I made a promise to myself that as soon as I graduated university I was going to take advantage of the close proximity of a multitude of European countries and start ticking them off my list one by one. However, as always, when presented with an option of a European destination or a long hall flight, I always picked the latter. Why, because Europe was close and therefore too close to comfort, whilst distant lands meant a exploring a new world.
However, when invited to attend my friend’s exhibition in Copenhagen, I had a brilliant excuse, especially since I would be staying in her family’s apartment which would allow me to get a taste of the culture and lifestyle, without feeling like a tourist.
I took an early morning £54 return flight with Ryanair from Gatwick airport and arrived into Copenhagen’s pristine airport, greeted by my friend in the arrival hall. After the hugs, smiles and laughter we drove straight to her exhibition, which was held in a pop up shop within the København V area.
After looking around her fantastic exhibition, I went for solo adventure around the area whilst she stayed to talk to a few exhibition visitors. I usually prefer to do an impromptu wonder around on my first day, allowing me to get lost discovering hidden treasures without time constraints. I am always exhausted from travelling even though I do it often, I think the anxiety of ensuring I have everything packed and my arrival to the airport goes smoothly stresses me out, so I keep this day for relaxing.
In the evening we dropped off my luggage at the apartment – a spacious beautiful Scandinavian interior, complete with white wooden floors, enhanced by the natural aesthetics of mahogany wood, decorated with art and ceramics. We ended up at Tommi’s Burger Joint, a popular no frills fast food restaurant, although it wasn’t traditional Danish food, it was still good food. The atmosphere was busy but not too loud. I was good to have a catch up with my friend whilst experiencing how some of the local Danes socialize on a weekend night. After eating and walking around the area, we retreated home for a movie as I was still a bit tired.
Sunday: Botanisk Have, Boat Tours & Rundetaarn
We started early, heading to the supermarket, as my friend was keen to for me to have a breakfast full of Danish treats, such as smoked cheese spread, rye bread, yogurt and porridge.
We cycled to botanical gardens. For those like me who live in London and are afraid of cycling on the road, this was great experience, even cycling through the early morning fog. My fear was subdued by the city’s cycle lanes, and accommodating drivers and pedestrians. The highlight at Botanisk Have (Botanical Gardens) where the Amazonian lilies, as we had always missed them when visiting Kew gardens in London.
On our way to the Rundetun, we noticed Døp , the organic hotdog stand next to the round tower and decided to get a quick bite to eat before heading up the tower. Note – This is the best hotdog ever! They have options for vegetarians and for those who do not eat pork(i.e. me!). Furthermore everything is organic, from their sauces to the drinks. I paid 35 dk (about £4)for the roasted beef sausage hotdog, served on whole meal bread and with all the trimmings of onions, pickles, remoulade and mustard, which did not disappoint.
Rundetaarn/The Round tower
We picked up the guide and walked up the tower; the historical archive is amazing and would suggest it to everyone that you make time to visit. To imagine the ingenuity of constructing a tower with no steps so that it could accommodate horse drawn carts that would deliver goods up to the top is outstanding. The sights from the top of tower do not disappoint, allowing you view, the beautiful sight of the city and pictures were unable to do it any justice. There was also a design exhibition which was a nice touch, inside a historical building.
After the Rundetun we walked around looking around the shops that surrounded the tower, before conveniently finding a boat tour. The boat tour took us past Nyhaven, the opera house and we even got to glimpse the little mermaid sculpture at Langelinie. If you have limited time I suggest you take one of these tours, which also come with a headset ready to translate the tour into your selected European language. Frederiksborggade was our next stop taking a look at Torvehallerne, an indoor market with fresh food, gifts and a place to eat all rolled into one.
Un Mercato which is located outside the indoor market area caught our attention with visuals of their roast chicken dinner. We opted to sit outside at wooden tables positioned under the heaters, sheep’s wool covered seats. Whilst wrapped in the provided blankets we were served with our roast chicken meals that were accompanied with roast potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and black olives.
Monday: Walking tours, Nyhavn & a feast on Smørrebrød
The following morning I was solo again, as my friend had to open up the exhibition space, so I went down to the Dragon Fountain, Town Hall Square for a free walking tour, that I had previously booked with Sandman’s New Europe. Free walking tours are great if you are on budget as you tip what you can pay for the tour, it allows you to get to know the area whilst gaining historical knowledge about the city. Although you are free to leave at any time and a coffee/toilet break is scheduled into the tour. I decided to leave once we were near Nyhavn, as I wanted to have a quick stroll before meeting my friend for lunch.
For last meal I finally got to have a Danish culinary experience of the famous open sandwich also known as Smørrebrød at Hallernes Smørrebrød situated in the Torvehallerne. Upon my first look, they are presented beautifully with an attention to detail that is not normally present with fast food. Yet, once I took my first bite it became so much more. It was more than just a slice of rye bread topped with condiments and protein or potato base. Each element was cooked to perfection, recognizable by their own individual flavor, taking you on a journey with each ingredient carrying to the next until you came to place where you wanted to devour the whole plate at once. The skill of creating a sandwich that had each ingredient complementing each other with being overpowering, only showcased the chef’s talent.
I went for the fried fish and the smoked salmon, whilst my friend took the roast beef and the mackerel, so that we could share them between us. Although all tasted amazing, I would definitely say the beef and fish was the favorite.
This place does get busy at lunch times; however we managed to find a seat before the rush set in. Price wise it was between 60 kr -70kr (£7-8) which is a tad expensive for 1 sandwich but I thought it was totally worth it.
Before leaving I made sure to pick up some fish cakes from the seafood stall, Hav and a box of chocolates from Summerbird, for my sisters to experience a small taste of Copenhagen. Thank goodness for the Smørrebrød, as it kept hunger away until I reached London, preventing me from devouring all the gifts in bag!