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Copenhagen: a sensory experience

It isn’t a Shirleyfest, but why not do a summary of one of the coolest cities in the world? Copenhagen tickled all my senses more easily than any city I’ve visited. Sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste…..oh my goodness…taste! It is also the happiest….Except for Wednesday night when at midnight Denmark lost in overtime to England in the UEFA EURO semi- finals. More on that later.

Saturday July 3, 2021

I leave on Friday and arrive Saturday via a 10 hour nonstop flight from SFO on SAS. Because I made my reservation so late, I can only get premium economy, but SAS lets you “bid” for an upgrade and fortunately they take my bid. Lie flat beds make the trip go fast and easy! Arriving in the morning, I quickly hop on the train below the airport into the city center and walk the few blocks from the central station to my beautiful design hotel, Nobis Copenhagen.

Nobis Hotel Copenhagen

At 7:30 am I know my room will not be ready, but DeJon at the front desk stores my luggage and I go off to explore Copenhagen. First stop- Sct. Peder’s Bageri where I get my first of what will be many delicious pastries. This one was a Kanel gnurrer.

There I meet a lovely family and we talked for an hour. The 5 year old, Oliver, teaches me the cheer I need for this soccer week-“ I am red,I am white, I am Denmark dynamite.” Over to the beautiful Nyhavn ( new harbor) where I decide to take one of the boat cruises around the Baltic Sea and the canals. So glad I do! I learn a lot and enjoy seeing Copenhagen from that perspective.

Nyhavn

Now I get a text from the hotel that my room is ready. Again—it’s a design hotel so naturally my room is stylish! Later in the afternoon the front desk sends up a glass of wine.

Nobis Hotel Room
a nice gesture from the hotel

I get ready for my first dinner in Copenhagen. Fishmarket. Lovely local fish with peas and vegetables and I get to hear the roar of the crowd as Denmark beats Czech in the quarterfinals.

Fishmarket

Home for a good night’s rest.My Apple Watch informs me I have walked 8.5 miles today after getting off my overnight flight.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

I see online that there is a 10:00 am walking tour starting at the Radhuspladsen ( Town Hall Square) so off I go. Our guide, Stuart, is an older gentleman married to a Dane. Our little group of 5 enjoy a wonderful walk around many of the famous sites, including the old and new palaces, stock exchange, parliament and the court house. Two of the people with me on the walking tour are from Salzburg and afterward we decide to go see the famous little mermaid statue together and we have a lovely time walking a bit more around town.

Little Mermaid

Leaving them, I want to try Cafe Ateiler September for lunch. I pick the special salad. Does not disappoint. The crowd in here is as cool as it gets too.

Cafe Ateiler September farmer salad
Cafe Ateiler September

Now I’m off to find the outdoor market, Torvehallerne. It is a bit like a small Naschmarket in Vienna. Beautifully curated produce and even more beautiful small restaurants on the fringe.

Torvehallerne Market
Market produce

But I read about a brew pub in the New York Times and I want to find it . Success! Brus. So many beers on tap. I choose. I drink.

Brus brewery

My friend is arriving tonight from Amsterdam, so I head back. Joining him at dinner at our hotel— great food and great design…and great wine. Then we set off around 11 pm to walk across the bridge and later around Tivoli— a very old amusement park that was the inspiration for Disneyland.

Tivoli Amusement Park

We realize it is the 4th of July and snap this picture to commemorate the occasion.Apple Watch says I walked 12.6 miles today.

Tivoli

Monday July 5, 2021

We plot out a super fun day starting with renting bikes to bike to the spiral Church of Our Savoir. We use the bike app Bycyklen which I had downloaded and added minutes to before I left home. Later we learn from a local that a preferable bike company is Donkey Republic. Smooth biking across the water. We climb and climb and one of us even squeezed up to that last bit. Great views of Copenhagen.

My rented bike
Church of Our Savoir
What a Climb!

Time to get our groove on. We hang out in Christiania, a 70’s style hippie commune. Nick drank the coffee and I just breathed in the aroma from all the people passing by.

Christiania

We check out the opera house on our way to lunch at La Banchina, a combo swimming hole, organic wine bar, gourmet seafood restaurant. On the way we pass the site of Noma, the famous restaurant I’m heading to on Saturday.

Opera House
Swimming platform at La Banchina
Lunch at La Banchina
Passed by Noma on our walk

That night we head to Copenhagen’s meat packing district and dine at Pate Pate. 5 courses, lots of delicious wine and a stroll thru the beautiful Copenhagen night finishes off a glorious day. Walked 9.1 miles

Pate Pate

Tuesday July 6, 2021

Sadly my friend has to leave early. I decide to go over to Malmö, Sweden. I head to the train station and work out a very reasonable $35 round trip ticket across the famous Odense bridge/tunnel. It only took 35/minutes and now I’m in Sweden. A lovely lady at the info booth gives me a map and I head off. It’s a charming town with a cute old town where I have some street food for lunch. Then I head to the castle and the surrounding park.

Malmö, Sweden

The Turning Torso beckons me so I take the long walk there. Amazing architecture! I stop for a drink at the beach and then walk along the harbor.

Turning Torso

Back on the train I’m in Denmark again before dinner time. Actually time to go to the Glyptotek museum which is right next door to the Nobis. This is an old villa with an art collection built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg Breweries. This may be one of my favorite museums ever.

Glypotek Museum

A food blog I read insist the pizza at Pizzeria la Fiorita is the best neighborhood place in Copenhagen. I walk out only to return for an umbrella as it is pouring. It is actually a nice walk in the warm rain. The place is hopping with locals getting pizza after pizza. The owner comes to talk to me in Italian where I’m understanding about every other word. It is delicious!

Pizzeria La Fiorita

A walk back thru the Kings garden, the new harbor and the winding streets. Walking 13.2 miles

King’s Garden

Wednesday July 7, 2021

It is game day! You cannot find anyone not decked out in red and white. I want to try the metro today. The Metro here is pristine. NYC take note.

Clean metro!

Also I heard of a bakery in the northern borough so I get a day ticket and head up really early. The famous bakery, Juno the Bakery, is closed for July break but since I am in Copenhagen there is always another bakery. I stop for the next “ I’ve lost count how many ” danishes at Bosses Bageri and a coffee at Cafe Efternolern.

Coffee shops everywhere!

I’m refreshed enough to go shopping on the longest shopping street in Europe, Strøget. I hit a couple of shops( and they hit my wallet) but it was so fun. Now I have a reservation for lunch at the Michelin guide restaurant Sankt Annæ. Oh my. They have been serving lunch only for over 180 years in the same location. I choose the most Danish lunch I can find on the menu: smoked salmon from FARO and creamed spinach. It comes with this Danish salted butter. Oh my again. I pair it with a crisp Sancerre wine and am enjoying a long lunch chatting with the friendly waiters and other patrons. I finish with a chocolate nut cake with raspberry and mango coulis. The waiter insist on bringing me one perfect Danish strawberry to try as well.

Sankt Annæ
FARO salmon
Happy me with a glass of Sancere
Chocolate Nut Cake
One perfect strawberry

I’m so full, so I decide to get on my bike and bike the half hour to the cemetery where Hans Christian Anderson is buried. My one and only bike mishap happens on this ride. I signal the American way that I am turning right. I collide with a biker behind me also turning right. Many many curse words later— by him not me— I come to understand that a right turn is signaled not with the left elbow bent up but with the right arm outstretched. We are all fine and I continue my ride. Beautiful peaceful oasis and people strolling like it’s a park. I bike home and get ready to go out for the big celebration.

Basically I just walk and observe. Happy people everywhere!

Semi final game is tonight against England

Noise and partying. I have a reservation at Popl a hamburger place started by a NOMA alum. Quite a treat especially paired with a Riesling.

Popl burger made with cattle that graze freely in the Wadden Sea National Park

I wander and wander among the crowd enjoying the festivity and getting a beer here and there with the joyful celebrants.

Celebrants

With the game tied 1-1 at 11 pm and going into overtime I head back.The streets are deserted as everyone is celebrating together.

Where is everyone?

I am just in my room when at midnight I hear the eerie quiet. Denmark has lost! Walking 12.3 miles today

Thursday July 8, 2021

I switch hotels today from the Nobis to the Sanders, as my fabulous friends who have been the catalyst for making this trip are arriving today and that is where they are staying. I say goodbye to the wonderful staff at the Nobis: Dora, Ishara, DeJon, Alexander and Diane. Arriving at the Sanders I find Asteroula at the front desk has upgraded me to a beautiful room and that the staff here are equally attentive and lovely.

Sanders bedroom

When my friends arrive we head to the Apollo Bar for a snack and to see the art exhibit showing there.

Arch at the Apollo Bar

Tonight we are dining at Joudnær, a Michelin two star restaurant owned by Eric Vildgaard and his wife Tina. The story of how Chef Eric went from gang enforcer to acclaimed chef has the makings of a dramatic movie. I urge you to read about his inspirational story. The end of the story is the love of his wife and the love of cooking brought this amazing restaurant to life and to us.

Chef Eric

It is an breathtaking 19 course dinner with the service as well choreographed as any ballet. The name of the restaurant translates to “down to earth” and it is a vegetable/seafood forward menu. I’ll let the dishes speak for themselves. After dinner we tour the kitchen which is as delightful as any dessert. Walking 11.7 miles today

Menu

Friday July 9, 2021

Great breakfast at the Sanders made even better by the delightful David in the cafe. Today we stroll down the shopping street stopping into the big Illum department store. An employee explains a process whereby they remove the moisture from fresh flowers and replace it with a preserving serum. She then arranges the flowers and the bouquets will last for years.

Onward we go to the meatpacking district where we see more art galleries before walking home to get ready for our dinner at Bæst in the inner Nørrebro area of Copenhagen. This is Christian Puglisi’s Italian restaurant where all the ingredients are grown or raised on his organic farm.

Two pizzas and many yummy other courses later we taxi back. Walking 10.7 miles

Saturday

Today we go to the Louisiana Museum. The name derives from the first owner of the property , Alexander Brun, who named the villa after his three wives, all called Louise. The museum is 22 miles north of Copenhagen and is the most visited art museum in Denmark. The exhibits which impress me are one called Mor! ( Mother), a video work by Arthur Jafa entitled Love is the Message, the Message is Death and one of paintings by a Swedish artist, Mamma Andersson. The Jafa video contrasts the fame and status of black athletes and musicians with the treatment of the African American population in general. The place itself is quite impressive and there is art installed all over the grounds outside.

We decide to try to take the train home. We had many problems getting the ticket machine to work and when the train arrives we just hop on hoping to buy thru the app on our phone before the conductor arrives. With seconds to spare, we achieve success with the app and therefore incur no fines or jail time for violating the train rules. Good thing we are not in jail because tonight is Noma.

Noma is of course one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world. The chef Rene Redzepi has created a gastronomic mecca of Nordic cuisine. The new location is on a large plot of land with greenhouses and herb gardens. Every detail of the many buildings on the property and the open kitchen has been meticulously planned. We have 17 courses each one as beautiful as a painting. Again I will let the pictures speak for the experience. We tour the kitchen of Noma and learn about the concept and the inner workings of this awe inspiring place.

Noma menu
Chef Rene Redzepi
Cardamon Candles–walnut wicks and caramels to eat after flame goes out

We choose to walk home with the Copenhagen sky doing a private show for us. Walking 9.1 miles

Walk home from Noma

Sunday

I am sad to leave Copenhagen this morning, but my flight is at noon so one last breakfast and I say goodbye until the next time. In my week here I’ve walked the equivalent of 3 marathons and enjoyed becoming a part of the biking public . In summary? Copenhagen…..gorgeous canals leading out to the sea, an extraordinary food scene, awe inspiring art, cobblestone streets filled with cafes and wine bars, and the nicest population of anywhere I’ve traveled.

10 thoughts on “Copenhagen: a sensory experience

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