It’s funny, I have always been so enamored with traveling long haul I actually haven’t seen a lot of our own backyard – being Europe. As it was Megan’s turn to choose a holiday she chose to relive our nautical adventure and book a Baltic Cruise.
For those of you who have never heard of the Baltic Sea, it’s a stretch of water that borders a number of Northern, Central and North Eastern European countries. The Baltic actually borders no less than 9 countries – what a great opportunity to get a taste of some of what Europe has to offer. . . As usual Megan had chosen well.
Our first stop was Denmark, a country that is a mere 90 minute plane journey from London, and actually home to one of my best friends growing up. I mean the more you think about it the more confusing it is that I have never been here?
We arrived to the beauty of EasyJet (low cost airline) breaking my ‘unbreakable’ bag. This meant our plans of exploring Copenhagen that day were scarpered; bring on an upgrade to the cruise transfer bus for ease. The bus dropped us off at the Oceankaj cruise terminal, about 10 minutes’ drive north of the city. We checked in and decided that due to the beautiful weather we had to go and explore – even if it was only 3 hours.
One thing I have to state is that the Danish are amazing – such lovely friendly people. We exited the cruise terminal and boarded a hop on hop off bus to get some more information on the city itself. Immediately we were offered a free shuttle lift to the little mermaid, and an insight into what we could do with the limited time we had. The driver of this bus was incredible, he was knowledgeable and very kind and we swore that when we returned we would repay the favour and buy the pass for the day.
We arrived at the Mermaid, which is literally a statue of Hans Christian Anderson fairy-tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ positioned on the seafront. A number of people already warned me that it is less than inspiring, but actually I quite liked it. I mean it’s not big or shiny – it’s just a small statue of a mermaid in the harbour… If it was less touristy and busy it would actually make a beautiful location to just relax with your imagination.
Just in front of the Mermaid was the Kastellet Military Fortress, an old 17th century fort, surrounded by a beautiful moat. Although you can’t see it from eye level but the fort is actually shaped like a star. At the entrance to the fortress stands the Gefion Fountain with the statue of a Norse goddess, and behind that is a beautiful small church. I am not usually one for these types of picturesque moments, but with the sun beating down, the contrast of the green fort, bronze-type statue, traditional grey church and the milky blue sky was gorgeous. The colour contrast got even better once we entered the fort, and the bright red barracked buildings added to the experience. The weather being so incredible, the walk around the barricades was beautiful. We even stumbling upon an old traditional windmill, set in the fortress itself.
Lacking in time we grabbed some lunch at a local Bistro, and took advice from the guidebooks in trying the Smörgåsbord. These are traditional Nordic open sandwiches made with rye bread, and can have virtually anything on them. Megan opted for the safe seafood option and I went a bit off-piste with the Curried Herring… You know I like a challenge… Well let’s just say Megan’s choice was by far the better one – mine was ‘interesting’ to say the least.
Our final stop was by the iconic Nyhavn, now if you have ever looked at pictures of Copenhagen you would have seen Nyhavn. It’s the beautiful street split by a canal, a popular parking spot for local yachts and sail boats. The famous shot however is the cafes, bistros and bars to one side of the canal that are all painted in contrasting bright colours. I know it doesn’t sound amazing when so poorly described but it was stunning, especially with that amazing blue sky I keep going on about.
Wandering along this street is the unmissable experience in Copenhagen; it offers multiple bistros, coffee houses, restaurants, sweet shops, desert shops, bars… It’s incredible and so compact. Unbelievably we ended up having a waffle on a stick coated in chocolate and churros coated in Ice cream.
That was it, the ship was leaving shortly so we had to bid adieu to what a couple of people described as the happiest place on earth – Copenhagen for 9 days.
9 Days later we were back and I tell you now I am SO glad we took that opportunity when the weather was lovely. We kept our word and took the hop on hop off bus around 2 lines. Funny what a single act of kindness can do! We left our bags at Central Station and explored the rest of the city, that included the Tivoli Gardens, Pedestrianised shopping arcade, Rosenborg castle, Christiansborg Palace, Christianshavn and of course the controversial Christiania.
Christiana is referred to as a ‘Freetown’, and is essentially a community in the heart of the city. I loved it, as its artwork and community feel was something that resonated with me. Megan however hated it and felt it was like a ghetto, with litter all over the place. There were moments where I thought wondering these streets that it could be unsafe, but we encountered no problems ourselves. The thing that really annoyed me was that you can’t take pictures, due to the illegality of cannabis (which is openly sold). It’s a real shame as the area screams photography.
Tivoli Gardens on the other hand is a must, situated in the centre of town; it’s literally a 19th style amusement park. Amazing to wonder around and soak up the Danish hospitality, with rides and restaurants galore. If you’re very lucky you may even see some of the gardens and fish ponds that are scattered throughout the park.
All in all Copenhagen gave us a great insight into Denmark, the people were very friendly, the food was incredible and we definitely got a taste of how expensive the Nordic countries are – 2 Danish pastries for £7, or even a light lunch for £45, and a pint of beer – £7! You have been warned – however this would not put us off returning…
#Denmark #Copenhagen #Europe #Scandinavia #Cruise #Nyhavn