Dec. 20: After my layover experience in Iceland, I boarded my second flight to Copenhagen, and was greeted at the airport by my Danish friend Johan, who lives in a suburb of Copenhagen near the airport called Kastrup in Amager. We took the bus back to his house, where I’m staying for my time in Denmark. When I came in, I said hi to his mom (who I’ve met before in New York) and met his dad and his dog! Then we all ate a traditional Danish Christmas dinner that his mom made and which was so good (pork meatballs, potatoes, spinach sauce, carrots, rye bread & Faxe Kondi!). After dinner we sat around with his parents just talking about Danish Christmas traditions, Scandinavian folklore, the must-sees in Copenhagen and Danish politics, for like 3 hours, eating some cookies and drinking some coffee as well. Johan’s house and family are both so cute! I feel like I’m in Ikea (which I’m such a big fan of aesthetic-wise) and everything is decorated for Christmas too so it feels so festive!
Dec. 21: We got kind of a late start to the day, but we ate a nice relaxing breakfast, and headed to downtown Copenhagen, taking the bus and the metro. When we got downtown, we met 2 of Johan’s friends & did some Christmas gift shopping in a fancy mall. I also got to try mulled wine in the mall and I thought it tasted pretty good! After that, we all walked to Nyhavn, the famous street that looks like an Amsterdam canal. Next we went to see the famous Little Mermaid statue, which was indeed very little, and on the way we saw where the royal family lives and took some pictures with the guards. From there, we strolled along the pedestrian street Strøget (the longest in Europe) doing some people watching, listening to street performers sing Christmas carols, and visiting the Christmas market! Christmas markets are more German than Danish, but it was still pretty festive with all the different stalls selling yummy food and cool things to buy. Actually, many of the streets in Copenhagen were lit up and decorated for Christmas and everything looked so nice and festive. The sun also set pretty early (around 4pm), so having some pretty lights was a nice substitute. After that we went up the Round Tower, which is the tallest building in the city, and took in a panoramic view of all of Copenhagen, and we all went to eat after. I got to eat lots of pork and potatoes, as well as some Christmas desserts like æbleskiver (pancake puffs) and almond rice pudding. We were all pretty tired from walking around all afternoon, so we went back to Johan’s house around 8:30pm, after stopping by the City Hall Square to see the big Christmas tree. A bit later that night, we went with more of Johan’s friends to a party at a girl’s apartment, and stayed there until like 3:30am just drinking with everyone and chatting, and it was actually really fun. Everyone was really nice and spoke to me in English since I don’t speak any Danish whatsoever, and I always felt welcomed. One guy taught me the Danish word “hygge,” which he said has no real definition in English, but is a kind of comfy feeling that’s so important in Denmark. Later that night, another guy asked me to describe Denmark in 3 words, and I said “shiny, cute, and hygge,” causing everyone to laugh. The only sad thing about the night was the kebab shop was closed when we were on our way home, and we couldn’t get any shawarma!!
Dec. 22: In the morning we chilled and ate breakfast, and also had to solve the issue of my delayed luggage. Johan’s parents were so nice and helped me work it all out with the airline so that I got my bag back that day. After that crisis was averted, Johan and I went to Christianshavn and walked from there to the “free town of Christiania,” which is basically like kind of it’s own alternative society in the middle of Copenhagen. There were all kinds of hippie-esque people there and the vibe was really chill. From there, we walked back down Strøget (stopped in a Danish design store) to go to Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park!! We got there after dark to be able to see all the lights they have for Christmas, and it was so beautiful. We just walked around and admired it all and Johan told me some of the Hans Christian Andersen stories that inspired Tivoli. We headed home kind of early for dinner, stopping at a supermarket on the way so I could get some food for my train ride to Germany. Johan’s sister and some of the friends we hung out with earlier came over for dinner, which was a traditional Danish Christmas dinner his mom prepared, complete with rice porridge, boiled potatoes, pork and apple pork, rye bread, and of course æbleskiver for dessert! I really love that Denmark has so many Christmas traditions and traditional foods. After dinner, we sat around and talked for a few hours, and I have to say, I really like his friends. They even brought me a gift of chocolate and classic Danish snacks and candies, which was so nice. I also tried some schnapps, which is definitely not the same as the schnapps we have in America. It’s much stronger with a more distinct flavor.
The next morning, we got up early to catch my train from the central station in Copenhagen to Germany. It was sad to say goodbye to Johan, but I had a really great time with him and his family, who were so hospitable and welcoming. I also learned a lot about Denmark from my short time there, and I definitely want to come back for a longer amount of time. I just really like the atmosphere and the way of life, and everyone is pretty nice. It feels simple here and also so enjoyable, and everything is so aesthetically appealing. As I passed through the other islands on the train, I got to watch the sunrise over the sea, and I genuinely felt sad to leave such a cool and beautiful place and people.