Dear Readers, well here we are again, back in East Finchley, but before we leave Copenhagen completely, I wanted to share a couple of recommendations from our trip, in case any of you decide to make a visit at some point. And also I wanted to share this very fine dog. His owner popped into the coffee shop where we were having a last cappuccino before heading to the airport, and asked the dog to stay outside. Well, he kind of did. Clearly having your chin on the step counts as not actually entering the coffee shop.
Incidentally, people kept speaking to us in Danish – I’m not sure if it’s because we’re both tall, or if I have Viking ancestry somewhere, or because we were dressed in the typical Danish garb of waterproof jacket and sensible trousers. Whatever the reason, I was very flattered.
Righteo, here are a few things that we’ve learned.
- Not only is this a great town for cycling, it’s also got excellent transport. There are numerous ways to get from the airport to the centre of town, but the Metro is probably the easiest. It’s only a fifteen-minute trip, costs about 36 Kroner (which is about £4.20) and drops you right in the centre of town. There are even lifts to get you and your pram/bags/bicycle tad the o ground level. We made the mistake of getting a taxi to the hotel on the way in, which is the easiest way but cost nearly £60 for a fifteen minute journey. Ouch.
- We stayed in an apartment block which was right in the middle of town, but was surprisingly quiet. It meant that we didn’t have to pay out for breakfast every day, and the kitchen was very well-equipped so you could easily cook if you wanted to save some money. We were also close to Copenhagen University so there were lots of cheaper places to eat for students. The apartments come in different sizes, and if there was a group of you it needn’t be eye-wateringly expensive, especially out of season. Be aware, though, that the autumn and winter can be very damp. No wonder the Danish are so keen on this hygge (cozy) idea – there were days when the thought of curling up in front of an open fire with a good book was very appealing (no open fires at the apartment, but you get the idea). There’s a link to the website here. And no, I’m not getting a commission :-). NB though that there is no lift, though there are ground floor apartments (and a stairlift up the few stairs to those apartments) but I’d make any mobility requirements clear on booking.
3. Now, as you’ve probably gathered, eating out can be expensive in Copenhagen, so we were delighted to find this place – Paludan Bogcafé. It was full of students working, locals reading the paper, tourists, friends meeting up. We went for our first meal when we arrived in Copenhagen, tired and hungry, and liked it so much that we ate there most nights. The menu has burgers (veggie and meat), stirfry, chilli con carne, pasta, sandwiches (which are enormous) and about six kinds of cheesecake, including one made from Maltesers. It serves wine, beer, coffee and all kinds of soft drinks. You queue up, order your food, pick up your drinks and make yourself at home, surrounded by shelves of books. Honestly, what’s not to like? It’s open every day from 9.00 (10.00 at the weekend) till 22/23.00.
4. We did have a couple of ‘nice’ meals out as well. The trend in Copenhagen seems to be towards tasting menus with no/little choice – both the places we visited had both ‘the full works’ tasting menus, with up to ten courses, wine pairings, mortgage application form etc (ok so I made that up), or a shorter, more affordable three-course menu, which was what we went for. Both places also had a vegetarian three-course menu. The food is light, local and seasonal, and berries feature in both savoury and sweet dishes. They also do lots of wine by the glass (just as well), and also Aamanns 1921, the first restaurant that we tried, makes its own soft drinks.
Aamanns 1921 is most famed for its open sandwiches (smørrebrød), but the food at dinnertime was delicious. The website is in Danish, but you can get a flavour of it here on the Michelin site.
Vækst is built around a greenhouse, and is full of plants and greenery. Again the dinner menu was short, but the blackcurrant sorbet was probably the most delicious thing that I ate during my whole visit. And there is a very nice apple-based dessert wine, Feminan, which the waitress had to Google to find out about – there are staff shortages in Copenhagen as there are everywhere else, but I found everyone extremely helpful and willing to go the extra mile, even though tips are not expected to be more than 10%.
So I would say that if you want a low-stress break, Copenhagen is a perfect spot – it’s easy to get around, there are ways to cut back on the bills, and even if it’s raining, there’s plenty to do indoors. We could easily have found enough to do for another week, and it’s also very child-friendly – every museum and art gallery has areas for children and things for them to do, and the pedestrianised centre of town means that you’re not dodging traffic as you have to in most capital cities. As always, I felt as if I was just getting to grips with the place when it was time to leave, so it was with some sadness that I waved goodbye to Paludan Bogcafé, the Botanical Gardens and the Food Market, and headed back to Heathrow. Still, at least the cat was pleased to see us.