Day 1 We had to make a very early start (alarm went off just after 2 am!) to get our things ready, meet our cab, get to the bus stop and catch the 3 am bus to the airport. It turned out that we were overly cautious, but it meant we had a nice, sit-down breakfast at the airport and a strong coffee before our 7 am take-off. We landed and made it to our airbnb before 11 am, so had virtually all of Thursday to explore. Our host, Poul, met us and let us in the little summer cottage. I wasn’t sure what to expect of a ‘summer cottage,’ but it is essentially a small house in the larger house’s back garden. A guest house, or a garden house. We had our own private yard, breakfast furniture, grill, gate, etc but our host was just around the back fence if we needed anything. Pretty perfect set-up! The house itself was absolutely adorable. Here’s a few previews: How cute is this place?
Inside: The yard was full of fruiting trees and bushes (figs, grapes, apples, blackberries), and although we were staying in a residential area not too far from central Copenhagen (4 stops on the metro to the central station), the area was very green and full of animals. We had a resident hedgehog living in the garden that we’d only see at night.
Our first afternoon, Jack made reservations at Schønnemann’s, which is famous for fancy smørrebrød, which is a very typical Danish lunch: an open faced sandwich served on rye bread. Typically topped with fish or prawns and lots of herbs, veggies, sauce or mustard, etc. We had the mustard herring (pickled herring in mustard cream, served with bacon, beetroot chips and boiled egg) and the Schønnemann’s specialty (boiled potatoes, spicy herrings, red onions crème and onions). They pair these with schnapps for each smørrebrød and depending on the heat of the dish or spice, they’ll consider their pairing accordingly. We also had mains, me: the Havfruen (smoked salmon, halibut garnished with crayfish tail salad, lime and dill served on white bread) and Jack: smoked halibut with warm cucumber a la crème, radishes and chives served on caraway bread.
From there, we went to the Rundetårn for views of Copenhagen (a tall, round, observatory tower).
Then from there to Nyhavn (New Harbor) to walk around and then take a canal tour (which I fell asleep during). It was still bright, hot and sunny until this point, then started getting a little colder for the night.
And took a canal tour / nap around the city. Near Nyhavn From Nyhavn we went over to Vesterbro for wonderful, strong, exciting beers at Mikkeller Bar. Mikkeller is a composite name of two brewers known for their ‘gypsy’ brewing style. They travel the world visiting breweries and make small batch beer, released from different breweries, but without having one of their own. Their beers are expensive anywhere you see them, but always exciting. There are only Mikkeller bars for their microbrewing in Copenhagen, Stockholm, San Francisco and Bangkok.
After beers, we held out (very tired at this stage) for a treat of a dinner at Kødbyens Fiskebar. What a treat! Jack had scallops, me mussels, then cod and hake for dinner with a trio of desserts to follow. There’s no justice I could possibly do to the fanciness and reductions and exciting combinations, but it was one of the best meals I have genuinely ever had. Day 2 We headed over towards Christianshavn in the morning, stopping for brunch at Shop No 26, which was excellent. Jack had the ‘little breakfast’ which was rye bread, cheese, a soft boiled egg, and a pot of yogurt, rhubarb, berries and granola. From there, we went to Christiana to walk around for a few hours. Christiana is a former army barracks that was abandoned and then taken over by squatters in the 1970s. For awhile the police battled for the land, but then decided to let them stay there and create a ‘free state’ community as a kind of social experiment. There are nearly 1,000 residents in the area and they’ll soon have to come up with quite a bit of money to ‘buy’ the 84 acres of land from the city. Leaving the EU… entering Christiania After Christiana we walked around the area, went to see Noma and popped into a museum next door. In the museum, unknown artist From there, we made our way across town for a late lunch at Aaman’s Smørrebrødscanapéer to have ‘fish meat balls’ made with tons of dill and potatoes. Freaking delicious. Tried to find a cemetery that had Hans Christian Andersen and Kierkegaard, but went to the wrong one (coincidentally, “kirkegård” in Danish means church yard). It started pouring, so we went into a hotel to regroup and make a plan for the wide-open evening. A new plan, because the original idea was to go to Tivoli (the theme park!). We went for a quiet dinner in an old Bosch plant, which was perfectly fine, but still a bit on the expensive side. Then went back to our little summer cottage to play chess. Day 3 On the third day, we went to a little neighborhood cafe recommended by our hosts that was incredible: Ingolfs Kaffebar. I loved the decorations, the food presentation and the food itself. Such an unexpected treat! We had planned to go to this flea market in the morning and made it there for the last hour (soon before it started raining). It was the only place we went, really, that had affordable things! I got a book that’s been on my ‘to read’ list for awhile (Mr. Nice), a candle lantern, and a big sweater (but not a lopapeysa, which I was sort of hoping for. A sweater style very traditional to Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries). From there, we went to Meyer’s Bakery to pick up a famous hindbærsnitter and kanelsnurre, which are a raspberry slice and cinnamon roll knot, respectively. We took a desserts-for-lunch picnic away with us and made our way to the beach! Found a nice dune at Amager Strand and split those treats. Spent the afternoon walking up the beach, watching the prep for the next day’s Iron Man. Wait. Speaking of the Iron Man, I have to share this incredible story. One of the competitors the next day pushed, pulled and carried his twin, who has cerebral palsy, the entire way over nearly 16 hours. HERO. The story is here. We also watched some bizarre form of water polo where the athletes compete with kayaks and paddles? From the beach, we made our way back to the center to walk around Nyhavn, have a few beers, and then dinner at Cap Horn. Again, nice (expensive) food. From there, we went to this bar that supposedly has “live, local folk music” but actually had an awkward American singing covers of Journey, Wimboweh, Bryan Adams and the like. Jack and I sat outside under heat lamps and heavy blankets laughing at the distant crap playing down the steps. Day 4: final day! For our last day, we had more on our list than we had time to do so had to make a few tough choices. In the end, we decided to take a train about an hour north of Copenhagen to visit the Louisiana Modern Art Museum, which sits out on the ocean and was supposed to be very beautiful and atmospheric. We stopped again at Meyer’s on the way, then hopped on the train and made our way north. The museum seemed unusually crowded, which we later realized was because we were catching the very tail end of a literary festival. And what a festival! David Mitchell, Teju Cole, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje?! I was crushed to have missed it all, especially David Mitchell. Oh my lord, if we had missed previous years though, my heart would have sunk even further. The visiting exhibits were good (Emil Nolde and Philip Guston), but not mind-blowing for either of us. Their permanent collection is pretty small, but they do have a huge sculpture garden. After Louisiana, we went straight back to town for our last night: Tivoli! Yes! I was so happy to see a clear, sunny night because I wanted to ride a rollercoaster something bad. Desperate for a rollercoaster. We walked around the park to look at the animals and kitsch, but Jack wasn’t feeling very well so would sit with my things while I’d ride rides (which kind of made me feel even more like a child!). I rode the main rollercoaster ride more times than I could count, plus this swing ride that took you insanely high. Dangerously, terrifyingly high. One of those towers that’s like a spinning carousel with swing chairs on chains? But like, a quarter mile up in the sky. I hardly feel like I’m exaggerating. For our last dinner, we went to Grøften, which is supposed to be popular with politicians and other luminaries. Very good, traditional Danish food. I had some herring and schnapps, as you do, and this lobscouse course for dinner. Jack reading the schapps menu. Yup, a whole menu of schnapps options. And walking around at night! And just a few more times on the rollercoaster :)