Whilst Friday was super emotional, it was a complete change of tune on Saturday as Adele and I met at 5.30am to fly to Copenhagen for a little Scandinavian adventure. Typical Salzburg, living up to its reputation as the most expensive place in the world, the flights from here were too expensive, so instead, we too the train to Munich and flew from there.
The flight was only about 90 minutes, and before we knew it, we had landed in a fog -shrouded Copenhagen. We then got the space agey metro to our Airbnb in the Øresund district. The write up for the apartment had been pretty cool – 19th floor, views of the sea etc, but it’s safe to say we smelt a rat as soon as the host’s clueless flatmate answered the door in his underwear! The flat itself could have been really nice, but it was unclean to say the least. Thankfully, we had no intention of spending much time there and, in spite of the fog, took the metro into the city. By this point, we’d been forced to become accustomed to the ridiculous currency there; if I had to guess, I’d say that 1 Danish krone is equivalent to about 10p, so these were BIG numbers we were dealing with. We alighted in the city centre, a block away from the iconic Nyhavn harbour. We wandered over there to have a look, despite the murky weather, and it was indeed very cute, if a bit too touristic.
By this point, it was lunch time, so I guided us through the city in the direction of a restaurant I’d seen on Travel Man, where they apparently serve the best smørrebrød in Copenhagen. Typically, it was closed when we were there, so we went across the road and bought bagels (apparently the Danes love their bagels) and, inevitably, a Danish pastry or two. We ate these wandering around a pretty district to the north of the city centre, before getting the bus over to Tivoli Gardens….. which was also closed for winter. Despite having been foiled twice by this point, Adele and I had already concluded that Copenhagen was very much a city we could live in; with a population of about 2 million, it’s just the right size.
It was now getting dark, so we spent the evening wandering around Copenhagen’s old town, popping in and out of various Scandi style stores. After a while, we stumbled across the university quarter – the university here is one of the oldest in the world- where there were rows and rows of cafes-cum-bookshops-cum-bars – literally the dream. We went into one across the street from the university library and spent a few hours drinking coffee and playing card games. By now, we were hungry, so we wandered further through the old town, past so many cosy (or ‘hygge’) restaurants. Eventually we found somewhere with enough vegetarian options, and I finally got to have my first smørrebrød, the Danish classic of intricate open sandwiches. After food and a few drinks, we headed back to the apartment and fell asleep immediately.
The next morning dawned and we could still only see fog and mist from our 19th storey window. Not deterred, we took the metro to the northern part of the city centre in search of breakfast. Inadvertently, we found the famous Torvellerne food market, and i had undoubtedly the best pastry of my life! We then walked through the city, and within half an hour we’re at another bakery having coffee and pastry. We then plotted a route to the famous Danish Design Museum, via numerous pretty squares, the Danish Film Institute, the Rosenborg Palace, Fredrikskirke and the Amalienborg. The museum itself was great, interesting, stylish and genuinely informative. Then, it was a walk through the fortress grounds, and ten back along the harbour, over a few arty bridges, past Nyhavn and into the old town again where we stopped for a late lunch. We stayed here for a few hours, soaking in the hygge atmosphere, then wandered into a few small record and bookshops. After a while, we found ourselves back on the water front, which was eerily quiet given the time of year. We walked along the water, past the Charlottenborg Palace and then onto a pub for a Carlsberg before bed.
Monday was our last day in Copenhagen, and we were determined to tick as much as possible of our list. Finally the fog had cleared, so we took advantage of our apartment and had a quick stroll along Copenhagen’s windswept, desolate seafront. I’m told that, in summer, it attracts hundreds of people, but right now, it felt pretty barren. After another pastry breakfast, we took the metro to Christianshavn, the neighbourhood to the south of the city centre. Here, amongst the cute coloured houses and moored boats, we found Christiania, the autonomous, marijuana-filled neighbourhood famed for its graffiti art and lax rules surrounding the green stuff. There was a weird vibe here, no to mention a weird smell, and we beat a retreat to the Danish Architecture Centre after a while.
Later, we crossed the river again to the National Library, where they had a few exhibitions, then, it was on the bus towards Jægersborggade, a cool, Shoreditch-style neighbourhood in the north of the city, replete with coffee shops and retro stores. Here, we got a quick lunch, then wandered through the area in search of some street art we’d read about in the area. Cultural needs satisfied, we made a gametime decision to take the bus to the Carlsberg museum. Here, we walked around the old brewery, then got tipsy on complimentary beer in the onsite bar. By this point, the one thing on our list that we had yet to compete was climbing the Round Tower in the centre of the city, so we made our way over there to get a sunset view of the Copenhagen area. There was then just enough time for another wander round the city, before we found somewhere to stop for dinner and drinks.
After our last evening there, we caught the metro back to our apartment and packed our things ready for our early morning train journey. The next day, we took the train from central Copenhagen across the famous Malmö bridge to Sweden, and had a few hours journey through the beautiful Swedish countryside.
On arriving in Stockholm, we walked the few blocks to our airbnb (much cleaner this time!) and dropped off our things, before sussing out yet another ridiculous currency and heading into Gamla Stan, the medieval old town island of the city. In many ways similar to salzburg, we wandered around its narrow cobbled streets with numerous antique shops for a while, peeking into various churches. After stopping for a sandwich and a coffee, we found ourselves on the harbour, and we’re able to watch the sun set over the many island skyline of the city- it was truly beautiful. We then followed the harbour found towards the Royal Palace and Parliament buildings, and saw one of the most beautiful urban sunsets in the world. By now it was getting chilly – it was easy to forget just how far north we were – so we headed into the free Nobel Museum in the centre of Gamla Stan. For dinner, we headed to another island – Sødermalm – a young neighbourhood where we’d heard there were plenty of nice restaurants, and we found one to have meatballs in. Then, it was a speedy metro journey back to the airbnb, with just enough time to plan our next day there.
Wednesday dawned and we made sure to get up early, grabbing a pastry from a bakery on the corner of our street and taking the metro the the Djurgarden island, a huge area of parkland, replete with museums, amusement parks and footpaths. It was a beautiful sunny day and the place was deserted, so we strolled around the island for a bit, before crossing over into Østermalm to visit the Swedish History Museum. Naturally, there were plenty of Viking exhibits here, and we left after a couple of hours feeling pretty clued up. Walking through the affluent Østermalm district, we stopped at a small cafe for lunch, then walked along the sundrenched (but still pretty chilly) harbour towards a small island in the centre of the city’s archipelago where the Moderna Museet museum of modern art was. I had never really considered myself much of an art enthusiast, but u discovered I had quite a taste for some of the works here, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was getting dark by now, and I’d found a perfect vegetarian restaurant for Adele in the Sødermalm area, so we headed over there once more to fill up on beans and wander around the picturesque Nytorget gardens area. Finally, it was on to museum number three of the day, and our final stop in Stockholm, the Fotografiska photography museum. I didn’t mind paying the entrance fee here, as the museum featured a number of extremely engaging exhibits, and was open late into the night. We stayed for a few hours, and particularly enjoyed a serious of portraits taken by Albert Wiking over a period of about ten years entitled ‘We Have a Dream’. By now, it was almost 11pm, so it was time to take one more nighttime stroll along the harbour front, taking in Stockholm by night, before taking the metro back to the Airbnb.
Our flight the next morning was an early one, the main advantage of which was that we were able to watch a beautiful pink Scandinavian sunrise across the countryside from our bus to the airport. After a seamless transfer, we were back in Salzburg by mid afternoon, tired and cultured to the max, but having had one of the best experiences of my life. Whilst this was my dream trip for my year abroad, I didn’t think it would actually happen- Scandinavia just seemed too far away to be realistically achievable. But we did it, and had the best time. At risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to travel like I do. I know that when I start working in Munich, these opportunities won’t materialise quite so frequently, so I’m making the most of every second. I’m also so glad to have friends with similar interests to me, who I can travel and see the world with; I honestly couldn’t imagine life without them now.