Oh speedy boarding how I love you. As you all know, I am terrified of flying, I have been for years now. But my fight to Copenhagen was probably one of the calmest flights I have had to date. I am not sure if it was the fact I was sat in the front row and therefore aware of everything that was going on. I knew when the doors were closing for take-off, I could see (and hear) the air stewards/stewardesses and they were calm and just chatting away like they were in a pub or something. I felt like I knew what was going on, almost like I was a part of it and it really helped. The speedy boarding meant I had time to settle into my seat before everyone else boarded, I avoided the long queues and claustrophobic spaces you are often ushered into. I was actually calm!
A short hour and a half later and we had landed in Copenhagen. I will warn you now, Copenhagen airport is huge and there is A LOT of walking to be done. I would recommend comfy shoes because the walk to and from the gate is really long! This is not an airport you want to be rushing in because you simply wont make your plane.
A short taxi ride and 300 Krone later and we arrived at our hotel. We had opted to stay at Hotel Danmark due to it’s location and cheap price. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but it has a cosy café/bar area in the lobby where you can get a free glass of wine between 5 and 6pm. Always a winner in my book.
The hotel was very, erm, dated shall we say. The carpets were warn, the rooms were dark and the décor was probably made up of furniture you would usually find in an antique store. That aside, the rooms were large, quiet and had a flat screen tv and an extremely comfy bed. We had a superior room which was slightly larger than some of the other rooms and the shower was separate from the toilet, a huge relief from some of the pictures I had seen of other rooms, where the shower is pretty much over the toilet.
All this aside, the rooms were perfectly clean and provided an excellent base for exploring Copenhagen due to the hotels enviable location. Granted I have stayed in nicer hotels but you could not fault the hotel on their friendly staff, and you could walk to wherever you wanted to visit in the city. Plus it was pretty cheap for the weekend (3 nights was around £150 per person including flights).
We decided not to have breakfast included because when on a short trip, I find it restricts your itinerary. I like to get up and out and grab food when I get hungry. The hotel had free coffee that you could take away with you before 11am. This was a great idea and a good way to start off the day.
On our first day we arrived at the hotel by 11am, and so once we had checked in and dropped our bags, we headed straight out to explore the city. We wandered around Stroget for a while, meandering in and out of the many chain and boutique shops that line the streets here. I also almost got run over by both bikes and cars many times here! In England, where then street floor changes to like a cobbled area without pavements etc it tends to be a pedestrian zone. The set up of some of the streets in Stroget were just like this and I would wander along them aimlessly until I am shocked out of my day dream, to find a van driving towards me, or a bike flying past me. It was very hard to determine what was road and what wasn’t! My guidebook told me this area was mainly pedestrianised but the distinction between where was/wasn’t was really not clear (at least for me anyway!).
Obviously, as I was in Denmark, as soon as I found myself peckish I set out in search of a Danish Pastry and wow, they did not disappoint. There were so many bakeries, cafes and coffee houses to choose from, you really are spoilt for choice. Then, once you have decided where to eat, you then have an even larger selection of delectable Danish Pastries to choose from. My first Danish Pastry was from a place called Holm’s Bager. I had a custard Danish with chocolate around the edge. It was delicious.
After filling up on Danish Pastries, we headed to the Rundetarn, which had been recommended to me by so many people as a ‘must do’ whilst in Copenhagen. The Rundetarn, or Round Tower, is, as the name describes, a large round tower in the Stroget area of Copenhagen that you can climb for amazing views of the city. As it was our first day we thought this was a good option to start with.
The walk to the top of the tower is along a wide, spiral path. It is quite a trek to the top, with just a few steps at the very end to reach the observatory and the observation deck at the top. Apparently, a horse and cart was ridden up this path in 1902, so that gives you an idea of the width of the path. The view from the top of the tower was pretty good. It would have been amazing had the weather been more favourable, however, it was a good way to start our time in Copenhagen, as we got a good view of the city with it’s colourful houses and small, winding streets intermingled with some incredible ancient and modern architecture. I do have to say, Copenhagen is one of the prettiest cities I have been to.
After taking far too many pictures at the top, we began our decent back down the spiral path. On the way down I realised how uneven the path actually was, it was like lots of small building blocks all higgledy-piggledy in how they were placed. Make sure you don’t miss the privy and the small tunnel leading to a glass platform you can stand on above a huge drop, in the centre of the tower. We almost missed these and they are worth a quick stop. Particularly the glass bit you can stand on – it was quite scary!
After our days exercise climbing the Rundetarn, we headed to a pub for a Danish beer. I enjoyed a local beer called Tuborg and it wasn’t half bad, considering I am not really a big beer drinker. The only downside was that we seemed to have chosen the only bar in Copenhagen where people smoke inside, Y’s Cocktail Bar. We were the only two people who were not smoking in the whole bar. We laughed when we left the bar and breathed in the fresh air outside. Our clothes from that day had soaked up all the smoke like a sponge and I had to wrap them in a plastic bag once we got back to the room later on, to prevent the smell affecting my other clothes. I am not normally bothered by cigarette smoke, quite a few of my friends smoke around me but this was a very small, enclosed space, packed with people smoking. It was intense. However, if you are a smoker, it means there is a place you can still go to enjoy a beer and a smoke without having to face the elements every time you want a smoke.
I had done some research online into Smorrebrod, the famous Danish open sandwiches and where best to sample this delight. In the end I settled on a place called Schonnemann and wow, it did not disappoint. This was in fact probably one of the highlights of my trip. We arrived for our booking at 2:30pm to find a huge queue of locals outside. As the doors opened for the afternoon serving, the crowds heaved into this small, slightly below ground restaurant. The décor was so vintage and like an old fashioned pub. I absolutely loved it. Within five minutes of the doors opening, every table was full and the atmosphere was buzzing. The service we received here was impeccable, despite the fact every single member of staff was rushed off their feet. We were given the regular menu and also a small sample menu for the ‘real taste of Denmark’. This was basically the tourist menu, which to be honest we discarded at first. As soon as you realise you have been given something different to the locals it always sends alarm bells – this is an expensive con. However, after perusing the very extensive menu with pages and pages of Smorrebrod options followed by even more Schnapps options we soon found ourselves looking for the discarded ‘tourist menu’.
This menu offered three of the traditional Smorrebrod’s with the option to also have three glasses of matched schnapps. We decided to give this menu a go after all, as on review, it seemed to actually be a good deal and a fun way to experience these Danish traditions. The menu consisted of marinated herring, fried fillet of plaice and roast beef, paired with three different schnapps.
We were told that you eat the Smorrebrod from left to right and drink the schnapps from right to left. We did as we were told and it was one of the most fun, tasty meals I have had in a long time. The herring wasn’t quite to my taste but was surprisingly better than I was expecting. The plaice and the beef ones were pretty incredible though. The schnapps on the other hand…whilst a funny experience trying to drink them, I couldn’t really call it enjoyable. I felt each of them burn all the way down my chest. I also left the restaurant a bit lighter in the head than when we arrived!
I genuinely cannot recommend Schonnemann enough. Everything about it was incredible from the food to the service. Also, should you go here (and I highly recommend that you do), opt for the tourist menu (it isn’t actually called that) as it is definitely worth it.
With our bellies full and our judgement slightly impaired from the schnapps, we decided to wander back to the hotel to unpack and rest. We had been up since 4am and it had started to catch up with us. After a quick nap, a free glass of wine in the bar and a review of my guidebook for the next day, we headed out in search of a cheap and cheerful meal to send us to sleep.
We ended up at a small place on the corner of a nearby street called Bronx Burger. It was packed with locals and tourists alike, tucking into large burgers and milkshakes. We hovered in the door way for some time, not really sure what to do. This was a problem we encountered a few times in Copenhagen, do you wait to be seated or just seat yourself? It was never clear! Anyway, after a while of waiting and looking rather awkward, no one had come to us, so we headed over to the bar to ask. A short while later, we were seated in a little wooden booth. I ordered a chicken burger with sweet potato fries and a strawberry milkshake. I know, very un-Danish, but after our amazing meal and experience earlier we decided we just needed something quick and satisfying.
The portions here are huge. To the point that the plate is actually too small for the food on it. I had sweet potato fries flying all over the place whenever I tried to cut a piece off my burger (this was necessary due to the burgers enormous size). I cant really rave about this, it was just a burger and fries, but it was good and did the job.
Neither of us managed to finish our rather large portions and we left the restaurant a bit too full for comfort but very happy with our first day exploring Copenhagen.