Copenhagen Day 3

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Monday 10th October, 10.31pm

Today it was raining heavily, but at least it was slightly warmer. My sister and I started our day by visiting the National Museum. Or rather, trying to. It was unexpectedly closed. My sister was so bummed, because she had done the research and nowhere had told her this would happen. Seeing her feeling so responsible, I tried to cheer her up by suggesting a visit to a nearby church that was mentioned on the walking tour as being worth visiting. Alas, it was closed too. Wet and now both bummed out, we headed on to Rosenborg Castle, which was thankfully open. It is older than Christiansborg, and was much more dour, but still interesting. We got to see the crown jewels!

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Rosenborg Castle from the outside

Then we made our way to Nørreport Station where we would part ways, my sister to go and pack and get ready to go to the airport, and myself to the National Aquarium Denmark. My sister was heading back home to the UK whilst I would be carrying on my holiday in Germany. Before that, we hunted down someplace to get lunch and found ourselves at an amazing cafe “Cafe au Lait”. I had crispy ciabatta with egg, salad, crispy bacon and dressing. It was a hefty amount of food, but utterly delicious. I also broke my diet in four ways (milk, coffee, alcohol and cream) to have a Bailey’s latte which was amazing and probably all the more amazing by being so sinful. The cafe was quiet and the woman who was running it was very friendly. She recommended us the apple pie as a dessert, and we shared it as we were both quite full – but too tempted to say no! We then parted ways which was pretty sad. I was enjoying spending time with my sister and wished she was going to Germany with me :(

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Delicious Lunch from Cafe au Lait

I took the train from Nørreport Station to the aquarium – which was actually pretty close to the airport… really quite far out. The aquarium was amazing though. They had these digital touch displays where you could explore what habit they had modelled the aquarium on and what fish were in it. I saw a lot of fish you can buy as a home aquarist like cichlids, discus and tetras! They, of course, had a shark tunnel you could walk through. I had so much fun. (Also, outside the aquarium you could look across and see, just about, The Bridge to Malmo i.e. the one from the TV show. YES)

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National Aquarium Denmark

Getting back was not as much fun as the train was a little delayed (only 3 minutes, but still this is Europe I didn’t know they could get delays here! ;) ) I went back to the hotel…I was staying in the same hotel but in a different room. The new room in the hotel is so much better. To no one’s surprise a more expensive room is of higher quality. Although being right above the bar meant I would face a lot of noise later on. Anyway, I got to see my sister again! I got back to the hotel and her stuff was there. Which freaked me out a little, as I couldn’t see her anywhere. Then I remembered she said she wanted to go eat at the hotel bar before leaving. I ran down to restaurant downstairs and found her preparing to eat supper. As she has no checked in luggage and the trains are frequent she was having a relaxed start to her travels back/was leaving later. (Imagine trying to pull the same thing off in the UK…no chance! A 3 minute delay would be magical, here.) We ate supper together then I walked her to station to actually say goodbye :(

I am off to Hamburg tomorrow…no idea how the journey is going to work and quite nervous :/

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Copenhagen Day 2

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Sunday 9th October 2016, 9.58pm

Today started out quite late as nothing opens very early here and we were confident our plans didn’t require an earlier start. Today we wanted to go to the National Museum, Christiansborg Palace, do a free walking tour and go to the Copenhagen street food indoor market. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that a museum we wanted to go to on Monday closed on Mondays until this morning, so we had to have a small reshuffle in our plans and include a bit more journey time as we’d have to go out our way to include it. We took out the National Nuseum and decided to go to the other museum today after the palace and before the tour.

We got going, buying a packed breakfast from the hotel and a smoothie from a cafe for brunch. Danes are so health conscious. Salads, alternate diets and juice bars are everywhere. (Even the convenience stores sell paleo bars and gluten free snacks!) I wanted just a normal fruit based smoothie and the menu was packed with green smoothies (even ones with peas!) We found one that was just juice and fruit and it was very expensive and not so great? The juice bar I go to at home mixes sorbet into their smoothies for a thicker, creamier texture. This smoothie was more watery and slightly bitter.

Anyway, we ate huddled on a bench along the way. Which was no fun. It’s so cold here.

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Christiansborg Royal Reception Halls

Then we carried on to Christiansborg Palace where we explored the Royal Reception Halls. It was stunning. The rooms were large, bright and airy. It felt modern and fresh, and honestly you could see people using it and enjoying it. I loved the way that you could see into all the rooms through the doorways, and the way that so many of the items had been repurposed from something else- oak flooring from a sunken ship, dining table from the queen’s staircase of the second version of the palace which burnt down (there were about five previous versions of the palace , all of which had been destroyed) etc. In the great hall they had put up a series of modern tapestries commissioned in 1990 and completed in 2000 (commissioned for the queen’s 50th birthday and ready by her 60th!) And although the bright colours and bold, modern designs weren’t my thing I thought it was a fun touch that added to the sense of usefulness and modernity of the place. Also it took a team of sixty ten years to create them which woa

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More Christiansborg Royal Reception Halls

Afterwards we walked to the David Collection. From the outside it looks like a small museum, but inside was a labrythinth of ancient Islamic art. Unusually, they provided tablets for us to get English information on the items. We hovered over a point on the collection casing or on the wall near the casing and this brought up text to read. We barely even got through one floor in two hours. It was so interesting. I know nothing of Islam or the influence of Islam on western culture so this provided a fascinating insight. The ceramics, tapestries and other cloth work was so beautiful in particular. Everyone else there was quiet and interested. The staff were nice. The information provided was detailed and informative. It was a lovely place and it’s a shame we only got one floor done. But honestly, there’s so much to see (and read!) I don’t think even a full day would be enough to get the whole place done.

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Various random shots from the walking tour

We then walked to the meeting point for the walking tour. The walking tour was quite interesting. They pointed out the statues under the water of the canal- very creepy! – which are based on a traditional Danish fairytale Agnete and the Merman. The statues show the merman and his children reaching out to land, as if calling to their lost wife/mother. Apparently in the winter when the canals freeze over, all you can see of them are their fingers or part of their hands. D: The tour carried on to Christianshaven, where we could see the gamblers church (so called because the German merchants who built it could not get government funding for its construction, so raised the money themselves by opening gambling halls), and the Church of our Saviour (traditionally the church spires are built clockwise as a defense mechanism, giving the defender room to swing their sword but the offender would hit the wall, but this was built anticlockwise in protest) and some of the older buildings that exist there, ending at Christiana Freetown. I didn’t feel comfortable going into Christiana Freetown but my sister wanted to go so I reluctantly followed her. It was uncomfortable. Afterwards we checked out Noma – why not- and then went to get street food at the Copenhagen Indoor Street food market. It was not as cheap as the name would imply but it was tasty. I had bibimbap, Danish apple pie and lemonade. Yummy.

We walked back to the underwater statues to see if they would be lit up. They were, but not particularly dramatically. Then back to hotel. Last day tomorrow…
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Copenhagen Day 1

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Saturday 8th October 2016, 8.59pm

Travelling to Denmark yesterday was uneventful and took up much of the day. My sister and I arrived into Copenhagen very late. Thankfully our hotel was close to the main station, which meant getting from the airport to there was a quick and painless process – one train with a 20 minutes ride, then a couple of minutes walk. My sister and I had booked a dorm at the Urban House Copenhagen. At least we thought we had. We were very relieved when we arrived and there was no one else there. (The next morning we could confirm that no one else would be there too. Phew.)

The room was a good size, with disconcertingly uneven floors. It was rather sparse, not particularly clean, but not dirty (there were suspicious marks on my bedding and a funny smell in the room, most likely coming from the bathroom) and quiet enough. The heating did not work. Outside the window there were some ‘gentlemens facilities’, and there was no dead bolt on the door, so it didn’t feel 100% safe, but it was OK. Atleast there were lockers in the room where we could place our sensitive documents – though we had to use our own padlocks to shut it. Finally, we made up our beds and settled down to sleep.

Changing of the guards at Ameliaborg Palace

Changing of the Guards at Ameliaborg Palace

The next day we took the train to Østerport to explore Ameliaborg Palace and the marble church. The marble church was both closed and the tours of the tower cancelled, but we were able to see the changing of the guards at Ameliaborg, and then went into the palace itself to explore.

Ameliaborg


Items from the Royal Attics

There was an excellent exhibition on the royal attic(s) showing all the typical junk the gets lost in the bowels of family houses – old clothes, appliances, crockery, linens, toys etc. – but all actually worth something because of their association (with royalty) and origins. Many of the items were accompanied by signs written in the first person/from the items point of view to explain the items history, which was oddly hilarious. It was a fun and playful exhibition that showed a very human side to royalty – the hoarding, the pictures of the royal children playing on their toys, a bright pink toiletries case, experimental art created by the royal household. After that we walked to see the little mermaid. She was a lot smaller than expected – it was actually a bit anti climatic. But she was beautiful, with lovely detailing. There were hoards of other tourists to compete with for photos though… of course.

The Little Mermaid


The Little Mermaid, and scenes from walking through Kastell Park and Copenhagen

We started to head back in the direction of our hotel, which although conveniently close to the main station, was actually far from many of the main tourist sites. On the way we explored Kastell island, which was pretty and interesting, and reminded me in its star shape of the Goryokaku Fort in Hakodate. We also went back to the Marble Church, which was open by then so we could have a look inside, even if we couldn’t go up the tower still. We carried on back to our hotel, just taking in the ordinary streets – the different architecture (to the UK), the many buildings with plants crawling over the walls, the cafes advertising fresh juice and coffee and all kinds of alternate diets. We passed the National Museum, and Tivoli Gardens, and found a small garden that was amazingly still in bloom, which we could look around in. Then we went back to the hotel, where we bought food at the Urban Bar. We had burgers with curly fries and it was delicious – although there wasn’t enough bacon on my burger. (I really like lots of bacon.) But it was significantly cheaper than any of the other places we had seen, so there was that too. (We had fully expected to starve whilst on this holiday, due to how expensive it is in Copenhagen.)

Thinking Man

“The sun also rises on those who fail to call.”

ScarboroughCliff pathCliffs and sea

{Four more images under the cut}

Monday, 29th August 2016 – I decided to make the most of the bank holiday and go on a little trip. I’d actually been planning a local walk, but one search led to another and when I stumbled upon a route along the North Yorkshire coast I knew I had to go there. I love the sea! And the weather looked like it was going to be ok. I was supposed to leave early and make a day of it, but I didn’t feel well when I woke up. I wasn’t planning on going, but in the end I got fed up with my moping and decided to just go and do whatever I could manage. By the time I’d made the decision it was already 11am.

I was going to Scarborough. I was going to walk along the coast in the direction of Finey, and see where I’d end up. Then pray that public transport would pull through and get me back to Scarborough so I could get the train home. There very little planning involved today. I wanted to be a little spontaneous, a little adventuress, and ok, maybe a little reckless too.

I got into Scarborough at around 1.30pm after a hideous, crowded and noisy train ride. There had been a kid sitting next to me who was whining the entire time, as well as kicking the seat, kicking me, and sprawling out across the dividing line of our seats. I don’t know which one of us was more relieved to reach Scarborough. I walked from the train station to the beach. Which was, of course, packed. Everyone, their entire family and their pets were out. Of course I wouldn’t be the only one wanting to go to the seaside on a beautiful bank holiday. Still. I was nervous now about how much I would enjoy this. The walk took me along the south sands and then there was a steep climb up into the cliffs. I…hadn’t been planning on going uphill. Another plus for this walk had been it seemed fairly flat. Thankfully once up on the cliffs it was fairly flat. I followed the edge of the cliff towards Clayton sands. It was hot as anything- I’d been prepared for a chilly but clear day, and was overheating in too thick leggings and double layered t shirt. It was a perfect day for a walk by the sea though. The sea was jewel blue, the sky bright and clear, the cliffs lush and green and the wildflowers were blooming. The walk got a little different once I was nearing Clayton sands as I had to go inland and then ended up in a forest for a small while. On a muddy, slippy path. Still, it soon opened up and there was Clayton sands. I stopped for an ice lolly and food. Then carried on. The walk so far had been reasonably quiet, but still there had been enough people out. As I drew away from Clayton sands there was no one. Just the sun, sea and me. It was perfect.

Soon there were holiday cottages to my right. And before I knew it I had made it the whole way to Finey. I hadn’t expected to last the whole way. I was going to give up at Clayton sands, but it had seemed such a shame to give up halfway, and actually checking bus and train timetables revealed I still had a ways to go before the last train. So I’d pushed on. And made it. I scrambled down from the cliffs onto Finey brigg. Then took off my boots and followed the beach back to civilisation. I had perhaps been overkeen to take my shoes off when I did as the way started extremely rocky and slippy. Thankfully I eventually reached soft, yellow sand. I ran into the sea and played a little in the surf, letting the water rush towards me and wash around my ankles. It was late (around 6pm) and the beach was blessedly quiet, and the light was low…it was so beautiful. I felt so happy. I wanted to stay, eat something, watch the sun set there as I played in the water, but…

Of course time was ticking so I reluctantly headed in land. I had ages to wait for the bus to Scarborough, then I had a wait for the train home. So I went to the south sands and got some cheap chips, ate them looking at the beach, all lit up by then.

Then I slogged home by train, exhausted, a little bored, sand in my shoes irritating me. But it was worth it. It was a lovely day, and it was good to get out, and I just love the sea so much and am happy I managed to get myself to it at least this once before the summer ends. Tomorrow, back to work and the usual routine. Which if I think about it now I am not looking forward to of course. But I spent a whole day not thinking of any of that, not even thinking about my anxiety , or even feeling anxious. It was wonderful.

Happy Dog

“I will send you out a message. I will telephone a love song. I’ll collect all of your stories. I haven’t seen you for so long”

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{Eleven more pictures under the cut}

BUDAPEST, DAY THREE – This day started slowly. We left around 9.30am and went to the opera to pick up tickets, then joined a walking tour of Budapest. The guide was pretty good and it was reasonably enjoyable. The tour finished at the Fisherman’s Bastion and Mathias church which were both stunning, although it was very cold. It was cold enough this day that walking wasn’t helping. We overpaid for lunch at the Fisherman’s Bastion then went to visit the National Gallery. I really enjoyed it. It is really annoying how they make you take your handbags and jackets off before you can enter though – it was much too cold to be parted from our outer layers. (My sister was in just a t shirt under her jacket, poor girl.) At least this time I remembered to rummage through my bag and take out my phone. (See: Day two.) Afterwards, it was back to the apartment to rush to get changed and made up for the opera.

One of the things I was most excited to do whilst in Budapest was go see a show at the Hungarian State Opera House. I was worried that it would end up dropped idea, as neither of my travelling partners was that interested. But my sister pulled through for me in the end. Today, we went to see Parsifal by Wagner. I hadn’t really researched it and had no idea what to expect, as we had initially made plans to see a different show on a previous day, but I was ridiculously excited anyway. The opera started at 5pm and would carry through until 10pm. (In this respect, I could understand my sisters reluctance to go. Even I was nervous about sitting through three acts of this.)

The opera hall was magnificent and decadent. The show was accompanied by a full orchestra- even harps! It was a dress rehearsal, but that just meant we could buy cheaper tickets. The first act was a bit difficult to get to as I tried to adjust to sitting there, and to what the story was about. There was a long intermission where we went to have a highly decadent cake at the opera cafe, and I felt reasonably refreshed after that. (My sister, who was feeling fairly bored and grouchy, became a lot more cheerful after I bought her cake. Of course.) By the second act I was hooked and by the second intermission I wasn’t happy for the break but keen for the show to start again. It was just so good. The protagonist himself- Parsifal – was incredibly sleepy throughout the performance and looked downright miserable by the end but the rest was fantastic. I enjoyed it a lot more than the previous days concert, even though it was equally religious and heavy. Granted, it helped that the seat was much more comfortable (relatively, theatres are never going to be relaxing to sit in, let’s be real here)

The day was ending on a high after beginning fairly low. I’d been a little grumpy all day- the downside of being introverted, and anxious on top of that, means one gets sick of being around people pretty quickly. The opera was a nice pick me up, and one of the overall highlights of the holiday.