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.

Update on our No-vember. (A month without spending anything extra)

You can catch up on the how and why here but just in case you’re walking into this post wondering where this is coming from …

What exactly is a no-spend month?

To be overly simple, it’s a month with no extra spending. Keeping the lights on and food in our bellies isn’t part of the “No-November” for us. If we have a bill, we pay it. If we need groceries, we pick them up. If there was a pre-planned event, we attend. It’s not saying no to having fun or being social, it’s just taking a month to recalibrate and evaluate where the funds are going by stopping the flow of all the extra’s.

No coffee’s from Starbucks, no lunch dates or dinners out, no last minute “I’m bored” spending on the weekends. Just, not this month.

And it’s officially over! The last 11 days were more difficult than the first 19. We had a school break in there, a holiday, a snow day. A lot of down time, is what I’m getting at, and while we stuck to our no-spend month … it’s true you can’t buy happiness, but you can delay sadness.

I had guessed we’d be “over” in our grocery budget but we ended the month within $100 of our usual burn rate at the grocery store – and without any eating out, this felt like a feat. But clearly a doable one.

We borrowed puzzles, drank a lot of hot chocolate at home, had friends over, hung out with family, went for walks, and the kids played with the chickens, it was all very lovely in hindsight.

We went a little stir crazy (Aaron and I more than the kids) BUT it was honestly eye-opening to do this and I’m so glad we tried it, for a few reasons:

We spent less than half what we normally would.

Which definitely made the month of no spending worth it, in my book. I’m the numbers person in our family, so it is very interesting to me to see what we went without and how that affects the bottom line. We can get comfortable and stop practicing discernment or patience in our spending, especially this time of year.

We appreciated what we already have.

Games, subscriptions, the library, relationships, natural resources. We definitely made the most of what we had, even though there were days we were tired of being creative or trying to think a different way.

This was more of a mindset change, and one we struggled with as a whole family, than anything else. Which is the true nugget of this month, I think.

One evening my daughter led a workshop for our family on how to make ornaments out of paper. We already had the paper and the string, even though she wanted to go get additional items like stickers or prettier paper or glitter, we all had to think outside the box at different times to just use what we had. And now our house is colorful, and it means something to all of us.

I actually made money.

We had a few things lying around that didn’t work for us any more, either furniture we no longer had a use for or nice items the kids grew out of – and I sold them. I also took a temporary job for part of November and booked multiple photoshoots this month. Which is not something I had planned on or even thought of as a bonus to a month without spending.

What wasn’t included.

You get to make up your own rules and no one is keeping score 😉

For our family – this is what we spent money on this month:
My medications and all the B.S. that goes with being diabetic
Groceries (food and drinks, people. We didn’t eat ramen all month)
Our monthly bills (gas, electric, mortgage, investments, water, trash)
Gas for our cars
And we did use a gift certificate for free pizza one evening

We also had already purchased tickets before November for a few events and even a girls getaway weekend for me and we happily attended.

Now, for the nitty-gritty:

We spent $71.15 that technically we weren’t supposed to which included Aaron’s coffee on the weekends (read more about that here), my oopsie lunch at the beginning of the month, and 2 “breaks” on different weekends for coffee out as a family.

All in all, a good reminder of how much we already have & how little we really need, but most of all, what matters most.

And I would totally do it again! Maybe once a year, but not during the summer 😉

Saturday morning

😍

Highway 1 // California Coast

Our adventure’s continue in California, when we left off we had just explored Tilden Regional Park and before that we had our first Airbnb Experience in a Vintage VW van through Napa. California just keeps getting better.

We turned off “highways” on our gps system and took the backroads to another winery called The Russian River.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

We actually thought we would be able to get dinner at this winery from everything we had read, but we missed the part about needing a dinner ticket for their supper club. They were wonderful, offered to get us in that evening with their ticket holders but we decided on a shared plate, a glass of something white and to enjoy the quiet view of their farm for a while before continuing our backroads tour of the region … looking for highway 1.

I couldn’t tell you at which part we finally connected with highway 1, there were amazing little towns we went through and all kinds of winding roads and then our view just broke open. Just like that.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

I mean, it was stunning. I probably wrote poetry about it. We just meandering through this weird and beautiful outcropping of water and rock and the salty air, and the little beach towns, and the dive hotdog bars, and the succulents! You guys. The weather-worn shacks and cottages with million dollar views, the surf boards. It was just as I’d imagined it would be: breathtakingly beautiful, a little haunting, but in a good way. A day I’ll never forget.

Tilden Regional Park // Berkeley, CA

While we were in California last month we explored a lot of the local area where we stayed, which was right in Berkeley. The hills in Berkeley are just nuts, driving was an adventure.

One of the places I had researched ahead of time was Tilden Regional Park, from what I could tell there was great hiking, a fun steam train (for the kids, but honestly – it was so much fun), gardens and much more.

Our favorite way to travel is to just get lost. Know enough, but then just go, and this trip was without kids so we had a lot more freedom to spend time day-tripping and getting lost without people losing their marbles.

Tilden Regional Park

I remember places by their public spaces. The parks, the gardens, the greenhouses. Detroit? Belle Isle. Holland, Mi? Windmill Island and the greenhouse in the middle of the city. Oregon? The International Test Rose Garden.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

So Tilden was a must-do on my list, her Botanical Gardens a prize winning first place for me.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

We spent the most time “forest bathing” as we walked around the Botanical Gardens from habitat to habitat. Desert, to hillside, to giant sequoia grove, to forest, to bridges and lawn, to pond life and prairie.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

It was magical, what can I say? I loved it so hard. The parking was free and there was no admission to get in to the park. After we spent a couple hours at the garden we went to the Steam Train for a ride. Tickets were $3 each – the ride was a good ten minutes through the trees and little tunnels. It was like riding on the set of Thomas the Train with miniature buildings and working water towers for the train. You could buy 5 or 6 rides for cheaper, like a “pass”, which multiple parties did because once you ride the train you just don’t want it to ever stop. Many people got off and right back on again.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Every so often the conductor would ring the bell and blow the steam and we’d see this beautiful smoke stack rise through the trees.

Magic, I tell you.

Don’t miss it 🙂 On our way out we stopped at a couple of the lookouts off the road and grabbed some great views. The fog moved in almost every day we were there and it was as if a blanket was being gently laid over the city.

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Berkeley, CA trip 2018

Later this same day we road-tripped to Highway 1, another winery in a small town called “Russian River” and meandered through some beautiful hillside as we made our way back to Berkeley which I’ll cover in the next post soon!