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yk+family 1 week in Copenhagen, Nov 2023 Trip Report

yk+family 1 week in Copenhagen, Nov 2023 Trip Report

Old Nov 20th, 2023, 12:59 PM
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yk+family 1 week in Copenhagen, Nov 2023 Trip Report

Hello, my family of 3 (me, DH, and our son who turned 11 during the trip) spent 1 week in Copenhagen in early November. I know most people only stop there for 1-2 days, but as you can see, there is plenty to see and do there for a week!

Why Copenhagen
Originally scheduled for June 2020, our trip had to be delayed. Copenhagen/Denmark is one of the few places that I haven't been back since I was a child in 1981 when my parents took me and my brother for a month-long western Europe trip. Over my adult life, I have revisited most of the countries. One of the lasts on my list was Portugal, which I went in 2019. The only country I still haven't been back since 1981 is Sweden.

Copenhagen in November???
November is NOT the best time to visit Copenhagen. Why did we? Last November we went to Paris the same week, and we had fairly nice weather, not too cold, and NO tourists. Plane tickets are cheap. Of course, Copenhagen is farther to the North, so daylight is shorter, weather is less ideal (mostly grey and cloudy), chillier. But once again, there were hardly any tourists and plane tickets were cheap. Honestly, if you want to visit Europe with few tourists, early November is your friend. Also, my son's school district has 2 holidays in early November (election day and veterans day). This year both fall on the same week, which means that we only have to miss 3 days of school for a 1-week vacation. Our son's birthday also falls on this week.

Lodging
We rented a 2-BR AirBnb that is near the central train station and Tivoli, just 1 block south of Glyptoteket. Even though we only had 6 nights, I rented it for 7 nights starting the night prior to our arrival. We flew nonstop on an red-eye from Boston — it's impossible to sleep on the plane that departs at 6:30pm — for us it's worth the extra $200 so we can check in right away and sleep for a few hours.

A few housekeeping
Money — I was planning on using local ATM to get some danish kroner, but mostly going to use our (fee-free) credit card. In the end, I didn't even bother with an ATM at all. Our entire trip was paid with contactless using my phone (apple pay). Everywhere accepts contactless, including airport train ticket machines, single-rides at Tivoli, as well as Christmas market stalls selling hotdogs! I prefer contactless with my phone because that means I don't have to take out my wallet for my credit card (one less thing to worry about losing)

Getting around — We mostly relied on walking, metro, and buses. We did 2 day trips with trains. There are plenty of bike shares but our son isn't tall enough to ride them. There isn't an app for copenhagen transit, so I have to use the transit planner, which isn't the most user-friendly (compared to other cities' transit apps). I had checked on bus routes near our apartment before leaving for our trip and mapped out the stops near us. (Disclaimer: I love investigating local transit options including bus routes, but I can imagine it might not be as intuitive for others)

Copenhagen Card — This was a good value for us as we hit many of the attractions. We got the "Discover" for 120 hours (148 pp), which also includes public transportation and day trips

Kids— do you know that kids <12 get in for free for almost every museum? And they travel for free on public transit? We are able to add a free Copenhagen Discover card (for kids) which is a great deal because there are some attractions (eg canal tour) that aren't free for kids but are still covered by the kid copenhagen card (which is free)

Day 0-1 (Saturday-Sunday)
We flew on SAS nonstop from Boston, which uses narrow body Airbus but it's a very new plane with decent leg room and recline. I bought the cheapest priced ticket (carry-on only, no advance seat selection) and paid for 1 checked luggage ahead of time. At 24-hour check-in, we were assigned 3 seats together. Flight was on time. We arrived at Copenhagen airport after a 7-hour flight at 6:30am. Customs and Immigration didn't take too long. Our flight arrives at Terminal 3, which is where the train station is located. I quickly bought our 2 adult train tickets to the city (60DKK) and was able to hop on the next train leaving in 2 minutes' time. Train trip to the city takes about 15 minutes.

From the train station it is a 10-minute walk to the apartment. We arrived around 8:15am and hit the beds.

We got up around 1pm, refreshed and showered, then headed out for Tivoli. After I had booked our plane tickets, I realized we were cutting it close, as today is the last day that Tivoli is open. They open for a few weeks from mid-Oct through 1st week of November, then they close for 2 weeks to prepare for Christmas. If we had arrived a day later, we would miss it entirely.

Since the longest duration for Copenhagen card is 120 hours (5 days), I decided we would pay our own admission for Tivoli today, and save the activation of our Copenhagen cards for the following day. My son likes some rides but not all; in the end we decided to pay for entrance-only (165DKK/pp, no discounts for kids), and then PAYG for individual rides. Once inside, our first stop was lunch, and we went into the Tivoli Food Hall and found a smørrebrød stall. 3 smørrebrød was 281DKK. My son ended up doing 3 rides (mines, bumper cars, and boat). DH did all 3 with him, whereas I only did the mines and boat. Pretty much everyone there buys the Rides Package, which gives you a bracelet with a barcode and you scan it to get through the turnstile. Since we wanted to PAYG, at each turnstile we had to tell the staff we want to pay for our single rides. Staff was always friendly and polite, and they simply grab the phone and I tap to pay. 8 single tickets for rides = 540DKK (in comparison, each Ride Pass = 259DKK). We walked around Tivoli twice, it's nicely decorated with lots of pumpkins and other halloween decorations, until dusk. We got 2 hot cocoa (50DKK each) but you get 5DKK back if you return the plastic cup for recycling. We ended up with two 5DKK coins that we didn't end up using because we never had other cash on us. My son took them home as souvenir.

We were too lazy and tired to think of where to go for dinner so we went to Wagamama inside Tivoli for dinner. It's a chain which we are familiar with. Dinner was 592DKK. There is a Netto supermarket on the same street as our apartment, so we stopped there on the way home to stock up on breakfast items.

- End of Day 1 -
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 01:04 PM
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Photos from Tivoli



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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 01:39 PM
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Day 2

Day 2 (Monday)
As part of my trip-planning, I made a spreadsheet of museums and their opening days/hours, as well as a customized google map so I can group all the sights by location. Monday is the day that *most* museums are closed save for a few exceptions. I thought the best thing to do on a Monday morning after arrival is taking a Canal Boat Tour by stromma. Canal tour is covered by Copenhagen Card. HOWEVER, it is only valid at the Ved Stranden (Christianborg) location, not at the Nyhavn location. In addition, you cannot prebook ahead of time. So if you want to use the Copenhagen card, you need to show up and hope there are still tickets left for the tour you want to take.

We aimed for the first tour at 10:10am, and I got us there by 9:55am (20 minutes on foot). Tickets are still available and I activated our Copenhagen Card at that time. It turns out my concern was needless. There were NO TOURISTS. Our canal boat had a total of 12 tourists (it can fit at least 100 or more). While it was somewhat cloudy that day, the sun did peep through, and it was in the 50sF so it was pleasant enough for us to sit in the uncovered section at the front of the boat. We really enjoyed the tour — gave us a good overview of the layout of the city plus a bit of its history — so I definitely recommend doing it!

Right by the canal boat tour is a Christmas Market (where Absalon's statue is), and my son wanted a belgian waffle after the tour (45 DKK). Then we walked over to Church of our Savior to climb the spiral tower. Even though the sign outside the church says booking is full for the day, we walked in, said we have Copenhagen Card, and they let us in right away. The 400 steps actually weren't bad at all; and we lucked out with not that many other tourists, and the sun even came out while we were there! I also recommend watching the short intro movie. After climbing the tower we went inside the church to look at the organ and a few other things that was mentioned in the movie.

By the time we were done it was around 12:30pm. We headed back across the canal but saw a restaurant nearby called Hooked and decided to stop there for lunch. My son loves poke bowls. Lunch was 470 DKK.

Next stop is Danish Architecture Center (covered by Copenhagen card) which I really enjoyed. Learning about the way of living in Denmark where they really focus on sustainable infrastructure makes me wish we were more like that here in America. The highlight of DAC has got to be its 4-story spiral slide! Basically you start the museum on the ground floor, and you make your way up 2 levels. When you are done, you can choose to take the stairs, or slide down! My son and I both took the slide, he even went a second time. We spent 1.5 hours at DAC.

By the time we got out, it was close to sunset. The Circle Bridge (designed by Olafur Eliasson) is right across the water; we had seen it earlier on our canal tour. We wanted to see it up close so we walked over there.

Finally, our last stop of the day was Museum of Copenhagen (free with Copenhagen card). Not only it is open daily, it is open until 6pm (many museums close at 5pm). We were a bit chilly from our walk to Circle bridge so we hit the cafe for some coffee and cake first (120 DKK). [One thing about the museums in Denmark: everyone of them has a very good restaurant/cafe. Also, every museum offers free lockers, free coat racks, and free wifi).

The museum is pretty manageable in size despite starting with pre-historic all the way to present. We were there for about 90 minutes until closing time. One of the highlight is a 600 year-old boat/shipwreck recovered when they were building the new opera house.

From there we headed back to the apartment, stopping at Netto again to pick up a few ingredients to make a very simple dinner at home that night.
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 01:41 PM
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Love the start to your trip report - I always enjoy reading them YK. You mention your brother. Didn't he used to post here on fodors?
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 01:42 PM
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Day 2 photos


View from top of Church of our savior

Sunset at Circle Bridge
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 02:29 PM
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Day 3

Day 3 (Tuesday)

This morning we walked over to the Radhuspladsen (city hall) Metro Station and took the metro to Marmorkirken (Marble Church). I didn't realize the Copenhagen metro is brand new. Coming from Boston, with its dumpster fire MBTA situation, this is like 🤯 The entire metro system is fully-automated and driverless. We rode in the first car and can see into the tunnel. during the daytime the trains run every 3 minutes. Since we can take both M3 and M4, basically there is a metro train every 90 seconds. The beauty of Copenhagen card is we can travel within the city without buying any transit tickets.

From Marmorkirken it is a short walk over to Amalienborg Palace (covered by Copenhagen Card). We got there just before 10am opening time. We got to see rooms of the previous monarchs — did you know for the past 500 years all the kings of Denmark are named either Frederick or Christian? It does get confusing after a while since they all have the same names, only distinguished by the # that comes after their names.

The Palace didn't take long and we were done a little after 11am, but we wanted to watch the changing of the guards at 12noon. With 45 minutes to kill, we walked over to Little Mermaid Statue (a 15-min stroll). It's probably one of the most "touristy" sites in Copenhagen but we lucked out when we arrived; the 2 tour buses that were there were getting to leave. We got our pics then walked back for the guards.

There were at most 100 tourists lined up in the courtyard. The changing of the guards isn't really that interesting... I think the entirety takes 45 minutes? Most tourists left after 15, we bailed after 30 minutes. Our next stop is Museum of Danish Resistance (covered by Copenhagen card), which covers the period 1940-1945. The entire museum is underground, save for the cafe. It only opened a few years ago and again, very well done. We first ate lunch at the museum cafe. My son had potato and leek soup. DH & I both got smørrebrød again. Lunch was 409 DKK. We spent another 2.5 hours at the museum; it has lots of interactive displays, the audioguide (free) allows you to follow the stories of 5 (real) individuals during the resistance period and hear their stories. This is probably my son's favorite museum on the trip.

Our final stop that day is the Design Museum (covered by Copenhagen card) nearby. It turns out mostly with contemporary exhibitions rather than the classic Danish Design that I was thinking of. My son found it extremely boring so we didn't stay too long at the museum. However, I opted to have dinner there at their cafe. Even though the museum and the cafe is open until 6, their "lunch" (aka hot food) is only served until 5pm. We sat down at 4:50pm and they had no trouble taking our hot food orders. my son had spaghetti with tomato sauce from their kids menu. DH had smoked salmon on sourdough bread. I had caesar Salad with grilled chicken. Dinner was 405 DKK.

We took the metro home, then I changed and got ready for the Royal Danish Opera that evening by myself. It was at the new opera house which is absolutely beautiful inside and out. But its location is not that easy to get to on foot; I took Bus 2a which conveniently has a stop near the apartment and stops about 3 big blocks from the opera house. Half of the people on the bus were heading the same place so I just followed them to the opera house. Opera that night was Eugene Onegin and most of the singers are Danish, but they are all very very good. however I started fretting about how I would get home when the opera ends at 11pm... I had researched on how to get there but not how to get home, assuming Bus 2a will still be running. I was not looking forward to walking back to the bus stop in the dark. Well, you can imagine my extreme surprise when the opera ended at 11pm, i walked out the main entrance, and voila! there were 3 no. 2a buses waiting right outside the entrance for patrons to get on!!! It's so civilized that I cannot believe it. Something like this would never happen in the US; if a show ends after the subway/bus runs, sorry you're on your own, and that's why people here drive so much. There, they have public transit that you can actually rely on! The Bus 2a stops at a Metro station enroute, and its final stop is the main train station. I was back at the apartment within 30 minutes; incredible.

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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 03:16 PM
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Day 3 photos


Lunch at museum of Danish resistance

Museum of Danish resistance

Museum of Danish resistance

Exterior of Operaen

Inside Operaen with 3 round chandeliers designed by Olafur Eliasson
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 03:28 PM
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As always, a wonderfully detailed TR and great pix yk. It was brilliant to add a prior day to your hotel room. What were the poles with cables at the Circle Bridge?
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 04:01 PM
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Nice to read this. We visited Copenhagen in 2005 when our daughter spent a summer studying there.

Looks like you are almost back to the pace of your old solo trips. And am I making this up, or did you have an interesting encounter at Wagamama in London some years ago?
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 04:44 PM
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You’re off to a great start. Enjoying the details and wonderful pictures.
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Old Nov 20th, 2023, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by J62
Love the start to your trip report - I always enjoy reading them YK. You mention your brother. Didn't he used to post here on fodors?
J62, yes you are correct! I don't think my brother posts here anymore but he now lives a little over an hour away from me!

Originally Posted by TDudette
As always, a wonderfully detailed TR and great pix yk. It was brilliant to add a prior day to your hotel room. What were the poles with cables at the Circle Bridge?
Paying for an extra night is totally worth it! Esp if it's choosing between paying $100s more for premium economy or even business in order to get some zzzs on the plane. It's far more economical to just pay for an extra night. I've always hated it when landing in Europe at 7am and then you have to wait until 3pm before hotel check-in time. The Circle Bridge is inspired by ships in Denmark's navy history, so they look like ship masts and sails.

Originally Posted by Nikki
Nice to read this. We visited Copenhagen in 2005 when our daughter spent a summer studying there.

Looks like you are almost back to the pace of your old solo trips. And am I making this up, or did you have an interesting encounter at Wagamama in London some years ago?
Thanks Nikki! I'm so lucky that my son is a great traveler! Now that he's older, we really can pack things in. Though I'm older too so I am usually the one who find myself dozing off middle of the day
The encounter you're thinking of, wasn't at Wagamama. I don't think that chain existed back then! It was Belgo Centrale with its communal tables (if I'm thinking that same encounter)
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 10:44 AM
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Day 4

Day 4 (Wednesday)
First of our 2 day trips and it's our son's birthday. I gave him the choice of Roskilde vs Helsingør and he picked the former. Roskilde is about 20 miles west of Copenhagen, with 7-8 trains/hour and takes just 25 minutes. The 2 main sights are the Viking Ship Museum and it's Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage site). At first I thought this would only take half a day but we ended up spending most of our day there.

I've read that the 11a English guided tour at the Viking Ship Museum (covered by Copenhagen card) is a must-do, so we timed our train to allow for that. In addition, the museum is a good 20-min walk (downhill) from the train station. The guided tour is excellent — the guide himself was super enthusiastic and knowledgable. He has true love for ship-making and in the summer he helps build viking ship replicas. I think the museum would be much LESS interesting if you were just there on your own. Even though the tour was 1 hour, the guide would continue to show you around in the shipyard area beyond that. I do wish we were there in the summer, as many of the ships have been hauled out of water already to prepare for winter, and that during the summer you can actually sail on the Viking ships. I think the tour finally ended around 12:30pm and we went to the cafe, Cafe Knarr for lunch. I had the Viking Stew and DH had the Viking plank. Both were superb. Our son had meatballs off the kids menu. Lunch was 412 DKK. After lunch we returned to the museum to watch the introductory movie, and then to see the ships and other exhibits in more detail. What I thought would be a "quick" visit turned out to last for 3 hours!

[Side note: our son has enormous patience when it comes to reading placards and listening to audioguides at museums when it's something that interests him. More often than not, i find myself skimming through the panels or skipping ahead on audioguides, while he is still 2 rooms behind me reading every single word. Not complaining at all but definitely uncommon for his age.]

Today was actually one of the sunniest day during our trip; it was a really lovely view looking out into the fjord from the museum. Then we hiked back up the hill to the Cathedral. It's famous for it's various architecture style that was added throughout the centuries, as well as being the final resting place for many of the Danish kings and queens. The cathedral (covered by Copenhagen card) has a very detailed self-guided booklet for one to read all about the organ and the altar piece and all the side chapels where the Fredericks and Christians were buried along with descriptions of their mausoleums. Also not to miss is the clock on the hour, where you can hear (and see) the dragon squeal! Despite my son finding this a tad boring, we still spent a good hour inside the cathedral.

Finally back to the train station to return to Copenhagen. We transferred for the Metro at the main train station and got off at Kongens Nytorv so we can check out the pedestrian street Strøget. TBH it was slightly disappointing because it is just like any shopping street in any metropolis, with the same brand names (the high-end stores are closer to Kongen Nytorv). My son wanted to check out the Lego store, which he found "anti-climatic" because it was just like any other Lego store here in the US.

While i wouldn't say my son is a picky eater, he isn't a fan of fish so finding something he likes (esp for his birthday) is a bit of a challenge in the Nordic countries. We did make a stop at Conditori La Place (probably copenhagen's most famous patisserie) to buy a couple slices of cakes to go. Finally we walked pass a ramen place which my son approved. After dinner we walked home and had birthday cake slices. Cakes from La Place were 222 DKK and ramen dinner was 513 DKK.
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 10:47 AM
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Photos from Day 4


A rare sunny day in Roskilde looking out into the fjord

My very delicious Viking stew

Birthday boy in front of the Roskilde cathedral
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 02:39 PM
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Enjoying your report and photos! We haven't been to any of the Scandinavian countries yet. It's not a priority for my husband. I hope I can convince him some day. Copenhagen looks wonderful. Love the Halloween decorations at Tivoli Gardens. My husband doesn't think he would like the food. We both like fish and shellfish so I assume we could find something to like. What's in the Viking Stew? Looks delicious. And what is the Viking plank that your husband had?
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Old Nov 21st, 2023, 04:57 PM
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yk - your little guy is a cutie. And I admire his patience with museums, as I, as an adult, have very little!

We're discussing a trip to this part of the world and I worry a lot about the food - I can't stand fish or seafood.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Enjoying your report and photos! We haven't been to any of the Scandinavian countries yet. It's not a priority for my husband. I hope I can convince him some day. Copenhagen looks wonderful. Love the Halloween decorations at Tivoli Gardens. My husband doesn't think he would like the food. We both like fish and shellfish so I assume we could find something to like. What's in the Viking Stew? Looks delicious. And what is the Viking plank that your husband had?
If you like fish then you won't have a problem, though many of the menus I saw are like fried plaice, or smoked salmon, or pickled herring. I didn't really see much shellfish on the menus however.
Viking stew - 129 DKK
Made with lamb, bacon, seasonal vegetables and cream, served on pearl barley

The Viking plank - 179 DKK
With smoked halibut, nordic hummus, meatball (pork and veal), ham, cabbage salad,
Nordic cheese with berry compote and homebaked bread with butter


Originally Posted by Melnq8
yk - your little guy is a cutie. And I admire his patience with museums, as I, as an adult, have very little!

We're discussing a trip to this part of the world and I worry a lot about the food - I can't stand fish or seafood.
Melnq8, there are definitely plenty of other food options! Firstly there are many restaurants that serve other cuisines (lots of burger joints, but also Italian, pizzas, american foods, and many British/Irish pubs too). And if you want to go to Danish cuisine restaurants, they have pork and sausages on the menu. One of the smørrebrød sandwiches that is seen on every menu is a roast pork one; it actually tastes very similar to chinese-style crispy skin roast pork! Other open face sandwiches have chicken salad as well. I mean, my son didn't starve to death on the trip so I think you will be fine
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 06:57 AM
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Food pics for KarenWoo and Melnq8


Roast pork open face sandwich

Viking plank

Othello cake from La Glace

Open face sandwiches - one roast beef and one smoked salmon salad
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 07:03 AM
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Well, I could certainly eat that cake!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 09:51 AM
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northern European bread is pretty good as well
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 12:42 PM
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The roast pork sandwich, the Viking plank, and the cake look delicious!
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