After a…somewhat typical but not overly devastating experience with RyanAir, we landed in Copenhagen on a balmy Friday night, and the wonderful Julie and her dad, Palle, picked us up! We met Julie and a couple of her Danish mates in Japan in August, and she has been absolutely invaluable in planning our week in Denmark. Her and her family and friends are extending their hospitality and showing us around their country and it’s the most busy but exciting itinerary!
We arrived back at Julie’s parents house in Hillerød (about 30km north of Copenhagen) and met her mother, Henriette, and her cats, Eddie and Svend! We stayed up until the wee hours eating delicious raspberry tart and some Scottish chocolate we had bought, trying different Danish booze, and playing an incredibly stressful and fun Danish board game called Play Prop. And Palle and Henriette gave us our own version of it! Now I can perfect my skills, because I was woeful at it.
This morning we tried a smorgasboard of sweet Danish pastries for breakfast as well as a national delicacy – fresh bread with butter and thin slice of chocolate on it. SOOOOOO GOOD. Denmark has turned on her best weather for us, and Palle drove us the ‘scenic route’ to the station so we could see beautiful Hillerød. I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of this town tomorrow!
While not cheap, the train into Copenhagen was clean and comfortable, and we hopped out first to see the famous Little Mermaid sculpture! I’ve been told so many times not to get my hopes up – that she is a lot smaller than you expect. Well, my hopes must have been efficiently crushed, because she was bigger than I imagined! Bigger, utterly beautiful, and surrounded by people taking photographs.
We walked along the water and through some beautiful parks, then took the metro to a popular shopping area, where we got delicious hot dogs for lunch. I’m not a hot dog fan, but a sausage wrapped in bacon and covered with ketchup, mustard, onion, and pickles was pretty delicious!
Then we headed to the Town Hall square for the trusty Sandemans free walking tour. Because of the brilliant weather, the tour was PACKED, but we did see some beautiful parts of the city including the canals (filled with boats full of shirtless picnickers), the Magasin du Nord (formerly the Hotel du Nord and residence of H C Andersen), Nyhavn (famous 17th century waterfront with its brightly coloured buildings and historical wooden ships), and finished up at Amalienborg (the four individual palaces of the Danish Royal Family, including our very own Princess Mary!). We also learned a very important Danish word – hygge. There is no English equivalent, but it basically means the Danish rituals of enjoying life. Friends and family, good company and good food, cozy times together – its no wonder Danes are thought to be the happiest people in the world.
After the tour, we stopped for the greatest chai latte I’ve ever consumed, and then headed to the Tivoli Gardens, world famous amusement park! This was AMAZING!! Once you get over the cost and enjoy yourself, it is like being a kid again. I am a massive wuss and can’t stand scary rides. Also, what I perceive to be scary is often quite tame to most thrill seekers. Julie and Sean went on the scary rides while I took photos and read my book, but I was proud of myself for going on the worlds oldest rollercoaster (Rutschebanen, twice!), and there were two other rides, the Monsoon and the Fatamorgana, that Julie and Sean took me on insisting they would be fine and I kept my eyes closed and silently freaked out for the whole thing (actually I swore loudly at Sean on the Fatamorgana but he took it well).
But I also did good old bumper cars (twice!), The Flying Trunk (a HC Andersen fairy tales inspired ride!), Dragon Boats (easily the tamest of the bunch, but so sweet), Nautilus (giant, gently flying octopus tentacles) and The Mine (little boats with oddly pointless lasers). We had wagamama for dinner (just as delicious as every other country’s wagamama, and I discovered my impressive sunburn in the bathroom mirrors), before heading home around 10.30 with some beer and ciders for the train, cos that’s how the Danes roll. An utterly full and wonderful day!