I do not even know where to begin. Sit down and prepare yourself for a nice looooong read, really long. I guess I will start by reiterating the title of this post – I HEART COPENHAGEN! I really do. This latest adventure began with a weeklong workshop that Joel decided to attend (with perhaps a little encouragement from me since I really wanted to go tooJ) in Copenhagen. I found an amazing apartment to rent in the Nørreboro neighborhood just minutes from the city center. If you ever need a place to stay, especially with a family, I highly recommend the website www.airbnb.com where you can rent a private flat or apartment for as long as you may need. The apartment we chose was only 2 blocks from Joel’s conference site, a block from a lot of bus stops, surrounded by no less than 4 parks in a 2 block radius and a short walk to the city center. If that wasn’t good enough, we also had an enormous private park/playground/picnic area (with a small soccer field) shared by all the apartments on the block .It is hard to explain but picture the apartments, all about 5 stories high, on a single city block forming a square. The inside of the square was the private park with no way to enter for the public and no way to exit unless you were tall enough to reach the locks to the large wooden doors leading to the outside – these were cleverly placed higher than most locks so that it is very difficult for children to escape…genius! We spent several mornings, afternoons, and evenings enjoying breakfast, afternoon cheese and crackers and of course beverages. The apartment was our ‘home’ for the week with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Perfect.
Joel arrived on Sunday evening, the kids and I on Tuesday. I have done a decent amount of travelling, but this was my first adventures travelling in foreign countries alone with kids. Our travel day entailed a bus from our apartment in Tromsø, flight #1 from Tromsø to Oslo, flight #2 from Oslo to Copenhagen, clear customs, find the metro ticket machine, Metro from the airport to the city center, then walk the 1km from the Metro to the apartment (I just couldn’t sit on another mode of transport so we chose to walk). Walking up the steps from the Metro to the busy city streets in the center of Copenhagen with 3 small suitcases and 2 small children was a good reality check that I was no longer a young, casual backpacker through Europe only responsible for myself. This was going to be a whole new experience of travel. After I gathered our gear and the kids and gave them a quick lesson on staying close by and watching out for bikes, I looked around to find the closest ‘open area’ with no busses, cars, or bicycles (which are everywhere moving quite fast). Luckily we were just a block from the Botanical Gardens. We quickly made our way to the gardens, immediately sat in the grass near a nice little pond, and stripped down from our cool weather northern Norway attire to barefeet and shortsleeves. Yeah – Spring time! What a beautiful time to be in the Botanical Gardens on Copenhagen which are AMAZING. The less than 1km walk through the gardens toward our apartment took us about 2 hours. Yes, you read that correctly, 2 hours. Of course we DID have to stop at the café for ice cream and a beer.
Exhausted from travel we met Joel, had a nice dinner and fell asleep quickly. We had 5 full days in Copenhagen ahead of us. Rather than tell you about all of the places we visited in these 5 days, I will just link them to websites that do a better job explaining if you are the curious sort.
Day 1: Rosenburg Castle and Gardens – This amazing castle was built as a summer home for King Christian IV in 1606. The highlight was definitely seeing the Crown Jewels of Denmark for Adelheyd and the amazing assortment of bejeweled weapons for Odin. One of my favorite quotes of the tour around the Castle “why are all the people in these paintings naked?” -the tourists nearby had a good laugh on that one. We were also lucky enough to be there for the changing of the guard which was pretty cool to watch.
From the castle we made our way to Stroget, on of the longest walking/shopping streets in Europe. We did not walk the entire thing but did manage to find the Round Tower, also built in the 1600s as a planetarium and observatory. The kids promptly ran up the circular incline to the top for a beautiful view on a rainy day. Odin sketched the rooftops and was quite excited to be over 30 meters high. After the round tower, we decided to take a break from the history tour and find the Lego store. Legos were invented in Denmark, so it is pretty much a requirement to see the magnificent lifesize models and wall art made out of legos at the store. It was pretty darn cool. After that, mom needed a beverage, the kids wanted juice and there was a little soccer match set up next to the perfect café to stop at – great way to end the day.
Day 2: The Copenhagen Zoo. Need I say more? This was one very cool zoo with the ability to get amazingly close to animals with little barrier between you and them. They also provide these very handy little wooden wagons and let you bring your own picnic in to enjoy. Overall a very delightful place to visit with kids.
After the zoo we explored another amazing park. Copenhagen is famous for its enormous, beautiful parks and gardens. These parks which are everywhere in the city, the wonderful bike lanes, and the friendly people helped me to fall in love with this city. It is definitely near the top of my list of European cities that one must visit. After the park we hopped a bus back to the city center where we met Aunt Alli who made the trip over from Sweden to explore Copenhagen with us. That evening we were joined by one of Joel’s colleagues from Belgium for dinner in our courtyard. It was the perfect setting to relax and socialize.
Day 3: Statens Museum for Kunst (State Museum for Art). Most of you know my mom is an artist. We grew up travelling a decent bit and ALWAYS went to the art museum for the city we were visiting. I could not leave Copenhagen without taking the kids to see a real art museum. On the way there we passed through another nice little park where we found some art to play on/with and some fun landscaping. Paci trees are common in Scandinavia where kids leave their pacis when they decide to ‘grow big’ and get rid of them. The paci tree for Copenhagen is next to the art museumJ The special exhibit at the museum was Blomster (flowers). They had a nice little interactive station set up with colored pencils and paper to draw your own flower still life. The kids loved it, so this is where we spent most of our time. From the Art Museum we made our way to the Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tale House which has a lot of his famous stories with little animatronic displays. It was quite enjoyable for all of us, though I think Odin most remembers seeing a statue of the tallest man who ever lived right next door at the entrance to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Don’t worry, we did not go in. The kids were tired of walking by this time, so we opted for a nice relaxing canal tour. We stopped to pick up treats (candy and lemonade), hopped on a boat, and explored the city from the water. I highly recommend this while in Copenhagen. We could see the queen’s residence, the beautiful new opera house, the canals of boats and several very cool buildings as the Danes are famous for their architecture. We finished this long day of exploring the city with a walk through Christainsborg Palace where we were even able to go to the King’s stables and see all the beautiful white horses and the carriages used for Danish royalty since the 1800s. Exhausted, we met Joel for a nice Italian dinner and went home to collapse.
Day 4: Tivoli, Copenhagen’s famous amusement park. I think I took a thousand pictures because this place was so amazing. Sure there were the rides and games and candy that the kids loved, but they also made it enjoyable for adults with beautiful gardens, dozens of nice café’s and beer gardens, and an overall relaxed atmosphere. We stayed for 10 hours. I think that speaks volumes, getting Joel and I to stay anywhere enclosed for 10 hours is unheard of! We all agreed that it was an amazing day that we will never forget.
Day 5: Recovery Day. Mother’s Day. Sunday. All good reasons to sit in the park, eat a late brunch, drink beer on a sunny day in the courtyard, enjoy each other’s company, and just relax. Ahhhh. What a week…and we never even made it to the brand new aquarium, the famous Nyhavn street, Castle Island… I guess we will have to go back. I do heart Copenhagen.