Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mai and Ava take on Copenhagen

Reunited with my beautiful Mai after almost a year! 
From Milan to Paris to Amsterdam, my third stop of this two week trip in October was Copenhagen (or as Danes call it: København). Not only was I excited to visit my first Scandinavian country, and consequently city, where everyone is beautiful, handsome, and definitely well-dressed; but I was even more excited to finally see my Mai, one of my closest friends in the world who now lives and goes to school there! I could not have asked for a better reunion and as it is our tradition, we talked about anything and everything the whole time I was there. Things that we did not have a chance to talk about for a while and of course, since she knows me so well, she had planned for us to go to all the delicious fine eateries in town. First stop, the place with the best world-famous Danish pastry in town :D

Getting there with one of the coolest underground metros I've ever seen in my life. The ends of the train are made of glass so you can see every little dark secret that goes on in the tunnel (uhh..nothing really goes on). Obviously, people could tell I was a tourist here snapping pictures of their metro. 

We ended up going here 2 out of 3 days, because of course I had to try all the different kinds of pastry they had...and ohhh, best believe I did :D
Copenhagen Business School, one of the top business schools in the world and where Mai goes to school now. 
The famous picture-perfect Vesterbro district
More of Vesterbro. Crazy to think that this is just a neighborhood. Europe, why do you have to be so perfect? 

The first day consisted of a lot of walking around to see the beautiful city (and people :D) and then going to Mai's (and now my) favorite restaurant in the city, Aamanns, where the most decadent delicious smørrebrøds are crafted and served. We ended up going here twice as well, once for dinner and once for lunch the next day since the lunch and dinner menus are different. You have to eat here at least once when you're in the city. And when you do, don't forget to make reservations in advance since they are always full! ( http://www.aamanns.dk/ ) Ok, back to the story before I went on a foodie tangent. Then we went back to Mai's place where we caught up on a year's worth of events. 

The next day, we decided to rent a bike for me and go see the city on our bikes. Danes, very much like the Dutch, love riding their bikes everywhere. This seemed like a wonderful idea until the weather Gods decided that there needs to be a rain and wind storm on that day and the following day. Read along for the story...

The skies looked blue and the sun was out when we stepped into Aamanns that day for lunch. (Note: get the elderberry drink with your food. It's amazing!!!)

But the raining started the second we set our feet out the door.  And that is when I went

From this...                                                                                  To this...

In a matter of seconds!

We, however, were not phased by any of this. So, we biked on, as the rain hit our faces and the wind made it almost impossible to pedal, to see Frederik's Church (better known as the Marble Church). 

View from the inside out
View from Amalienborg
And the inside
Then, as the rain had temporarily stopped, we biked across the street to Amalienborg palace, where the royal family was staying at the time since this is their winter palace. We got there just in time for the guard change at noon where we proceeded to run around the courtyard, following them like little kids, in order to take a video of them. This was the first time I found out that none of the guards in the rest of Europe (Prague included) are as friendly as the guards at Buckingham palace in London (with the exception of the flirtatious guards in Budapest!).

Change of guards ceremony at Amalienborg palace

We then walked towards the back of the palace, where across the water on the shore of the harbour, stands the beautiful Copenhagen Opera House: the national opera house of Denmark. Fun fact: Amalienborg, Frederik's church, and the Opera House were all built in alignment such that if one stood in the center of the opera house they could see all the way back to the church on a clear day (not on a day like our day!). 

Pictureception? Picture of me taking a picture of the opera house!

Next, we decided to bike around the city a bit more since it made a lot of sense considering the approaching storm, while I obviously had to take pictures for my blog. 

Then as we had a long way biking home, we decided to head back and catch up at home with some Danish Mai-made shrimp and elderberry drink. 

The next day, the weather got worse. So after a bit of sight-seeing in the morning, we decided to go back and return my bike. But by the time we got to the bike place, we were both fully soaked.
Church of Our Saviour
"They see me rollin', they hatin'" - as captioned by Mai

Of course, the fact that a storm was coming our way had no effect on us. So we made our way to "Christiania" in the borough of Christianshavn, hands-down the most interesting place that I have ever been to in my life, partly because I still can't wrap my head around the concept of a free town within a regulated normal city. The "town" of Christiania is not governed by the municipality of Copenhagen and, if I'm not entirely mistaken, is self-governed by its residents. It is also a place where weed is freely traded in its Green Light District (which is the only reason why I did not like the place) with long lines of backpackers waiting outside its weed tents to buy some weed. But once you get past the strong smell of the green stuff that has filled the air and is really the main tourist attraction for most people, you get to the part of the town where people live and raise their kids in. As you walk through the place, there is this strange sense of calmness and serenity in the air; a strange sensation to feel in the middle of a busy modern city. Walking through the dirt roads of Christiania, you lose sense of time and place. It is as if you are walking in a medieval story. Before I forget to mention, pictures are not permitted in Christiania or at least not in the "Green" parts, so all of my pictures are of the parts where there was nothing but nature, friendly people, and houses. This place did eventually give me the creeps though. It is too secluded and not for me. At the end of the day, I think I am more of the big city, having-meaningful-conversations-with-people-that-are-not-always-high kind of person. But this town, it still remains one of the most interesting places I have ever been to. 

Entrance to Christiania
The walk back in time

Streets of Christiania
Nothing but quiet and peace. Hard to imagine that Copenhagen is right behind those trees.

But while it would have been great to stay a bit longer and explore more of this interesting place, the storm decided to start again. This time making it difficult for us to even walk. So we decided to take the train back home. However, what we did not know was that this was not just another storm. It was the worst hurricane-force storm that had hit the area in 10 years leaving behind people dead and injured!!! So as we are sitting in the train, happy that we had made the last train out, the entire rail system in Copenhagen shuts down because the trains cannot continue operating due to the strong winds. As the entire population runs out of the train to find a way home, Mai and I run to the bus stop as we, LITERALLY, dodge flying bicycles, bags, umbrellas, broken bicycle pieces, and people (yes, people who could not stay on their bikes any longer!), and catch the last and very very crammed bus that will take us close to home.

This is us, scared of the storm, even though it doesn't look like we are! 

So even though we finally made it home safe that night, we obviously had to go grocery shopping because we were hungry. So we head back on to the street, this time walking as pieces of construction wood and metal is flying around missing our heads by inches, screaming and getting soaked in the pouring rain. We got our groceries, candies, and snacks, fought the wind to get home and never left again that night. This was all said because despite the crazy hurricane that decided to hit Copenhagen while I was there, this trip was one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken because it consisted of non-stop laughter, foolishness, and pure happiness that I got to share with my Mai.

And so, if you ever decide to go to Copenhagen, check the weather before you go, preferably avoid winter time, and don't forget that you are going to one of the happiest places on earth where you are bound to fall in love with the city and its people, even if you are there for the shortest amount of time.

P.S. Other places you have to go to that I haven't put pictures of here are: Tivoli Gardens (a picture of Tivoli during Halloween is on travelwithava's instagram), and the Little Mermaid. 

And as always, please do leave me comments below and also subscribe to my blog via the followers button or the BlogLovin' button on my home page, if you've enjoyed this read. Thank you very much :)

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