Tag Archives: Denmark

Denmark/Iceland Day 10: Home and Wrap-Up

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You can wake up in Reykjavik and 6 hours later be back in DC. We had a smooth trip home, not much really to report. Filed for our VAT refund, spent some remaining Icelandic currency in the duty-free shot (saving some for Ben and Courtney’s New Year’s Trip), grabbed a quick bite in the Icelandic Air lounge and flew home. Global Entry helped smooth the process although the longest wait was for the luggage to come (but it did!). We had parked at a nearby hotel using Spot Hero, just $30 for 10 days.

Observations

We liked Denmark. It didn’t have the natural beauty of Norway or the people warmth of Sweden, but the people were nice and accessible, it was easy to get around, both with public transport and driving.

Ellen, as always, gets huge praise for her trip planning skills. We worked well together, changing our itinerary for the first time I remember, to drive further and see more.  Aarhus was the highlight of Denmark for me, and that was the city we added.

Technology wise, US chip credit cards worked well. We got a BarclayCard with a pin specifically so we could use a card in automated machines (gas pumps, parking meters, etc), and it helped out in several cases. We had good experiences with SIM cards in both Denmark and Iceland. Spoiled so much that our 1/2 day in Sweden felt jarring that we didn’t have data. Impressed that Waze continued to direct us in Malmo even when we lost data coverage.

Found a great use case for the Apple Watch. When trying to find a store or restaurant, instead of carrying the phone around for directions, I used Apple Maps and then put my phone in my pocket. The watch then displayed the directions and tapped appropriately when it was time to turn. It worked well and felt much safer not to have the phone out.

We did notice that many establishments have added surcharges on credit cards in general or foreign cards specifically. Still better than carrying a lot of cash, but there always seems to be some gotcha to get travelers to cough up more.

We used Tripadvisor and Yelp to help select restaurants, and that produced some great meals. That and we repeated meals at The Little Apothecary in Copenhagen and Icelandic Fish & Chips in Reykjavik.

Iceland was as wonderful as always. It was nice to have a car and do the traveling on our own. That allowed us to pick our sites and visit towns and restaurants too small for even a 16 person tour group to visit.

We had some of our best conversations with locals in stores, especially Skagen in Aaarhus, Thomas Sabo in Malmo and 66° North in Reykjavik. We ask questions of the retailers and find they are more than willing to share some of their background and viewpoints to interested travelers.

The biggest advantage of travel in my opinion is how it opens your eyes. Not just to how others live, but taking you out of what your normal is. Things like air conditioning. Copenhagen doesn’t have it because it is rarely hot, but when it is (like when we visit), they deal with it. The stores, the restaurants, the subway cars were hot. But when a rail car is unairconditioned in DC, all of a sudden #hotcar is trending. We are spoiled in the US, with comfort, big cars, and huge portion sizes. At many restaurants, a soda or sparkling water was 250ml, a little over 8 ounces. And that was it. No free refills. And you made it last because it was already $4.

I hope to keep that perspective with me of seeing the world differently and challenging the normalcy we get used to.

Thanks for reading along, I’ve enjoyed the questions and comments. If you enjoyed it (and got this far), do me a favor and like on Facebook or WordPress, or favorite on Twitter, just so I know you were reading.

Until our next big trip, which is….CUBA!


Denmark/Iceland Day 7: Well, Now I Have To Add Sweden

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We had hot weather which was unusual, so we were due for a more normal cold, rainy, windy day. That day was today.

We left Aarhus around 8am and drove to Malmo, Sweden. Malmo is near Copenhagen, just a (16km long) Oresund Bridge ride from near the Copenhagen Airport. Anyone care to guess how expensive for a one-way crossing? (no Googling it first!).

We were looking for something different to do to spend the day. But perhaps a bit of the reason for going to Malmo, Sweden was that Ellen wanted to hit the Thomas Sabo store there and pick up a charm or two. So that’s the address we put into Waze. As an aside, SHOUT OUT TO WAZE for keeping the GPS directions going in Sweden after we strayed from our Denmark data connection. We found the store quickly, were helped by a very nice Sabo employee and Ellen was successful in getting a few new charms and a ring.

Since we were there, we decided to explore. It was pouring rain, 50°F, with 25-40mph winds, but we were determined. We found the town square, city hall and Saint Peter’s Church. We liked Malmo a lot, except for the weather. He hadn’t made it that far south when we were in Sweden 2 years ago.

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We walked until we were so cold and wet that we couldn’t anymore. Stopped for coffee/tea and then came back to Denmark. We are staying at the Hilton at the airport, so we checked in, returned the car and then went back to the hotel. We had thought about going into Copenhagen for our last dinner, but decided to dry off instead. So we had dinner at the hotel and relaxed a little, before our flight to Iceland early tomorrow morning.

There was time for one last Carlsberg, however.

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Denmark/Iceland Day 6: Aarhus (is a very, very, very fine hus)

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Don’t let the blue sky fool you, we had some off and on rain today, but nothing to disrupt our plans. Today was Aarhus, just Aarhus. Based mostly on Rick Steves’ walking tour, we hit 2 churches, a beautiful street, the art museum and threw in the train station for fun.

The church (seen above) dates back to the 12th century. Many of the frescos had been whitewashed during the Reformation, but that served to perfectly preserve them. DSC_0422

The tour took us to a street that was billed as the prettiest in town, and it lived up to its billing.DSC_0437

We then went to the modern art museum, .ARoS. It was awesome on many counts, but two stood out. First was The Boy, a 15 foot sculpture that was spookily realistic-looking. Notice the scale with the real person!

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Then, on the roof of the building was a circular walkway with a rainbow of color as you went around. Pictures did capture the colors, but not the feeling of looking over the city through different color lenses. First a panoramic sense of it, then a single view.IMG_1328DSC_0458

We walked along the Stroget to the train station, which had a mall as part of it. Ellen had concerns if we’d have enough to do today, but we easily filled it.

Ellen found a highly recommended pizza restaurant, Cafe Piccolina, which was a block behind the main church. The chef was from Italy, the wife worked the front, the children wrapped the silver. And the pizza seemed authentic Italian. This is the al pomodoro.

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Tomorrow is our last day in Denmark, so we are thinking of throwing it a curve and going to Malmo, Sweden. The weather isn’t supposed to be that nice, but we thought it might be fun. We didn’t get to Malmo 2 years ago when we were in Sweden.


Denmark/Iceland Day 5: Odense to Aarhus

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Odense’s claim to fame is being the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. The museum chronicles his life and works. Poverty, homeliness, rejections…these factors led to the creative mind, but not always a happy life. Well explained, the museum was very interesting. It included an outdoor theater that packed in local children.IMG_1318DSC_0386 DSC_0389DSC_0410

After the museum, we walked through the town. Of course, a church as the focal point, some public art, it was pretty.DSC_0390 DSC_0393

We had seen a place called Burger Anarchy when searching for restaurants. We thought the name alone deserved a visit. So we had a very good lunch! The burgers rivaled anything we have back home.

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We found a mall outside Odense, and managed to find a soccer jersey from the Danish national team. That’s been my go-to souvenir of late.

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Then, about an hour and a half drive to the 2nd largest city in Denmark, Aarhus. We got here late afternoon, so we didn’t do much except find an exceptional place for dinner. At Mefisto, we started with venison carpaccio, which was delicious. Ellen had whole roasted flounder ​with corn and cauliflower in browned butter, I had salmon with lemon,  with creamed spinach and new potatoes. For dessert, Ellen had creme brulee which I had double chocolate cake with lemon ice cream. Well worth every calorie.

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Denmark/Iceland Day 3: Sunday in our Hyundai

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We were still so giddy about having our luggage when we woke up, we weren’t sure what to do. Clothes! We could wear whatever we wanted. And fresh clothes at that!

We picked up our rental car, a Hyundai i30. 6 speed, diesel, fun to drive. We decided on the way out of town to do one very touristy thing. Her name here is Den Lille Havfrue, but we know her as the Little Mermaid.  She’s a fine sculpture, iconic of course, but is located inconveniently, and now just a tourist trap. Even so, we had to take her picture. DSC_0309

We then drove north to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. A world-class museum, most impressive were the scuptures, including Caldor’s, that are outside along a beautiful vista.DSC_0321 DSC_0320

We consulted Yelp, and found a completely local and Danish smorgasbord place for lunch,  Gamle Humlebaek Kro had no menus in English, the waitstaff spoke very little, but we figured this out. We had fried fish and herringed salmon, both served with dark bread. Delicious!

We hadn’t been to a castle since yesterday, so needed to change that. We drove next to Frederiksborg Slot. The home of Christian IV, it has elements that rival Versailles. Except not quite so over the top.DSC_0341 DSC_0351 DSC_0328

Then it was time to find out hotel. A castle, We are staying in an actual castle. The service has not lived up to the beauty, but can’t win ’em all.

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We searched again for dinner, and found an Italian restaurant in Helsinger. It cooled off, we ate comfortably outside, and enjoyed Restaurant Ciao Ciao‘s homemade pasta.

After another very warm day, we are looking forward to a high in the 60’s°F tomorrow.


Denmark/Iceland Day 2: Palaces (and anticipating luggage)

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We weren’t going to let anything like no luggage (or 91°F weather) stop us from enjoying our vacation. Although at times, both tried.

We got a decent night’s sleep, given the situation. The hotel offered a Scandinavian breakfast, and we enjoyed it. Off by foot, we were after the 3-star attractions today. First stop was a palace we hadn’t seen the first time, Christiansborg Slot. We like the Danish style, not nearly as over the top as others we have seen.   DSC_0268

2nd stop was Rosenborg Castle. Beautiful gardens surrounding it (it’s the picture on top of this blog entry).DSC_0282

After touring the castle, we found a coffee place for Ellen. The area, Torvelhallerne, had stalls with various fresh-made food, we both got tasty sandwiches. We saw this train station, which really brought home how others rely on things other than cars.DSC_0288

We used Google Maps to help us navigate public transit, to minimize walking in the heat. It never gets this hot in Copenhagen. We were also told that during our other visit here in 2003, when it was also scorchingly hot. We walked past this canel, which just looked so beautifully European.DSC_0294

Final stop for the day was Amelienborg Castle. Boy, royalty doesn’t have it so bad. DSC_0304 DSC_0299

We then figured out how to take train lines back to near our hotel. 5:00pm, still no luggage. Hotel was throwing a 4th of July party though. Burgers and beer (I just had a beer)!

We set out early for dinner. Without knowing if we’d see luggage and leaving Copenhagen tomorrow, we decided we might need something else to where. Because we eschew American brands like the plague when we travel, we thought what would work ironically best was Hard Rock t-shirts. So we picked two up.

Dinner was at a place we had ate at in 2003 when a Baltic Cruise finished in Copenhagen. I could never forget cooking your own steak on a searing rock. So we went back to Copenhagen’s oldest restaurant, Det Lille Apotek. It’s adorable. We ate outsite as it was starting to cool off. IMG_1291

On the walk back home, we had to stop at Tivoli Gardens. Ellen had gone their as a child, and remembers clearly riding the camel on the merry-go-round. So guess what we did? She even allowed this rare picture.IMG_1296

Beer and soda in the park, then we went back. The front desk gentleman who greeted us last night had the good news that the hotel had received a call that the luggage was on its way. Ellen said at first, deliver it whenever it arrives. I talked her back to a midnight deadline. Knock on the door at 11:30pm, and….WE HAVE LUGGAGE. It was a long and painful 24 hours, but we now have clothes and nothing to worry about but having fun.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, much more to come!

UPDATE: I forgot how most all of you were probably worrying about the SIM cards along with the luggage. After an issue with how much credit came with the cards, a call to Lebara resulted in great, English-speaking customer service which had both phones working before ending the call. Now, 2GBs of data, for only $7.50 each. Can’t beat it!


Denmark/Iceland Day 1: Bad luck out of the way?

The last thing you want to hear when aloft is that there is a problem with the plane and you’re going to land short of your destination. The captain presented it in a way that wasn’t alarming, but even so.

So while we thought we were flying to Reykjavik, instead we flew to Boston. Would have been nice if we could have seen Ben, but we didn’t even see the terminal. We taxied over to where the FedEx and private planes park, and waited. We were unsure what was going to happen, as first it was a question if the plane (something about the tail) could be fixed, then if it would be ready before the crew reached their time limit. Icelandair shared some info, but not much. There wasn’t pizza or drinks. Just sitting.

In the end, we lost about 4 hours. And with only a 1.5 hour layover, we missed our 7:45am  plane to Copenhagen. The next flight was scheduled for 1:15pm, but already 3 hours delayed. We were impressed that IcelandAir had already rebooked us and had our boarding passes ready. we should have withheld final judgement on them. <foreboding music..dun dun dun>

So we were in for a long layover. We made the best of it. We bought Nova SIM cards for Iceland so we would be set when we came back.  We went to the 66° North store and both bought a pair of Polar Fleece gloves. We had vouchers for lunch and got some food. And since we were flying Economy Comfort, we had access to Icelandair’s lounge. So, a lot of waiting and sitting. Lost 1/2 a day in Copenhagen, but better safe than sorry.

Our flight to Copenhagen was even later than the estimate. We had been upgraded to Saga (First) Class, that was nice. Uneventful three hour flight. BUT…no luggage. Waited until no more was coming out. Pulled a number for the baggage problem line. Spoke with the nicest lost baggage employee you’d ever want to, but the story was while we had eventually departed Iceland, our luggage had not. Supposed to be on a flight that arrives at 6am on 4 July. He gave us overnight kits, which included toiletries and a t-shirt to sleep in. That helped. Oh, and we managed to pick up SIM cards, installation to take place when less grumpy.

We figured out the train to central city Copenhagen. Our hotel, Andersen Boutique Hotel, just a few minute walk from the train station. Arrived just before midnight local time. Very nice desk clerk let us rant, nicely of course, about the trip we’ve had so far. The room is clean and very Danishly furnished (picture to come later). No air conditioning, as it never gets hot, except for when we visit. Fan in the room.

Showered as it’s been a long 2 days. But tomorrow, ready to get the exploring started!

Thanks for reading through this. Less talk, more pictures to come!