Happily Ever After Copenhagen

In Copenhagen, I ate herring. They catch it fresh from the sea every day and it is a staple dish on just about every menu. I’m not a huge herring fan, but the way they prepared it was delicious! Those Copenhagen folk sure do know their herring. Being a canal city situated close to the sea, the seafood was amazing!

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The city of Copenhagen was unreal. It was love at first sight for both my husband and me. At times, I had to pinch myself for reassurance that I wasn’t in the midst of some perfect movie set. There were moments where my husband and I would converse about our future in Copenhagen… How we would FedEx our dog Calvin there, and how we would spend endless hours at the local farmers market… It was all a fun joke to me, but not to my husband. I had to propose threats and drag him by his insanely long beard (he is so confidentially proud of) just to get him on the train to Amsterdam. Needless to say, Copenhagen was a wonderland filled with pirate ships and fairy tale architecture. It dazzled with pure beauty and has become one of our all time favorite cities (other than Milwaukee and Philadelphia – being our favorites!).

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We arrived by fast train Tuesday afternoon with unknown expectations. Getting there was actually quite a fun adventure! It wasn’t your typical train ride, I can assure you. When boarding the train from Hamburg that morning, we realized we would have to ride over quite a large body of water. Not knowing how this would happen, we were soon swept away by a ferry and a conductor’s voice advising us passengers to leave our train car and head into the main floors of the boat. Our train literally rode on a track that into the bottom of a ferry. It was so cool! We left our bags in our train car and headed to the main floors. Where we were pleasantly surprised by what seemed to be a really bizarre cruise line. Laughing at our current situation, we were surrounded by numerous bars, restaurants, cafés, cosmetic shops, grocery stores, currency exchange windows and so much more. It felt like we had just entered the twilight zone. And we were extremely amused. Only 45 minutes were spent on the ferry, which majority of that 45 minutes my husband and I spent outside on the deck getting some fresh air and enjoying the water. Back inside the train, riding outside on normal train tracks, my husband and I watched the movie, American Hustle, and before we knew it… Arrived in Copenhagen! For some odd reason or another, my husband had a strong feeling he would love it there. His assumption was correct.

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We stayed at a Design Hotel called Skt. Petri – perfect location and even more perfect room. We were on the top floor with a wrap around balcony overlooking the charming city with views of the red-topped buildings and stunning copper spires. We dropped our bags off and went out to explore the 1000-year-old harbor town that has managed to retain all of its historic charm. With old fashioned store fronts, vintage looking cafés and cobbled squares, the pastel colored town houses weren’t the only awe-inspiring feature to this perfect city. We got some cocktails, stopped in some shops, and walked along the water until it was just about time for dinner. We read that Copenhagen is known for superb restaurants and fantastic dining, so we were excited to eat! In fact, Copenhagen is home to the #1 restaurant in the world – Noma – which surprisingly (cough cough) was fully booked for almost a half a year out. A few months ago my husband put our name on the waiting list to dine there in the rare occasion that there were cancellations, following up almost every day since. Unfortunately, there were no cancellations during our time there, and nobody responded to my husband’s hundred follow-up emails, so we never got the chance to go.

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Our first night in Copenhagen, we dined at a well known sushi restaurant called Damindra. They too, only offered a tasting menu, which was far too much food, but very tasty! We drank an assortment of sake – the house hot sake, followed by a carafe of special cold sake, followed by a sweet desert sake! I love sake, I’ve never sake tasted such a variety before though! We even ordered the restaurant’s signature cocktail to start off our night, which was cold sake combined with cucumber and ginger! Served in a really cool oversized glass with humongous ice cubes. It was a wonderful sushi date night!

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Wednesday morning we woke up early to catch the infamous Copenhagen Torvehallerne Market that was only blocks away from our hotel. Let me tell you – this was the coolest, most magnificent market I have ever been to! If there wasn’t so much to see and do in Copenhagen, we would have spent all day, everyday there. The market was half indoor, half outdoor – with the outdoor section sandwiched between the two rectangular indoor establishments. We explored all vendors, trying to narrow down what we were going to eat for breakfast. With a large assortment of bakeries, butcher shops, sandwich stands, coffee shops, cafés, wine bars, tapas places, cheese bars, bread stands, fresh picked fruit and vegetable stands, fish and seafood places, beer bars, chocolate shops, liquor and bottling services, the list goes on…. It was amazing! It was so clean, well organized and had such an organic vibe. I never wanted to leave!! We ended up getting some baked goods from a bakery in the market that we had read about in our April issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine (in the issue titled, “How To Eat Like a Local”), called Laura’s Bakery. Known for their homemade cinnamon buns that are filled with chocolate and extra spicy cinnamon! And of course, their famous homemade “pop tarts” that are extra thick, sticky and sweet (I need to challenge myself to learn how to make these at home because they were seriously SO GOOD). We got one of each and split them. We also got delicious coffees from a local coffee shop vendor, sat outside at a picnic table in the middle of the market, and enjoyed the morning sun!

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After too much sugar and just enough coffee, we bolted toward the city center, which is where city hall stands and is also where the city is least charming, quite crowded, and a bit dirty. The reason for heading there being, we were going to be spending the first half of our day at the Tivoli Gardens. My husband and I are not the biggest theme park fans… me being too uptight to enjoy stressful environments that involve roller coaster rides and cotton candy stands…. and my husband being the type who would just rather be cooped up at some fancy bar drinking an expensive scotch or hitting a golf ball on a quiet course. But we forced ourselves to put carousel smiles on our faces, buy tickets, and waltz in. After all, we did read that the historic park is the number one attraction in all of Copenhagen, and we didn’t want to miss out! Our reactions were not what we were expecting them to be at all…. It was actually quite beautiful inside the park. At first, it reminded me a lot of a glitzy Disneyland, and I was wondering what the whole fuss was about. But the further we walked in, I caught glimpse of the lush gardens, beautiful birds and their baby duckies, large ponds with oversized fountains, some very nice restaurants, clean shops, charming old-fashioned food pavilions and vintage carnival games…. it was really something to marvel about. There were rides here and there, none of which my husband and I participated. And all of the children and families were so nice. It just felt like a really neat community with a bunch of rides gardens bundled into one theme park. Let’s just say, it was no Six Flags.

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After being kids for a couple of hours, we decided to take a stroll to a part of the city that actually has its own government – Christiania. Christiania is a neighborhood of hippies who run their own government and regulations. It’s a Woodstock community of people who live an alternative lifestyle and sell a lot of illegal substances. We wanted to walk through this part of the city to get a glimpse and a feel as to what it was all about. It was really quite interesting and rather informative to see the lifestyle of these humans. Almost unreal to me in a way. The whole area was in shams. A dirt road just a few blocks off the canal, about a forty-five minute walk from the area we were staying in, lead us into a tie-dye graffiti awning that then led us into the neighborhood of Christiania. Old, broken-down town homes, some with missing doors and no windows, hugged the “market” of old stands, plastic tables and self-made shops (self-made meaning: shops that are literally divided by black bed sheets, clothes pins and wooden poles). In this area, there were illegal substances being sold, places to buy beer and drinks, little shops with hand made beaded bracelets and woven hats, and people just hanging out and conversing over blasting Phish music from an old boom box. {My parents are probably freaking out while reading this – Mom and Dad I swear it is a safe place to visit… Just a little outside my comfort zone!!} No photographs are ever allowed to be taken within the Christiania walls, for obvious reasons, and I was too nervous to even snap a secret shot, so unfortunately we have no photos from this part of our day. I always find it really fascinating to see the different ways that people live their lives. I love learning about foreign neighborhoods and cultures. Everyone looked pretty happy and that’s all that matters!

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After our thrilling adventure, we walked back towards the beautiful area we were staying in and ate lunch outside right along the canal while listening to live music (provided by a funny band that reminded me a lot of the Steve Miller Band) and watching the pirate ships float by. It was 80 degrees and sunny, so we shared some herring appetizers over a bottle of white wine and soaked in the sun. It was perfect!

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The day flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go back to our hotel and make dinner plans. Snagging a bottle of wine at a wine shop on our way back to drink on our balcony while watching the sun set. Later that evening, we ate dinner at a really cool spot located on the cute cobbled shopping streets of the city, just blocks from our hotel. It was a place called Tight and we had heard nothing but great things about it! Offering modern Scandinavian fare and a take on trendy bar food, you can’t go wrong!

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Thursday morning we made our way to the market, again. Only this time, we went to a bagel stand and got fresh bagels for breakfast! Accompanied by iced coffees from a local coffee shop. Iced coffee is a funny thing here in Europe. It’s not quite a thing yet, actually. There are literally no cafés that offer iced coffee, and the one we finally found that did, blended the coffee with the ice… Making it have the same consistency of a Starbucks frappacino. It’s all very interesting! Anyways, we walked the premises of the market some more and fell even more in love with it there. After bagels, “iced” coffee and loitering, we made our way through a beautiful park to one of Copenhagen’s greatest landmarks – The Rosenborg Slot – a Dutch Renaissance fairytale castle that sits in lush gardens surrounded by deep ponds. Ponds lavished with beautiful swans and exotic fish. Inside the castle, we were surrounded by glorious marbled floors, painted ceilings, and the world’s largest sterling silver furniture collection. Coming from a fine Jewelry background given my former career at QVC, I was astonished by the sterling silver aspect of the castle. It must be worth a fortune!

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The castle basement is home to the Royal Treasury. This is where the Danish Crown Jewels live. It was amazing seeing all of the huge rocks of ruby, emeralds, diamonds and pearls. There was an amethyst displayed that was the size of my fist (I have strangely small hands, so this isn’t exceptionally large, but it’s still big for a gemstone!)! It was fun being amongst such treasures!

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By the end of our castle escapade, we were starving… So naturally, we headed back to the market. Where we spent the remainder of our day market stand hopping from one spectacular tapas place to the next. Our first stand having a variety of bruschetta style tapas and local beers, our second stand having fish and champagne, and our third and final stand having incredible seasoned steak sandwiches and wine. All three stands being outside, we got to soak in the sun, listen to awesome live music, and hang out with the locals partying at the market on a Thursday afternoon. My husband and I often wondered whether or not people worked in Copenhagen, because we saw an unusual amount of weekday afternoon partying. And we loved it!

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After a much needed nap from day drinking and drowning ourselves in tapas, we had a very nice dinner at a modern upscale Dutch restaurant called Geist. The food was very interesting ranging from lobster carpaccio to roasted pig with crunchy artichokes. Everything was delicious! It was the perfect meal to end our time in Denmark.

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Friday morning was sad because we had to leave Copenhagen, which we never wanted to do. I had to drag my husband to the train station where we’d be boarding another cool train/ferry to Amsterdam. But before Amsterdam, we’d be making a one night pit stop in Hannover, Germany… to break up the long travel time (11 hours total from Copenhagen to Amsterdam). Stay tuned for tales of Amsterdam! Until then, bon voyage!

2 thoughts on “Happily Ever After Copenhagen

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