“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
After one of the hardest years of our lives, Jennifer and I were off yet again, on another adventure abroad. This time, we began the first half of our 10-day trip revisiting one of our favorite cities: Copenhagen, Denmark. The last time we visited was two years prior, almost to the day, at least according to our passport stamps. As I stepped off the plane onto Danish soil, I felt something spread across my face for the first time in a long time: A genuine grin that could not be diminished.
Please note: All food-related adventures will be documented in my Jolene Eats in Copenhagen blog!
Jennifer and I shed our skin on that plane and left everything weighing us down in row 28, seats E and F. Our vacation from routine had begun, and it was time for self-reflection, exploration, learning, and adventure.
The cold, fresh air helped us fight the jet lag and our less than ideal 10:30AM arrival, but eventually we made it to our Airbnb to nap (yes we broke the jet lag rules!). With heavy eyelids, we peeled ourselves out of bed and forced ourselves out of our chic, Scandinavian residence and grabbed a bite to eat at Tivoli Food Hall.
For this trip, I decided to purchase a Copenhagen Card. Normally, I try to steer clear of touristy things, but many of our desired attractions were included, as well as all transportation we needed. I purchased my card online ahead of time on Viator, then redeemed the voucher at the Copenhagen Airport when we arrived. It was very easy and straightforward to acquire and to use.
The Tivoli Food Hall is located next to the famed amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, and is comprised of quite a selection of food options. Despite our lack of energy and powerful jet lag, it was incredibly fun to be back in the city, even just for a dinner excursion.
noun a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
Shortly after our quick dinner, we headed right back 'home' for some hygge time at our Airbnb (Click here to get $40 off your first booking!) On the way back, we stopped by a local grocery store - one of my favorite things to do on international trips! Back home, we turned on Netflix and munched on Danish snacks before getting a good night's sleep.
We got a bright and early start on Sunday morning. The crisp air filled our lungs and we began our bundled-up adventures in the city. We stopped by a bakery for pastries and coffee, before meeting up with some local Christians for a worship time.
After a potluck lunch, my friend Ioana volunteered to take us to Dragør, a fairytale seaside town full of winding, cobblestone alleyways and picturesque nooks. We climbed up to the fortress before wandering the labyrinth of homes, admiring each brightly colored wall and thatched roof.
Jennifer and I didn't have plans for the rest of the day (shocking, right?), so we took advantage of our Copenhagen Card and did an hour-long canal tour, leaving from Nyhavn.
By this time, it was freezing. We were ice cold and were struggling to thaw out while trying to find somewhere for dinner. Thanks to Yelp, I found a nearby restaurant for dinner, after which we headed home. We were greeted by a thunderstorm on our way home, complete with torrential downpour and lightning. Welcome to Copenhagen!
Monday was our first day of real adventure - we woke up early and headed an hour outside of the city to Frederiksborg Castle. I'd seen countless photos of this castle in my Copenhagen research, and I'd wanted to visit since our first trip. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity. This was our second time using the Copenhagen Card for an attraction, and all we had to do was present our card at the ticketing counter.
Please note they will ask you to check your bag at the entrance and will give you a token to store your belongings in a locker.
We used castle wifi and free downloads to do the audio tour, and it was really fun to walk through the castle and learn about its history. Without the audio guide, we would not have had such a rich, informative experience.
Once we finished up with our tour, we made our way to the famous gardens outside. They were just as beautiful as the pictures I'd seen, and the view of the castle was absolutely magical.
Denmark was being its typical gray, overcast self, and I loved every minute of it. The color-changing trees stood out so brightly against the neutral sky.
The first half of our day had quickly passed, and we were onto the next portion of adventure: Tivoli Gardens.
During my first trip to Copenhagen, I became enamored with the olden charms of Tivoli Gardens. I loved its magical lights, hot drinks, food stalls and delightful rides, brimming with county fair-like nostalgia.
We passed under the familiar Tivoli archway and presented our Copenhagen Cards for entrance, purchasing an unlimited ride pass as well. I was filled with childlike excitement as we entered the amusement park, ready to find some hot glogg and ride the world's second oldest rollercoaster, Rutsjebanen.
We rode Minen, a water ride where you shoot laser targets, the small ferris wheel, The Flying Trunk, a Hans Christian Andersen-themed ride that illustrates his fairytales, self-steered dragon boats, and of course Rutsjebanen.
The advantage of visiting Tivoli Gardens in the evening is seeing its transformation into a light-filled wonderland.
Tivoli Gardens is more than the American ideal when it comes to amusement parks - it is the perfect marriage of old and new, classic and modern. Tivoli preserves Danish history while delivering an entertaining experience for an older, more traditional crowd, but also for a thrill-seeking younger audience.
Our last full day in Copenhagen was bittersweet, and we wanted to make it count. It was our last brisk, Autumn morning and we savored every moment of it, feeling the warm sun on our faces as its rays peeked through the color-changing trees.
We enjoyed a very European, very Instgram-worthy breakfast to fuel us for our second journey outside of the city to Kronborg Castle, also known as Hamlet's castle.
Kronborg Castle struck me as a castle in the truest sense - it wasn't as ornate as the palace we'd visited the day before, but it was grandiose in its own way. It felt more like a fortress, more like a superpower than an ornate structure to be admired.
Several actors in costume wandered its halls, adding a new level of authenticity. Although it was theatrical and touristy, it was neat to see someone dressed head-to-toe in the garb from the era.
One "memorable" moment was our venture into the Casemates. At first, it was just another part of the castle that happened to be dark and subsequently quite eerie. However, as we continued deeper into the tunnels, the other guests seemed to fall away and we were left on our own, underneath the castle, with little to no lights and very unsettling stillness. I may watch a lot of scary movies, but I have no desire to be in one!
After we emerged from the darkness, we explored the outside grounds of the castle. The air was sharp and the deep blue sea sparkled under the sunlight, a welcome sight after our damp, dark adventure. We could even see parts of Sweden on the horizon.
We happened to head outside at the right time, as staff were preparing for the Royal Cannon Salute. It was a unique experience to be so close to a cannon being fired, but it was also very intimidating and scary. The explosion was extremely loud!
From there, we were ready to head back and get ready for our fancy dinner and enjoy our last night in Denmark.
Overall, it was an amazing few days full of history, good food, and beautiful sights. It was the break we needed from our daily lives, and we were very excited to continue our European adventure in Spain!
"If Copenhagen were a person, that person would be generous, beautiful, elderly, but with a flair. A human being that has certain propensities for quarreling, filled with imagination and with appetite for the new and respect for the old - somebody who takes good care of things and of people." - Connie Nielsen
Until next time,