Copenhagen, I love you - Part 1
As a young design student, I fell in love with Danish design. I loved the simplicity and authenticity that is embraced, and there is no other nation I would rather be looking to for design inspiration.
I have wanted to visit Copenhagen for so long, and I can't believe I'm finally here!
The streets here are just amazing. All the houses we passed by on our train journey from Amsterdam to Copenhagen were just so gorgeous.
Side note: We had 5 transfers for our train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen and we managed to get off at the wrong station - Hamburg Harburg instead of Hamburg Hbf, so obviously wrong - and subsequently miss one of our connecting trains. Boo. It was quite stressful, but we managed to talk to the ticket services in Hamburg and they were kind enough to re issue our tickets free of charge, at least we had that going for us.
Back to Copenhagen. We arrived pretty late in the evening so checked into our hotel and went to bed. The next morning we got up and it was snowing! The snow is just following us! At least it wasn't as heavy as in New York so it stopped around midday.
Transport - you can buy City Pass tickets for 24/72/120 hours and they will get you around the city by bus/train/metro no problem. This also includes the train to and from the airport so it's pretty handy! We purchased a ticket and so far no one's even asked to see it.
Even for the locals, they have a chip card that they tag on/off with, but because there's no barrier to get in and out of stations, people could essentially ride for free, but they don't. Because Denmark is great, and this place is totally perfect. I dropped my credit card without realising it in the train station and luckily a Danish guy let me know or else I would have lost it. My faith in humanity is strong here in Denmark.
Knowing that it was a mostly indoor day, we opted to visit the Field's shopping mall in Ørestad to have a wander around. It's got a lot of cool homewares stores - they are really into party supplies here in Denmark, I wish I lived here because with those resources at my disposal, I'd be outta control.
After a light lunch, we catch a metro to Kongens Nytorv and make our way towards the Designmuseum Danmark, or my version of heaven.
The design museum is basically a shrine to Danish design, but also hosts some really interesting collections.
Entrance is free for under 26's and students so I highly recommend dropping in for a look around if you are in Copenhagen.
My favourite collection was the Chair collection with the hall of chairs. I saw so many of the chairs that I had researched and learned about in my time working on chair designs, it was really quite an amazing feeling to see some of these chairs in real life. The exhibition was really well designed, with pull out boards on the side of the chairs that you could read about the designer and process behind the concept of the chair.
We meandered our way through the museum and I ended up in the museum shop buying 4 ceramic pieces and a giant chair poster... woops! Not sure how I'm getting the poster home but that a problem for another day!
Next stop is the much anticipated dinner at Pony, a contemporary Michelin star Danish Restaurant. The service and food is impeccable! We order a main each and an entrée and dessert to share. They brought over some complimentary house bread with a heavenly butter/danish cheese mixture to go with it. I could seriously go back to that place just for their bread and butter.
The entrée was roasted sunchokes, cheese crème, pear, watercress, walnut, crispy chicken skin and it was the best damn entrée I've had in my life, I don't say that lightly either.
We both opted for the steak main of hanger steak, salsify, caramelized onions, herb stems, green peppercorns, chips. A very delicious combination, my steak was a bit rare for my liking but still very tasty.
We also got the wine pairings with our meals, I particularly enjoyed the dessert wine they brought over with dessert, it was very smooth and I could easily keep drinking that. Dessert was citrus fruits, pound cake, vanilla crème, crispy white chocolate, marigold and it was the perfect refreshing and light dessert to finish the meal off.
I'd give Pony 11/10 (They get an extra point for their bread and butter) and definitely would go back again next time we're in Copenhagen! The service was impeccable, the food perfect and the atmosphere relaxed, our ideal dining spot.
The next day, the weather has cleared up and turned into a beautiful sunny day, so we head down to Gammel Strand for a boat tour, but we stop along the way to visit the famous Rundetaarn or Round Tower.
Rundetaarn was constructed in the 17th century by King Christian IV and was once the center of Danish Astronomy. It is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe and still used by amateur enthusiasts.
The most notable feature is the spiral ramp that winds nearly 8 times around the centre of the tower. This beautiful space, along with the windows and surface, create an amazing light and shadow effect. I really love this tower, ever since I found out about it, this was a key attraction for visiting Copenhagen.
We climbed our way to the top of the tower for a lovely view of the city from above. The planetarium was closed unfortunately, not that there was much to see in the daytime. There is also a church attached to the tower, which we popped into quickly. Danish churches are of a different breed to the traditional European church, which tends to be very dark, and overly elaborate spaces.
This one was really nice and light, with white plaster ceilings and daylight streaming through the windows. It actually feels like a nice place to be in rather than a suffocating hall of doom.
Our journey around Copenhagen continues with the Grand Tour of Copenhagen by boat along their many canals. According to our guide, the canals were built after a danish king visited Amsterdam and liked the canals so much, he commanded that they build their very own canals in Copenhagen. Of course the Copenhagen canals are actually a lot nicer than Amsterdam - the water is so clean I'd be ok swimming there, I wouldn't say the same for Amsterdam though!
We journey around Copenhagen and stop in many spots, including the Royal Palace, the Little Mermaid Statue, Christianshavn, Hans Christian Andersen's house, and the Royal Library, which is called the black diamond because of the way it's been designed to reflect the rippling water below like a diamond, it's actually a really breathtaking view that my camera could not do justice so you'll have to go see for yourself, but aptly named.
Boat tours, we've discovered, are a great thing to do when you first arrive in a city as it gives you a good overview of the layout of the city, plus the tour guide will point out some interesting places to go visit later. We saw a rather cool gold spiral tower on the trip and made a note to visit at some point.
We spend the rest of the day wandering the streets around Gammel Strand and doing a little shopping. I finally get to visit one of the best stores ever, Illums Bolighus. Illums Bolighus is a shrine to Scandinavian design, and I love everything inside. It's my happy place, along with the danish design museum. It stocks everything from clothing, homeware and furniture to lighting. I have my eye on a Menu JWDA lamp and salt and pepper grinders and I have no idea how I'm getting them home.
We also visit the Bang & Olufsen store because I love their products and wanted to show Maurizio the wireless wall panel system that I'd like to get one day for our house. While we're there I manage to convince him to buy a pair of headphones for himself that I'm super jealous of and will be borrowing. I already have a pair but mine are an older model. We're starting to build up a bit of a B&O collection now... I'm a big fan.
After our shopping spree, we make it to our 6pm booking at Restaurant Relæ, another Michelin star resturant, the last one I swear. It's a really nice interior, and I've booked us seats at the chef's table, where we can see into the kitchen and watch everything being made.
We go for the full Relæ experience, which is 10 courses. I make the mistake of not making very clear our disinterest in seafood, which is a bit awkward because the first 4 courses are seafood and it just reinforced both our opinions that seafood is gross. I did enjoy my first course of celeriac though.
The duck course was definitely a highlight for me. Everything else was enjoyable, and the presentation was superb, as was the service. All the dishes are served by chefs working in the kitchen (they don't really have wait staff) and they describe everything to you as they present it, which is really nice.
On the whole, I though Pony was better, and probably don't feel the need to visit Relæ again next time.
That concludes our first two days in Copenhagen, and I love it here. I'm already planning out the furniture for our apartment in a nice little street, maybe mint blue painted outside, but white inside. We'd go to Illums Bolighus and pick out all our homeware, and then get some Hans Wagner chairs like I've always dreamed... I'm getting carried away but there's no harm in daydreaming.
Stay tuned for more of our Scandic adventures!