After a brief and firework laden interlude back in Edinburgh, Chris and I set off on new years day to start the year in Scandinavia. Denmark was always somewhere I wanted to visit, and happily it was exactly what I expected…albeit a bit colder. Actually it was a hell of a lot colder than we expected. We arrived in the late afternoon, plunged into darkness and frost. We set off in search of our hotel only to find a distinct lack of visible street signs, which resulted in an hour-long amble in the dark Danish streets, asking a continuous stream of people for directions. Once we found our hotel we were pleasantly surprised and grateful for the warmth inside and the upgrade they gave us. It’s funny to note that our hotel was 10 mins away from the station and we walked for over an hour. Well…it’s funny now.
After dropping our bags we went over to Tivoli gardens and they were magnificent! Known as the second oldest amusement park in the world, and an inspiration for Walt Disney himself, the whole park is a feat of the imagination. As we were there just after Christmas the entire park was strung up in thousands of lights, with a hodgepodge of Christmas trees, wooden elves and booths selling mulled wine sprinkled throughout. Immediately as we walked in we came across a building designed to emulate the Taj Mahal, with massive swans made entirely out of lights standing guard outside of it. As we walked by we were also greeted by the sounds of screaming and screeching coming from the trees towering over our heads. Turns out it was peacocks high above, clearly expressing their disappointment at our ruining their quiet evening. We made a point of walking through each and ever path that curved through the garden, nipping into candy shops, hot chocolate stands, and always surrounded by the smell of hot dogs and popcorn. Each section was more fantastical than the next, from a large spinning ride in the shape of a rather surly octopus to bright red paper lanterns adoring the area circling the Chinese style pantomime theatre. The little details were everywhere, with my particular favourite being spectacles and umbrellas jutting out of the walls in an area that can only be described a Victorian balloon. We walked through the entire park in awe until we met with security guards who ushered us under a tree full of bright red heart lanterns. A cold 30 mins later the sky lit up with fireworks so close to our heads that we could see the sparks landing in the trees around us, and you could taste the gunpowder in the air. After they’d finished, we ran to a grocery store to get some sandwiches for dinner, which we ate in the room with me covered in as many layers as possible.
Day 2 started with a brisk walk to Paludon Bog + Café, a restaurant and bookstore that I’d read about before arriving. We had a Danish smorgasbord of muesli, blueberry smoothies, eggs, sausage, pancake, salmon, cheeses and breads and we didn’t eat again until dinner. After rolling out of our seats and bracing for the wind, we wrapped ourselves up and ran to the Danish Museum of Art and Design. It was really interesting and I learned a lot about the connections between Japanese and Danish design, while Chris got to geek out in a room full of chairs. Craving some designs he could manhandle, Chris and I finished up and made our way to Hay House. It was a beautiful space full of beautiful things. After a much-needed coffee for me, we spent the remainder of the evening wandering through all the beautiful shops and cobbled roads. We went to Anderson bakery for dinner for a classic Danish hot dog with pickled cucumbers (which I’m told are different from pickles), fried onions and mayonnaise. It was very good and the bakery itself was a nice and warm space to settle into for a while. We stopped at Irma on the way back because it’s always interesting to see the grocery stores in different countries and I’ll never say no to activities involving food. We picked up a few bits and bobs and, thanks to two extra duvets from reception, we warmed up and regained feeling in our toes.
The morning of day 3 started at the botanic gardens, as we longed for somewhere warm and green. We’ve clearly been spoiled by Edinburgh and forgot what it’s like to live in Edmonton and see white for 9 months without respite. The outside parts of the garden were a bit cold and dead but we were quite content to wander around the glasshouses, breathing in the oxygen rich, tropical air. After soaking in some much-needed UVB, we walked to the SMK to admire the art. While the Rembrandts and colleagues were stunning, our favourite part of the gallery was definitely the building itself. When the original stone structure was deemed too small, they decided to build a large modern building right behind, attaching the two with a large glass atrium that made the original back wall now part of the inside. Once we’d had our fill of art we huddled together and, with hats pulled down and scarves pulled up, we shivered our way to Nyhavn. I found Copenhagen a very difficult city in which to get my bearings so I was shocked to realize we were a stone’s throw away from where we’d been the night before. We shared some traditional smorrebrod for lunch, covered in egg and beef, followed by some seriously mediocre waffles. After eating, we froze for some photos and tried to imagine how wonderful the canal would be in the summer. Don’t get me wrong, it was still beautiful despite the ice, and a hidden perk of visiting in the dead of winter was that it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We then did some shopping in shops far cooler than we are, and ate at the closest restaurant we could find for dinner.
Our final day started off flawlessly. We went to an enclosed market we had discovered the day before and had Grod. Now I’m always a fan of porridge, but top it off with almonds, apples and salted caramel and I’m one happy customer. Following a truly memorable breakfast, we ventured out into the cold, enjoying the bright sun that had decided to pop out for a bit. We made our way through a veritable who’s who of Danish design stores. Playtype, Theimers Magasin and Dansk were all visited as they were on Chris’ bucket list right from the beginning. He specifically wanted to see some quintessential Scandinavian design and I could tell that he was pleased with the experience as he’s still talking about the Danish use of patterns to this day. It was really fun to wander through all the shops and it was wonderful to see Chris so excited by so many things. After prying ourselves away from all the beautifully streamlined objects, we stopped for a quick kanelsnegle, which means “cinnamon snail”. Basically I had a Danish in Denmark and felt rather smug about it. We walked back towards our hotel and hid in the visitor’s centre for a bit, stealing their wifi and waiting for our blood to become warm again. After defrosting, we went to a tiny spot called Thomas Sandwich bar for a quick bite, and spent the rest of the day ducking in and out of various shops and gallery spaces. A particular highlight was a massive home interiors and furniture shop where Chris was able to sit in every single chair from his furniture textbooks. Eames, Panton, van de Rohe, Starck, you name it and it was there, and with great glee Chris sat in every one. At this point we had a few hours left before we had to pick up our bags and head to the airport, so we returned to the market for a delicious dinner in their second story restaurant. The entire place was floor to ceiling windows, with warm candles and blankets creating an outdoors inside atmosphere. Sadly the end of our meal signaled the end of our trip and before you know it we were back in the airport, arguing with Ryanair check in staff, falling asleep on the plane, and back in our bed before you can say smorrebrod.