Saturday, 28 May 2016

Lifestyle: Copenhagen Weekender. Part 1

Copenhagen weekender travel post The Little Mermaid

Since I fell unconditionally in love with the UK in 1999, my history of travels has been....let's say it very moderate and uninspiring. In the last ten years or so I have had only two "real" holidays, namely to Iceland and to the Canary Islands, but apart from that it was either travelling around the British Isles (fun but exhausting) or flying home to Germany to see my parents (fun, stressful, exhausting) ...those visits which I don't really count as holidays.

Having lived in London for seven months non stop and not having left the city ever since, a get-away was much needed. There's been far too much drama and happenings lately so it was time to pack my suitcase, leave all the drama behind and fly off to Copenhagen. I visited the Danish capital years ago and back then it was only for a day trip, so it felt refreshing to return to Copenhagen and spend more time in this beautiful city.

Alex and I decided to take the late night flight on Friday after work, which nearly turned out to be a nightmare. Our Easyjet flight had a massive delay of 2 1/2h and I saw ourselves spending the night at the airport or worse, having to go back home to No10. But yeah....a few angry tweets and Costa's hot chocolates later, our plane took us away from the UK.

We arrived far past midnight at our hotel in Copenhagen and literally just collapsed into our bed.

Day 1:

We started the day meeting my friend Mille at the train station just opposite the Tivoli park. She volunteered to be our tour guide for the day showing us around in her beautiful city with all its magnificent houses, hidden parks and instagrammable cafes. We went for an extended brunch session at this super cute cafe in one of Copenhagen's many little side streets. It included greek yoghurt with granola, fruit salads, sweet pancakes alongside savoury treats such as sausages, meat and brie cheese roles. I've also ordered a hot chocolate which came topped with cream and chocolate sprinkles. What a great way to start the day!

Brunch in Copenhagen
After brunch, Mille took us to the Round Tower, a viewing platform with spectacular perspectives over Copenhagen. The best part of the Round Tower is that it hasn't got any steps. You walk up on a spiral, smooth ground which made climbing up much more easier and less exhausting. On top, there's a safety rail and enough space for all the tourists to enjoy the views. On a clear day you can easily see the airport and have a look over the Øresund, including the impressive Øresund Bridge and Malmö in Sweden.

Rundetaarn Round Tower in Copenhagen

We made our way back into town and passed NyHavn, a touristy mile by the canal with colourful houses, cafes and restaurants and tonnes of tourists. The weather was incredible: 25 degrees, sunshine, clear skies. It made everyone happy and for once in a long time I've started to forget about work, London and everything that I've left behind on Friday night. That new rediscovered feeling of relaxation needed to be celebrated with a massive ice cream.

NyHavn Tourism Mile in Copenhagen
Love Padlocks at NyHavn in Copenhagen

We then walked along the harbour and played one of my favourite city games: I can imagine living here. Basically, if you're walking around a city or town and you see a nice house or incredible property, ask yourself the question if you could imagine living there. If the answer is yes, then you can add it to your wishlist of "I Can Imagine Living Here" properties. Currently, I own half of Stratford-Upon-Avon, a good third of London and, well, now a house or two in Copenhagen :) I know it sounds a bit childish and silly, but it is quite fun to play and it helps me to take my mind off things. I even considered to start a new IG account just with impeccable properties.

Walking along the harbourside takes you eventually to the North of Copenhagen where you can find The Little Mermaid - one of H.C. Andersons most influential fairy tale characters and now iconic landmark and embodiment of Denmark. The Mermaid statue is always visited by tourists and it gets so busy around her, that you'll have to watch not ending up falling into the water. She sits on a rock and is very accessible so if you're tall enough you can actually touch her! Sadly, the statue has been vandalised numerous times since its installation in 1913. 75% of its Wikipedia entry contains a long history of slandering and vandalising the statue from pouring colour over it or beheading it. The statue is probably not the most prettiest, but it is still a representation of the Danish cultural heritage and should be respected as such - don't you think?

The Little Mermaid Statue at the Harbour in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid Statue Copenhagen Harbour
Tourists at The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen
Clear water and Seaweed at the Harbour in Copenhagen

We found a nearby bench and whilst Alex had a little nap in the sun, Mille and I watched the tourists, took pictures and enjoyed the atmosphere. The water was so clear and tempting, I could easily imagined the face of a mystical fairy creature to come to the surface at any moment. 

Afterwards we strolled around the nearby park called Kastellet. It's one of Europe's best preserved star-shaped fortresses and the park is a beautiful piece of untouched nature. A "real" park where you can get lost easily, with neat and tidy grassland, but also wild romantic Elderflower trees and flowers. There are little ponds and corners to hide away, completely the opposite of the dry flatlands and dust that is Hyde Park in the summer. We all sat down by the Gefion Fountain for a break and I took on a new job as a tourist photographer :) Haha, I lost count at how many people asked me for taking their pictures which I did with pleasure.

Kastellet park in Copenhagen
Kastellet Copenhagen
Windmill in the Kastellet Park in Copenhagen
The Gefion Fountain with Mille in Copenhagen
Two young ladies at the Gefion Fountain in Copenhagen

In the late afternoon we strolled back into town, walked passed the Marbled Church, castle Amalienborg, the parliament with its Unicorn Tower, Magasin (a super posh department store) to the borough of Christianshavn. Here, you find the Vor Frelsers Kirke, a stunning church with a twisted tower. We paid £4.50 to go up the tower and to be honest, those were the worst £4.50 I've spent in a while. Going up was challenging and Mille and I struggled along the way a few times. Not only was the way up very narrow, we both agreed we felt unsafe on a few occasions. There was not enough space for more than two people to be on the stairs, so when people came back down, it was difficult to give space and it was a balanced act of not hurting yourself or falling down the steep wooden stairs. Once you've made (and survived) it to the first viewing platform, you would of died from acrophobia (the fear of heights). The space up there was limited and super tight with a steep gradient towards the rail. There was no safety net and I felt dizzy and unsafe. Proper "Don't-Look-Down" moment! Mille and I decided to go back down, whilst Alex showed more bravery and made it to the top. He kindly shared his pictures with us, but even though the view is stunning, I'm happy I've missed out on that.

PS: On the way back down I banged my head against a wooden bar. Feel free to have a good laugh, always happy to entertain people! :)

Look Down view from the Vor Frelsers Kirke Copenhagen

Vor Frelsers Kirke in Copenhagen

Once Alex came (safely) back to the ground, Mille introduced us to Christiania, a freetown in the middle of Copenhagen. The area started out as a social experiment in the 1960/70s as a Hippie Community. Think of alternative and greener ways to live your life, far away from social commitments, pressure and a consumerism lifestyle. These days, it is a zone for drugs and some people refer to it as the "Amsterdam" of Copenhagen. You're not allowed to take pictures or to run, in order to not attract attention and therefore freaking out everyone who consumes drugs.

When we entered the area, I first thought "OMG, dafuq is this?!?" but once we went passed the druggy stalls and escaped the heavy air of pot, the area was actually quite adventurous. Think about a big wild, romantic English garden with lush flora and fauna, where you stumble upon abandoned factory houses or beautiful little cottages, arty sheds or untouched boathouses resting by the tranquill river. Whilst walking through the area I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I did enjoy the cosy houses and nature and found myself wondering how different life must be out here. Christiania is, compared to the modern and vibrant city centre, a complete different world though it is right in the heart of Copenhagen. The entrance area is quite dodgy and I felt out of place with my fancy weekend clothes and ASOS handbag. Though people seemed to have been relaxed and probably were harmless, I couldn't shake off the feeling that we've been watched (or followed) and there was this underlying feeling the atmosphere could skip at any moment, releasing the nasty beast that everyone of us has inside.

For dinner, we treated ourselves to a tender steak and juicy burger at Mash, which is a very high end restaurant with excellent food. Mille and I also went for dessert. Whenever a menu has cheesecake listed, it is kind of a given, that I'll have to have it and I did not regret my choice of soft creamy cheesecake with a refreshing and zingy rhubarb sorbet at all! Apparently, there's a Mash branch in Soho. 

Mash Dessert Menu
Mash Cheesecake with rhubarb sorbet
The evening finished quite late and shortly before we went to sleep, fireworks lit up the clear night sky over the Tivoli park, which we enjoyed seeing from our hotel window on the 8th floor and the comfort of our bed. What a welcome to our holiday!

Thank you so much for checking out today's post. It's gotten a bit long and wordy and usually I don't really share travel or weekend trips, but I really enjoyed working on this post. Copenhagen is simply an incredible city, which you can easily explore in one weekend. Friendly people, clean and tidy streets, adorable houses, chillaxed atmosphere, safe environment. What more could you possibly ask for?

I will share the rest of my weekend trip within the next few days, so make sure you don't miss out on my amazing day trip to Malmö, Sweden and final day in Copenhagen!

Take care and till next time,

xx Caz xx

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