Welcome to Copenhagen, Denmark!
Four countries, twelve days, 114 miles walking, and 2,039 driving! We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start and end our big Scandinavian adventure other than in the lovely city of Copenhagen. Although we were jet-lagged with bloodshot eyes upon our arrival, we were rearing to start exploring as soon as we got off the plane. It was my first time in a foreign country and I was overwhelmed with wonderment. As we drove through the city in our rental car, I almost gave myself whiplash craning my neck so hard to see all of the beautiful sights. Quite a few of the buildings had turquoise spirals that jutted above the city sky-line. I was amazed by the little differences that come with being in a foreign country and I couldn’t help but gasp or point when I saw them. The layout of the streets were small and narrow and even the streetlights were strange, turning yellow after red. There were more bikes than pedestrians and cars combined, and they zipped through the streets even in the poor rainy weather we had arrived in. My excitement mixed with the spirit of Copenhagen made the feeling of the cozy, quaint city almost tangible. Copenhagen surely welcomed us with the traditional Danish “hygge”; a feeling I will never forget.
After the initial shock and awe of being in Copenhagen started to settle, Zen and I decided to find some food. We had been traveling for 18 hours, squished in full cabins on every flight and only fed the measly microwave dinner food they serve on the planes. We were famished and our bodies were screaming for real food. We made our way to Nyhavn to find Færgrekro, a restaurant I had found during research on the city. We climbed down into this little basement restaurant, ducking out of the rain. Once inside, we were warmly welcomed by one of the servers. We clearly looked like American tourists because he only ever spoke English to us, even before we said anything ourselves. We were seated in the back corner of the restaurant right next to a warm fire as the friendly server patiently helped translate the menu. We decided on a couple of smørrebrød (fish on bread) dishes. My meal was the best, of course. I chose smoked salmon with cheese and capers on bread. Zen ordered a shrimp pasta on bread as well as Swedish meatballs on bread. Everything about the atmosphere and food was authentic. We enjoyed our meals by candlelight and discussed the beautiful little city while we waited for the rain to lighten up.
The iconic canal street of Nyhavn was one of our favorite parts of our whole trip. The buildings on the North side were colored and scrunched together. Since we were no longer focused on fueling ourselves, we were able to absorb the beauty of the painted houses and restaurants. The former red-light district was bright and alive! Old sailboats were docked along the canal, there was a street performer playing the accordion and people laughed and conversed on the heated porches of restaurants. The colorful background created perfect photo opportunities both for portrait and landscape pictures. We enjoyed this little strip of Copenhagen so much that we came back and visited it a couple more times during our trip.
We made our way through the city knocking out all of the top tourist attractions since we only had a little time left before calling it a day. At the top of our list was The Little Mermaid. When we stumbled upon her, we were quite unimpressed. The iconic statue was underwhelming and deflating after all the hype. She was small and placed in front of power plants, making it an unsightly view. We snapped a couple of quick shots just for the memories, and then moved on. Luckily, our next stop compensated for our disappointment. The sun was setting which made the colors and light dance behind the Gefion Fountain. The statues were beautifully carved and the fountain was spectacular next to an old church.
After the sun had set and the streets started to clear, we decided to take refuge at our hostel. We were beat and utterly exhausted. Sleep in Heaven was accurately named for how well we slept that night.