Scandinavia: Copenhagen

We landed in Copenhagen in the late afternoon, and took the train from the airport into the city. Our hotel, the First Mayfair, was only a few blocks away from the train station. We dropped off our bags and set off to explore the city.

It was quite chilly and windy, but the forecast said rain, so we wanted to take advantage of the weather. I’ve never seen so many bikes! Everyone bikes in Copenhagen, which is awesome, but I don’t know how they do it in the dreadful weather! I wanted to, but it looked to cold and miserable to me.

We decided to walk towards Freetown Christiania, stopping in a few design stores on the way.

After some meandering through side streets to get there, we soon came to a large graffiti fairy wall and knew we were in the right place.

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There are no photos allowed in Christiania, so I’ll do my best to paint a picture for you.

Before you go in there is a sign that reads:

There are only 3 rules in the green light district.

  1. Have fun
  2. Don’t run it causes panic
  3. No photos — the buying and selling if hash is still illegal.

The first thing that came to mind was Skatopia, if you’ve ever heard of that place or seen the documentary. There is graffiti everywhere, which I wish I could  have taken photos of. There was a warehouse style skatepark with Alice and Wonderland characters graffitied on the front. There were stalls lining the walkway selling “super pot” and food. There was also a stall with free donated clothes for people to pick through. Loud club music played in one area.

As we walked into a small park area there was rock graffitied with the statement “Only freedom is holy.” A little further in, there was an shirtless older man swinging his arms around his body, as if he were doing some kind of spiritual ritual. (Mind you, it was very cold out.) 

Other groups in their teens and 20s hung out eating pizza, brownies and just chillin’. We passed some abandoned buildings, which probably housed some “residents” of Freetown, beat up bikes and junk piles then we reached the end and walked out onto a street next to a stream. That was it. 

Not sure if it was the weather combined with the grungy atmosphere but it felt kind of sad to me. Nonetheless, glad I saw it. Maybe it’s nicer in the spring? 😁

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It started to rain and we were getting hungry. Walking away from Christiania and down some side streets we found an old world kind of restaurant Restaurant Skindbuksen that has been around since 1728. It was dark and tavern-like. Paintings on the walls and ceilings. Just the place to eat on a damp, cold rainy night.

We ordered an appetizer of herring and I got veal liver as a main. It was delicious! (I love liver, so it wasn’t a random ordering item for me.)

The next day we bared the cold and wind again and walked 6 miles to see the famous Little Mermaid statue.

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To improve the walking conditions, it started to rain. ☔️ So, we found a little place to eat for lunch, Gravy, then went to the free Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark). The museum was massive. They have a nice mix of time periods, styles, including contemporary installations, which most of the time I find nonsensical… Lol. We spent most of the rest of day there looking at the art and having an afternoon latte.

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We walked back in the rain and relaxed a little before our dinner reservations at the new Nordic restaurant, Radio.

New Nordic Cuisine at Radio

While Noma is what most people think of when they hear Copenhagen new Nordic cuisine, we wanted to try something a little less pricey and where we could actually get a reservation on short notice. I’d come across Radio a few times as I was researching restaurants and it was one our concierge recommended to us, so we chose that one.

We had first seating, which I like because it’s less crowded and quieter (plus I get hungry early 😋). They immediately brought out a complimentary appetizer. That evening it was a radish dish with dried capers and mustard seeds and a little yogurt sauce. Light and delightful.

You have the choice to get a 5 or 3 course fixed menu dinner and the option to add on extra dishes if you’d like. You can also do a wine or juice pairing for an additional charge too. We went for the 5 course, no drinks, just water option.

Before our first course we got a deliciously warm sourdough bread basket with another crunchy cracker kind of bread with homemade butter with caramelized onions. Yum! We ate it all and they brought us some more! Yay!

The first course was scallops, carrots and smoked cheese. Yes, those are carrots (photo below on the right)! They are sun dried and then cooked in their own juices. They looked like sun dried tomatoes, had the texture of sweet potato and tasted like it too, with a hint of carrot. Very interesting and very good.

The second course was salmon, cucumber and whey. Some of the cucumbers were trimmed and skinned to looks like celery. Really a trick to your eye and your mouth!

The third course was lettuce, seeds and rapeseed. We were already starting to get full!

The four course was a decadent veal, salsify and ramson. Delicious but a bit salty, even for my taste.

Dessert was mead, celeriac and licorice. I’m not a fan of licorice at all, luckily I couldn’t really taste it. The ice cream made of mead was interesting but I wasn’t a big fan. The marshmallow was very good though.

We were pretty stuffed by the end and our pockets weren’t  too much lighter, which I love.

Overall the atmosphere was quaint and elegant without being pretentious. Food and price were on point and left feeling happy and pleasantly full.

The Opera

Next we were off to the opera to see Salome. We knew it would be in German, but I thought we would get a playbill to read the synopsis, but it cost $5 so we opted out of that and failed to read about it online before the performance began. Big mistake, lol. The subtitles were in Dutch.

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It was a single act show set in an observatory. Stars and sequin black and white costumes. Right from the beginning there were random gyrations of the actors. Then some blonde woman appeared (Salome) and the weirdness continued. People died, someone came up from a dungeon, people came back to life, a large head with a halo appeared from the floor, Salome got in its mouth, then came out if it, someone else died. The end. I got the vague gist of it, next time I’ll make sure to read the synopsis.

The opera house was beautiful and the tickets were reasonably priced. It was a nice outing on the rainy cold night in Copenhagen.

Summary

Copenhagen is a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be! The design and food scene are great. There are plenty of new Nordic cuisine options that won’t break the bank. The weather in April is miserable, rainy, windy and cold—bring a jacket, rain jacket, earmuffs, umbrella, the works! Freetown Christiania is worth the visit, even if only for 10 minutes. Would I go back? Maybe. But not anytime soon and probably only in the summer.

Next stop is Gothenburg, Sweden. Follow @enjoisundae on Instagram for sneak peeks and more!

Check out my first post of the Scandinavian series on Oslo, Bergen and Flam.

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