May 13, 2015
We visited Copenhagen during three days from Friday evening to Sunday evening. We were extremely lucky with the weather because while it was raining a lot over the rest of Europe, we had three days of sunny steel blue skies.
We stayed at the Marriott Copenhagen, a very decent hotel, where I enjoyed an evening cocktail ( a bramble) and some smoked salmon to get in the mood.
After a very refreshing but albeit short night, we took the hotel breakfast, which comes pricey at 220 krone (around 30 euros) per person. Copenhagen is an expensive city but there are cheaper alternatives.
We decided to walk the first day, and headed for the district closest to the hotel. Slotsholmen is surrounded by water on all sides and the country’s seat of power. We visited Christiansborg, where the Danish parliament is housed. We did not go inside but only saw it on the outside, recognizing many sights from the pupular series “Borgen”. We passed the Royal Stables, which has an outside riding arena. (If you are lucky you can see the queens’ horses exercised in the morning). We walked further in the direction of the water and passed the Black Diamond (den sorte diamant), closed because it was May first which is a Christian holiday in Denmark. The imposing black building is decorated with slabs of natural black granite. It hosts cultural activities and exhibitions. We continued in the direction of of the Jewish museum designed by Libeskind, and spend some time enjoying the lovely library gardens.
We then headed for the main train station, because we wanted to visit Louisiana; a museum for Modern Art, north of Copenhagen. When we finally found the ticket counter, we were met wit a huge line of passengers waiting. We had to take a number, and realized there were still more than 50 customers ahead of us. We therefore searched for a self service ticket machine, which we found in the middle of the hall. To find the hour of departure on the screens I had to know the destination of the train. Neil joined the queue at the information booth, while I tried to figure out which train we should take. Just when I figured it out, it was Neil’s turn at the booth. The lady informed us that the cheapest options for us where either a 24 hour ticket, or a return ticket that included the entrance ticket to the museum, both to be bought at the ticket counter ( with huge waiting rows). Our next train with as destination Helsinger, was to leave in less than ten minutes so we decided to take a one way ticket from the self service vending machines. ( a 24 hour ticket could also not be bought from the machine). A one way ticket to Humblebaek costs 108 krone per person. We bought the ticket, ran for the train and made it just in time.
From Humlebaek station, it is still a ten minute walk ( with signs) to the museum. The museum is built as an extension of a villa, set at the border of the sea overlooking the Oresund straight, with beautiful sculpture gardens, looking out over the water. We were thirsty and first headed for the café, where we were met with huge lines before the counter ( with about 8 selling points) and we lost courage. So we first went out looking for a table, and when finding a perfect table in the sun with seaview, decided to get drinks. I went to stand in line for two coffees, some water, and some last minute muffins. It took I think between 20 and 30 minutes, but it was worth the wait when we sat down in the sun. We sat there much longer than it took to drink a coffee, chatting away, and aware of the luck we had enjoying the weather, view and atmosphere. The museums great attraction is indeed the combination of the architecture of the building, which is very airy and homey, the beautiful setting and view, and the choice of avant-garde exhibitions. Although we were not really taken by the artists on view at the moment: Peter Doig, Jef Wall, Richard Mosse and David Hockney, the total experience was more than enjoyable. I advise visiting the museum on a sunny day! ( so it is not the kind of museum you choose as an alternative for a rainy day)
After our visit we walked back to the train station and managed to get a ticket from the self service vending machine just in time to catch the next train to Copenhagen. ( it seems there are two trains an hour between Copenhagen en Humblebaek and back, but I am not really well informed on the schedule). The train takes about 35 minutes between Copenhagen and Humlebaek.
Feeling tired we decided against walking out from the hotel for dinner and took our dinner in the Marriott Hotel. They have a good choice of steaks and a catch of the day for the fish choice. The desserts are OK but not extra ordinary. A dinner for two with a main course and dessert, wine and coffee was about 900 krone.
The next morning we decided to take our breakfast outside, but wanted to rent bikes first. Copenhagen is an extremely bike friendly city. The hotel was out of rental bikes, so we had to go out searching for another place. We decided on Baisikeli at Dybbølsbro station. It is a 15 minute walk from the hotel, but a good and cheaper option. The hotel charged 150 krone per day, at Baisikeli, we took the most expensive option (lux) and paid 205 krone for two days! You can choose you own bike, while the color sticker on the steer tells you if it is a budget, medium or lux bike. You fill out a form, pay and of you go. We biked to the centre looking for a breakfast place and chose Paludan cafe and antiquariat. The place has two floors, is quite spacious and there are books on all walls. The plates others had ordered looked delicious, so we asked them what they had; the Paludan breakfast plate, and immediately decided to take the same. You order at the counter downstairs, if you are in company, the other person can keep a table. You take your drinks to the table and wait for your plate with scrambled eggs and bacon, lots of fresh fruit, cheese, yoghurt with muesli and honey, pancake with honey, salmon with salad, different kinds of bread, and a fresh orange juice or smoothie, to be brought to your table. All that for 99 krone, unbeatable. Young travelling Americans have obviously discovered the place, it was full of them. We enjoyed our breakfast and cappuccino and skipped lunch, not being hungry after such a sumptuous breakfast.
We jumped on our bikes and headed towards Rosenborg slot, a beautiful little castle with beautiful gardens, and many trees in bloom at this time of year. We did not go inside, it is 90 krone for a ticket. We walked around the gardens and enjoyed the castle from the outside.
We then continued towards Nyhavn, the harbour famous for its pastel coloured houses on the side, and the many bars and restaurants. Hans Christian Andersen lived here for a while.
We were shocked by the number of tourists strolling the quays of the canal, it was black with people and it made us (after quickly taking a picture), immediately turn around, taking one of the side streets towards Amelienborg, home to the Danish Royal family, and protected by the Royal guards, (with black fur bonnets) of whom we had just passed a small regiment in the streets. It was just after midday, when the change of guards takes place.
We strolled through the square of the palace, took a left to see the dome of the Marmorkirken, constructed after the dome of the St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. It is also called the marble church, because it is almost entirely constructed out of marble, except from the outside, by then it had become too expensive. We continued towards the Kastellet, of which mainly the 5 tipped star rampants are still standing. There is not too much to see here, so we headed straight for the main price: the little mermaid, the famous symbol of Copenhagen, and invented by fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen. The mermaid looks less beautiful than I imagined, and I find her standing a bit lost, the surroundings not very romantic. But then this is not Hollywood or Disney. We cycled back to the centre of the city, passing by some shops, but found nothing worth buying, sorry kids… We wanted to take a drink and sat outside of the Standard hotel for a refreshing drink in the sun looking over the water.
We returned to the hotel to freshen up a bit, and headed for our dinner in Adendum, at the other side of the river in Christianshaven. ( Snorresgade 1) We entered a small but cosy restaurant, playing the right music to our taste, found something on the small menu ( scallops with Bellotta ham as entree, and lamb churruchurri with aubergine as a main course). There is an extensive wine list and decided on a red wine by the glass. The food and wine were very tasty, and really light on our wallet compared to many other places in Copenhagen. We finished with tea and another glass of wine. We were the only non-Danish in the restaurant. The waiter asked us quite curiously where we came from.
After a very refreshing second night, we packed and checked out, and headed back to Paludan bog and café, this time for the vegetarian version of the Paludan breakfast plate, convinced we could not possibly find a better and cheaper place for breakfast. The place was packed this time ( it being a Sunday), but we still managed to find a good table. We then headed for Christianshaven, and biked alongside the canal, often dubbed little Amsterdam for obvious reasons.
We took a look at Noma, named the best restaurant of the a world, and then headed for the opera building, donated by Maersk, Denmarks biggest multinational, to her majesty the queen of Denmark. The building is decorated with gold on the walls and cederwood in enormous amounts. We cycled back, bypassed the street food fair which attracted many locals and headed for Christiania, a self declared freestate of the city, and a real tourist attraction.
We were not really charmed by it. It felt like a dirty dump, where obviously more is being used than only pot! We left shortly after arriving, in need of a coffee. The café’s were not very attractive at this side of the river so we crossed the bridge to the centre and took a cappuccino and a piece of cheese cake with blueberries at Bertels salon, yummie!
Then it was time to return to the airport and back home, with our heads heavy from the sun!