So last week’s post was pretty grave.
We had a heap of terrorist attacks all over France and Germany, so it just had to be written! And as I indicated last week,
I can’t tell you what to do, or advice you as to who best to run your country. Or mine!
What I can tell you is how to cope, and how to keep on living, doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just read last week’s post.
But for now, time for a little sunshine!
VICTORIA’S SUMMER EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CAMPAIGN HAS BEGUN!
Every weekend, through the summer holidays, I’m going to be visiting a European city.
For six (6) weeks and the first place that I went to was Denmark!
Denmark is a Scandinavian / Nordic country.
It is south-west of Sweden, south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. In fact, you can either take the cruise ferry across the Baltic Sea, or drive across Northern Germany, via Flensburg!
The Kingdom of Denmark is a sovereign state that comprises of Denmark itself, two autonomous constituent countries – the Faroe Islands (not in the UK) and Greenland. It also consists of Jutland, and an archipelago of 406 named islands such as Zealand (not New Zealand), Funen, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, of which roughly only seventy (70) are inhabited, and a population of just 5.7 million people!
Denmark stretches along a coast of 7,314 km, which is longer than the Chinese Wall and the highest point in the country is only 170 metres above sea level!
Denmark is a very old country and in fact, the word Denmark dates back to the Viking age and is carved on the famous Jelling Stone from around 900 AD!
Even though today, Denmark is a tiny country, between the 13th and 17th centuries, Denmark was a superpower who was feared by all and an influence which was enormously powerful. Just check out the Irish-Canadian historical drama television series Vikings, and you’ll see what I mean!
Denmark is known for world-class design, cinema, TV crime thrillers and new Nordic food. Denmark is also known for having the oldest flag in the world still in use by an independent nation, the highest taxes in the world, one of the top international standards of living, and is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world!
The Danes are also regularly ranked as the happiest people on the planet!
I’ve been to Denmark many times, but it’s been twelve (12) years, since I was last there!
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO COPENHAGEN?
Copenhagen was burning hot! And I mean that literally!
There I was packing a windbreaker, a warm jacket, jeans, a couple of pairs of socks…when Denmark proved that Nordic countries have lovely summers after all!
I’m more a wintry wind and rain type of person who is not averse to a bit of sunshine, but you know, I like wind, and being that I was born in Manchester, I’m used to rain, fog and mist lol!
So let us begin with some history!
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has a population of just under 600,000 people!
Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, partly located on Amager, and is separated from a town called Malmö which is actually in Sweden, by the strait of Øresund!
Originally a Viking fishing village founded in 1167, the name of the city reflects its origin as a harbour and a place of commerce. The original Danish name was Køpmannæhafn, meaning “merchants’ harbour,” or often simply Hafn or Havn meaning “harbour” and so from 1417, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark, and still is!
Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development facilitated by investment, in its institutions and infrastructure. It is one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe and has become integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö, forming the Øresund Region!
Did you know that…
- The best restaurant in the world is called NOMA and is based in Copenhagen! I desperately wanted to try out some dishes there, but they were fully booked. They have a waiting list though, so if you’re in Copenhagen for a few days try to get a reservation, and take anything you can get. It’ll be worth it!
- Copenhagen boasts a total of 20 Michelin Stars – more than any other city in Scandinavia!
- Copenhagen is a bike city with more than 36,000 cyclists every day, and 55% of the local population commuting to work on two wheels! In fact, cycling is taken so seriously that the bike lane is wider than the pedestrian one!
- You can swim in the harbour as Copenhagen has a beachside, and centrally located pools where you can swim safely. The water was brilliantly and refreshingly clean, and loads of people were jumping in, and swimming all over. Watch out though as we spotted some jellyfish!
- Copenhagen has the world’s oldest amusement park otherwise known as Bakken in Dyrehavsbakken, and entrance is free of charge so that you only have to pay for rides, with every Wednesday being a 50% discount if you pay by cash!
- Copenhagen also has it’s own amusement park and pleasure garden right in the city center, opposite the main train station – Tivoli Gardens, and is fantastic in the winter. The park opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world!
- Copenhagen is home to the world-famous Freetown of Christiania. Christiania is a green and car-free neighbourhood best known for its autonomous inhabitants’ different way of life. It was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of rules, completely independent of the Danish government.
Freetown Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, organic eateries, and nature. Christiania is open to the public and guided tours are available.
I went there with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and even though there were loads of children dashing about, he didn’t like it.
It was a very hot day, there was a free concert going on, and so the “restaurant” areas were pretty packed. Members of the public are welcome and you can buy local produce and hand-made woven goods and clothes however, there are signs everywhere making it very clear that visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania, and also not to use any type of media in the area in and around Pusher Street, where you had people covered in masks, and heavier security due to the selling of marijuana, which is illegal in Denmark.
Oh, and no running!
It was educational, but after looking through the galleries, photographic studios, and generally walking around, we left.
HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET!
- Get the cheapest form of transport possible to actually get you to Copenhagen. We chose the train!
But actually, it was a Europa Inter-City coach-bus!
Issued by the train company!
It wasn’t a big deal as a return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00 and my son – “The Tall Young Gentleman” was completely and utterly free. Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn on this version, children who travel with their parents or grandparents, and are under 15, are free of charge!
Yep! Free of charge. They cost nothing. Nada!
- Stay at a cheap hotel. Not a hostel!
You heard that right!
I love going to boutique hotels and hostels and since I knew that Nordic nations are expensive, I had a peek!
My goodness. Private rooms in hostels were going for €180.00 per night, and at the weekend, hostels insisted on two nights!
Lovely boutique hotels even with all my charm and begging, were going for €220.00 and that was with a discount!
My husband wasn’t travelling with me. I just couldn’t justify the cost!
Sooooooo, cue to a deeper more intense look as to what was available. And I can’t remember how I found it, but I found a hotel, at a more “realistic” price! The hotel was called Cabinn Metro Hotel.
It was a family friendly budget hotel based a few stops away from the centre of the city. We ended up with an en-suite bunk-bed room with it’s own table and chair, a kettle, a flat-screen TV, towels, an open wardrobe, a few sachets of tea and coffee in the room, and free WiFi.
Breakfast could be had for DKK 75 per person (no child discounts), but we didn’t try it.
The rooms are small, but for just a night, perfectly adequate.
And the price? A marvellous DKK 625 per night!
- Arm yourself with a good map.
Free maps of the “official City map of Copenhagen” are available at the Copenhagen train station, hotels, public buildings, and pretty much everywhere! It was invaluable in finding our way around in the various districts, as well as having an included map of the train system and their stations.
- Use public transport.
We found that as far as transport was concerned, figuring out the right ticket to buy, can be confusing. If you’re planning to visit the suburbs and outer regions of Copenhagen, then buy a 24 hour ticket which will allow you unlimited travel by bus, train, metro and harbour bus in all the zones of the Copenhagen region, including trips to Roskilde, Elsinore or other parts of North Zealand, for 24 hours. Adult tickets cost DKK 130 (and you take two (2) children under the age of 12 for free). Children under 16 otherwise, cost DKK 65.
If on the other hand, you plan to visit Copenhagen only, don’t buy the 24 hour ticket, opt for the City Pass instead, as we did! You can buy a 24 hour Adult City Pass for DKK 80 or a 72 hour City Pass for DKK 200. Children under 16 cost DKK 40 (24 hours) or DKK 100 (72 hours). The City Pass gives you unlimited access to buses, trains, metro and harbour buses in zones 1 – 4, and includes the centre of Copenhagen and to and from the airport!
- Go for a free walking tour.
There are many outfits to choose from and I have my favourites, but I like to mix things around, so I chose the Copenhagen Free Walking Tours instead, and booked both the Grand Tour of Copenhagen and a Tour of Christianshavn. We loved the Grand Tour (which is a free tour supported by tips), but didn’t quite make it to join the official tour of Christianshavn, so we ended up doing that bit by ourselves…!
- Go to museums or places of historical interest, for free.
Generally, all national museums in Denmark are free to enter for children under 18!
For adults, you can see Denmark’s most famous icon – A statute of The Little Mermaid, visit the Christiansborg Palace Tower which offers a magnificent view of the city’s rooftops, and go to the following museums which are free on selected days – the Museum of Copenhagen, (Fridays – but is closed until 2018!), the Thorvaldsen Museum (Wednesdays), the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Sundays), the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum, (Wednesdays), the Hirschsprung Collection (Wednesdays), and the Danish Architecture Centre, (Wednesdays, 5pm to 9pm).
- Take a boat cruise.
You can’t be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters.
There are many ships and cruises to choose from with all of them being quite similar in price and tour. However, whilst on our free walking tour, I saw the sign of a boat cruise with a price-tag that I thought was extremely reasonable. It was a guided cruise in Danish, English & German and cost only 40 DKK for adults and 15 DKK for children under 15!
You can find it by the huge banner overhead and the side kiosk that is pretty basic. You need to go to the side of the pier and not to the front, where the other companies are! The cruise takes one hour, and leaves every 20 minutes.
- If you’re in Copenhagen at the weekend, opt for brunch instead of breakfast or lunch.
Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world! I mean, a Danish pastry on the Scandlines ferry cost DKK 21.95, and a small cup of tea cost nearly the same! Even a simple sandwich on a cracker was costing a handsome ransom at DKK 58!
What to do?
Well, we discovered an area called Nørreport which is full of restaurants and side cafe’s to choose from. Through rambling and strolling around, I discovered a restaurant called Cafe Palermo. This restaurant serves à la carte of course, but it’s biggest attraction was the buffet brunch that they served for DKK 69 and for students / children DKK 59!
We arrived there a little after 11:00 on Sunday morning, and it was quiet, but by 12:00 loads of young, hip, trendy people started to roll in. We sat by the window, surrounded by cushions, and the buffet was on the upper floor! The buffet consisted of pancakes, sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, a variety of bread, croissants, cake and fruit, as well as cheese, cold cuts, chicken, meat balls, sauces, soups, rice, potato, salads, and a very nice creamy tuna salad.
It was quite delicious!
They’re also known for cocktails!
- Eat at street food or visit farmers’ markets.
In my travels over the years, I’ve realised that the best way to get a feel of the people, the culture, and the food that they eat, is to either go to a street market where the locals go, or to find the nearest farmer’s market, and get the freshest food possible.
We did both!
We went to the farmer’s market at the Torvehallerne across the road from Nørreport Station. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the luxury feel of a food marketplace filled with stalls selling Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish, delis, wine, and other tasty organic Danish delights!
We absolutely loved it!
On our last day, we decided to go to the very famous Copenhagen Street Food Market which was brilliant.
It’s on the Papirøen otherwise known as the Paper Island, and is Copenhagen’s first and only genuine street food market on the waterfront cross the harbour. Crammed with the young and the beautiful noshing on grand organic fare, sustainable street food, locally produced bottles of organic beer, and the chill-out vibe of a live DJ on a top deck, leather cushions, deck chairs in the sunshine, people leaping into the harbour, and you’ve got yourself a very warm food truck and party atmosphere, while the sun goes down!
- Go local and just eat fresh raw stuff: Denmark isn’t known for a hearty warm meal filled with the coziness of mashed potatoes, cabbage, and a pie! Danish food is rather more barren, making way for seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, and seasonal berries and herbs! As a result, we had rather a lot of sandwiches, salad, and cake!
- If you’re really broke, take a blanket, take a basket, and enjoy the rest of your holiday on a Danish beach!
- Buy everything you need at the 7-eleven supermarket, which like in Thailand, are everywhere, and the prices are very, very budget-friendly!
- Chill out and have fun on the harbour.
- Visit Christiania, but make sure that you follow their rules.
- Rent a bicycle as the bike is king, but remember, you must always give way to bicycles, and there are thousands of bike riders, so look both directions before you put a step out, as they’re extremely fast!
- Walk absolutely everywhere.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see, even though you have two (2) hours before you have to get back to the coach-bus station.
Because it won’t end well.
And it didn’t!
Before we realised what had happened, we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
And it took almost an hour to get back into town.
And an hour to get back to the hotel to pick up our stuff.
Even though I took a cab, and the taxi driver stepped on it, I paid a DKK 200 fare.
And we still missed the coach-bus!
Luckily, there was another bus company that hadn’t left – Eurolines – and so a quick dash of shifting our stuff from the taxi to the coach-bus, a bit of a sob story ‘cos there were a queue of people who wanted to buy a ticket, and a last-minute fee of €100 in cash, secured two seats for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I safely back to Berlin.
So there you have it.
HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET. EVEN THOUGH I MISSED MY LAST CONNECTION. AGAIN!
This article is not sponsored, and all opinions about hanging out with hipsters and yuppies, on a Danish harbour, are my very own!
Throughout the summer months of July & August, all the museums in Berlin will be open each and every day! This will conclude with the bi-annual Die Lange Nacht der Museen otherwise known as the Long Night of Museums taking place on 27.8.16 from 6p.m. in the evening ’till 2a.m in the morning!
The Pop Kultur Festival is a new festival based in hipster Neukölln, over three (3) exciting days of new international and German bands, live concerts, performances, talks and reading, taking place from 31.08.16 – 02.09.16.
Berlin Art Week will take place from 13.09.16 – 18.09.16 so if you like contemporary art, this is the place for it!
Save the Date!
August is going to be scorching!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in August, what are you waiting for?!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Do you think Denmark is expensive? Have you ever missed your flight, train, boat, coach or bus? Spill the beans!
See you in Berlin.