one day in copenhagen

I enjoyed four hours’ worth of torture so much yesterday while prepping my Swedish post that I decided to repeat the performance today. Much to my relief, the wifi was loads better, as was my intelligence when deciding how to upload the images. Meaning I didn’t have to upload each one three times. And so, all about our day trip to Copenhagen, which I’m excited to write about as it lets me reminisce on this fair city.

Copenhagen may possibly be the most enticing city to stroll through, at least of the large cities that I’ve visited (which are but a few). Modern Scandinavian architecture and buildings of all colors blend in well with the old. Church spires, and other sorts of spires too, entice from every corner, and each one is different. Each one is alluring, and we were drawn to them, forced to their bases by some sort of invisible magnetism. The one pictured above was my favorite; those creatures holding the spire up are but one of the reasons why I love this building. Such a curvy peculiar spire. I was able to find out what this building was called by going on the Maps apps on my iPad and doing a cool 3D flyover of the city. Do this yourself to feel the magnetic pull of the spires! Doooo it. 

This is the Børsen building, and it was built from 1618-1624 by King Christian IV. It was used as a commodity exchange center, and was once a place to go and be seen. According to the building’s website, the King’s soldiers could shut down trade if they wanted to “by marching through the building with drums and pipes.” And written records were kept of the merchants complaining about “loud people and drunken sailors.” Et voilà.

There seemed to be more bicycles than people in Scandinavia. The first photo in the above quartet was actually in Sweden, at the Malmö train station as we were locking up our bikes to take the train to Copenhagen. You are seeing free of charge two-tiered bicycle storage for commuters. And there was only one free space available! We had to lock our bikes to a railing.

After our near fiasco searching for trains that accept bikes in Sweden, it was nice to see trains that were clearly marked and showing that bikes are permissible onboard. In the third photo, another shot of a bike mob in a square in Copenhagen (please also note the very nice spire in the background). I kept taking flicks of large bike conglomerates, I just couldn’t get over it.

And in the last photo above, we stumbled across a trio of improv theater performers in a public garden in the early evening. We couldn’t understand anything that they were saying, but I don’t think that mattered much; I think much of what they were saying wasn’t proper Danish either. The theme of the performance was – how apropos – drunken sailors, or wannabe sailors, and a fancy smirky lady who makes herself known to the fellows and moves into the boat next door. Hijinks ensue. We didn’t stay until the end as we had a train to catch, but for zero comprehension, we laughed quite a bit, and really enjoyed watching. It’s those random little moments about traveling that I get so much satisfaction from.

We walked about endlessly through the city. My feet were definitely overtired by the end of the day, they hurt now just thinking about that day. For everything we saw, there were two or three ‘important’ touristy things that we missed I’m sure. We looked up dim sum restaurants, but the reviews were somewhat unkind and so we decided to skip that and choose something we stumbled across. Wellll, we stumbled across one of the dim sum places I had looked at, and I shouldn’t have heeded the reviews, because the food was pretty great. 

Magasasa was located in a somewhat salty warehouse district that was verging on overly trendy. The decor was sparse but welcoming, as was the waitress. I was most impressed by the availability of pu-erh tea on the menu (one of four options), and while the food took a while to arrive, it was cooked fresh for us and it arrived piping hot. I particularly loved the shrimp toast, or Sprød Toast Sandwich, pictured above. The Gou Bu Li Boller, minced pork and spring onion buns, were delicious too. And predictably, I also loved their Siu Mai and Har Gao, but that will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever eaten dim sum with me. Give me shrimps or give me other shrimps. Do not deny me shrimps.

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to take pictures of current or upcoming movies. It dates the trip, and makes it fun to look back on several years down the road and recall where I was when I saw the poster, and whether or not I subsequently saw the movie and if I saw it in a different place. 

When I visited France with my mum in 2003, that movie was Terminator 3, or Terminator Trois: le Soulèvement des Machines. When I lived in France in 2007, it was The Number 23, or Le Nombre 23. Jim Carrey’s creepy face will forever live in my memory floating somewhere around Montpellier. I never saw either of those movies but those are standout memories of my travels.

And so far on this trip, we’ve seen lots of movie options. Will it be Jason Bourne that lives in my memory? Tarzan? Probably not, because both of these are the same in English as they are in other languages. It may be Independence Day: Resurgence, which in Germany was Indepence Day: Wiederkehr. We even went and saw it while we were in Germany, although we understood even less than we did at the Danish improv performance. The only words I could comprehend were “OHHH MYYYYY GODDDDD,” which were conveniently left in English when dubbed.

Anyway, back to Copenhagen. It was lovely, and we had a great time. It was perfect for a day trip, and we whittled away the 500 Danish krone (75 USD) that we took out of an ATM for the day no problem. We even had enough for beers, and then other beers, and then a post-beer crepe and waffle. And then it was farvel Scandinavia.

swedish snapshots

It’s been a while since we left Sweden. Slow internet connections come and go, and time passes me by. But it would be wrong to not revisit the time we spent traversing Sweden. It would also be wrong to tell you how long it took me to upload all of these photos. But I will. Three and a half hours, give or take a year. 

While we were in Sweden, it seemed as if we would never make it to Germany. Our stay in the Schengen region of Europe visa-free is limited to 90 days. As such, our goal was to make it out of Scandinavia within 30 of those days, and we pert near made it.

The plan was to take a train from a randomly chosen city which we knew nothing about (Mora) to a destination further south, near the coast (whether east or west side, it didn’t matter much to us). We luckily came to find out ahead of time that very few of the multiple train companies in Sweden allow bicycles. Even luckier, the one possible company we could utilize operates on a line running south from Mora. So while we were not able to make it to the coast, or as far south as we had hoped, we were able to shave a few hundred kilometers off of our cycling itinerary, allowing us to meet our self-imposed deadline.

Pippi Longstocking riding a giant felted twinflower! How Sweden!

Sweden is Norway’s less showy, less prosperous sibling, at least to a casual observer. The houses were not as meticulously clean nor freshly-painted, there weren’t as many roadside tourist-friendly amenities (whether necessary or frivolous), there most definitely were not as many bike paths, and a visit did not break the bank. While still expensive as compared to mainland Europe, Sweden was much cheaper for us to travel through than Norway. We began allowing ourselves more treats, in the forms of coffee and pastry stops, meals out, and occasional bottles of wine.

DALA HORSE FEVER! A fever that could only be interrupted by waffles. Waffles were the theme of our vacation in Sweden. They were also, come to think of it, the theme of our time in Norway. And through to the present day, they continue to be the theme of our trip. These days we can be found frequently indulging in gaufres de liège, sugar waffles. From the supermarket. They come in packs of five or eight. We’re on our fifth or sixth pack in just a few weeks. Life is good.

Mora turned out to be a delightful surprise. We were able to take in crew races on the lake in town, pose with several different dala horses, choose from hundreds more to purchase, and we even stayed in an adorable hut at the local campground. Camping in tiny huts seemed to be a very Scandinavian thing to do, and I am not one to oppose getting more in tune with the Motherland vibes, so a hut it was. While in Mora, we were also able to watch a Euro Cup semifinal (a clue to anyway else who watched the game just how long ago we were there). We watched at a restaurant, outside, on a giant screen. Everyone was really into the game and there were fans from both sides, which made for a very Euro atmosphere. When the game ended near midnight, it was disconcerting how light the sky still was; it made walking through the sleepy deserted town an eerie experience.

The forestry in Sweden was quite different from in Norway. In Norway, they apparently adhered to the same regulated thinning treatment, at least in the areas we saw. In Sweden, there were larger clearcuts, but trees in general seemed to be allowed to grow older, and to a larger size. They looked nicer. There were also varied treatments, which was refreshing after seeing the same identical type of harvest throughout Norway. I appreciated the variability and diversity, and while we didn’t see much for wildlife in either country, hopefully the critters appreciate it too.

The cracker selection in Scandinavia was phenomenal. They also loved pickled herring of all flavors, and various cheeses and meats squeezed into colorful tubes.

Before we left Sweden, we stayed for two nights in a campground adjacent to the above bridge, in Malmö. For one day, we took a train across the bridge to see Copenhagen, and it was well worth the trip. Denmark is the only country that I’ve been unprepared for currency-wise, but since we were traveling directly into the heart of a city, finding an ATM to withdraw some Danish kroner for the day wasn’t a problem.

And then, very close to our self-imposed 30 day mark, we took a ferry from Malmö to Travemunde, Germany. It took seven hours, and we paid for two buffet meals, at which we proceeded to pig out so much that I don’t believe I should say any more.

välkommen to my house

We’re in Sweden now! We spent a few days exploring the Trondheim of many moons ago (back when it was the capital of Norway, and was called Nidaros), and then we cycled north along a gorgeous fjord until we turned east towards Sweden. Eli made the excellent pun “I can’t believe we’ve been affjorded all these terrific views!” Nyuk nyuk. It took another day, but we crossed the country line on a little dirt road without much fanfare (except on my part). I couldn’t even really tell where the border was apart from the signs. Having worked on the US-Canada border, where there is an engorged no man’s land so large that you couldn’t miss it even without eyesight, I thought that was pretty neat.

We meandered our way through very watery woods and peat bogs over the next day. Everywhere, water is close to the surface. Both small and large lakes abound, as well as tiny kettle ponds and rivers of all sizes. The mountains are surrounding us, with snow and freezing temps only a few hundred feet up. Down in the valleys it is pleasant, but still quite chilly at night depending on location.

This team of two decided it would be best if we try to take a rest day every four or five days, so that we don’t get burnt out or too fatigued. With all this mountain climbing and gravel riding we’ve been doing, that makes hella sense to me. And so after a few long (to me) days, we aimed for a random town to take a rest day in. A sign had let us know that the town should have food, lodging, and camping. We arrived after an 80 km day of riding, a third of which was dirt and most of which was a hill of varying size, to find out that the lodging and food signs had been scratched off the map and the camping hadn’t even existed in the first place. We made camp for the night in a little hideyhole, and found ourselves a campground down the road a short ways the next day, planning to take a day off.

Well! I found out that there was a bike park a few miles down the road from where we’d be staying, and there was suddenly all this fantastic literature all around me (okay, yes, we were in a library, so, not surprising, no) promoting biking in the region and at the bike park. It had been my intention when planning this trip that while we would ride our touring bikes from country to country, that if we made it to various bikes parks across Europe, that Eli should have the opportunity to ride at them if he wanted to. He had already passed by Hafjell in Norway on their opening weekend, without much fanfare other than taking a pic of the slopes. So I worked on him a bit and tried to get him to tell me if he wanted to go downhilling. One might say it’s a bit like cracking open an oyster, it’s a bit of going back and forth. I knew he wanted to. We both knew he wanted to. And then we saw some big bikes at the campground we were staying at. Our plan was get up early the next morning, see if they were headed back to the Åre Bike Park, and if so, ask for a ride. And it worked! Thanks to John and his son Emil for letting us tag along in their camper, for riding up to the very top of the mountain in a cable car with us, so that we could descend a 5.5 mile trail in heavy wind and rain, and for a tasty post-ride beer. And for refusing any sort of recompense afterwards! There are so many lovely people in this world.

Now! Here are a few photos from our time in Trondheim. More recent photos will have to wait.

The Nidaros cathedral was impressive. The most northerly Gothic cathedral in the world! We sat outside of it one day, and even had the place to ourselves for a few quiet minutes in the evening. The next day we went inside, and found sooo many triangles and Illuminati paraphernalia. Shhh.

We went to Baklandet Skydsstation for their midday herring buffet. All the herring you can dream of, in every sort of sauce, plus a beer and an Aquavit. The Aquavit selection was longer than our 80 km day of biking the other day, so we had the waitress pick us out two options. We came for the herring, we stayed for the beautiful Norwegian tapestry hangings. And then I had a belly ache, because I ate way too much.

Eli demonstrates, sans bicycle, how to use the bicycle lift.

We had plenty of time, so we went to a number of museums. We saw 1) creepy dioramas detailing the history of skiing in Norway, 2) lots of really old swords + shit, and 3) the ruins of a castle built on top of a hill over one thousand years ago. I have a thing for dioramas.

It was Midsummer, and while we sadly couldn’t find any wild parties to join in on like we’d heard tell of, we did make ourselves a tasty supper, and threaten each other with another pound or three of pickled herring. 

More next time!