Our arrival went smoothly enough, after short 1 hour 40 minute flight we arrived into Copenhagen and quickly made our way through security to collect our bags. We were however, delayed by 30 minutes thanks to wonderful Ryanair and since we had to meet our host to collect the keys were in a bit of a rush. What made this situation worse was the absolute lack to signs for taxis in the Copenhagen arrival hall. We managed to ask a few people and after re-tracing our steps a couple of times were zooming through the suburban night. If you are staying at an Airbnb, the first piece of advice I can give you is to save the host’s telephone number into your phone. This is something I always forget and so after a short stop for some frenzied googling we finally arrived at the pick-up point. Louise was very friendly and didn’t seem to mind waiting up for us at all. She handed over the keys and explained to the driver he actually had to take us somewhere else. It was only about 10 minutes away and after the initial arrival issue of entering no. 25 before calling Louise and explaining her name wasn’t on any of the mailboxes, only to be told it was no. 25B and that in fact our key would open the main door to every building on the street (these Danes are trustworthy people) we were in! The apartment was lovely, although definitely more lived in than we had experienced before with a lot of the hosts own belongings in the wardrobes and doors etc. All we wanted was bed and after setting them up with sheets drifted off just after midnight.
We woke to the sun shining and my mum nipped along the road to the local shop to pick up some tasty Danish pastries, jam and custard variety, for us to enjoy with some juice in our apartment. It was a lovely start to the day after which we got ready and headed out. Our apartment was situated to the North part of the city in Osterbro, a residential section, so we walked along the street and took the bus to the South to meet our walking tour outside City Hall. As we approached the area parts started to jog my memory from my last stay which was nice. We had arrived a bit early and so took the opportunity to check out the beautiful City Hall which has an art exhibition on inside as well as one of the world’s slowest clocks. I was quite a fan of one of the artists that had an African theme with cheetahs and elephants running through their work. After a quick wander we headed back outside to the main meeting point where we were put into groups for the start of The Grand Tour of Copenhagen.
Our guide was Jarod and the best way of describing him would be that of an excitable puppy. While the other groups stood still and listened intently to their guides we were darting all over the main square with Jarod telling a funny joke and then darting off to start another fun story. Once you got used to the manic style it was definitely an interesting and eye-opening way to learn about the city. We heard of Absalon – a man who is just ‘so damn gangster’, hence the SDG initials beneath his gold statue in front of the town square who regularly cut people’s heads off when they disagreed with him, not too unlike the UK’s current political consensus. He explained that Copenhagen had suffered a lot through history with a particular problem in that it had been burnt down a lot of times. In fact the current town hall in no. 6, no. 5 is a stone building that we visited later on the tour and all of the others sadly succumbed to flames.
I think we were both slightly apprehensive at the thought of a 3 hour walking tour, 3 hours is a long time but with the short break at Nyhavn, the iconic area of the city with the colourful buildings, and Jarod’s funny animated style the time simply flew by. Some of the highlights included walking through the centre of the Danish parliament, with the Americans in absolute disbelief at the possibility. This was put into context when Jarod told us a story about Cameron and Obama (2 famous world leaders) who took a selfie with the Danish prime minister at Mandela’s funeral, really guys?? It took the world press over 24 hours to track down the mystery woman, despite her being a world leader, and so perhaps puts the lax views of security into perspective. The building was pretty amazing, an old palace with riding grounds at the front and marble everywhere. Jarod’s stories of the current Danish monarchy were also a highlight, particularly the time when he choose to explain the downfalls of a certain monarch (think Prince Harry and Prince Philip combined) while such monarch walked behind you and the group. Security is really not a thing in Scandinavia.
Feeling greatly more knowledgeable we said a fond farewell to Jarod after checking out the opera house and the gardens of Amalienborg Palace. One of the recommendations he had given was to head to Torvehallerne for lunch and so being easily influenced and food obsessed we made our way straight there. The food market consists of 2 glass buildings surrounded by outside stalls including whole roast pigs and other exciting gastronomic delights. However, being in Copenhagen we were here for one thing – Smorrebrod. The famous Danish open sandwiches, Jarod had said his favourite were to be found here and after seeing the beauty of the display case I couldn’t argue with him. Hallernes Smorrebrod are definitely not a budget option, but tasty and beautiful they most certainly are. The menu was in Danish and so we pointed to 3 options we thought looked nice, Salmon with horseradish and fennel with lemon, chicken salad with bacon, and fishcake with prawns and curry mayo. They were all sublime and despite not being the largest in size were definitely filling due to the rich toppings. We finished off our lunch with some ice-cream at Is a Bella where I opted for the chocolate and coffee flavours. The coffee has to be one of the best ice-creams I have ever eaten!
Feeling very full it was time for a walk. Given the nice weather we decided to take a stroll towards the harbour and the famous Little Mermaid statue. Before long we stumbled across the Botanic Gardens and took a side tracked walk through the beautiful park, with lakes, water lilies and a surprising variety of bird life, including grey herons and a moorhen. The gardens were gorgeous and it was lovely to just wander around in the sun aimlessly, not really worrying about timings or going anywhere. When we finally made our way out and the final stretch towards the statue, passing a lovely family of swans with none less than 6 signets (seriously impressive Mr Swan), it was just a short walk down to the harbour. The statue is famous and so as a result the requisite bus-loads of Chinese tourists were there in force, many of whom deciding it was appropriate to try and mount the statue for that ever perfect selfie… Anyhow, my mum’s reaction, Is that it?? Yes, it really does deserve its title of second most underwhelming statue in the world. We enjoyed a nice walk along the shore regardless, before nipping back to our apartment for a short nap before the evenings food extravaganza.
For those of you who don’t know, Copenhagen is probably one of the most prominent and innovative food capitals in the world with restaurants such as Noma constantly pushing the boundaries of modern cuisine. While Noma deservedly takes 3rd place on World’s Best Restaurants, I thought it best to ease my mum in gently to the find dining world by instead visiting no. 40 – Relae. Our reservation was for 20.30 and after a pretty disastrous attempt at public transport whereby my smartphone froze and we had to order a taxi, we arrived pretty much bang on time. For a Michelin star restaurant it is very relaxed and we were shown to our table where we had a pull out drawer with napkins and cutlery as well as their menu. They serve a 4 or 7 course tasting menu and none of the dishes are known prior to ordering, however, they did take account of dietary requirements well and revamped the menu to suit personal tastes. We started with an organic French sparkling wine and opted for the 4 course tasting menu. I am going to give a disclaimer for the non-food readers here, this is by far the best restaurant I have ever eaten at. The food was innovative and completely unlike anything I have ever eaten before. We started with a cucumber with a pistachio crust which came with a gorgeous wine from Loire. Next up was pickled trout in gooseberry juice and sorrel with a lovely Austrian blend. I was hesitant about the next course given my aversion to nuts – courgette smothered in almond butter and fresh basil with another excellent Loire Valley wine but I was blown away once again by the complexities and fantastic flavour. Our main was a lamb extravaganza! Again, I am not the biggest fan of lamb generally but this was organic Danish lamb reared on the coast on a diet of seaweed and so tasted akin to a meaty fish and came with sea vegetables. The other lamb dish was neck slow roasted with a fresh broad bean and herb salad and again tasted completely different to anything I have had before. The final course was a cheese curd and cream. All of the wines matched perfectly to the courses and were really fantastic. We finished off with a Rwandan coffee and fudge rolled in buckwheat to end a truly phenomenal meal. I only hope I manage to find somewhere to top the quality of food and wine with the relaxed yet attentive service, true perfection!
Our waiter ordered us a taxi to get back and we basically rolled in, feeling so full after our epic meal. What a first day in Copenhagen! Truly one of my favourite foodie cities. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the weekend has in store for us, and more importantly, my stomach.