Our family visited Copenhagen to celebrate my birthday. It was kind of a last-minute trip, and we’re calling it a rough draft. We had a good time overall, but agreed we’d like to do it again, and do it better.
Most disappointing was Tivoli Gardens, where we’d planned to spend the day on Monday, my actual birthday, after a weekend of checking out other parts of the city. Turns out it closed that day, for two weeks, as a between-seasons break. Our hotel was steps from the park, and we passed it open countless times over the weekend, which made it especially upsetting.
We still got to see and do a lot, though.
We arrived mid-morning Saturday. I deliberately hadn’t made any Saturday plans, knowing that travel with a 1.5-year-old is unpredictable and we might be super tired. It took us what felt like an insanely long time to leave the airport – first, the automated machines to purchase Copenhagen Cards and travel tickets were not functioning, so we wanted in a huge line to deal with one of two clerks. We finally got onto a train and waited about 20 minutes, only to hear an announcement that the train was broken and we’d have to wait ten minutes for the next. Finally, finally, finally we got to the hotel, cleaned up, found some food, then made our way to Nyhavn Canal for dinner.
I had lobster, Matt had a steak. LIVIN’ LARGE!
There’s a whole block of restaurants. You choose one and eat along the canal at cozy outdoor tables, with lamps and blankets to beat the chill. Solid people-watching. We saw a dog waiting on a sailboat happily greet his owner, an old man in a worn fisherman’s sweater, and it looked like a Pixar animation.
The next morning, we headed to brunch at Wulff & Konstali, where you order a selection of delicious little items, served in small bowls.
It was fun, and experimental, and delicious… but cold. The indoor seating was full (and so was most of the outdoor seating, honestly – the place is popular) so we bundled up at a picnic table and it was cool and windy. The real downside to this is that the food gets cold in about 5 seconds.
After brunch, we made our way to the Louisiana Museum. Once back in Copenhagen, we threw caution to the wind and took Dexter on a boat tour. I was nervous, because once you’re on, there’s no getting off, even if your child decides to start screaming and tries to fling himself overboard.
I didn’t need to worry. Even given how cold it was (again, much worse than expected, perhaps our Floridian selves are falling into a pattern?), Dex was wonderful, just snuggling up with us and taking it all in. He seemed quite enamored with our tour guide. She was a cute blonde.
We departed from Nyhavn Canal, where we had dinner the previous night.
The famous mermaid sculpture, surrounded by tourists.
Apparently this is a famous church, although I can’t remember the name of it. Sorry, cute blonde tour guide. She said the tree next to it is also famous for being photographed so much, and has its own Facebook fan page.
Hooray, one of the rare photos where all three of us are looking at the camera and smiling at onc— DAMN IT, MATT.
PRO TIP: While shivering and huddling together, we gazed enviously at other canal tour boats with windows and overhead shelter, only to learn later that those tours are also included in the Copenhagen Card. If it’s chilly, do those ones.
This is not part of the tour, but was a nearby art installation, an enormous wall covered in coffee sacks:
As a certified pregnant lady, I have to pee all the time. I had an urge, so we found a public restroom that was accessible via dirty, grim-looking dungeon-like stairs. Desperate times, so I walked into the depths, nervous about what I’d find.
What I found was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PUBLIC RESTROOM I’VE EVER SEEN.
The photo doesn’t do it justice, as I was rushing to avoid being caught as the weirdo snapping pictures in a restroom.
Dinner that night was Paper Island, a huge warehouse stuffed with booths/trucks/RVs offering all manner of street food. It was really, really cool. I had an amazing porchetta sandwich, Dexter devoured dumplings and Matt had… I can’t remember. Then we ate creme brulee doughnuts, which unfortunately, were more dramatic than they were delicious.
The views were stunning, but it was 1. cold and 2. past Dexter’s bedtime. I told Matt I wished it wasn’t, because I would have loved to hang out there longer.
Next morning, we headed to Kalaset, a freaking adorable basement cafe, for breakfast. On the way, we made a quick detour through Orstedsparken, a funky, gorgeous park made even more impressive when you consider that it’s very small and located in the heart of a city. Once settled at Kalaset, Dexter enjoyed eating my cappuccino foam while once again staring at the pretty girls.
Afterward, we’d planned to hit the Round Tower and then spend the rest of the day/evening at Tivoli Gardens, our last stops before the Copenhagen Cards would expire.
My delicious breakfast didn’t agree with me. So instead of hustling to Round Tower, we headed back to the hotel so I could rally for Tivoli. On the way, we stumbled across yet another neat park and couldn’t resist letting Dexter explore a bit while I took it easy.
And then we discovered the Tivoli closure disaster. We headed back to the hotel to regroup and let an exhausted Dexter take a really, really long nap.
While he slept, Matt booked me a prenatal massage and we made a dinner reservation. We had a dim sum snack then wandered around a town square while waiting for my appointment.
The courtyard I passed by, to enter the spa, was so European it looked like a movie set.
While I got rubbed, Matt took Dexter to Kings Garden. I’ll let Matt describe it: “There’s a whole storyline in statues. A dragon egg mid-hatching in the middle surrounded by two awesome dragons and in each corner of the area is a different activity for the kids to interact with.”
Then dinner at Spisestedet FEED.
I am mad at myself for forgetting to take a photo of this before we started devouring it, but it is their appetizer plate and it was SO GOOD. Salmon three ways at the top, then bruschetta, then beef carpaccio, then stuffed mushrooms. You can see a little of my beet salad to the left, and we didn’t get a photo of Matt’s filet tips pasta.
They didn’t have any cake so we had deconstructed apple pie for dessert.
Neither Matt nor I were that into this but Dexter loved it. His palate is more sophisticated than ours.
And that was that. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, then flew home. Dexter has this funny habit of whenever he gets his hands on a soft blanket or stuffed animal, he’ll put it on the ground and lay his head on it. I guess he’s just trying it out, but it was super weird when he grabbed his blankie from me and decided to lie down, butt in the air, on the airport floor as we were attempting to board.
Copenhagen was consistent with the rest of our overseas adventure so far, in that it was rough on us. Nothing went smoothly or came easily. (I skipped over a LOT of angst. A LOT.) Funny enough, we chose Copenhagen for its family-friendly reputation, because we thought it would be easy, as opposed to say, Paris. But for us, it just wasn’t.
As mentioned, we decided this trip is a rough draft and when we turn in our final report next time, we’ll be sure to hit Tivoli Gardens, plus Elsinore, plus The Round Tower, plus we meant to find the sidewalk with trampolines embedded but it never happened.
I feel like an ungrateful bastard, complaining about a fabulous, cosmopolitan birthday weekend, just because it was challenging at times. But this has been a running theme, since we’ve moved, and I don’t want to whitewash the truth: Europe has been hard on us. Look, we know big changes like this are difficult and we absolutely anticipated roadblocks and rough patches. But in reality, we’ve had more than a normal amount of both. The getting settled process has been incredibly long (we are STILL waiting for some promised flat repairs) and unlucky. I’ve only talked about it a little, because if I posted about everything that has gone awry, it is all I’d talk about, all the time. Things have evened out a bit, now, but there was a period of time when any time we hit a crossroads, things went down the crappy path, through no fault of our own.
Given all of that, the very best part of Copenhagen was coming back. Our return felt like coming home. And that feeling? That was my real birthday gift.