A Girl, Her Hubs and a Suitcase
This travel blog has provided me with a much needed outlet and means for creativity since its inception many trips ago. But, in full transparency, my life has drastically changed for the better-due to a 140+ pound weight loss over the past year. Much of the foundation of this blog is generated and inspired from food, the fine, tasty, exotic delicacies of a new world, being a plus size gal in a European world and the numerous obstacles that often arise -good, bad and ugly -all too often- with yours truly the center of all the mayhem. In all intents and purposes, countless antics, international chaos and boundless antidotes were driven from the challenges faced above.
I preface all this because-I have been experiencing writer’s block. Think of it this way-this trip is enhanced in every single facet due to a lack of these nuisances replaced by new and exciting nuances. However, since I have internally and externally changed-please bear with me that my writing, focus and content must adapt as well. Consider this “ A Girl, Her Hubs and a Suitcase- 2.0”- new and improved- higher in quality-fewer in calories and denser with more nutrient rich commentary. I hope you enjoy the new improved version and find it just as filling and satisfying as its predecessor. And, although it may lack a bit in flavor and culinary splendor it will certainly provide an equally stimulating entertainment experience.
Now, having said all that-
On with the show….
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
Hans Christian Andersen
It is only appropriate to pay homage to the real architect of Copenhagen. Not a designer of structures, but of fairy tales and colorful stories. He is viewed as a national treasure in this region and there are references everywhere to his literary contributions.
Denmark –a geographical appendage off of Germany and sandwiched within the Scandinavian neighbors of Norway and Sweden is the topic for today’s installment of A Girl, Her Hubs and a Suitcase. Centering primarily in Copenhagen will be the focus for the next 4 days followed by the nautical city of Hamburg, Germany. These roving rebels got a taste of the Scandic life last year in Norway and decided to stay with the revolutionary Viking theme. Although, Copenhagen has so much more to offer than that-but one needs to look beyond the hokey, tourist novelty of it-to see the true luster of Denmark.
Arriving late in the afternoon jet lagged and weary-we caught a train to the downtown region. From the train, we set out on foot in search of our hotel. Cobblestone and rolling luggage is a bad combo. That is all I will say regarding this. After the frozen shoulder subsided and the blisters stopped throbbing, I am now able to laugh about getting a bit lost cursing the misfortune of the banning of Uber and lack of WIFI that subsequently waylaid our arrival to the lovely Scandic Front Hotel https://www.scandichotels.dk/front.
This modern hotel is situated right on the water in the trendy Nyhaven neighborhood http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/nyhavn-gdk474735. Nyhaven is a pedestrian friendly, hip, energetic area with high end popular restaurants, bars and shops. The hotel is slightly out of the congestion but close enough to access all the fine places if needed.
Tired and drained from the wears of travel, we showered and fell fast asleep, for the remainder of the night- very different than our usual first night exploration. However, this worked out well, as the next morning we arose before sunrise to take advantage of the hotel gym.
Two peculiar and disappointing events occurred. Apparently, along with banned Uber- so is Pandora. This is a much essential requirement for me to exercise. Secondly, the equipment was reminiscent of the Ford administration. Making do with these sad “first world” problems, we made the best of it. Knowing without a doubt that we would earn our much needed steps from concrete and walking –all easily available to us.
We partook in the yummy breakfast items on display for us. Fresh fruit, fancy cheese and numerous other treats -fueling our bodies for the long day planned ahead.
Setting out in the early morning- the city was still asleep. Stores were still closed and the remnants of last night’s ruckus remained in the air. We walked to Starbuck’s and stuck with our usual morning routine, enthusiastic and eager for the itinerary the Hubs had worked so hard on.
At 11 am we met outside City Hall http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/city-hall-tower-gdk688394 to meet up with the Copenhagen Free walking tour http://www.copenhagenfreewalkingtours.dk/index.html. I highly recommend any kind of walking tour option when getting to know a new city. Exploring on foot offers a unique connection that any other mode cannot accomplish. And, free is always a bonus. These local run operations are funded on tips-so you pay what you feel it is worth. This works out well for us and we avail these opportunities whenever it is offered in a city.
Standing outside City Hall, one by one- an assembly line of cookie cutter “just married” couples sprung out the door steps- the grooms dazed and bewildered and the brides all beaming. Magnus, our rugged Dane tour guide was full of witty dialogue, a worldly spin on humor (he has a real issue with the Swedish) and a local take on Copenhagen that was clearly demonstrated in his expertise.
Fast and spry, he leapfrogged through the streets with the eclectic group of 25 in tow snaking us all through the cobblestone streets quickly as he recited fun facts, useless tidbits and Copenhagen insider suggestions on future outing options.
Among some of the memorable commentary in the fun packed 2 hours were: The Parliament, Carlsberg Beer, politics, World War II, The Royal Palace and a common theme of his benign and humorous “disdain” for the Swedish.
After the tour, we walked through the greenest, lushest park King’s Garden-http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/kings-garden-gdk420899. This park dates back to the 1600’s and we were not alone in our pleasure. Everyone was out enjoying the magnificent sunshine. We saddled up to a bench to enjoy a light lunch under a serene tree.
After lunch, we decided to activate our brain and just down the path was the National Gallery of Denmark -http://www.smk.dk/en/. We leisurely perused the paintings stimulating our art craving. After a few hours, brain drain and physical exhaustion began to creep in.
Later that night, we walked across the waterway to the famous Royal Danish Opera House https://kglteater.dk/ for the opera Rigoletto. A timeless tale dating back to 1851 and first composed by Verdi-it is marveled as a classic.
Here is the description:
“A troubling tale in a crazy, insane and freaky David Lynch-setting. Full of paintings, art, and a complete new way to tell this classic and loved story.”
Well, something tells me-I should have paid attention to this “David Lynch” business. Let me talk about the positives first….
The venue itself is modern, clean lines and intimate. Our seats were incredible, spacious and comfortable, the voices angelic.
Ok, the negatives….The show in itself was disturbing. A modern take on a classic, naughty transvestite nurses (to each his own- no judgement), a man baby with a diaper, onesie and a pacifier, a naked lady with improper grooming techniques and tassels, oh and subtitles in Danish and singing- of course in Italian.
Well, the conservative, slightly uptight prude in me struggled with finding the “art” in this Pulp Fiction vs. Blue Velvet version. However, Hubs was clapping, applauding and standing “O” even for diaper man- along, with the rest of the I assume more liberal thinking Danes. Call me uptight, call me a “killjoy”, but I had to literally just close my eyes to try to take in the operatic melodies that these characters did indeed exude. I will never be able to “un-see” diaper man and that maybe the biggest tragedy of all, as well as the $200+ spent on the show. I would not call it a full on disaster because the orchestra was stellar and perhaps the most beautiful version of La Dona e mobile I have ever heard .
I will include a link if you are curious-because most certainly you will recognize this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A3zetSuYRg .
On the way back, in the cool autumn air, as the water illuminated under the moon’s gaze-I berated the poor Hubs and his entertainment selection. I went on and on and sadly on, missing out on all the beauty around me. For one brief moment, I had an outer body experience and saw and heard my pathetic self -mad over a tasteless (in my opinion) version of –let’s just be real folks- a luxury.
I quickly readjusted my thinking-and shut it down-rest in peace diaper man. No need to belabor this discussion any further.
This city is a millennial hotbed-young, loud, energetic and drunk at all hours –and conveniently -right outside our hotel window. Lucky for us-exhaustion and blissful sleep comes with this compact schedule. Sunday morning began wet, dreary and sunless. We made our way to The National Museum of Denmark -http://en.natmus.dk/. The museum is chockfull of Denmark history. It takes one on a 2,000 year journey through Denmark’s evolution with antiquities, displays and bric-a- brac emphasizing its significant impact on the world. It helped fill in some of the gaps and create a clearer picture of this country and its place as a world leader and influencer. 2 well spent hours were allocated here- well worth it and highly recommended.
We stopped off at Starbuck’s to sit, relax and rejuvenate for our next activity-next on the agenda Tivoli Gardens http://www.tivoli.dk/. This is the place that inspired Walt Disney. Built in 1843-this amusement park screams old world. We happened to be there the last day of the season. We prepurchased our tickets. There are two options-one just for entrance and another additional pricing for unlimited rides.
We chose to live on the edge and opted for unlimited rides as well. You walk into the entrance and you are instantly transcended back in time. It’s as if, I immersed myself in a Matisse painting during the French Impressionism phase. The park has a nostalgic presence to it, with old world charm and genteel elegance. Popcorn, cotton candy and waffles permeate the air in sugary delight.
Multi-generations gather on the sprawling green lawn in canvas lounge chairs, soaking in the last days of warm sun. Children’s laughter echo behind the rumble of a thundering roller coaster and the staccato shrill of dare devil thrill seekers. The essence of pure innocence, timeless fun and forgivable gluttony seemed to be a common thread crossing all demographics.
In the 23 years yours truly and Hubs have been together, amusement parks has never been our thing. Plus size and roller coasters do not go well together, therefore, for me-not something I truly enjoyed. Well, let me tell you-was I missing out! Hubs and I went on every ride that did not go upside down- his one and only criteria. Other than that-we tried everything. The laughter, exhilaration, adrenaline and pleasure were endless. We jumped from line to line-leaping in the buckets, seats, benches and other contraptions with nothing more than a wing and a prayer that this century old equipment would support us.
The ride lines were almost nothing, minutes at most-if that. The rides itself were three times longer than any park I have ever been to. I laughed so much on one ride, my tummy muscles literally ached from the fervent belly thrusts.
After a few hours, we sat on the plush lawn, in comfy canvas chairs as the fall air cooled as the sun faded. We sat like this for a long time. Snuggly and close, letting the happiness of the day settle in our souls, stocking up a nice reserve supply for a day many months from now, far from here where we may need to remember what pure joy feels like. But, for now-this moment- we treasured like sand slipping through an hour glass.
Before we left, we had Thai at Wagamama- https://www.wagamama.dk/ -right in the park. As we left, a bittersweet joy/sadness resonated in my belly-knowing this day was pretty darn special and could never be replicated.
Are you still following along? This day was a doozy. Hang on tight, because this story just keeps getting better. This morning after breakfast, Hubs talked me into yet another adventure yours truly has not done in her adult life. We rented bikes from our hotel. Everyone and I mean everyone-young, old, big, small-everyone-rides bikes here. Some more aggressive than other, some strange looking bikes that appear homemade, some fancy, some with pretty baskets-but they all ride bikes.
So, as I eyed this device I gauged my smaller body parts and calculated my out of pocket insurance deductible-and I figured -why not? After a few painful, whining, fearful and irritating minutes for the Hubs particularly- I mustered up the courage and off I was on my ten- speed bike helmet on head cycling like a pro. The sun was intense and bright, the air was chilly and the new motion of my virgin limbs and joints went right into action.
We rode by our hotel right on the waterfront. We passed large mast ships, tethered to the dock. We rode by a beautiful church St. Alban’s Anglican Church- http://www.st-albans.dk/. Built in 1885, perched overlooking the water-it was simply beautiful. However, a million photo snapping tourists agreed with that. So, we kept going. We made our way to the Little Mermaid statue http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/little-mermaid-gdk586951. This 100 year old bronze statue honors the fables of Hans Christian Anderson who wrote of a mermaid who gives up everything to live on land for her love of a man.
Again, 1,000 eager camera snapping tourists surround the poor naked mermaid-hurdling over jagged, wet rocks-risking life and limb for that perfect shot. A couple snapshots were attempted by yours truly before cycling on.
We continued down a path that led us to Kastellet- http://www.kastellet.dk/. This stunning fortress from the 1600’s -in a citadel shape is a working military barracks. As we rode by the changing of the guards, I immediately felt I was trespassing into another world. We parked our bikes and ascended up a path that overlooked the waterway below. Cannons displayed throughout the path. A bucolic wind mill stood stoically on guard. We sat at a bench taking in the warmth of the day and absorbing in the splendor that surrounded us.
We snaked our way around and made our way to Freetown Christiania-
http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/culture/alternative-christiania. Founded in 1971, it is a neighborhood known for its “hippy, free thinking” society. As you enter the area, homemade, “artsy” vibrant workshops and homes flank the street. A pungent, reminiscent “skunk-like” odor hangs thick in the air. Holding my breath, for fear of a “contact high”- I clearly had tourist written all over me with my “Scandic Front” bike, helmet, braids and judgement (I know, I know…working on this part). Hubs suggested looking for a nice bench for a picnic at this point. I speeded up my pace, ignoring him-knowing I have seen and experienced all the free loving I needed to. To each his own honestly-not my scene. Take it off the list…
We made our way back to civilization. We had a nice picnic lunch of light snacks on the water before heading back to the hotel. From there, we divvied up all our dirty laundry, plopped it in our bike basket and made our way to a local laundromat.
Using up every lost Krone we had (Danish currency) we enlisted the assistance of a sweet little Danish woman and communicating with charades, hand signals and finger pointing –we eventually were able to operate the machinery.
Clean clothes in tow, we ventured back to the hotel. For dinner, we drove back across the water to Papiroen http://copenhagenstreetfood.dk/en/. It is a unique dwelling with 40 food stalls- anywhere from vegan to pork and beyond. We circled around the popular place, taking in the many different smells before making a decision. I settled on a vegan burger with unique and tasty toppings on a bed of lettuce. Frank chose a pork sandwich, hand carved and presented beautifully. We both were content with our choices. The place is very unique, right on the waterfront and highly popular with young people.
We rode our bikes back down the waterfront, burning off some of our dinner. The daylight was gone at this point; the winds began to kick up so we decided to call it a night.
Tomorrow we fly out to Hamburg, Germany. We are looking forward to the remainder of our trip and what new and exciting adventures await us.
Love and all things Danish-
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