March 29th // A Friday in Copenhagen

The sun came out for almost the entire day, it was glorious.

Breakfast at home

Aaron is our breakfast chef, at home, too. Usually only on the weekends, but here he’s been able to treat us every morning to something delicious. We sat down after breakfast and came up with a rough plan for the remaining days we have here (over a week, yet) but we chose which activities were most important and when to activate the Copenhagen cards to fit everything in, taking into consideration the hours things are open and the first day Tivoli would be open.

After that, we set out for the day!

Views in our yar

We planned to see the changing of the guards, check out Freetown Christina and see for ourselves what Superkilen Park was like.

But first: we had to get more City Passes for all the public transit. Which, let’s talk about their system for a minute shall we? We buy city passes and then show the receipt to the bus driver. Locals have cards that they scan when they get on or off the bus, train or metro … and it dings, so it’s doing something. But there is nothing stopping anyone from just taking a train, or metro … or even a bus without a ticket. Is it an honor system? We can’t figure it out. They don’t check specifics. On one bus we had a “meter maid” check everyone’s tickets – but that’s happened on only one bus, out of the dozens of buses, trains and metro’s we’ve already taken. I just don’t quite understand, but we love using their public transit so we’ll keep playing their game. It’s confusing.

Figuring out City Passes for the day, it takes 4 Schaaps + the internet

Jessica's in charge!

The city hall, essentially, also a church. A stop on our public transit transfer.

Changing of the Royal Guards

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg

Drew quite the crowd and they did a whole song and dance, very official like with marching and yelling and stopping and picking up their guns and putting them down and drawing their swords and marching some more … and staring at each other. For a really long time. Over and over and over again.

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg

It was free to see and since we were in the heart of the city at the right time, I’m really glad we saw this.

The changing of the guards at Amalienborg

After all that, we had a very hipster lunch at The Union Kitchen, which, listen. I love good food as much as the next person and it was good food, but places like these are not the most enjoyable with your kids in tow. It wasn’t a bad lunch by any means, it’s just … the kids were there. You see what I’m saying? No one pays $12 for a cappuccino to be elbow to elbow with a teenager who should have showered, didn’t, and wants to play games on their phone instead of enjoy their surroundings. Whatever. We ate food, we left.

And this is about where it hit me: Travel burn-out. I was done. But, wait! We had more to see!

We passed Nyhavn (pronounced NEW-HOW) again on our way to Freetown Christina and I can’t not take photos of it.

Nyhavn Canal - can't resist all the photos of her

We got to walk over a bridge and around all kinds of boats and new things we hadn’t seen, which was a nice walk to get my self back in order.

Sights of walking all over Copenhagen

And then:

Freetown

Freetown Christina

This is the only photo I took. There’s a street called Pusher Street where they openly sell and do drugs – all through Freetown they do drugs, but it’s mostly the selling that they don’t want photos of, because it is illegal in Denmark. However, Freetown Christina is it’s own governing entity. They are not part of the EU. I don’t have all the facts and haven’t done a ton of research but from what I’ve heard and gathered – they squatted on the land but in recent years have actually purchased it (so they do pay a form of taxes) but otherwise, this is a hippy utopia. If you want to live here, there’s some sort of process, but if a house is available – you get to move in. It’s free. You can live there however long you need to, want to, and when you leave, you take nothing with you.

We took our kids through Pusher Street, we smelled a lot of weed and we saw a lot of weed. In the bathrooms we saw evidence of smoking crack. Graffiti everywhere. It was different, that’s for sure. And sobering, too. But I’m so glad we went and saw it. The street art is amazing, the people are friendly. It is what it is. I’m glad we went as a family and that we saw what we saw – not to gawk at it but because it’s real. This is real. And I want to see real life. In all its perfumed essence, blood and guts, drunk, beautiful, magical, willy-wonka-ness.

Superkilen Park

After Freetown we hunted down this park Aaron was so interested in and saw it for ourselves. A great way to end the day.

Superkilen Park

Superkilen Park

Things I noticed about Friday’s in Copenhagen:

More people are out and about. It could have been the weather, but maybe it was also the adult start to the weekend? So many more locals were at the cafe’s when, for the past few days, we’ve haven’t seen many people out and about during the day (work hours). It was fun to see more people.

Drinks are appropriate at every hour. Because all occasions are worth celebrating.

Children are welcomed, not apologized for. I love this. So, so much.

A walking tour with AirBnB Experiences in Copenhagen

I took far less photos yesterday due to cold hands and wanting to listen to our tour guide more than capture the surroundings.

Hygge & Happiness Tour

We booked an AirBnB Experience months ago (this one, specifically) and were so very glad we did. I chose to do it a couple of days into our trip so we would hopefully be better adjusted to the time and be able to get up and out of the house and figure out transit all in time to make our reservation. It was the right thing to do.

Along with learning more about Copenhagen, Hygge and Happiness, we stopped a few places for treats included in the tour; a bakery called Det Rene Brød, for traditional pastry (ironically not called “Danishes” here – they’re called “Vienna Bread”)

Hygge & Happiness Tour

Hygge & Happiness Tour

Took our treats to the Kings Garden to eat and hear some history about the castle (this one, a vacation home for the King with the first, ever, flushable toilet. Set over a mote … so, you know. Functional but not entirely sanitary yet.)

Hygge & Happiness Tour

Between our stops, we’d walk through the streets and talk or ask questions. Besides our family of four, there were 6 other people on our tour as well. Four from California and two from Ohio. 🙂

We made our way to Peter Beier Chocolate for a chocolate tasting, cooking/baking etc in Copenhagen is a serious business and they try to do everything as organically and environmentally friendly as possible (as a business, you also get a tax break for doing so – and with taxes as high as 66% … while most people don’t mind paying the taxes because of what they get back from them – you still take all the breaks that come your way) and the Chocolatier was no different.

The tasting started out with two different morsels – the only difference in them was the soil. The tree variety, treatment, etc etc were all the same – but one tree was next to a river and another was a mile away in an orchard. The first one we tried was from the tree in the orchard. I think it was something like 85% cocoa, and it was a delicious dark chocolate. There was an acidity and bitterness but it was pleasant. Then we tried the morsel from the tree by the river and it was SO DIFFERENT. Sweeter, almost. Less bitter. It was wild – and a great example of how just the soil can affect the taste of our food.

Kind of eye-opening.

We wound through more streets, heard some folklore about Copenhagen, saw fountains and statues and where the locals hung out vs. the tourists and we ended our tour at Bertels Salon, a cheesecake shop that has won the Best Cake award twice (and they’ve only handed out the prize twice).

Hygge & Happiness Tour

Hygge & Happiness Tour

The drinks were included in the tour but if we wanted cake, we’d have to purchase that ourselves, however after the chocolate and pastries – none of us wanted more sweets.

We also learned:

Hygge is pronounced like “HOO-GA” but even more like “HUGH-Ga” … you need the dirty u, in the back of your throat.

Bike theft is the biggest allotment for crime in the city, and almost no one locks up their bike. (It’s very safe)

The Little Mermaid is actually a very disturbing story. Disney colors things in rainbows (which I guess I knew, but also had no idea there were original versions so different than the Disney ones, go figure)

King Christian IV had a reign of 60 years, but was appointed at age 11. He was eccentric and named streets after things that probably weren’t a thing in Copenhagen at the time (Lemon Balm, being one of them. Elephant, Crocodile etc being other street names)

Copenhagen is for families

Coffee + Croissant before transit, Grøndal stop

We started out our morning (March 27th) with a coffee from what I would call a subway station. Train station? It’s a stop on the train at Grøndal and they only take Danish currency or bank cards, so we could finally stop here on our way out today after getting some money exchanged. We also didn’t get out of the house until after 1pm, jet lag is still keeping us on our toes.

So our adventures were mostly in the Halmortvet area of Copenhagen, also what’s known as their “meat packing district”. We dined in a couple of the best places, and now we’ll eat cheerios for a week 🙂

Our first meal of the day was around 3pm, we went to Mother and shared two pizzas. So delicious! Reminds me of Midici back home.

After breakfastlunch (?) we found a park to play in, we had planned on going to the aquarium today but when it didn’t turn out to be a rainy day and we decided to wait until after our tour (today) to activate our Copenhagen cards – we had some disappointed kids on our hands. So we found a park and everyone remembered they were kids, again.

Skydebanehaven

The park is called Skydebanehaven and you walk through this HUGE brick gate? wall? castle? into this courtyard of playthings and giggling.

Skydebanehaven

Skydebanehaven

Skydebanehaven

We got to use google translator to talk to some boys who were playing soccer and our son joined in. No one understood each other, but they knew what to do with their feet – and that was all that mattered. We had been waiting for Kødbyens Fiskebar to open, which was our whole reason for being in this area to begin with, but we still had time to kill so we just went slow. Played in the street, read books on benches, waited.

Streets of Copenhagen

Halmtorvet

Halmtorvet

Halmtorvet

Halmtorvet

It was time … Kødbyens Fiskebar opened and we were among the first to sit down. As a table, we tried: 1/2 dozen oysters (I have on video the kids’ reactions to trying these for the first time. It’s everything you hope it would be.), fish and chips, king crab with amazing layers of flavors that they told us all about and all I can remember is “THE KING CRAB” as an exclamation on our dinner. It was so good. We also tried the blue mussels. And beer.

Kødbyens Fiskebar

Kødbyens Fiskebar

Kødbyens Fiskebar

Kødbyens Fiskebar

Kødbyens Fiskebar

We walked back to Copenhagens “central station” to buy bus tickets to get back home and that, in itself, is always an escapade. There was actual running after a bus, but the wrong bus, which we boarded (totally out of breath) and got off one stop later only to walk back to the Copenhagen station and start all over.

We made it back home, a little fuller than we left, with sore feet and a take-home cake from the grocery store (think Little Debbie) to share. The kids went to sleep easy and we read books for a while before finally closing our eyes knowing we’d have to wake up to an alarm today to get out in time for our tour.

I haven’t quite figured out the french press coffee maker at this house, but I haven’t stopped trying. Here’s to another day of firsts!

Copenhagen by foot

Nyhavn Canal

We are in Copenhagen for a couple weeks and yesterday was our first “real” day here. Jet lag and travel took up the first 48 hours of our get-away but we made up for it walking all over Copenhagen yesterday.

Day 2, Copenhagen sights

We hit up some of the most recognizable sights just to see them, get our bearings, and to help us way-find while we’re still here. We rented a house via Airbnb right around the blue circle region and walked all the way into the heart of Copenhagen and sought out the red-circle area’s on our 8 1/2 mile trek yesterday.

Here’s what we saw:

Copenhagen

We stopped for a to-go coffee from Mad Kaffe and made a mental note to spend more time here in the coming weeks. Tables outside, blankets, candles flickering. A very hyggelig atmosphere. (Hygge – pronounced “HOO-GA”) Hygge isn’t a buzz word here, it’s a way of life … and I am all in.

Streets of Copenhagen

Streets of Copenhagen

We made our way towards the Torvehallerne KBH market for lunch … think Pikes Place in Seattle, only less crowded. There is no throwing fish, but there’s a lot of fish to see. Also an open air farmers market and flower market. THE FLOWERS.

Smørrebrød

Fresh flowers

We walked around to check everything out and settled on trying our first Smørrebrød of the trip, choosing a salmon salad with roe and a chicken salad open-faced sandwich, a couple of strange fruits we had never tried before and a beer for Aaron and I to share, and a locally made pop for the kids to share.

Lunch at Torvehallerne KBH

After lunch, the kids each got a treat from the market. So many treats everywhere. It’s a serious business, from what I read – it’s also part of the Hygge lifestyle; something warm to drink and something sweet to eat, preferably to share. (They’re working on the sharing part 😉 )

Lunch at Torvehallerne KBH

We took their treats to go and walked towards Ørstedparken, a park, on our way to Nyhavn (pronounced “NEW-HOW”) for a canal tour.

Ørstedparken

Ørstedparken

Ørstedparken

We stumbled on some beautiful sights, signs of spring, and play-areas for children. The children are feerer here, people trust each other. And parenting sounds the same in every language.

On our way towards Nyhavn for a canal tour, we walked along the water and found one of the swim harbors.

Swim harbors

You would think it’s too cold to swim, but we saw locals taking a dip on the other side of the harbor – and as we were walking along, we watched a man strip down to his boxers and jump right in. (I’m assuming he just finished working out, as we were next to a gym, but who knows.) Aaron was inspired. There will be polar-dips in our future here.

The water - so clear!

NYHAVN

Nyhavn

Such a gem! We’ll be back here. We took one of the canal tours to see the city by water, it was chilly – but what we noticed about Copenhagen is that people just get on with life. The cold, and even rain, doesn’t stop them from commuting by bike or walking. They carry their babies in baskets if they’re on foot and without a stroller, or on the front of their bikes. Life goes on. And on and on and on. It was beautiful, actually. To see so many people still living and not holed up in their houses, away, because of some chilly weather.

Canal tour

Canal tour out of Nyhavn Canal

On one of the bridges over the canal – there’s Love Locks on the bridge, like in Paris.

Love locks on Nyhavn Canal

After the canal tour we needed to warm-up so we looked for a place to sit inside. We struck out a few times before settling on a Belgian Waffle + ice cream place. Our daughter was looking for a specific place and we couldn’t find it – so we just went here.

Sweet treat :: Nyhavn

Sweet treat :: Nyhavn

By now we were all feeling the 8+ miles we had logged on our feet, a little chilly, tired and ready for a meal. Aaron wanted to get to a Fish market – one of the stops made on Someone Feed Phil (which is a docu-series on Netflix, that if you are curious, you should very much watch. I dare you not to love him.)

But he accidentitally led us all back to where we started at the Torvehallerne KBH. We quickly course-corrected and went straight for DØP, instead.

DØP hot dogs

I have to be honest, we went back for seconds.

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

I regret nothing.

Between all of us, we tried: The roasted hotdog, the French hotdog, the goat hotdog, the spicy beef hotdog, and the pork sausage with garlic.

We’ll be stopping here again and again.

After a good nights rest and still not quite being on Copenhagen time, we’re going very slow today.

Home for a couple weeks - Airbnb

A few tips and things to look forward to:

Traveling with teenagers is still traveling with teenagers 😉 We’re loving this time together as a family, but don’t you worry – we are all still so very human. Even in Copenhagen! HUMAN HUMAN HUMAN.

Thursday we signed up for a Hygge walking tour through Airbnb Experiences. Can’t wait to see parts of Copenhagen from a local’s perspective and get even more ideas and tips of what we should be sure to see/do while here.

We plan on getting Copenhagen Cards so we can sight-see a number of different things while we’re here.

Tivoli opens April 4th – and we will be there with bells on! (We walked past it yesterday on our walk into the center of Copenhagen, I think we’re all equally as excited to experience this gem)

Before we left on our trip, the night before, I finally had a restful nights sleep. (It’s been a while, things have been stressful and up in the air in a variety of different ways, and life was feeling heavy, not in a looming doom sort of way, just responsibility. This trip has been a beacon for us, in more ways than we could even know.) Any way – before I woke up Sunday morning I remember thinking “this trip is going to be two weeks of joy!” and I have to tell you … that’s what I’m getting out of this. A cup that runeth over. Refilled.

As we stop to rest on this trip, or find wifi to check our maps or upload a photo, I’m jotting down little memories of what I see:

“Old men riding bikes while smoking cigarettes. Blankets over chairs, candles flickering, outside bistro seating under low lighting and heaters. Native language that sounds like speaking poetry underwater.”

And I’m so thankful to be here, now.

How to feel softer

The amount of posts I’ve started writing during a storm are probably outnumbered by any other criteria for this space. We are experiencing a good ol’ fashion cleanse from the Winter here in West Michigan, right now. This minute. The skies opened with a crack and she has been pouring it on us for minutes. Which, when you’re still enough, feels like hours.

And. It. Is. Glorious.

I have my “Hallelujah” playlist on Spotify playing in the background. Ok, the foreground. Because it’s LOUD. The rain is the staccato behind everything else.

I can’t tell you why I love the rain so much. I always have. I remember the smell of the rain in Nigeria and the dust rising as it pounded the earth right outside of our screened porch. Everything got dirty, which was funny, because rain usually cleans things off. But in Africa – everything is dirt and dry and still. Until it rains. And then everything is sprayed in the evidence that the earth can still give birth.

So, hi. It’s been awhile since I’ve ripped off a bandaid and bled here. Not that this is what I do here, on the regular. But I miss having a space to chronicle parts of my life I want to remember. The gritty, the dirty, the salvation of it all. I want to see pools of blood to recognize where the healing came from.

Parenting is a constant in my life. We’re raising kids and we went from the Easter-Basket phase to the Barf-On-The-Side-Of-The-Road phase. We are constantly hungover from parenting.

It’s still sublime, I’m obsessed with my kids. I love them so much, it actually hurts. But also? I lose my religion on the daily. I wonder if we’ve done everything wrong, often. I fret over things that are not actually connected to me, but because my kid(s) are experiencing it – I do too. I continue to have weird correlations with their ages, although less and less with such a force of personal reconciliation and more, now, with a reckoning of understanding that I was not ever, nor was I ever going to be, prepared for this.

Sometimes Aaron and I will think back to when we were first married and we just laugh. I had nieces and nephews, I was an avid babysitter and caregiver. We had our shit together, or so we thought. And then we had our own kids – and it’s adorable, really. I’m so glad we were so blind about it, to be completely honest. How pure and unfretted and rare it was to walk into being a mother without fear. It was everything I ever wanted. To be pregnant and have babies and raise a family. God. Yes.

Still is.

Is it harder now because it’s almost over? Because I don’t know who I am, without them, any more? Because I can see down the road and the next exit is college? I know where this is going. They are going to grow up and our of my house. Out of my immediate care. She is going to fall in love and he is going to run so fast towards his goals we won’t know he left until he’s already out the door. They’re going to leave.

I want them to. They need to. This is healthy. This is what we want, what we’re working towards. And they can always come back, oh I hope they come back. But they’re going to leave. They will outgrow this house and our traditions and memories and they’ll brave a new trail and make their own paths and I’ll be the first one on the sidelines to cheer my fool-head off at them. I can’t wait.

It’s going to be so good.

It is.

But it’s going to be so soon. And I’m a mess about it. It’s not over yet and I’m mourning the end. It has been the most delight I’ve ever experienced in all of my life, to be a mother. Their mother.

I wonder if we’ll remember the smell of this rain. How it baptized me from everything still and dry and dirty and left the evidence all over my life that I gave birth …

to them.

Mothers Day 2008

As I end this post the song ‘I Get To Love You‘ by Ruelle is playing, and it’s everything.

xoxo