One word to conclude my 5 days trip in Denmark - S.E.R.E.N.I.T.Y
Undoubtedly, I would come back to visit Denmark again! When I was there, I literally feel that I should just migrate to Denmark and live there! Scandinavian travel, overall is pretty expensive. Dear Dana and Alex, I couldn't thank you two enough for your hospitality, offering a place to stay and making me awesome breakky and dinner, which saved me heaps! Thanks for suggesting places for me to visit before and during my stay in Copenhagen! :)
If I were to do Scandinavian again, I would definitely put more effort in researching the attractions and plan my journey well. The public transport is very convenient but if you could cycle well, cycling is definitely the best option to cover more of the city in depth compared to walking. July is definitely the best month to visit Copenhagen because of its long daylight (sunset at around 11pm and sunrise at around 3am) and you get to hire bike for free! This trip taught me to enjoy my own company and the beauty of travelling alone which is simplifying life. I get to change my itinerary spontaneously and walk all day long at my own pace, which significantly means a perfect escapade from everything :) In conclusion, this trip definitely helped me to rediscover myself more and I do look forward to my next trip :)
First of all, I would like to mention how much this trip means to me. It is my first solo trip and most importantly, meeting one of my best friend that I met in Rome 4 years ago. It was a pretty spontaneous decision that I've made to just book the ticket and fly all the way from Australia to Denmark to visit Dana. So, my itinerary was not exactly well-planned but overall I enjoy this trip a lot and I would definitely be back for my second visit! :) After almost a day flying and transiting, I FINALLY reached the beautiful country, Denmark. Make sure you purchase the public transport card, Rejsekort (80DKK just for the card, which is about 16AUD) before you leave the airport. This could be handy to travel around, even taking train to other cities!
Day 1 - On my way cycling to Bakken, I decided to stop by this beautiful beach. It was filled with people sunbathing and swimming in the clear sea. It was a lovely day to stay chill at the beach, soaking some Vitamin D ;) After the beach, my friends led me to cycle into the woods where I saw a tiny yellow house that looks absolutely like the house in Hansel and Gretel coming to live right in front of my very eyes. It was situated in front of a lake and surrounded by the woods. I felt like I have literally cycled into a dreamland. So beautiful and serene! Thank you Alex for showing me the route to this hidden gem! Being an accident prone and pretty bad at cycling, I fell twice at the road. Thankfully my friends were very patient with me and always look out for me.
Day 1 - Bakken Amusement Park is situated in the beautiful woods of Dyrehaven. Founded in 1583 makes Bakken the world's oldest operating amusement park. Being a great fan of roller coaster rides, I have to say I am absolutely fascinated by Rutschebanen (directly translate as roller coaster). When I was reading through things to do in Copenhagen, this is the first thing that caught my attention and without second thought it went straight through to my Bucket List! Rutschebanen is the awesome wooden roller coaster open since 1932. I love how this park serves as a leisure place for the whole family and the entrance fee is FREE! It is a wise decision to cycle to Bakken because after a fun day in the park, you could cycle around the beautiful woods surrounding it to spot deers. Horse carriage tour is an excellent option for the family to enjoy the woods :)
Day 2 - I took a 30-minutes train ride from Nordhavn Station to Hillerød Station. When I was walking past the town centre to get to Frederiksborg Castle, I was absolutely stunned by the magnificent view of Frederiksborg Castle across the lake. This Renaissance castle was built in the first decades of 17th century by the legendary Danish King Christian IV. Since 1878, the castle has housed The Museum of National History. The entrance fee is 75DKK (~15AUD) that lasts for the whole day. I was told that the development of Denmark from the Middle Ages to 21st century was beautifully displayed in many beautiful rooms in the castle. However, I was never a fan of museums and being tight on budget, I decided to take a stroll along the town centre and treat myself to a good brunch instead. I would say that "serenity" is the perfect word to conclude Hillerød.
Day 2 - I hopped onto a train at Hillerød Station to get to Helsingør. The train ride was about half an hour. I enjoyed the scenic view along the way to Helsingør very much. Kronborg Castle is in the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. This 16th-century castle was built by the Danish King, Eric of Pomerania. It was located at an elevation of 12m, on a small foreland jutting out into the narrowest point of the Øresund, which is the sound between Danish island of Zealand and the Swedish province of Scania. Not forgetting to mention, Kronborg Castle is immortalized as Elsinore in the famous tragedy play of William Shakespeare called Hamlet. Taking a stroll along the Helsingør harbour and its town centre on a chillax Saturday is just perfect! There are souvenir shops in the town centre and if you are a postcard collector like me, it is convenient to purchase postcards here because some of the shops do sell stamps too. There are so many restaurants and cafes to pick for lunch and the atmosphere of the town is pretty laid-back, which make it a good choice for a weekend getaway.
Day 3 - This was COMPLETELY not in my original itinerary. My friend, Dana, recommended me to pay a visit to this beautiful city for a day and boy I am glad I did! Odense is the third largest city in Denmark where it is the main city of the island of Funen. It is the city where the famous Hans Christian Andersen, who is remembered for his fairly tales, was born and spent his childhood years. The Hans Christian Andersen Musuem is a small yellow house on the corner of Hans Jensens Stræde and Bangs Boder in the old town, which is the birthplace of H.C. Andersen. I was told by numerous locals to find the bronze footprint on the street that will lead me to H.C. Andersen Musuem. The old town is truly beautiful and I literally felt that all the fairy tales I have heard during my childhood all came to live right in front of me! :) Spontaneous thing is what I often end up doing, including booking a ticket to fly all the way from Australia to Denmark. Obviously this trip was so spontaneous that I hardly plan my way. Getting off at the Odense Station, I hopped on to a bus that I believed leads me to the Funen Village and I was told that I could not use my Rejsekort to travel. The friendly bus driver lady suggested me to purchase a all-day ticket that costs me 50DKK (~ 10AUD). I am very grateful that I bumped into a very helpful gentleman, Anton, as he helped me to translate the bus lady's heavy Danish accent and finally figured out about buying the all-day ticket. But fear not, people in Denmark generally speaks good English. Being an accident prone, it was normal for me that I get pretty messed up when I do spontaneous things. So my day started off with me hopping on to the wrong bus and getting off at the wrong stop that to me it looks like middle of nowhere. Right behind the stop that I hopped off the bus was this beautiful small church where most of the churchgoers are elderly people (p/s: I was told that locals referred them as Sunday Driver who drive at a very "safe" speed). The few houses beside the church feature the traditional Funish houses. The beautiful tiny town basically distracted me from being panicked for getting lost in a foreign place. However, the bus was considered pretty frequent on a Sunday (about 30 minutes if I was not mistaken). Personally, I think the laid-back little towns in Odense is the perfect escapade from all the stress at work for me.
Day 3 - Den Fynske Landsby, directly translate as The Funen Village, is a Danish open-air museum. Although I am never a fan of museum but an open-air museum instantly prompted me to go in and have a look. The entrance fee is 80DKK (~ 16AUD). It features 25 buildings from Funish villages that mostly date back to the 18th and 19th century. There is a restaurant/cafe in the Funen Village where you could sit back and fill up your tummy. The village is a good place to spend time with your family. Being a city girl, I have to admit that I was totally fascinated to see animals like chicken, pigs, cows, horses, and sheep, roaming in front of me. Most of them stayed in the fenced field. I was thrilled to see two employees dressed in the traditional costume walking around the village. I literally feel that the time machine took me back to the 18th and 19th century. After this trip, I absolutely look forward to visiting open-air museums. It makes museum tour so much more interesting and completely changed my perspective about visiting museums. ;)
Day 4 - I kicked start my day by walking to The Little Mermaid located by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade. It is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, commissioned by Carl Jacobsen (the son of Carlsberg's founder) in 1909. Jacobsen had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen's Royal Theatre and thus he asked Ellen Price, the ballerina, to model for the statue. However, she did not agree to model in nude, and thus the statue's head was modelled after Price but the body was modelled after the sculptor's wife, Eline Eriksen. I was told that The Little Mermaid statue is the most vandalised statue where its head was once sawn off in 1964 and 1998 but was successfully restored. In 2004 and 2007 the statue was draped in burqa. Besides that, there were several times where the statue has been poured on with paint. If you really want to take a good snapshot of the statue, you have to be there SUPER early, especially during summer where it is the peak season for visitors from all over the world. I can hardly squeeze through the crowd and take a snapshot of the statue WITHOUT people posing next to it!
Day 4 - I was absolutely stunned by the stunning Gefion Fountain. It is a large fountain on the harbour front in Copenhagen, featuring a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the legendary Norse goddess, Gefjun. It is just minutes walk away from The Little Mermaid statue. The fountain was donated by Calsberg Foundation on its 50-year anniversary to Copenhagen. The fountain was designed by Anders Bundgaard and was first activated on July 14, 1908. Right next to The Gefion Fountain is St. Alban's Church, also known as the English Church by the locals. The Anglican church was designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style. Inside the church, it was so stunning and beautiful! I took my sweet time walking along the harbour to Nyhavn. The waterfront view is just gorgeous!
Day 4 - I headed straight to Nyhavn after the Gefion Fountain. Nyhavn, directly translate as New Harbour, is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen. I totally adore the colorful façades along Nyhavn that is full of Scandinavian charm! The harbour was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1673. Along Nyhavn you find restaurants, bars and also mobile hotdog stores. Opting for something light, I decided to grab the Danish hotdog - Fransk Hotdog (around 30DKK which equals to about 6AUD). It is absolutely brilliant way to serve the hotdog in a bun with one closed end that stops the dressing from spilling all over the hands! As a foodie, I am definitely a BIG fan of Fransk Hotdog. Haha. There are also several canal tours and bus tours available at the harbour where you could just queue up and buy a ticket to join the tour. A decision that I regretted not making on the day and was prompted by my friend Dana to do it the next day. LOL!
Day 4 - I continued my journey to the pedestrian, car free shopping area in Copenhagen, Strøget. It is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe at 1.1km. As I was walking down the street, a pretty decent cafe called Royal Smushi Cafe hidden in the "back lane". I ordered a dish called Smushi, which I was told by the staff that it is the modern version of smørrebrød. Smørrebrød is the famous Danish open sandwich that is usually served with a piece of buttered rye bread and with cold cuts toppings such as meat, fish, cheese or spreads. I chose a dish with 3 serves of smushi with toppings: (front to back) meatball with herbs and stewed summer cabbage, potato with lovage & tomato, and Chicken salad in smoked cheese with radish and lemon sugar. Simply delicious! I paid about 138DKK (~ 28AUD), which I personally see that as rewarding myself for walking few hours non-stop since I left my friend's place. Haha. Not to forget, Copenhagen Jazz Festival (July 3 til 12) was taking place while I was there in Denmark! It is an annual Jazz event each July in Copenhagen where musicians performing at more than 100 venues in Copenhagen and over 1000 concerts. The festival is one of Copenhagen's most important public festivals! There are posters along the streets that say Lady Gaga is performing with Tony Bennett at Tivoli Gardens for the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2015. It's a shame I didn't get to go and watch that live! Bummer!
Day 4 - After filling my tummy in Strøget, I am pumped to walk my way to the Calsberg Breweries. Calsberg Breweries was founded in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen and it also brews Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Somersby cider, Russia's best selling beer Baltika, Belgian Grimbergen abbey beers and more than 500 local beers. After numerous time trying to find my way (misread the map for a few times, the clumsy me), what is better than a bottle of cool Carlsberg beer under the hot summer sun?
Day 4 - I decided to skip Tivoli Gardens since I have visited one amusement park already on my first day in Copenhagen. And thus I continued back to the city centre to meet up with Dana and spend some quality girls time instead! There's a lot of catchups to do after 4 years anyway. LOL. Tivoli Garden, locally known as Tivoli, is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden that was opened in 1843. It is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world, after Bakken. However, it is bigger than Bakken and there are more rides available. It has been stated that Tivoli ranks the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fourth most visited in Europe. That gives me a perfect excuse to visit Denmark for the second time.
Day 4 - Dana showed me the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen, The Royal Library. I only managed to capture the old wing of the building. The new addition of the library was also known as The Black Diamond that is situated at the Copenhagen harbour with stunning waterfront view. The library is the largest library in the Nordic countries. When I went into the library, the interior design of the old wing made me feel as if I was in the Harry Potter movie. So beautiful! There are cafes in the new wing where you could order a cup of coffee and enjoy the stunning waterfront scenic view. Great way to relax and take a break from work or studies. ;)
Day 4 - We went on to the Christiansborg Slot that serves as the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. I was told that the palace is the house of Denmark's three supreme powers, namely the executive power, the legislative power and the judicial power. This makes it the only building in the world that houses all three branches of government of a country. There is a viewing platform in the Tower, the tallest in the city, was made accessible to the public. Besides that, Dana told me that the interior of the Tower was refurbished as a restaurant. I definitely going to make sure I will save up enough to have a nice dinner in the Tower when I next visit Denmark! LOL! Anyway, we ended the day with a pint of local beer at a pub near the Nørreport Station. I love to get a beer and sit outside the pub catching up with my friend, and watching people from all walks of live passing by.
Day 5 - So glad that I took Dana's advice and get on the Canal Tour. Great way to see the city! The 1-hour guided canal tour was 80DKK (~ 16AUD) which was pretty reasonable. The informative tour guide speaks in 3 languages - Danish, English and German, delivered clear understanding of the city's development from its medieval infancy to todays cutting-edge destination. As the boat leaves Nyhavn, the Royal Danish Playhouse is on the left and diagonally across the water it's the cutting-edge Opera House floating on the manmade island. Another modern building nearby called Experimentarium City, is known as an awesome place for kids to get hands on experience.The Queen's palace at Amalienborg can be seen further downstream and reaching the Little Mermaid where the captain briefly stopped the boat to give us photo opportunity. Going further, we passed by one of the iconic attraction in Copenhagen, which is Church of Our Saviours. The gold-topped Vor Frelsers Kirke could be easily spotted from the boat where boat was slowed down for great photo opportunity! Turning out from the canals of Christianshavn, the glamorous yet ultra-modern Black Diamond (the extension of The Royal Library) can be spotted. On the return journey, the 17th-century building known as Børsen or the Old Stock Exchange (one of Copenhagen's oldest building) could easily be spotted with its four-dragon-tails-intertwined spire. Right next to it is the Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen's first palace built by Bishop Absalon and now serves as the home of the Danish parliament. Before returning to Nyhavn, the boat passed by the oldest bridge in Copenhagen - the Marble Bridge. Before hopping off the boat, the tiniest house in Copenhagen could be spotted on the left at Nyhavn.
Day 5 - Dome of Visions, the building that caught my attention the most throughout my whole trip. It is located right opposite of the Black Diamond, and offering the ideas of the possibilities in vitalising the space between buildings and temporary sites that always spring up when new buildings are constructed. Its construction is based on the ideas conceived by Buckminster Fuller, who is an American architect and futurist, in 1940s. The construction of the dome aims to challenge construction industry on balancing both daily life and ambitious climate goals when developing cities. Flexible plastic made up the surface of the dome that gives visitors a feel to stay in a greenhouse during the change of seasons, and thus giving a clear overall picture of the dome's ability to function as a residential and living room in harmony with the seasons and the power of sun.
Day 5 - The baroque church, Church of Our Saviour or Vor Frelsers Kirke in Danish, is definitely worth the visit. Paying an entrance fee of 45DKK (~ 9AUD) offers extensive views over central Copenhagen led by its most famous helix spire with an external winding staircase that reaches about 90m to the top. The design came from the inspiration of Sant'lvo alla Sapienza's spiral lantern where its external winding staircase also turns four times in anticlockwise manner. I tried to overcome my acrophobia but as as I was half way through to reaching the external winding staircase, it just got to me with the stairs becoming narrower as I go higher. It's a shame that I decided to turn back and not pushing my way through up to the top for the magnificent view of central Copenhagen :(
Day 5 - Located right opposite of Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Saviour), it is Christiania which is commonly known as Freetown Christiania. I was told that it is the happy town, which is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood. I would definitely go back in my next trip and see more of this happy town. Christiania is definitely an interesting neighbourhood to visit and worth exploring ;)
Day 5 - This little town named Dragør has end my solo Copenhagen trip with a beautiful note. It is located on the southeastern coast of the island of Amager, approximately 30 minutes bus ride from central Copenhagen. This beautiful town consists of many well-preserved historical buildings where you can easily spot yellow-painted houses, red roofs, and cobblestone streets built in the traditional Danish style. Quite a number of these buildings are hundreds of year old and the harbour front that is still in use adds charms to the old part of the town. From the harbour, you could easily spot the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden. To me, this town basically is a fairy tale town that comes to live and when I was walking through the town to the harbour, I literally felt that I was living in a fairy tale :) Ice-cream is ALWAYS the awesome go-to street food after walking almost the whole day under the sun. I am so glad that the girl who served me recommended to top my ice-cream with MASHMALLOW CREAM, which absolutely took my taste buds to heaven! So yummy! ;)