We arrived in Copenhagen early on the morning of the 5th and have been going full steam ahead since. The weather has been spectacular, a wonderful reprieve from the steaming pea soup we left behind in DC.
For most of the first day we walked around getting our bearings and enjoying the Danish Design Museum. We are staying in the Latin Quarter, across the street from the University of Copenhagen. Founded in 1479, it is one of the oldest in Europe, and the main building is quite beautiful.
The Design Museum was undergoing some (seemingly needed) renovation but we very much enjoyed the 20th century and Danish Design Classics exhibits. There was a fascinating film on Børge Mogensen, the famed Danish furniture maker, and an eye-popping collection of all the Danish chairs that inspired mid-century design and (many of which) remain beloved and revered. One of the coolest things I learned was the great degree to which Danish artists and designers were influenced by Japanese art, especially the way nature was expressed and honored through it.
Dinner on day 1 was at Aamann's 1921, a warm, stylish place whose chef, Adam Aamann, has updated the humble smørrebrød, an open-faced rye-bread sandwich traditionally loaded with mayo and meat, to a refined dish with more vegetables and herbs. Now known as the King of Smørrebrød, Aamann also makes the soaps for the restaurant bathrooms, and seemingly everything in between.
Our meal was a beautiful one but not terribly memorable; most dishes, including both our smørrebrøds (see the salmon one below), needed salt. But the service was impeccable, the ambiance inviting, and two of our choices, the BBQ ribs of free-range port, new onions, and rocket sauce, and the potato compote with pine shoots, gooseberries, onion, and bacon, were marvelous.
Yesterday we started with a three-hour bike tour around Copenhagen which was really helpful in knocking out a number of sights in a single, educational way, and it was fun. Like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is a major biking city. The Little Mermaid? Check. Amalienborg, home of the Danish royals? Check. Churches and harbors? Yep. Plus the Free State of Christiania, excellent history and exercise.
^The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) and the view of Frederiks Kirke from Amalienborg.^
^clockwise from top left: Nyhavn (New Harbor); the amazingly cool spire atop Vor Frelsers Kirke; my first snegle; a croissant (Denmark is known for its pastries).^
^the Free State of Christiania, a commune with delineated borders inside of Copenhagen. Though residents (~800) were once excused from paying taxes, they now do. Though you are really not allowed to sell marijuana in Copenhagen, the police seem to have given up enforcing the rules within Christiania. The only thing banned on Pushers' Row is taking photographs. It's a neat place although sadly, the original hippie ideals are giving way to drug-based crime and a rather impoverished life within (according to our guide).^
Last night was dinner at Amass. But "dinner" does the experience an injustice, so I'll write about Amass in a separate post. Go there if you can!
And today was a ridiculously fun day that proved over and over again that travel is the greatest education and opportunity for truly memorable experiences, that spontaneity, flexibility, and following your nose often result in magic, and that following your passions (specifically today: design and food) is always a win.
It involved a return trip to Refshaleøen, an island in Copenhagen's harbor (and where Amass is located), to spend the day eating and drinking through Reffen, an outdoor Copenhagen street food market built from repurposed shipping containers. There are food trucks, all manner of juice and alcoholic beverage, some art and idea labs, and a delightful vintage market. Due to a major finding at said vintage market, the day also involved renting bikes to head back into Christianshavn, the nearest neighborhood with an ATM, then biking back to Refshaleøen and getting a bit distracted by the Sweden-England game which required another beer and lots of cheering, then going to the market only to find it closed but determinedly banging on the door until the delightful Danish proprietor let us in with a gentle smile and an "I'd given up on you." I then explained the bike rentals and rides to and from Christianshavn, but not the half-drunk beer in my hand (sorry Sverige), to which he replied, "Oh, that is far. Well, let's pack it up."
The rest of that story, which includes a delightful encounter on the metro afterwards, will be detailed tomorrow. But for now, some final photos from Reffen which was utterly delicious and fun in every way.
That pulled pork sandwich was one of the single best things I have ever eaten anywhere. Also, three cheers for Jacobsen IPA and also Nørrebro's Bombay IPA.