Malmö, Sweden // A train ride away from Copenhagen

We were well over half-way through our trip and feeling ready to be home by this point. We had seen so much, caught our breath, and were ready for a little normal in our lives but before we headed home we decided to take the train to Sweden for a day trip.

I almost didn’t take my camera along, I was feeling the travel fatigue of capturing everything and staying on top of documenting the trip but I’m so glad I grabbed it at the last minute. Malmö is full of green space. There are parks (and beautiful ones, at that) everywhere.

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

We made our way towards Malmohus, another castle (they’re everywhere!) and stumbled upon a cafe in the garden looking for a public bathroom.

Oh man, you guys. The best meatballs I’ve had in my life.

Malmö, Sweden

We just got a snack to share, and thankfully Aaron and our daughter picked the meatballs. I grabbed a glass of red wine and a round of Coke’s for the table and we sat there in the middle of this garden eating the best meatballs in the world while listening to the chatter and birds and being bathed in the blooms that surrounded us. It was something else. If this was the only thing I saw or did in Sweden, I was a fan.

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

But we didn’t stay there, we walked all over and did some shopping, too. We were on the hunt for souvenirs to take home and just didn’t find what we were looking for (or what we wanted to pack and travel home with). Malmö has some great shops in the Davidshall area.

Our son wanted his photo taken with this windmill, which I happily turned in to a mini-shoot with him. We actually saw quite a few windmills and having one right in our backyard in Holland, Mi made this all the more fun.

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

Malmö, Sweden

We visited the Library, more parks, and found some statues before heading back to Copenhagen for the night.

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

We had one more day to adventure in Copenhagen and possibly saved the best for last …

Tivoli Gardens of Copenhagen

The day had finally arrived! Tivoli Gardens opened for the season while we were in Copenhagen and we were there with bells on.

Tivoli Gardens

Um, let’s discuss this place for a minute, yes? It was magic. People say that Walt Disney was inspired by Tivoli and this was a big influence on the development of Disney World. I have to say – being there and seeing it with my own eyes, I can very much see the similarities. Only Tivoli doesn’t have characters walking around everywhere and this made my heart so happy. I am not a character kind of person, we went to Disney one time (when our daughter turned 5 so she could meet Ariel, yes, we have always been this extra) and we almost left the state of Florida divorced. We were not fans. Mostly of traveling in January with a 5 year old and 18 month old for a whole week with nothing to do and our hotel pool was closed. So. Different time of life … it schooled us hard in how not to go about traveling and our expectations and keeping our word to a five year old. But I digress.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli was amazing and if you’re planning a trip to Copenhagen during their open season, I cannot recommend this enough for an entire day. From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything special – it’s right next to Copenhagen’s Central Station and there’s a gate or a wall surrounding the entire thing (it’s a whole city block) but once you enter and the gardens open up to you and you hear water and see endless flowers and pockets of magic little details, you would never think you’re in the middle of a large city.

Tivoli Gardens

The kids both said this was the highlight of the trip for them. It was so much fun, roller coasters are the thrill ride I never tire of. We ate lunch at home and then spent the rest of our day being enchanted at Tivoli. Peacocks roam freely, you guys. Peacocks.

Tivoli Gardens

The rides were one thing, and we got our moneys worth on the rides, but there were also gardens to walk through and apparently a petting zoo (we never even made it to one part of the park!) and my favorite restaurant in all the land, Gemyse.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

A greenhouse, fire pits to roast marshmallows, topiaries made out of kale, lemonade served with mint leaves and drinks by the fire. I will not ever shut up about this place.

Tivoli Gardens

The flowers and trees were just starting to burst in bloom and there were so many delightful little things to sink our teeth into. We even got Aaron on a couple rides and I’ll never forget how instead of screaming, my daughter just giggles like a babbling brook on rides. Like rushing water over smooth stones, her joy was as pure as it gets and it baptized me all over again.

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

We left tired, full and happy. And other than using public transportation for the rest of our trip – this was the last sight we saw using our Copenhagen Cards.

Tomorrow we were headed to Sweden!

Christiansborg Palace // The Royal Kitchen, Stables and more food

We never did go and find another giant after getting food from The Gasoline Grill (read about it here) but that wouldn’t be the end of the giants.

Instead we went back home after the burgers and retired from sight seeing for the day … because Wednesday was full of more exciting things to see and do. We took it slow in the morning and then headed out for Christiansborg Palace.

Our first stop was another Coffee Collective for a cortado (omg).

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

The bus stop is right at the front of the palace and one of our sons favorite things to do this trip was to climb everything that wasn’t fastened to the earth. Whenever we got off the bus here, he would jump from ball to ball and, this time, Aaron joined.

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

I was never more aware of the fact that we didn’t live here, were American and tourists, when they did things like this. And our son did this CONSTANTLY. Oh, well!

Before we really got into our day – there was even more food. We stopped at a hot dog stand before we went into the Palace and had our last hot dogs of the trip (DØP was so much better, but these were still delicious).

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

Christiansborn Castle

I was particularly excited about this Palace because you could tour the Royal Kitchen and, I said this on instagram too, but it was maybe the best ever. First, though, we went through the ruins of Castles and Palaces that this one was built on top of.

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

It was an extensive tour (self-guided) underneath the Palace and after about an hour underground, I couldn’t get to the sunlight fast enough. The history of the Ruins is really interesting though; complete with a princess being locked in a tower for 22 years, multiple fires and re-building processes and even more rudimentary plumbing attempts. So much of the history we learned was about the first bathrooms … they believed their “secrets” were part of their bowel movements so guarding their release was hugely important. I’m not even going to touch that with commentary.

Once we were at grade-level again we wandered to the entrance and got a look around. This is what I pictured when I was researching this trip, Castles with gold and crystal and color and all of this – but seeing it, it was something else. I loved walking through Christiansborg.

Christiansborg Castle

Christiansborg Castle

Christiansborg Castle

Christiansborg Castle

Christiansborg Castle

In one of the halls there were amazing tapestries on every wall (they were in most of the rooms, actually, it was awesome to see) and in this particular hall – it took 60 weavers ten years to complete them all. It was a history of Copenhagen – and the colors were beautiful.

Christiansborg Castle

Once we toured the Palace we went straight for the Royal Kitchen, let’s take a moment of silence for the copper, shall we? This room made me weak in the knees.

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

Not only was there eye-candy everywhere you looked, there was an entire room dedicated to flower arranging, and another dedicated to ice cream making.

A flower room!

The Royal Kitchen at Christiansborg Castle

Kitchens, cooking, gathering … this might not light your fire. I commend you for knowing this, congratulate your ability to allow me the time and space I will undoubtably take here to gush over these very things. My first memories in life are of the taste of mangos, the smell of rain, the noise around a table. I was very content as little girl to spend all of my time in a make-believe world where I was hosting, cooking, and caring for my imaginary family.

I don’t have the “best meal I’ve ever eaten” stories that most people might, like you can trade secrets over the best tapa’s, cocktails or tacos – I’ve tried and tried to contain one meal into this kind of legendary story to share at parties and they never stick. Instead, I have the best conversation I’ve ever had with a group of friends – it happened to be in a taco bell, or sitting cross-legged eating nachos in a cabin, or watching the flames spit as we sat under the stars and I spilled my guts after a glass of wine. I have tipsy dance floor confessions and late-night drives to Holland with friends where the tears down my cheeks tasted like both salt water and sugar. Very literal bittersweet memories.

I remember the smell of my Grandma’s red sauce simmering while my Grandpa grills salmon and the commotion of 4 generations permeates the air and punctuates the stillness of the moments before a meal. I remember my Grandpa’s hands as he blesses the meal, the way my Grandma wants to offer snacks and food at every opportunity.

Sunday dinners at my mom’s house, her bread and baked goods and chicken that always reminds me of belonging. Meals in a motorhome (fries out of a microwave, sips of wine coolers, first puffs of a cigarette – everything tasted like rebellion. Including a boy who kissed me under the stars in Maine, soft and real and new.) and turkey sandwiches after school. I don’t remember one meal – one meal doesn’t cut it for me. I remember every single kitchen of every house I’ve ever lived in. I remember how each one smelled in the morning, and after dinner.

I know where the silverware goes in all the drawers, what kitchen table I sat at when I first had toasted bread with melty cheese on top. I remember chocolate milk and birthday cereal. I remember being loved.

So. The Royal Kitchen wasn’t just a kitchen. It was the space where meals and feasts and treats and legends had lived. Where recipes were passed down, where daughters learned to cook and sons learned to wait patiently. It’s where life was sustained. Where it happened, in the spit and the boiling and the cutting and the blood of living and dying to eat.

It is the very place that proves we were once, perhaps have always been, bound together in a hunger for something more. Fires and death and sieges and wars happen. Calamity is a main artery of history – and yet, the stove lights up, the soup simmers, the bread rises. And there’s always a table to come to.

Just ask my family, we spent more time than they wanted to ogling the butcher block counters and studying the stock pots and sinks. This might have been the highlight of the trip for me. I’ve always felt like an archeologist of my own life, excavating my soul. And kitchen rituals are the very center of my universe.

After they finally got me to say I was satisfied, we moved on to the Stables.

The Stables at Christiansborg Castle

The Stables at Christiansborg Castle

There were signs every where telling us not to approach the horses, so we just quickly walked through to say hi and see them. These are maybe the cleanest horse stalls I’ve ever seen.

Before we went back to our AirBnB for the night we found one more of Somebody Feel Phil’s locations – this time, Tacos!

Tacos!

I was so freaking happy after touring the Christiansborg Palace – once we got home, I poured myself a glass of wine and took some time to read and reset while the kids watched a show and Aaron napped. I didn’t want to forget anything about this – and I figured the best way to let it sink in was to let it marinate.

Copenhagen Spring Break 2019

<3 <3

The Round Tower, The Aquarium and Butter Burgers of Copenhagen

On Monday we went to The Round Tower, and if I’m being honest, I was more interested in this place because of the Instagram photos than thinking it was anything special. I was wrong, of course, and the history of it is quite interesting.

The Round Tower

Funny enough, it mostly has to do with bathrooms (go figure), astronomy, and a fun tid-bit about someone who took his horse all the way to the top instead of walking. Because he was fancy like that.

The Round Tower

We worried a bit that by now we would be “castled-out” and it has happened. We’ve been taking in so. much. that some days the beauty and history of it all is kind of lost on us. So we took these past few days to go slower. Eat at home, go to the grocery store, take naps.

The Round Tower

But The Round Tower turned out to be a favorite of mine. The colors were so calming, the kids had so much fun running around (with only one way to go) so we were somewhat contained and out of the weather for a bit. And the view from the top was amazing.

It’s different, and very nice, to travel with older children. No strollers or diaper bags, we aren’t bound to a sleep-schedule or on high alert for a melt down and yet, traveling with tweens and teens is almost no different. Except for the diapers, praise the Lord. They still need to run and play and stop and start and eat constantly and we are always on high alert for the melt down. Low blood sugar. We pack snacks, this is our secret to everything. Water and carrots and grapes and crackers. Never, ever be without sustenance.

The Round Tower

We decided on lunch at Nyhavn (pronounced NEW-HOW) by the canal because it was a nice day and this was one of those “vacation” things I had really been wanting to do. So, like Aaron and his Kødbyens Fiskebar dinner, this was my splurge of the trip. We sat outside with a view of the canal and all the pedestrians walking by and we ordered calamari to share and a beer for the adults while we soaked it all in.

Lunch at Nyhavn by the canal

We also snuck in a visit to the Guinness World Records Museum (it’s free with our Copenhagen Cards) and the kids were in need of some of “their kind of history”. Both of my kids have checked out these books from their school libraries like they were studying for their doctorate in useless information, so this was exactly the kind of place they could sink their teeth in to.

Dinner Monday night was at a restaurant close to our house, we had shawarma then headed home for some relaxing before the next day.

Tuesday! We tackled the National Aquarium of Denmark.

Den Bla Planet - Denmarks National Aquarium

I used to want to be a Marine Biologist, my favorite movie growing up was ‘The Little Mermaid’ and I gave birth to a girl with scales. She is a fish, a mer-lady in all her glory … and after this visit to the aquarium I thought long and hard about my childhood aspirations and wondered “What in the actual hell was I thinking?” these fish are like water aliens and I’m 100% out. No thank you.

Den Bla Planet - Denmarks National Aquarium

I did have a nice little chat with a small fish, though. She (because I said so) had pretty eyes and was looking right at me, so we discussed a few things.

Den Bla Planet - Denmarks National Aquarium

She agreed with me, the ocean is last frontier and I want nothing to do with it’s discoveries.

Den Bla Planet - Denmarks National Aquarium

Nope.

After the aquarium we headed back home for a break and some rest before deciding to go hunt down another Giant in the forest, but before we got that far we all decided dinner would be a good idea seeing as how it was already 6:30. We were going to cave and get the kids McDonalds (yes, they’ve been asking for “regular food” even though everything here is pizza and burgers and sandwiches) but they both said no which gave us the opportunity to look for another of Somebody Feel Phil’s featured eateries.

THE GASOLINE GRILL.

Gasoline Grill! We’re serious about following Phil.

We’ve been to and/or eaten at seven of the 11 locations he featured in Copenhagen. It’s been delicious.

Adventures with the Copenhagen Card

We finally activated our Copenhagen Cards on Sunday, March 31st. First up? We tackled Krongborg Castle and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Kronborg Castle in the distance

But of course we saw a few more things, it was very chilly and we got to ride an Amtrak-style train since Helsingør is a bit outside of the city of Copenhagen, so after we arrived we ducked into Kulturværftet – a Cultural Center (we thought it was a library) and were instantly smitten.

Library in Helsingør

Library in Helsingør

Fish!

When we were all warmed up we ventured back outside and towards the gates of Kronborg Castle, walked across the bridge over the mote and into the courtyard.

Kronborg Castle

We looked around a bit and decided to go on the Introduction Tour to the Castle and then the Casemates Tour following that. It started in the church.

The Church at Kronborg Castle

Which is the only structure that survived the fire that destroyed everything else. So all the wood carving and paneling and darker colors would have been how the interior of the castle was also decorated but has since been restored and painted white instead. So, as we were touring, everything is very bright and light, but in the Renaissance it would have been much darker.

The Church at Kronborg Castle

The tour was very informative and King Frederick and Queen Sophie had a loving marriage (which wasn’t always the case in the Renaissance due to arranged marriages and whatnot). Their lives were opulent, to say the least. Banquets would be 24 course meals and each person would get their own bird (or ham, or duck or whatever they were serving), so they would each get the choice cut. Needless to say, there were a lot of leftovers and at first, they would throw them away. But Queen Sophie was an excellent head of the household and didn’t want to waste so she said the left-overs would go down the hierarchy of the kingdom. After their banquets, the servants and staff would get the food, after them – the children and so on so forth. Yes, kids came in after the servants and staff.

They put lemons in everything because it was a sign of great wealth. 3 lemons (imported from Italy) cost the same as one oxen. They bought peppercorns by PIECE. And one gram of cinnamon was the same as a gram of gold. So they used these very expensive ingredients to showcase their wealth. And showcase it, they did!

Banquet hall at Kronborg Castle

After this tour we went straight into the Casemates tours – which can be likened to a bunker underneath the castle. It’s where the soldiers lived and where the dungeons were to hold prisoners (like pirates).

The Casemates under Kronborg Castle

This is Holger Danske (Holger the Dane) and you can read about him by clicking the link if you’re interested, but he’s legendary and sleeps at beginning of the Casemates.

The Casemates under Kronborg Castle

The Casemates under Kronborg Castle

After the tour of the casemates we emerged in the square and bought our first souvenir of the trip. A leather looking-glass for our son (he hasn’t put it away yet).

Our first souvenir of the trip

We did a little more meandering on our own and saw the King’s Kitchen and the King’s Apartment before heading back outside the gates and towards the train to make our way to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art before they closed for the day.

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Walking through the neighborhood where the museum is situated is so beautiful. Calm, serene, cute cottages (I’m sure they’re houses but everything looks like a cottage to me here). And the entrance of the museum is very unassuming but then you walk through and you see this:

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

It’s breathtaking. There’s corridors winding everywhere leading to exhibits or just open expanses and all the windows frame a beautiful scene. Everything was art. Outside, inside. The entire experience was steeped in interpreting everything around you as a possibility to see something for the very first time, again.

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

This place was my jam but we only had about 2 hours here. There was another exhibit (part of the lights photo above) by Pipilotti Rist called Open My Glade and it was modern art. Abstract and, at times, uncomfortable. Cheeky, hilarious, deeply moving. The kids … they handled Pusher Street in Freetown better than this exhibit. 😉

A cultural day! I call it a win. Plus, any time I can scar my kids for life, I mean, I’m in.

Louisiana: Museum of Modern Art

Video link above, click the image to play it.