Jolene goes to Copenhagen
For the past couple years (or at least close to 2 years), I've had an uncanny desire to visit the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. I'd seen Copenhagen mentioned on a travel show that I don't even normally watch, and I was hooked. There was something about the colorful buildings in Nyhavn, Dutch royalty, and overall look of the city that peaked my interest. Everywhere I went, it seemed Copenhagen popped up! So of course, you can imagine my excitement when we were actually on a flight from London to Copenhagen!
I'd also like to note that I don't believe I had a common tourist experience. I had plans to attend a conference, and was at the mercy of the plans made by our informal tour group. I left most of my time open, to enjoy time making new friends and simply being in the city. You may not find many "typical" Copenhagen experiences, but my trip was special nonetheless.
We took an extremely short flight from London to Copenhagen. Our original estimated time of 2.5 hours easily turned into around 1.5. It was already a great start! We flew British Airways, which did a great job loading everyone on the plane in a timely, organized way. The pilot was also pretty great throughout our flight.
After doing so much research about Copenhagen, I should not have been surprised at the thick, gray layer of cloud that met us as we were landing. I couldn't even see the ground during our descent! Our pilot let us know that there was some passing rain; the good news is that it was just that - passing and temporary. Because we landed around 5:30PM, the only plans we had were for dinner, so we found our way to our Airbnb, freshened up, and headed out to our first adventure.
This is where I experienced my first culture shock. In Europe, I am always impressed with the ease in which one can adjust to the public transportation system, so I had an expectation that I would have no problems getting around Copenhagen. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with their system, I'm the one who had the problem - I learned the hard way, that Danish cannot be read phonetically. I knew which bus to take, and which stop to get off at. However, within the first bus we took, there was no map inside! We calmly looked at each other and agreed we would "wait until the next stop was announced" to see which stop we were at. The automated message played, and we had zero clue as to which stop we were at. Thankfully, this proved to be a non-issue since I had a data plan and was able to use Google maps to get us to our destination.
We enjoyed our magnificent Michelin-starred meal (my first!), and headed home to get a good night's sleep before the rest of our 6-day adventure in Copenhagen.
I was completely enamored with our Airbnb - click here to see where we stayed.
Part of our trip to Copenhagen was attending a Christian conference and meeting up with some local Christians who would take us sightseeing. As I mentioned above, I'd wanted to visit Copenhagen for a long while; I didn't know about the conference or anything until after the fact, so you could say things worked out more than perfectly.
We met at Nørreport Station, a bustling area of Copenhagen. This was my first real impression of the city, watching the Danes go about their day, observing their lowkey fashion, effortless style, and even their interactions with their city. In that crisp, cold morning, I found true beauty in Copenhagen. No, not the beauty you would find in the South of France or in the Swiss Alps, but a similar beauty to that which I found in London. The longer you stay, the more you notice, and the more you appreciate it.
We didn't spend too much time sightseeing, just a couple hours, but one honorable mention was definitely the Rundetaarn, also known as the Round Tower. It's somewhat of a strange attraction - a centuries-old structure built as an observatory, with one major quirk: most of the tower is one continuous slope up to the top. There are hardly any steps, making for a somewhat leisurely stroll to a stunning view at the top. While entry is not free, a mere 25kr is totally worth the trip.
On Thursday, we were confident enough to make our way to breakfast before meeting up with our tour group. We found an indoor market near our meeting point, and coincidentally it housed one of my desired eating locations - Grød. After loading up on some healthy grains, we headed off to our second day of touring.
To everyone's delight, our first stop was Nyhavn (pronounced Noo-hown. See what I mean? Danish is hard). Nyhavn is arguably the most iconic portion of Copenhagen. The colorful, narrow buildings lining a canal draw you into a Scandinavian fairytale. Luckily, we were graced with a sunny day, adding even more magic to the already-spectacular view. Though this is a tourist attraction, I was pleased to find only a mild level of crowds, probably due to our visit in the Fall, instead of during tourist season.
We walked down the length of Nyhavn, eventually turning a left and continuing along the waterfront to The Little Mermaid. I was absolutely in love with the quiet stillness of this area, with the view of Paper Island and the blue, calm waters around Copenhagen.
When we arrived at The Little Mermaid, I had a positive reaction, since I'd read countless reviews of how disappointing the statue is. "It's tiny," "not worth visiting." I'd read so many of these types of comments that I expected a sad, waste-of-time statue, but this was not the case. I found the statue to be regal and decently-sized. I'm not sure if it was my already-existing level of happiness from the day, or if the statue really isn't as terrible as many have made it out to be.
We once again had lunch with our group before separating; my companion and I had attempted a visit to Copenhagen's Church of Our Saviour, but due to the wind conditions, it was closed.
SATURDAY - SUNDAY, 10/14/17 - 10/15/17
Although we did venture out Saturday morning for brunch before the conference, we spent most of our time in the conference venue, until Sunday evening.
One place I absolutely refused to skip out on was Tivoli Gardens, the world's second oldest working amusement park. I'm not a thrill-seeker, I don't find joy in outrageous rollercoasters flipping me in every direction at high speeds, so Tivoli is a great place for me. There is an entrance fee and rides are additional costs. I had heard so much about this park, so I had some expectations and plenty of excitement to match.
Even upon passing through its magnificent arch, it's hard not to be impressed - at the time of our visit, Tivoli was decorated top to bottom with Halloween decor, jack-o-lanterns and lights galore. A trail of warmly-lit lanterns guides you down a walkway and into the dream that is Tivoli.
We of course rode the Rutschebanen, the world's second oldest rollercoaster. Fear not, fellow fraidy-cats: this rollercoaster can be ridden by the faint of heart! It is a wonderfully classic, easygoing coaster with some mild dips and fun tunnels.
PRO TIP: INVEST IN THE UNLIMITED RIDE WRISTBAND! WE WEREN'T PLANNING ON RIDING A TON OF RIDES, BUT WE DEFINITELY GOT OUR MONEY'S WORTH. INVESTING IN THIS PASS ALLEVIATES THE PRESSURE OF TRYING TO DECIDE WHICH RIDES TO GO ON. FOR ONE FLAT RATE, YOU CAN GET ON AS MANY RIDES AS YOU'D LIKE.
After munching on some amazing food, we rode quite a few other rides, including Den flyvende Kuffert, also known as The Flying Trunk, a wonderfully whimsical ride showcasing some of Hans Christian Andersen's famous fairytales. I am not ashamed to say we rode this three times!
Overall, it was definitely a magical last evening in Copenhagen. Although we didn't spend an entire day in Tivoli, our handful of evening hours in the park were more fun than we'd planned. Great food, fun rides, hot drinks and plenty of picturesque lights made for the perfect Scandinavian Autumn evening. I sincerely recommend visiting Tivoli Gardens, even for just an evening.
We left for Amsterdam the next morning, sad to leave our comfy apartment and the hygge lifestyle we dipped our toes in. Our Danish adventure was not one full of touristy visitations, but I don't regret having a more "normal" stay there, observing and soaking in the colorful city of Copenhagen. If you are looking for the road less traveled, try Copenhagen!