Travel Stories

Copenhagen: 3 Nights & All The Pastries

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After not much more than an hour in flight, enjoying the bright blue sky from the tiny aeroplane window, we landed in Copenhagen.

First stop – Lost Property, because Adam thought he’d left his watch at the airport three weeks ago. (He hadn’t. I found it in the garden when we got home.) Then, the Metro to Norreport. Seven stops.

Arriving at Ibsens Hotel, totally shattered, we did what all intrepid travellers do – ate a bed picnic of cinnamon rolls and dill flavoured crisps whilst watching subtitled Australian Masterchef, of course.

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In the morning we got gloved and hatted up and trotted off to explore the ring road city. Wandering the streets we stumbled upon Frederik’s Church, an opulent looking round church with a magnificent dome. We walked inside, sunlight glinted from golden details, people sat in peace and in awe of the beauty. I knocked on the stone wall and discovered it was just well painted wood. A quick google later told me that The Marble Church, as it is known, was made on a budget. Beautiful budget church, well worth a look.

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We ate a 98.2% organic panini in Brasserie Babette and continued to the Design Museum, which used to be a hospital, and  I already knew that, because it felt like a hospital. There were some nice things to see – a lot of porcelain, some chairs, a Bang & Olufsen stereo that was not that dissimilar to a hand-me-down one we once had.

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We’d been told not to bother with The Little Mermaid, they said she was small and dull, and not so pretty, but I wanted to see for myself. A gentle rain shower gave us a full rainbow over the docks and led us to the mermaid who was having her picture taken with clambering tourists. Mobile phones, cameras and small children were all held aloft, there was even a man there selling pancakes. It couldn’t have been any better. I loved it.

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We walked back along the waterfront, passed the extraordinary sculpture of Soren Georg Jensen on Larsens Plads, Untitled (1979) and David (1946), so different, so wonderful, then on, to Nyhaven, and back to our hotel, via a random bakery.

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We had planned to eat locally to the hotel, a little place on the opposite corner, called Kalaset. I say, had planned, because once we got inside we re-planned quickly. Maybe it was supposed to be grungy and hip, I don’t know, but surly staff, sticky tables, Morrissey played on repeat and a load of random tat hanging off the walls, is not (contrary to popular belief) my kind of cool. We left the Morrissey misery hole and ended up at Bistro Royal, eating steak and chips with thick Béarnaise sauce, washed down with sweet ginger beer.

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We woke to clear skies and bright light. Our hotel was just round the corner from a well-stocked prosthetic limb shop, and the Torvehallerne food market. We had limited time and budget, so we went for a pastry.

Sitting down at Laura’s Bakery, eating the heaviest, sweetest pastries known, and watching a wonky pigeon scavenge for crumbs, was a very good way to start the morning.

We walked to Tivoli Gardens. It was closed. So we walked, and walked some more, arriving at Almanak, for serious Smorresbord perfection.

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And then, guess what? More walking. All the walking. (We walked over 30 miles in the few days we were there.)

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Visiting Assistens Cemetery was a beautiful treat. Spread around an avenue of the tallest tall trees, with elegant graves adorned simply using fir branches and spring bulbs. Spots of hail hit down as we searched out the grave of Hans Christian Andersen and I was distracted – who was Ole Wang?

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In the evening we decided to try another of Copenhagen’s fine cultural experiences, and headed to Banana Joe’s. A little, unassuming shop, down a couple of steps, with a couple of mismatched tables and a friendly welcome.

We ordered the Luksus burger. The original. Thirty years ago ‘Joe’ brought the burger to Copenhagen, he told us, he was the first. We sat at the round table in the corner and watched him prepare burgers for the customers before us, one by one, methodically and with simple care.

Our burgers came, with fries and sauce, on square black plates. We tucked in. Knife and fork time for me. Lots of sauce, crispy iceberg lettuce, white onion, cucumber, cheese, finely ground beef burger, sesame seed bun, steamed. It was good, really good. 8.5 on the Harvinator Scale of Burger Appreciation. Solid.

As we finished our burger mountains Joe placed a small plate on the table, on it, two cola flavoured Sun Lollies. ‘Just squeeze!’ he said, and we did, like happy kids. I’d never had a Sun Lolly before, and I liked it. Joe seemed pleased that we were pleased. Whilst we sat, stuffed, he pulled up a chair and chatted with us for a while. More customers piled in, he shook our hands and said he hoped to see us again. We walked back to the hotel, retelling the experience to ourselves already. Eleven pounds well spent.

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Ibsens Hotel was alright, quite nice. The staff were friendly, and the room was clean, a bit small, but ample. I was originally impressed by their carbon neutral claim, but with all the pleasantness I just couldn’t get passed the disappointment of the carpets. Three different types: a stripe, a tartan check, and one with the street maps on it in the lobbies, but they looked dirty, and like they had been melted with dollops of bleach. We weren’t even sure if they even owned a hoover, until early on Thursday morning when the house-keeping crew decided to have an impromptu leaving party for us outside our door, with Henry as their guest of honour.

A bakery breakfast, again, with a Cinnabun for Adam and a Havthorn Snegl for me, accompanied by a delicious chai latte – nutty, spicy, and not too sweet. You know how I’ve wished for tele-porting to exist just so I could access some specific rice pudding? Well, I think I might be about to get weird about random chai lattes too. Damn it.

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We popped in and out of a few shops, a bearskin-hat-wearing marching band paraded by, which was nice, then I saw a lady skid on a discarded gherkin slice, and I thought my day was made. Then, THEN, it snowed!

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Full on pastry and joy, we wound our way to Paper Island  indoor street food market, not to eat, just to look, and breath, and do a reccy for any possible future visits.

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We took our last walk, back to the hotel. I recounted that we’d spotted many lost gloves, but no lost combs, and seen a lot of dogs (all pure breeds) but not one cat. No matter how hard I had looked.

And, just as I was settling in, and becoming acclimatised, it was time to come home again. I was really happy there, I’d even learnt a bit of Danish from watching the TV. Fart pilot, it means cruise control.

We picked up our cases, got the Metro back to the airport and ate a hotdog for luck. Then onto the plane and home to the chickens and the Fen, and to MoJo, the last cat I’d seen.