The trouble started the night before our flight, with me and Joel having had respective nights out, and neither one willing to clean the apartment without the other (and neither realising the amount of cleaning it needed). I’m not certain that Joel even slept, but I sneaked in about an hour on the couch (the bed had new linen for the weekend’s Airbnb guests). With a 6.30am flight from Gatwick Airport, which is over an hour’s drive from the centre of London (where we stay), it was an all-nighter, watching the sunrise from 30,000+ feet over the North Sea on our way to Copenhagen.
We were visiting two Danish friends who we met in Mozambique a couple of years ago who just had a new baby – new as in a week before we arrived. They live in Vejle (“Vejle?? What are you doing in Vejle??” – Danish train ticket saleswoman), a beautiful and quaint countryside town, so we were going to spend our Friday in Copenhagen and head over in the evening. With a crazy week behind us, we forgot to plan for this trip, so it was a quick ‘Top-Five-Things-To-Do-In-Copenhagen’-according-to-TripAdvisor sort of itinerary.
Well, number two on the list hit us just as we exited the central station: ‘Tivoli Gardens’.
After coffee, pastries, fiddling with a sim card and a train station nap by Joel (“excuse me you can’t sleep here” – train station employee) we headed over to what we thought were some fancy gardens or something. It turns out it’s an elaborate carnival/family/theme park and it was expertly decorated for Halloween, which woke Joel up for a couple of hours. We didn’t buy tickets for rides, but it was just fun strolling around and discovering all the nooks and crannies of Tivoli.
Number one on TripAdvisor’s list was our next target: Nyhavn.
The typical Danish backdrop of the multi-coloured houses in the harbour. We strolled over from Tivoli, took some selfies on arrival, and walked through the harbour around to the other side. We carried on along the water, in a half-assed attempt of getting to the ‘Little Mermaid’, but fatigue stopped us from actually caring about it and we ended up sitting down and resting a bit in front of the national opera house or something. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER, Joel wakes up from his wonderful nap while I had to stay awake, my head dipping forward every now and then as I struggle to do so, so that we don’t look like complete hobos.
There was more coffee and sleeping in random places until we got on our train to Vejle (where Joel could sleep some more).
After a wonderful evening of traditional, hearty, Danish food, meeting a new baby, wine by the fireside, and falling asleep mid-conversation (Joel…), it was the moment that Joel and I had been waiting for: Bedtime. All the sleeps await us!
The next day we were taken around Aarhus by our friend, Jonas. The day started in high spirits as he parked the car in an automated underground parking bay. It was like we were face to face with all of my new millennium dreams as the car disappeared underneath the earth and we made excited exclamations and took a zillion photos and videos.
We then made our way over to the Aarhus Cathedral, the tallest and longest church in the country, to look at its medieval frescoes and boats hanging from the ceiling like chandeliers, which is not something I’ve seen in a catholic cathedral before.
Olafur Eliasson’s Rainbow Panorama on top of the Aarhus Art Museum made for a drastic scenery change as we viewed Aarhus from above in all the colours of the rainbow. If you are not into discovering historical, modern or contemporary Scandinavian art, then Eliasson’s panorama and the Australian artist Ron Mueck’s gigantic ‘Boy’, in many ways the permanent pride of the museum, are enough to justify the entrance fee. The Aarhus Art Museum comes highly recommended. It also had an exhibition of Monet and his contemporaries, which we did not go to because I was just too hungry.
Which is why we had the most Danish lunch instead of seeing impressionists – A hotdog with everything and chocolate milk! Jonas took us to a stand ran by one of his friends, who is basically the sweetest, kindest, Nepali cook you will ever meet. We were, admittedly, won over by this hotdog-chocolate milk combination.
Jonas then took us to a place where all my Autumn dreams came true. It is called Dyrehaven (Animal Park), and it is a large piece of land, looks like something between a park and a forest, where wild(-ish) deer and wild pigs roam free. You are allowed to feed them, and so most of them are a slight bit tamer than I imagine wild deer are supposed to be. So we spent a couple of hours at sunset strolling through the reds, yellows and golds of Autumnal Denmark, immersed in the soft falling of leaves and the occasional bleat of a nearby deer, or the ruffling of a wild pig family.
After another relaxing evening filled with Tenna’s home-cooked meals, snuggles with the one-week-old Cornelia, more wine and banter, and after the next morning’s sleepy train ride through the beautiful Danish landscape, we were left to our own TripAdvisor-esque devices in Copenhagen again.
First I forced Joel to go to the National Gallery of Denmark, so that I can see Matisse’s Green Stripe and subsequently discover other wonderful modern Scandinavian art, and then Joel navigated us towards the Rosenborg Castle. With little time (and motivation) to go inside, we snapped a few photos and headed over to the Church of Our Saviour – another TripAdvisor classic.
The Church of our Saviour is a beautiful church built in the Baroque style in the 17th century, with an appropriately ornate spire completed in the 18th century. The spire reaches a height of 90m and you can ascend to almost the very top of it by a network of narrow staircases. If you get claustrophobic, I would think twice about going up, since the staircases are very narrow and there’s only one way up and down. But the view from the top is really something, especially when you go around sunset, which is when we happened to be up there.
The weekend was topped off by AMAZING and mouth-watering food and wine at Höst with friends. We boarded our plane with full hearts and stomachs – ready to return to our home in what then seemed like delightfully warm London after Denmark’s Autumn chill.
Also, in case you were looking, here is our
LIST OF PLACES IN COPENHAGEN TO NAP, TRIED AND TESTED BY JOEL BRONKOWSKI:
- Train station (but make sure they don’t see you)
- The deck of the Copenhagen Opera House
- Any table of any Baresso coffee shop
- The train
- Mid-conversation in someone’s house
- Any McDonalds
- In the National Gallery, on a chair in front of a video art piece, with headphones on whilst watching the piece. (…Yes, this is real – I caught Joel snoring seconds after he put the headphones on…)