Carson and I arrived in Copenhagen around 9pm and were met by Etta (our local Danish host)! I was SO excited to see her and catch up on everything that has been going on in our lives. I’ve always had some of the best conversations with her and was so happy to finally be in her home country! We’ve talked about visiting her in Denmark since we were FRESHMEN in college (5 years ago already??) It’s crazy how much time has passed yet it feels like just yesterday we were meeting each other for the first time and telling her that she shouldn’t go by herself to pick up a bike in Queens, NY that she bought on Craigslist!
From the airport, we bought metro tickets and took the train to Etta’s new apartment in Copenhagen. Once we got settled, she took us to a place called Kösem for a bite to eat. And thank GOD we had her with us as a translator because the entire menu was in Danish! However, almost everyone knows English in Denmark, so I’m sure we could have asked the waiter for help but it was much easier to have Etta order for us! The restaurant had middle eastern cuisine so I got some kind of pita stuffed with chicken and some other stuff that I didn’t know but it was SO good!
Side Note: December 16th marked exactly three months of not eating ANY meat. It began as a “Shalom House” challenge to go vegetarian for a month, but it was pretty easy for me so I just kept going with the diet until my Christmas trip! (Which made the chicken taste that much better 😉)
After dinner, we went to a Bodega called Karrusellen for a beer to end our long day of travel. Now, I have never liked the taste of beer, but I actually enjoyed the drink that Etta ordered for me! It was a Pilsner from a local Danish brand, which made it a bit cheaper too. The Danish “Bodega” style bar actually reminded me a little bit of a traditional Irish pub, but everyone was smoking cigarettes inside! Although I don’t smoke, I still embraced this bodega culture and enjoyed the “hygge” atmosphere of the night. Etta defines “Hygge” as: “The most cozy state of mind- anybody can practice this to excellence both in company of oneself and others. Usually involves food and warm (often funky hehe) beverages.” I’d say that was definitely the feeling of the night and I can’t wait to experience more “hygge” moments in the next parts of my trip!
According to Etta, Denmark is the “bike capital of the world”… and she wasn’t kidding! EVERYONE rides bikes here, taking a taxi is rare and there are definitely more bikes than cars on the roads. The bike lanes actually take up just about the same amount of space on the road as the car lanes do! I guess that’s why everyone is so fit here since they bike to every destination. So, it was only right to rent some bikes for the 2 full days that we were in Copenhagen. Little did I know how much I’d enjoy riding a bike everywhere! It was definitely a little scary at times with both car and bike traffic to deal with, but we got the hang of it and were lucky to have Etta as our leader! It was just so refreshing to bike all around the city and see the beautiful sights. I wish I could have video recorded everywhere we went – but it still wouldn’t have done it justice!
Once we got our bikes, we traveled to a place called “Freetown.” Freetown is a community of Denmark that has its own rules and regulations completely independent of the Danish government. It was such a unique experience walking through this area and seeing the different graffiti and café’s, but the most interesting part was definitely the “Green Light District” where dealers set up stands right out in the open street and sell cannabis products!
While in Freetown, we had a nice buffet lunch from a little café. Everything was homemade and the food was really good! Etta also told us that we had to try a drink called “Glögg,” which is basically a combination of red wine and vodka mixed with raisins and almonds, served warm. It sort of tasted like warm apple cider – it was definitely a very festive and cozy drink!
Then we biked back to the city to a little outdoor ice skating rink with the intention of skating for a bit. However, when I saw that there were no railings to hold on to and that the ice wasn’t very smooth at that time, we decided to head back home for a nice coffee and rest before going to pick up Maria from the airport. I hadn’t seen Maria since SEPTEMBER, so I was almost just as excited to see her as Etta was! I think we’ve had a bit of separation anxiety after being roommates in college for the past two years, so this trip together was much needed!
After we reunited with Maria at the airport, we made our way back to Etta’s apartment and had dinner at Kösem again. Then we went out for a few drinks at a bar called “Liquid” where we met a man from Turkey and his friend from Finland, who happened to work for FedEx! It was definitely an interesting and fun-filled night. Then we headed back to the apartment for the night before our last full day in Copenhagen!
We were lucky to get another nice day in Copenhagen for our last day! We began the day with Brunch at a place called Stefano’s and it was SO good! We each chose 3 different dishes from a menu – one that I chose took me back to my younger days when I would sleepover at my Mommom’s house. For breakfast, she would cut up a hotdog and cook it in scrambled eggs, and that’s exactly what my meal at this brunch place was! Little did I know I had been eating like a Dane since I was little 😉
After brunch, we hit the road again (on our bikes) and went to the Nyhavn where a canal is lined with beautifully colored buildings. We took a stroll around the canal, drank a nice cup of Glögg, and enjoyed the beautiful sights. Unfortunately, Etta had to work for a few hours, so we were left to fend for ourselves for part of the day. We did a pretty good job though! Carson was a very good substitute as our guide and knew how to get everywhere. Once Etta left, we went to the top of the Rundetaarn where we could see the entire city. It was such a nice time of day to go up there as the sun was setting!
Then, we walked through the city some more, browsed some souvenir shops (and Louis Vuitton just for fun) and ended up at Tivoli, which is a little amusement park right in the city. We ended up deciding not to buy tickets to go inside, but we got some nice pictures and had a look from the outside!
It was getting a bit chilly at this point and we had been walking/biking a lot, so we decided to have a glass of red wine (a beer for Carson) at a little pub to relax for a little and warm up. Then we had dinner at an all-you-can eat sushi place called Takii, which was AMAZING since I don’t get any sushi in Letterkenny! We ended the night with Etta and her friend (Anemone) at a place called “Condesa.” We had a few drinks, danced, and had a great time talking and enjoying the “hygge” atmosphere of the night!
Overall, Copenhagen was AMAZING! It was so nice to see Etta in her home country and have her as our own personal tour guide. We couldn’t get over how just 5 years ago we were moving into the dorms in Brooklyn Heights together, and now we’re casually hanging out in Denmark. I’m so grateful to have made such great friends at SFC (thanks Coach T for recruiting us all together!) It was really such a special experience to go to school there and has allowed me opportunities that I never thought I would get.
Up next: PRAGUE
#19: Buildings in Denmark are only allowed to be built 4 stories high to preserve the city’s architecture.
#20: I cannot stress this enough: DEFINITELY rent a bike if you go to Copenhagen! It’s an amazing way to see the city, get around to places easily, and exercise! However, be prepared to feel pretty sore – I felt like I took back-to-back spin classes!