Copenhagen, Denmark – July 4, 2015
The beginning of our R&R trip was neither restful nor relaxing. After all, it was midnight when we departed. We arrived at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, just outside Islamabad, with plenty of time to make our flight check-in arrangements. Before leaving the check-in counter, we made sure our luggage tags read CPH. We wanted to reunite with our stuff when we arrived in Copenhagen.
After going through security, we seated ourselves in the waiting area near the boarding gate. When I stopped to look around at the other passengers, I saw a ten to one ratio of men and women. There were men everywhere, but very few women passengers. I am not sure if that is the norm or if it just happened that way the time we were there.
Two hours later, we went down the boarding ramp to the waiting bus. It was a short bus ride to the side of the plane. We climbed the stairs and found our seats quickly.
The plane departed for Dubai about ten minutes early.
Our flight from Islamabad to Dubai was a short two hours. We landed in Dubai at about 05:30 local time. Even at that hour, it was a toasty 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
We climbed down the stairs and boarded a bus for the ride to the terminal building. I thought the driver was going to take us directly to Copenhagen by bus. It seemed the journey would never end.
Our flight from Dubai to Copenhagen was uneventful. We collected our luggage and hailed a taxi. The taxi ride lasted about 20 minutes and cost 300 Kroner, about $40. It was 14:30 when we arrived at the Marriott.
As soon as we checked in, we made a beeline to the terrace facing the canal. Leslie and I enjoyed white wine. The channel was incredibly busy because it was such a beautiful day. It appears many people use the canal for swimming and water sports. In front of the Marriott is a wooden bridge-like structure, used as a beach. There were numerous sunbathers, swimmers, skateboarders, walkers, and bikers using the structure. People packed the opposite side of the canal from the Marriott. In general, it was a day for doing nothing more than worshiping the sun and enjoying the pleasant weather.
We saw wide, flatboats full of tourists going back and forth in the canal. They were the recipients of canal tours. We also saw larger, yellow boats going back and forth. Those were waterbuses.
Leslie was keen to get her haircut. Hotel staff directed us to the mall on the canal, Fisketorvet Byens, a little more than one-half mile from the hotel. One of the odd things we saw while walking to the mall was a round houseboat. It was strange because of its shape, but mostly because of its location. Moored to a pier directly in front of a commercial building, alongside a bustling pedestrian and bicycle path, it just seemed out of place.
Our path to the shopping mall included many unique examples of architecture; people enjoying the day, and boats.
The other oddity we found was a bride and groom taking wedding photos in front of the brick wall of the mall. We assumed they had been staying at the hotel across from the mall. For some reason, they must have liked the background. For all we know, that may be where they met.
In the mall, we stumbled upon the salon, Simply the Beth. The owner, Beth, had time to cut Leslie’s hair. She shared that the name of the salon was a play on the Tina Turner lyric, “simply the best.”
Back at the hotel, we went to a happy hour in the Executive Lounge. I saw a beer in a bottle that appealed to me. I wanted to be able to place the label in my journal. As I took a sip or two, I could tell the beer tasted funny by my standards. Although I am illiterate with Danish, I saw the word on the label that clued me into the odd reaction of my liver, “alkoholfri.” That is Danish for “alcohol-free.” I sat that down and got a lager instead. It tasted much better, and my liver was much relieved.
For dinner that night, we opted to stay in, dining at the Midtown Grill in the hotel. It is a steakhouse. For starters, Leslie chose the smoked blue cheese salad while I selected the hand-salted smoked salmon. The salmon came with lemon wedges, roe, and greens. The salmon was delicious but very rich. Leslie and I decided on the main courses of tenderloin and porterhouse steaks respectively. We thoroughly enjoyed the steaks. As good as the meal was, nothing could have possibly prepared us for dessert, sea buckthorn creme brulee. It was the best creme brulee I have had anywhere on this planet.
The sea buckthorn berry is orange in color and somewhat tart. The berries were pureed in the bottom of the bowl, creme brulee on top of that, and then the very crusty sugar top. The combination of tastes and textures was incredible.
The next morning, Sunday, we began with a coffee on the terrace, overlooking the canal. When we finished, we took a very leisurely stroll to the Rådus, the Copenhagen City Hall.
The flowers planted along the south side of the building were very colorful and beautiful. The building is an imposing brick building, dating from the turn of the 20th century. A tower of nearly 350 feet dominates the redbrick building. The tower has a beautiful clock on all four faces. Above the west entry door is a gilded statue of Bishop Absalon, a 12th Century archbishop from Denmark. It is awe-inspiring because of its size and detail.
At the corner of the Town Hall is a giant statue of Hans Christian Andersen, one of Denmark’s sons. A crowd of tourists swarmed the area, vying for their chance to have a photograph made with the statue. Many of them posed as though they had just found a long-lost cousin.
City Hall plaza is on the west side of the Radus. That morning, there was a flea market in full swing. It appeared to be specialized in antiques. Leslie found a topaz necklace that she decided to buy.
By the time we left the plaza, it still was not quite 10:00. Many of the stores on Frederiksberggade Strøget were not open, and there were not a lot of people around. Within about a half-block, we saw a store with a unique mannequin display of several older men in their underwear. The sign read, “Just let the men stay naked, as long as we girls can shop.”
As we poked around, looking for a place to have a coffee and wait for things to open, we stumbled across the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus stop. We decided to take the bus, opting to travel the entire route, seeing all 16 stops. Then we could choose where we would like to get off and explore in more depth. The sights we saw included the Liberty Column, the Tivoli Amusement Park, the Christianborg Palace, the Nyhavn District, the Nyborder District, the Trekroner Fort, and the Gefion Fountain.
We decided to get off in the Nyhavn (pronounced New-Hawn) area for further exploration. Because of bus computer problems, we decided to get off a couple of stops early and walk to Nyhavn. We got turned around once, but we ultimately made it to our destination. The canal from which the area takes its name came into being in the 1670s. For much of its existence, the area played host to drinking establishments, sailors, and prostitutes. On this particular day, there were crowds of tourists enjoying the beautiful weather and the Nyhavn venue for the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. That festival has been an annual occurrence since 1979.
The beauty of Nyhavn is quite striking. On either side of the canal are buildings painted in bright pastels. Each one is three and one-half to four stories high, facing the channel. Above the ground floor businesses are townhome or condo-like residences. I understand the addresses are some of the most sought after and expensive in the city. Peppered throughout the canal are some old boats, adding another layer of character to the scene.
We focused our search for a lunch restaurant on the north side of the canal, the sunny side. The tables and umbrellas along the canal just blended from one business to the next. The only way to tell when one was at a different establishment was to look at the facade of the buildings to see when the paint color changed.
We sat down at a restaurant named 17 Nyhavn. We began with a tall amber beer. In the heat of the day, 82 degrees Fahrenheit, the beer helped quench our thirst. Leslie opted for an avocado salad while I selected the club sandwich and French fries. It was a delightful lunch. That was not necessarily due to the food, but rather the company, the setting, and the jazz tunes lilting through.
After lunch, we decided it was time to go back to the hotel. To get to the bus stop on the other side of the canal, we crossed the short drawbridge. On the bridge, there were several padlocks from lovers pledging themselves to one another. We have seen that in several places throughout Europe.
We caught the bus across the street from the apartment building in which Hans Christian Andersen lived for nearly 20 years. As we waited, we spotted a sign for Lycamoblile, ironically touting an excellent rate to call to Pakistan.
A few stops later, the bus stopped for a break at the Little Mermaid statue. It is a very famous statue. I decided to get off and take a photograph while Leslie opted to stay on board. The icon is tiny and unimposing. That lends more credence to why the guide books say many people see the statue and claim, “Is that all there is?” Much like the Hans Christian Andersen statue, there were crowds of tourists vying to have their picture made with her. Regardless of her impact, I did get a refrigerator magnet to remind us of our trip there.
We got off the bus directly in front of our hotel. We immediately went inside for a nap. We were both more worn out than we thought.
Leslie’s mom and aunt arrived in Copenhagen on Monday. Before they arrived, we walked back to the mall to do some shopping. Just before the mall is a bridge strictly for bicycles, it is known as Cykelslangen or Cycle Snake. It is a curvy, fun way for cyclists to cross the canals.
On Tuesday afternoon, we all boarded the Regal Princess cruise ship for our Baltic cruise. Leslie and I booked a suite with a balcony. We were delighted with our accommodations.