Copenhagen Day 1

day01_27
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”

01b

{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.

Europe

I am currently planning my next holiday.

Plane tickets are booked, and I’m waiting for my bills for this month to go through so I can purchase train tickets and book some hotels. I’m going to Copenhagen for a few days with my sister, then I’m carrying on alone to Germany. I am taking the train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, and from there to Lübeck, then Schwerin, before back to Hamburg and home. I’ve always wanted to do ‘Europe by train’ but that’s unfeasible, so doing it on a small scale like this is also exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve travelled on my own and I’m not familiar with Europe so I’m a bit nervous, but also excited! It’s going to be quite a whirlwind trip, just 10 days, as I can’t take too much time off work but I’m determined to do and see as much as I can. I’m not even fussed about spending time on the train- I’m looking forward to experiencing German transport and seeing what passes me by through the window. (Not even commuting by train can destroy my love for high speed overland travel, which is ideally what trains are.) I’m going to have to pack light though, which is making me nervous. I like having lots of stuff! Being overly prepared to the point of paranoia in other words.

I also can’t believe I’m going on holiday twice this year. The last time I travelled so frequently was when I lived in Malaysia, where the cost of living was so low and the places I wanted to go so close I could afford to. As much as I love the far east and am planning on returning to South Korea and Japan, and likely checking out Taiwan and China at some point, I’ve always wanted to explore Europe more. It’s so close by! And yet I never had the opportunity, but mostly the money. Cost of living is high in the UK, and being a student is financially as it’s reputation holds.

I love my job but obviously, like all jobs, it’s not always exciting, and it’s not easy. It can be nice to remind myself of the outside benefits of working- namely earning money,and all the doors and possibilities that opens up. I’m not particularly financial stable yet, not this close out of uni, and I’m fairly poor with money anyway but I keep my bills paid and i try to keep my debts low and contribute to my savings as much as I can. Whatever is left, I play with. It’s so nice to be able to treat myself to holidays, to a couple of Starbucks a week, to take away food and quality shoes. (Its the best being able to afford proper shoes, not cheap thin ones that fall apart quickly, which you have to keep wearing anyway because broke.) I have a good job, a good home, and am leading a comfortable life style, through my own work (and ok, a small contribution from my bank…) It’s a nice feeling- this independence. It has its downsides, but I’ll focus on the positive today. I’ll leave it there.

Basically, I’m seeing more of Europe and I’m so excited!

“Because nothing is so fearful as giving up”

St Michaels Church and Hungarian National Museum

{Nine more pictures under the cut}
BUDAPEST, DAY TWO – Woke up fairly late today then headed out to the Szechenyi spa. Enjoyed the spa for about five minutes then became acutely aware was sat in a hot bath with a whole bunch of strangers, all of us barely clothed. There were so many people too. It was claustrophobic.

Afterwards had a great lunch at a nearby cafe and then popped into Vajdahunyad Castle. Vajdahunyad Castle was insane – a mixture of every fairy tale castle and horror movie castle you can think of. Totally bizarre. I wished I had my camera on me to take some pictures, but I had left it at home because of the spa. (That’s why there are no spa pictures either.) We headed back to the apartment to get changed and take a little break. I ate some cake that was way too rich but too delicious and I wish I knew the name of it. We then set off to find St Michaels church. We wanted to buy tickets to the organ concert being held there that night. Usually, there are organ concerts every week at the St Stephens Basilica, but this week being Easter, there was a break in that programme. I had managed to dig through the internet and find out about a organ concert being held at the smaller St Michaels. I was quite determined to go to a Hungarian organ concert, and my sister and her friend were reluctantly allowing themselves to be dragged in. It was a compromise – I hadn’t wanted to go to the Spa, but I did for them, and in return they would go to the concert.

The route to the church was a pleasant walk that took us along the river and past the white bridge. The church was on a pretty touristy bit of street with plenty of souvenir shops and people standing outside of restaurants that would call out to you and try and lure you in. We found the church and purchased the concert tickets we wanted. I had been very worried they would be sold out but there were no problems. We then walked to the nearby National Museum of Hungary. This was a fascinating museum. Unfortunately I went through the first section backwards which was very confusing – I know enough about history to have realised I was doing so, but not enough to be certain of it. Once I’d realised that I could enjoy it knowing I was reading about Hungarian history in the proper order. Going to this museum also helped to clear up lingering confusion from the Legislation Museum the day before. It was a big, grand museum stuffed with artefacts and information. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately though I lost my sister and her friend fairly soon into the visit and thus spent most of my time worried about where they were, whether they were worried or annoyed. I couldn’t text my sister as you have to give your bags in to enter museum and I had forgotten to get my phone out and take it with me. When I finally spotted my sister, I ran over to her and gave her a big hug…which was inappropriate but necessary.

Reunited, we went back to the tourist street and allowed ourselves to be suckered in to one of the tourist traps…I mean restaurants for supper. We really wanted to find somewhere else, but we decided to stick to the tourist street so we would have enough time to eat before the concert. The food turned out to be pretty good actually, and not too overpriced.

Afterwards we went to the concert. The church was very impressive – much smaller than St Stephens Basilica obviously, and still in the midst of its renovations. It was interesting to see the contrast between the parts that had been restored and the parts that had not. There was something a bit more sombre and slightly more severe about this church. Also, the pews were extremely hard. We sat for two hours on those extremely hard benches, completely unable to get comfortable. This was a long concert. My sister and her friend were pretty bored by it. And as for me, I was interested but also confused- where was the organ? Well, turns out that there wasn’t one. Or at the least it wasn’t connected to its pipes. I waited and waited and listened out for it but it never showed itself. It was a very good performance – a full orchestra, a full choir with some very good leading singers – but the uncomfortable seat and the fact that it dragged on without ever really climaxing was a bit disappointing. The balance between vocalists, choir and orchestra was not quite right too and didn’t utilize the space correctly. I wanted something grand. I wanted to feel the floor shake with the power of the music, as it had the last time I had heard an organ played. Ah well. It was still brilliant, even if the reality was quite different from what I had expected. I did feel slightly bad for dragging my sister and her friend to this. However, I became quite excited to go to the opera the next day.