater style seating which I thought was inspired.  The only main negative we had was we couldn’t find where people were getting pizza cutters from.  I still have no idea.  It’s like there’s some secret society or something.

I did get my window shopping around the mall after dinner, and we were even back to the Sky Bar in our hotel in time for the final night of Christmas fireworks at Tivoli – we had a great view of them in the distance.  However my photos are terrible because I was a bit drunk on two espresso martinis which were delicious.  Delicious and oh so stimulating, which I would later regret as I tried and failed to get to sleep.

Christmas in Copenhagen – 2. Juledag

Spoiler alert – the next two “Christmas in Copenhagen” posts aren’t about Copenhagen at all.  Scandalous.

Kronborg CastleOur weather luck ran out on Christmas Day 2 (aka Boxing Day) and we awoke to drizzly rain.  We never worry too much if there’s bad weather (blizzard-mageddon has put everything into context for us) so out we went after breakfast – on the metro to Nørreport where we’d change for the train to Helsingør.

The train journey up the coast was super easy, but I will admit that we gave up trying to work out how to buy a return ticket and got two singles.  We probably spent more than we needed to, but I couldn’t figure out how many ‘clips’ to get.  Just give me a button on the machine to press!  The train itself was huge and very comfortable – we sat in the quiet carriage which was actually dead silent (unlike the noisy UK).

Within 45 minutes, we were at  Helsingør and into Kronborg Castle.  Those of you who know me well will appreciate that history really isn’t my thing, and I genuinely thought we’d have a quick once-around the castle, and then we’d have a wander round the town.

How wrong I was – I completely loved the castle and we spent HOURS there.  So long that we didn’t have time to explore the town.

We got there just as an English (free!) tour was starting, so we followed our guide through the underground casements.  I particularly loved how dark it is – if it had been in the UK, there would have been floodlights, health and safety signs, chained off areas.  Not here.  Go where you want!  You want to go in that mega dark bit which has no natural lights?  Knock yourself out.  Literally as some of the ceilings were quite low.

We spent half an hour with our guide down there, and at the end of the tour she announced another English (free!) introduction to the castle so we followed her around for another half an hour.  Our guide was genuinely funny and informative, and I could quite happily have trailed after her for the entire day, but I think she had another job to do so we left her to it.

Kronborg Castle at ChristmasThe ballroom was my favourite room, and was decked out with a huge Christmas tree.  This photo doesn’t actually do it justice – I’m stood in the middle of it to get a good tree shot.  It has huge windows which allowed natural light to pour into the room.  Imagine how great it would be to get married in there.  It was also very cool to see Sweden, only 4km across the sound.  If it wasn’t for the rain, I would have got some good photos.

We had a coffee at the cafe, where bizarrely someone was sat with a pet rabbit on their shoulder, and I had my very first Danish flødeboller.  It was bloody lovely.  And then back on the train for another easy (and silent) trip back down the coast because I was particularly keen to get back for dinner this evening.

The best thing I ever did when we visited Copenhagen for the first time in 2011 was research burgers.  All evidence pointed me in the direction of Halifax and I have been obsessed ever since, to the extent that I have two Halifax posters up in my kitchen.  I can’t remember how many restaurants they had back then, but they now have seven, all of which were closed for most of the time we spent in Copenhagen except for one in Frederiksberg which happened to re-open on 2. juledag.  YES!

We haven’t ever visited this area of the city before but even in the dark it looked very trendy, so next time we’ll definitely visit in daylight.  However, our mission for this evening was burgers and I am happy to say it was mission successful.  I had the brand new Åmål  burger with sweet potato fries, and I have no idea what was in it but it was GOOD.  Husband had his usual Lonestar which was all BBQ-ey.  We had a great waitress who we tried to convince to get puddings put on the menu as we needed something sweet for afters.  She tried to convince us to get some more sweet potato fries for the way home which we declined, and then instantly regretted as we left.

Goddamnit, we need a Halifax in the UK.

Christmas in Copenhagen – 1. Juledag

Tivoli at ChristmasThe weather reports we’d been watching (in Danish) kept mentioning a juledag 1 and juledag 2.  We got completely baffled, until we realised they meant Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  I suppose it doesn’t make much sense that we call it Boxing Day really.

Anyway, we planned to spend Christmas Day 1 in Tivoli, another place we hadn’t been to before.  But first, I dragged Husband all the way up to the Assistens Cemetery.  Admittedly, visiting a cemetery isn’t the most festive thing someone can do on Christmas Day, but this was my Christmas and I’ll do as I damn well please.  We found Hans Christian Anderson’s grave to wish him a Merry Christmas, and then walked through the rest of the park.

Assistens KirkegårdAfter the cemetery, we stopped by a Lagkagehuset on the corner of Nørrebrogade and had the most perfect kanelsnegles – omg, just thinking about them now is making me crave one like nothing else.  I’m going to have to find a Danish bakery near me so I can have a daily kanelsnegle.

We thought about walking down Jægersborggade, which is a very trendy street indeed, but didn’t think it would be worthwhile seeing as everything would be closed, so we went over to Tivoli.  As it turns out, Tivoli in the daytime with no children – not so fun.  I had read somewhere that you needed at least 3-4 hours to go round the whole place, but we managed it in about half an hour.  I really thought we were missing a huge part of the park, but no.  This was it.  OK.

We cut our losses and left, grabbing a couple of re-entry tickets for the evening fireworks, and got the metro back to the hotel.  The wind had got really quite wicked at this point so we resorted to my favourite afternoon activity – napping.  YES!

We’d booked dinner for 6pm at the MASH Penthouse which was just around the corner from the Tivoli fireworks, so headed over to experience “an amazing view of the Copenhagen rooftops”.  Also, it was the only place we could get a reservation.

We’d been to a MASH before and neither of us were particularly impressed – especially not at the insane prices – but we thought we’d give them another go because a) Christmas, and b) this was a newish restaurant.  Well, fool me once and all that.  It’s not that MASH is bad, but it’s just crazy expensive and we didn’t even get any Christmas treats!  Plus, the “amazing view” was of the Copenhagen Central station railway tracks.  It was basically having dinner overlooking Clapham Junction.

Anyway, the meal enabled us to be in the right place to go back into Tivoli.  We were second time lucky, as our evening visit to Tivoli felt magical.

Tivoli at ChristmasThere were lights everywhere you looked and wasn’t overly crowded so really felt special.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been snow (I may have mentioned the LACK OF SNOW).  Husband managed to get some gløgg and also some weird sugary bread thing (I still have no idea what that was).  Tivoli + lights + gløgg = FUNTIMES!

The one criticism I had is that we couldn’t find any information about where the fireworks would be held.  We knew they were at 8.45, so aimlessly stumbled around until we came across a crowd.  “A-ha!” we thought, and positioned ourselves near the front.  And then security started yelling at everyone in Danish and cordoning off areas, so we ended up squished behind a group of Christmas trees.  It was a bit chaotic and would have bene better if there was some forward planning.

We did at least get to see the fireworks which were very pretty, even if I had a tree pressed up against my face.  The crowd dispersed politely once it was over, and I went on the hunt for a Tivoli Christmas decoration.  I would sadly leave the park without a bauble, but with about a ton of popcorn from the Tivoli Popcorn Factory which would sustain us for the next couple of days.

Nimb at Christmas

We ended up getting the bus back to the hotel.  We were very proud of ourselves for mastering the buses, even if it took us back through a really odd abandoned building site somewhere in Amager Vest.  I felt like a proper Dane.

Christmas in Copenhagen – Juleaften

KastelletToday was the day we were most worried about in terms of finding things to do as the Danes have Christmas Eve (juleaften) as their main event.  We decided to let it go and do nothing.  Just have a wander about.

We headed up to Kongens Nynorv again, and walked down to the Kastellet fortress.  Not before coming across a group of (presumably) American expats singing the American national anthem at the top of the Metro steps.  It was one of the many surreal things we witnessed on this trip.

At the Kastellet, there were so many people out walking and running – it was busier than I’d ever seen it!  Random wandering then took us past Amalienborg Palace just as the Changing of the Guard was happening – very touristy of us, but we stopped to watch as we hadn’t seen it before.  There wasn’t any fancy music, so I think we saw the Palævagt or Palace Guard.

Palævagt

We very pleased to find our Baresso was actually open for a couple of hours, so we stopped by Kongens Nytorv after watching the soldiers for another jul latte.   Oddly, everyone sat around us was British  – I guess us brits need our coffee.

We then took our time and walked back to the hotel, over to Islands Brygge and through Amager Fælled.  We were very excited to stumble across the Cirkelbroen which is a beautiful new bridge, and even saw people taking a dip in the harbour’s dipping pools (before they rushed back to the sauna carts).  It was quite cold at this point, so those people were incredibly brave!!

Cirkelbroen

Cirkelbroen

The walk took us through the residential areas along the harbour and I wouldn’t normally recommend that for tourists to do, but the apartments were so stunningly Scandinavian and I loved it.  There was a monstrous circular block called the Gemini Residence which was so intimidating and gorgeous.  It’s made from two converted seed silos, and still has a very brutalist concrete cylinders at the base.  I want to live there.  I wanted to live in most places we walked passed.

In marked contrast, Amager Fælled was stripped back and stark.  I’ve walked through this park when it was snowy and I’m sure it’s beautiful in summer as well, but I love it in winter.  Plus, you can see our hotel from the middle!

Amager FælledWe’d walked quite a bit by the time we got back to the hotel, so I had a lovely nap and Husband played a game on his phone that he became obsessed with.

Dinner was just in the hotel as we knew nothing would be open, and was surprisingly lovely with free prosecco to start, and a free little bag of treats to finish.  We then decided to try out the Sky Bar on the top floor where we got yet another glass of free prosecco (YES!) and had a couple of cocktails.  We stayed up there until closing time and then stumbled one floor down.  I mean, I’d had four alcoholic drinks by this point – this is the most I have had in one night for a very long time.

Christmas in Copenhagen – Lillejuleaften

Kongens Nytorv at ChristmasChristmas used to be my favourite time of the year but I’ve felt my feelings on it change over the last couple of years as I’ve got older.  I try not to be a miserable grinch, but from the minute the shops start playing Christmas songs after Halloween, I start grumbling.

So Husband and I made a decision this time last year – we’d treat ourselves and go away on holiday for Christmas 2015.  My initial clicking around online led us to Florida as it would be lovely and warm, then Vegas popped up for a bit to tempt me, then we scaled it back to Malta before the flights all sold out, so almost in desperation we resorted back to our old favourite – Copenhagen.

We knew the metro was 24 hours, we knew there would be some restaurants open, and we knew the city, so Copenhagen turned out to be the perfect choice.  We arrived on the 23rd December and the sun was setting as we checked into our hotel – the AC Hotel Bella Sky.  It’s a few miles out of the city centre, but I have been desperate to stay there since I first saw it years ago.  It’s a beautiful hotel.

AC Hotel Bella SkyWe had a room on the 22nd floor right at the end at the front of the righthand tower.  I was very excited by our floor to ceiling windows.  Husband, with his fear of heights, was less excited.  We didn’t have the “city view” but we didn’t mind – we could see the Øresund Sound which was good enough for us.  We even got free breakfast which was a complete surprise.  Yay for daily eggs!

We went straight into Kongens Nytorv (which I have finally learnt how to pronounce) and into Baresso for a Jul Latte and a couple of Kanelroses.  This is our favourite coffee shop for people watching which always has seats available, and we reminisced over when I used to meet Husband here after work.  We then wandered around Strøget for a while, popping into shops and peering at window displays.

Strøget at ChristmasIt was lovely to be there with all the Christmas lights, but a tiny bit disappointing that there wasn’t any snow.  They are experiencing crazy mild temperatures for December as well – it was only a couple of degrees colder than the UK.   No matter.  We also missed out on the Christmas markets – they were literally taking them down as we walked through the Kings Square.  Hence the rather sad looking Father Christmas in the top photo.

Nyhavn looked beautiful as always though.

Nyhavn at Christmas

We rounded the night off at Tight which always has good food and lovely staff.  Except when Husband forced me to eat liqorice crème brûlée – what is it with the Danish and their liqorice obsession?

You soft-hearted, liberal cow

Borgen

There were many things that made me love Eurovision 2014 in Copenhagen this year: the plea for tolerance from Pollaponk, the struggle to grow a moustache from Twin Twin, and the beautiful Conchita Wurst sobbing as she won, to name just a couple of my favourite moments.  Aside from the music, I was simultaneously amused and baffled by one of the hosts, Pilou Asbæk, particularly when Graham Norton mentioned he was one of the stars of the Danish political drama, Borgen.  I genuinely thought I had misunderstood who he was.  I had not.

We finished watching Bron/Broen a few months ago, and the wait for season 3 is quite painful, so after seeing Pilou with his Ban Ki Moon love and his hilarious tour around the Museum of Eurovision history, we decided to give Borgen a go.  It helped me that Pilou is ridiculously attractive.  The Danish Joshua Jackson.

I knew it was popular (having seen the Guardian blog when it was on the BBC) but I wasn’t confident that I’d like it.  I’m not really a fan of political programmes – dramas or comedies – so although I had an open mind, I didn’t expect to completely fall head-over-heels in love with it in the way that I have.  We rushed through season 1 as soon as the Blu-Ray arrived and we’re halfway through season 2 right now.  The season which has made me cry in every episode so far.

I still love Pilou of course, and Kasper Juul is such a great character, but I also have so many feelings for the rest of the cast.  Beautiful, beautiful Birgitte Nyborg, adorable ‘Uncle’ Bent, determined Katrine Fønsmark, self-righteous Philip (who I just want to punch in his stupid face) – the casting is absolutely spot-on.

Who knew a political drama would make me yell at the TV so much.  I don’t immediately get some of the plot points, partly because I’ve never been politically minded and partly because it’s a foreign government, but I like how the show helps you to understand without being too heavy-handed.  The balance between the politics and personal is perfect, even if Magnus does piss his pants a lot, and the more they show the characters homes, the more I want to go mad at Magasin Du Nord – this programme is like crack for Scandi design.

I’m desperate to go and read everything I can about the show, but I know it isn’t coming back after the last season so I don’t want to spoil myself for the ending.  Once I get to the end of season 3, I’ll be straight onto Google to find out what makes Pilou so damn handsome, what makes Sidse Babett Knudsen so gorgeously smiley, and where I can get Birgitte’s sexy headboard (my current fixation).

The photo at the top comes from my first visit to Copenhagen a couple of years ago.  I didn’t know then that I would be obsessed with the fictional going-ons behind those doors, and I’m already planning on going on the Christiansborg Palace tour the next time I’m over there.  If they don’t allow me in that room where they hold the press conferences so I can act like a drunken Hanne Holm, I’ll be a bit disappointed.  For now, I’ll just have to settle for Pilou’s tour of CPH.

For helvede, Pilou, why are you so attractive?

Copenhagen

Nyhavn

Iconic Nyhavn

Having a husband who works for a Danish company means that every now and again, I get an (almost) free trip to Copenhagen.  I haven’t been for about a year, and I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms so when Husband started planning meetings with his Danish co-workers, I started planning shopping and sightseeing.

It was lovely and cold when I landed on Tuesday (but not quite cold enough for snow – boo!) and after checking in to the hotel, we went straight out to Tight for dinner.  I hadn’t been here before, but it was perfect – perfect food, perfect atmosphere, perfect music playlist, and we had a really great evening.

Wednesday morning, and Husband went off to work (aww, sad), leaving me to have a very lazy morning.  I had a late breakfast in Baresso when I got to Fields Mall.  I was a few days too early for their 10th birthday celebration, but I still had a good morning of window shopping.

I had a three day pass on the Metro so I figured I may as well use it, so from Ørestad I took the M1 back up to Christianshavn, changed over to the M2 and got out at Øresund.  I had clicked around my phone that morning in the hotel room trying to find random things to do, and one of the things that popped up was Amager Strandpark – a beach park a few miles south of the city centre.  Even though it was February, it was so lovely and I spent a couple of hours wandering on the beach taking photos.

Back on the Metro at Femøren, and I got back to the room about an hour before Husband got back from work after spending quite a lot of money on a mocha.  With the addition of Google Now into my life, I had a regular reminder of the exchange rate right there on my phone, so for the first time I had a bit more awareness of how much stuff cost.  That was a mistake – I’d rather not know!  My mocha (with an extra shot of espresso) was £5.60.  £5.60!!!  No one ever said Copenhagen was cheap, so thank god for the free stuff I had found to do.

That evening, we went to Halifax which is my favourite restaurant in the entire world.  I could happily eat here every single day.  Not even exaggerating.

Thursday was another lazy day, with a slow walk down to the Royal Library for breakfast and some reading (you have to read in a library of course).  I walked around Strøget after that, stopping in at Illums Bolighus and Magasin Du Nord for some wish list lusting.

We got home late Thursday, and my whirlwind trip to Copenhagen left me so so tired.  Thank goodness it didn’t leave me broke as well – it’s a very good job I didn’t have any luggage allowance otherwise I would have bought pretty much everything in the above photos.