When Otto was 11 months old he wanted to do something big for his birthday. So we decided to take him to Copenhagen!! Or at least that’s the story we told him. In actuality after months of travel envy triggered by our friend’s facebook post’s of their epic international journeys Kevin and I had to go somewhere. So we spent 2 hours one IPA fueled Sunday afternoon comparing prices to fly from SFO to practically every single city in Europe. Copenhagen won!! I think because of all the cheap budget airlines flying out of Oakland, all of the airlines seemed discounted.
So a few weeks later we boarded Lufthansa but only after sweet talking the awesome gate agent to provide Otto with a bassinet in the bulkhead seats. We gate checked our nuna stroller. We crossed our fingers since its been lost before during this process and cozy-downed for an 11 hour flight. Within an hour we both had a glass of red wine, Otto was eating strawberries and we were on vacation.
Baby food was actually provided for us, but Otto took one look at the Gerber pureed carrots and proceeded to eat my entire pasta dish. The flight attendant was so awesome she actually heated up a hot dog for him. Did you know they have extra hotdogs for special circumstances??
He slept a few hours in the bassinet and woke up in time for the breakfast. When the flight attendant realized he ate all my fruit, she brought back the goods from business class and he spent the next hour eating an entire watermelon, each piece carefully cut for the likes of those not in economy. Thinking back I am sure it was not that easy. I’m guessing Otto did not actually sleep for as long as I remember. In fact I have a Polaroid picture of Otto and me taken by a flight attendant around 2 am that I only slightly remember. But thats the beauty. It’s never as bad as you think it will be and you remember it as being even easier!
We landed in Frankfurt, had a quick snack and before we knew it our final leg was taking off! I love European airports. They have healthy food options for reasonable prices and tons of shops to meander through. Sometimes Kevin and I splurge for the lounges but in Frankfurt it was not necessary.
We landed in Copenhagen and took the train to the city center- Nyhavn. Take this train. It is clean, quick, easy to navigate, safe and cheaper than any other form of transportation. This is the picture of Copenhagen everyone knows. Though when we arrived I could not believe all the tourists! I didn’t want to take any pictures because there were so many people in my way! So we dropped our bags off in the AirB&B which was one block adjacent to this spot. Then we made our way to a beer stand. Kevin was so excited you he could drink in the streets and continued our adventure. We found this outdoor market called Torvehallerne where I bought fresh apples and bananas for Otto, got champagne for myself (actual champagne by the glass!) and Kevin enjoyed a beer from Mikkeller. We took our goods to a standing table and met the best Danish woman who had actually lived the last few decades in South America. When we told her we wanted to move here she said “just do it, you have to just move.” When we explained that we couldn’t get jobs she said “No, just tell them you want one.” If only it was that easy. We sleepily made our way back to our AirB&B for a good night sleep. Ha! Ok, it wasn’t quite in that order. Happy on champagne and strong danish beer we decided that we wanted tattoos. Kevin and I were so convinced that this was the moment we were waiting for and this was our story to tell. Tattoo shops close at 7pm in Denmark. Thats probably a good thing.
Jet lag stinks. But it only lasts a day or two. As adults Kevin and I have figured out how to manipulate jet lag- to some extent. But Otto has not quite mastered it. So when he woke up in the middle of the night, Kevin and I lit some candles, hung out in the dark, drank some wine and waited for the sun to rise. We took this particular picture super early in the morning when the tourists were still sleeping- maybe 5am. We went home and slept a few more hours. We woke up and basically made our way across the entire city only stopping for wine, oysters, playgrounds, photo opportunities, to pet dogs or eat cheese. We were on a mission.
Our time in Copenhagen was a little unusual. Since it was our start and end point for our Europe trip we had only a few days now and then a few more on the way back. So we decided to go super touristy on the front end and pretend like we were locals on the back end.
Everywhere you look in Copenhagen there are bikes. There are children on bikes, adults on bikes, couples on tandem bikes (ok, not really a lot of those), people in suits on bikes, grandmas on bikes and entire families in some type of make shift wagon thing on the front of bikes. It is bike city! Bike lanes abound. When you close your eyes and listen its quiet. Because everyone is on a bike!
The second thing we noticed is the amount of bassinet strollers. Babies Otto’s age sitting up in what amounts to a traveling king size beds. Mothers and fathers dressed minimally chic pushing them along on the cobblestone. But not cheap. In fact nothing in Copenhagen is cheap. Coming from San Francisco we had sticker shock!
We walked 9 miles the first day! We found a little something for everyone!
The second part of our trip we stayed in Norrebro. We basically asked numerous people were we should live if we were to move to Copenhagen that same week. Which we would have done if someone offered us a job. We loved it that much. They all said Norrebro. This is a little hipster neighborhood on the other side of the canals. It has a brewery, a Michelin rated thai restaurant (which they say is the only Michelin rated thai restaurant which is actually not even accurate because Kevin and I have been to Kin Khao in San Francisco- but thats for another blog) that is amazing, the headstone of Hans Christian Anderson and more restaurants than you can even try to enjoy in one life time. It is also where I was able to score a pair of desert boots for Otto that I had convinced myself only existed in my dreams.
We ended up walking from Norrebro all the way back to Nyhavn and beyond, through 100 parks and over the bridges to Freetown Christiana. If you don’t know what that place is like you should leave this blog now and google it (but come right back). In my simplistic explanation they are a group of artists, hippies, environmentalists, lovers of life, gardeners, parents and genuine people that chose to be independent from Denmark. And its also where you can score weed. And we did. We first got lost on the dirt pathways, past twenty adorable small cottages that seemed like they would be very cold in the winter. We saw residents jumping from a dock into the forest lined waters. We saw a school and heard children laughing. I wanted to move here. Then we found the green light district. Afterwards we ate too much food on Paper Island- the best food stand converted factory space I have ever seen. Kevin has a 3 minute video of a man cutting meat for his dish. Its that amazing. With blurry eyes, a full stomach and a heart that felt like it had found its home we hoisted ourselves into an Uber and made our way back to the AirB&B because we had an early flight the following day.
Usually by the end of a trip like this I look forward to returning home. I miss my dog and I miss our small apartment in San Francisco. Not this time. I felt that I had found home and I was actually leaving it to go back to the states. Maybe that is because the Danes are known for using the most candles per capita and they have blankets at every restaurant seat you will sit in (even starbucks!). The word for this is: hyggeligt
I hope Kevin and I can figure out a way to live in this city. There is a reason the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Though I don’t know exactly what those reasons are, I can assume it has to do with their active life style, their organic food choices and their welcoming nature to a diverse and beautiful people. I could only hope for Otto to grow up in such a place. That being said if you have any job leads in Copenhagen, I’ll take it and I’ll start tomorrow.
Tips for Copenhagen (not necessarily kid related because its super kid friendly):
- Get the bassinet seats on the plane! Even if your little one won’t sleep in a bassinet its so much more room!
- Make friends with the flight attendants!
- Get a stroller with big SUV wheels to navigate the cobblestones.
- Drink the tap water, bottled water is so much money in this city.
- The danes are known for danishes, so get some.
- You can get awesome european formula and normal diapers so don’t waste your suitcase space packing them.
- Get out of the touristy areas.
- Visit the playgrounds.
- Take advantage of jet lag.
- Rent a bike
- Take the metro
- Check out the neighborhoods
- Eat, eat, eat and eat