Weekend Escapade: Aarhus

Adventures, Travel

For this week’s escapade I present to you Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. After having spent the last month plus in Copenhagen I was ready to get out of the city and explore more of Denmark. So, my roommate and I, along with three other friends decided to take advantage of our online school and decided to take a bus to Aarhus for a couple days.

quick little covid precaution explanation: All five of us are in the same small pod and the other three live together. One person in each of the two groups also got tested in the days prior to our departure.

GETTING THERE:

Bus ride woooho

There are a couple different ways to get to Aarhus. There is a direct train connection that takes three hours I believe but can be a little pricey. We opted for a bus service called Flixbus which has sells cheap tickets to various cities within Denmark and greater Europe. Round trip tickets were around $30. The website was a little glitchy and we had some trouble purchasing the tickets but it worked out in the end. The actual bus trip itself was super easy. We got on at 5pm and arrived in Aarhus around 9pm (making it longer than the train option).

ACCOMODATION:

The first thing that I did after deciding we wanted to go was start looking at AirBnB’s in the Aarhus area. Since we were a group of 5 renting an Airbnb was the cheapest and easiest way to find someplace to sleep. Also taking into consideration COVID, it makes a lot of sense to be staying in a space that limits our interactions with other people. I was able to find an apartment that was about a 15 minute bus ride away from the center of the city, which ended up being a little far but it worked out well enough. The place we stayed was adorable and most importantly for us it had strong enough wifi for all five of us to be on zoom calls at the same time.

THINGS TO DO:

Aarhus is well known for its museums, 4/5 of TripAdvisors top things to do in Aaruhus are all various museums. Unfortunately I can’t speak to the quality of the art and exhibitions within the museums as they were all closed…however, we did find a lot of very cool places to explore.

Important little tip: In Copenhagen public transport is organized by DSB and you can easily buy tickets via their app. However in Aarhus to buy bus and train tickets you need another app- Midtrafik. I struggled to figure this out initally but once you have the app it is super easy to get around.

  1. Marselisborg Strand and Deer Park

This was our first stop in Aarhus. We took the bus from our airbnb to Marselisborg Strand and we walked along the beach, taking in the frozen shore and expanse of ocean. From the beach we were able to walk into the Deer Park. The park is full of several different species of deer. You may have read my post about Dyrehavn, a large deer park north of Copenhagen and in comparison this park is much smaller but as a result the deer were a lot easier to find. They came right up to us looking for food, which unfortunately we didn’t have.

2. Wandering around the Latin Quarter

My favorite part of this trip was wandering around the Latin Quarter. It is the historic area, with small cobble stone streets, cute cafes and leaning old houses. One of my friends roommate recommended the cafe called La Cabra. It was very popular, with a long line of eager people waiting outside. The cardamon buns were incredible!

La Cabra Coffee

3. Aarhus Cathedral

A key feature of Aarhus is the large cathedral in the center of the historical quarter of the city. The Cathedral is the longest and tallest church in Denmark and built initially in the 12th century. The frescos and metal work inside was very interesting and unlike other art I have seen in other European churches.

4. Den Gamle By

Den Gamle By is an open air museum detailing Danish history and culture over three centuries. It has reconstructed houses and buildings from all over Denmark. Normally there are actors and museum employees dressed up and doing various historical activities, these components of the museum were closed when we were there however, the area was open to walk through.

More info: https://www.dengamleby.dk/en/den-gamle-by/

5. The Harbor

The Harbor

Before hopping back on the bus we took a break in the sun on the steps by the harbor. There is a cool dome cafe, unfortunately it looked like it was under construction and very much closed when I went to go find it but the are that it was in was very interesting.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This trip to Aarhus was cold but very fun and a great way to get out of Copenhagen for a little. We only stayed in the city for two nights and while this was the perfect amount of time for us I think if the museums were open I would have wanted more time to properly explore.

A Stop on the S Train – Copenhagen Suburbia

Field Studies

The following is a piece of writing from a field study for my travel writing class. We were each given a random stop on the S Train to go explore. The location I was given was Albertslund which was about a 20 minute ride. My roommate joined me on the adventure and we decided to explore via a run through the area. It was a great decision as we were able to see a lot more than if we had just walked around. We ended up outside of Albertslund and in the surrounding farmland which was super cool, the path that we found took us by farmhouses and horses. I believe we also ended up in the neighboring town where we found a small old church and admired all the quaint houses.

Albertslund station

The train doors slide shut and the platform is overwhelmed by a high-pitched whine as the train gathers up speed leaving the few disembarked passengers behind. The tall historical tightly packed buildings I have come to associate with Copenhagen no longer line the streets. Trees cast dark shadowy figures in the fog that has only grown thicker in the time since I boarded the train from Norreport Station in downtown Copenhagen. Exiting the station, I am struck by the realization I have absolutely no clue where I am, as this thought floats up to the surface I chuckle. Smiling I look around at the strange sprawling semi underground mall I am walking through, I am a little nervous, but feelings of excitement and anticipation overwhelm their lesser companion.

The suburban neighborhoods gave way to farm houses and horse pasture

Exiting the mall space and crossing a canal, small low standing white house’s emerge from the mist, one after the other they transform into a neighborhood. It’s silent, no busy roads with rushing cars or bikes, all of their drivers with urgent places to be. The birds sing, slightly ominously in the grey silence adding a melody to the rhythmic beat of my foot falls. The neighborhood styles change seamlessly, house styles staying similar, yet roofs, windows and car ports expose their difference. The somewhat lonely silence is broken suddenly by a group of children on their walk back from school, backpacks in tow. A blonde-haired girl stares me down as I pass, while a younger sibling pulls at the back of her jacket. I am reminded of the many times I walked home from school with my younger sister, trying to speed walk ahead of her after she delivered a perfectly designed insult, or maybe she just breathed wrong that particular day. Whatever it was, I would not speak to her the rest of the walk back home. Today, however, I am simply a forgettable random stranger on the walk home.  

Cemetery at Vallensbæk Kirke

            As suddenly as the train had left, the suburban neighborhoods fell way to wide open land spotted with the occasional farmhouse and horse pasture. The fog took center stage, framing and concealing the snow spotted landscape. Although in a new place I kept stumbling on moments of familiarity, the smile of the woman who passed me on the path, the children on their way home, even the farm landscape had semblances of comfort and home. 

The houses!

A Danish Dinner: Smørrebrød

Food, Recommendations

Last Thursday night my roommate and I decided to try our hand at making the traditional Danish dish, Smørrebrød – open face sandwiches. Sandwiches, I love. Especially on rye bread something that I have come to absolutely love. However, a key feature of Smørrebrød are the toppings which usually involve some form of fish, admittedly not my favorite type of food. My reservations aside I was very excited. After some research and talking to Julia, our danish flatmate we decided to make three types: the very traditional pickled herring, smoked salmon and a fun potato and bacon one. Since we were going to do this right I went to a bakery down the street to get fresh rye bread.

Pickled Herring

From my very limited knowledge pickled herring is the most classic version of Smørrebrød. Fresh out of the jar we placed the herring on top of a carefully buttered piece of rye bread and garnished with some cut up chives. You are supposed to add red onions as well but we couldn’t find any at the grocery store so we went without. According to our roommate there is a specific order you are supposed to eat Smørrebrød: Herring, fish and then everything else. So armed with a knife and fork I took my first bite. It was pretty good. The herring was quite salty and full of the flavor from the pickling concoction. The piece was quite thick so it did feel like a lot by the time I had finished the whole thing. Definitely recommend trying…at least once.

Smoked Salmon

Salmon and cucumber Smørrebrød.

Next on the menu was smoked salmon. The rye bread was spread with mayo and cucumbers laid on top, next the main event the smoked salmon was carefully rolled and placed, making sure that it was symmetrical. It was vital that they lived up to our aesthetic asperations, after-all it was much more important for them to look good in the picture than actually taste good…right? To top it off we cut up some more chives to sprinkle on top.

I really enjoyed this one a lot. The cucumber provided a nice refreshing balance with the salmon. I also don’t think I have talked enough about the rye bread enough. It was easily my favorite part of the whole meal. I cannot stress how vital it was to have the fresh bakery bread. So good. We just finished the loaf from this night as I am writing this and I am very sad but it’s the perfect excuse for a trip to the bakery…hmm after I finish this post. Anyways. Back to the Smørrebrød.

Potato and Bacon

Bacon and Potato yummm

Alright this one was definitely my favorite. I mean potatoes, bacon… literally how could that not be delicious. I boiled two potatoes and chilled before cutting them into slices, my roommate fried up some bacon and we assembled it all on a piece of rye bread covered in a thin layer of mayo. To top it all off of course we had to add some chives, to give it some color.

As far as taste goes, I bet you could guess what it tastes like – if you have been lucky enough to have eaten bacon at any point in your life. Bacon, potato, rye bread. Yum.

Bonus Danish Cuisine: Kanelsnurre

The same night we made the Smørrebrød for dinner, Julia decided to make homemade Kanelsnurre “Cinnamon snail”. Basically a cinnamon roll but with the cinnamon filling folded three times into the dough and swirled around your hand to make create the fun snail shape. They are incredible. She made the dough but I got to help forming the ‘snails’ which required a technique where you twisted a long strip while looping it around your hand.

The recipe she used: https://meyers.dk/opskrifter/kanelsnurrer/p/71513/

Weekend Escapade: Helsingør

Adventures, day trips

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”

Maybe that was true in the Hamlet’s Denmark but it certainly wasn’t the case the weekend I paid a visit to Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Elsinor in English). I made the trip up to Helsingør with my roommate and two other friends a couple Saturdays ago.

Getting there:

Train ride view

Helsingør is a 40 minute train ride on the Öresundståg passenger train line. We bought tickets via the DSB app the night before. DSB is the operator of the public transportation options in Copenhagen and the surroundings. The app is super helpful to figure out routes as well as how you can buy tickets. We took the metro from the stop near our Kollegium to the Nørreport station where we transferred onto the passenger train that took us to Helsingør. The train ride went by very quickly, it took by small towns, farmland all the while giving us short glimpses of the sea.

Nell happy to be in Helsingør

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle!

After arriving at the Helsingør train station we walked outside and were welcomed to the coastal city by views of the blue water, boats and on the other side of the water – Sweden. Kronborg Castle was also in our direct line of sight across the harbor. That was our first destination. We walked along side the harbor, looking at the boats tied up to the side. Helsingør is incredibly close to Sweden (Helsingborg) only a 10km stretch of water separates the two. There are ferries that make the journey regularly and according to my quick google search only take about 20 minutes. We would be sticking to the Denmark today however.

The castle is surrounded by a fort and moat which we initially walked around on the outside, taking in the sea air…until that same sea air got a bit too cold for all of us and we desperately wanted some shelter from the wind that had been blowing incessantly since we stepped outside of the train station.

Inside the castle fort walls there were the soldier and stable housing. There were quite a few people also walking around the castle grounds as well as those standing in line at a singular cafe that was open right outside of the castle. I think under normal circumstances they may be other shops and little museums that one could stop at. A lot of the smaller buildings were painted in bright orange which I loved, everything felt so bright and welcoming. We continued walking around inside of the fort. The actual castle itself has another moat surrounding it, which was actually frozen at the time. There are usually tours of the castle itself but as you may have guessed by this point…not something we were going to be able to do. Oh well. The views of the castle from the outside were incredible, I can only imagine what it’s like inside.

The rest of the town

After spending an hour or so walking around the castle grounds, we were ready for a warm pastry and coffee/hot chocolate. We walked into the town center, located quite close to the train station. Here we walked down cobblestone streets with small shops on either sides.

A bakery was quickly located where I bought a new type of pastry I hadn’t tried before (unfortunately I missed the name…I know not a good blogger move) and my friends bought fastelavnsbollers. Cups full of warm drinks mainly for our cold hands were the perfect pick me up. After eating our treats we walked back into the old town center to find Saint Olaf’s Church and the city hall.

After walking around the old church for a little, we all decided it was time to bet back on the warm train and head home.

I loved our adventure to Helsingør. It is a perfect example of how many opportunities there are to explore new places in safe ways and despite restrictions. The weather, albeit a warm cup of tea was definitely needed upon reaching home, was full of gorgeous blue sky and sun making the day that much better.

A day well spent!

Ice Skating on the Copenhagen Lakes!

Copenhagen

This Sunday all of Copenhagen was given a wonderful Valentines Day gift – safely frozen lakes for all to play on. The last week has consistently been below freezing allowing for a thick layer of ice to cover the three rectangular lakes that line the margin of the city centre. The Copenhagen Lakes are a wonderful feature of the city, lined with impressive buildings that every time I end up there on a walk or run I am hit with an overwhelming thought of “wow, I really am in Europe right now.” It is a very popular spot for walking, running or just spending time with friends on the many benches surrounding the water. This Sunday it was even more popular when seemingly the whole of Copenhagen rushed out onto the lakes to ice skate, walk, slide and play.

Everyone out enjoying the sunshine and ice!

It has been quite cold for the last week (although looking back at the temperatures at home in Minnesota right now I have no complaints). My flatmates and various professors mentioned that it has been unusually cold for Denmark, one of the colder winters they have had in a very long time. However, the temperature has been accompanied by bright sunshine and blue skies which has made exploring albeit a bit chilly still very possible with a good scarf, hat and mittens.

I’m getting sidetracked. Let’s talk about the ice! There has been ice over the lakes for the last week or so but the Danish Police had not deemed it safe enough to walk on with several people in the city receiving fines for venturing out onto the ice. My flatmates and I have been eagerly awaiting the all clear from the city for days. The Copenhagen municipality measures the ice and deems when it is safe for skating and walking on. They publish the information on their website here. The website is in Danish but google translate or a Danish friend can easily help you out. I also found this article in english about Copenhagen ice situation.

Ice doesn’t stop the bikes.

The ice being thick enough for the city to announce the lakes as open is rare. My flatmate said that this was the first time since he moved to Copenhagen 5 years ago that the lakes have been frozen enough where people could ice skate. He thankfully had a pair of ice skates that we all got to use (so what if they were three sizes too big). We tried to find a place to rent skates but had no luck. In a normal year I believe there are public ice rinks where you would be able to rent skates for use there.

There were so so so many people out enjoying the sunshine and the ice. There were little kids in snowsuits being slid across the ice by parents having just as much fun as they were, pick up hockey games, figure skaters, even a pair playing tennis all out in the middle of the ice. The atmosphere was one of a summer outdoor concert in a park, everyone happy and enjoying time with friends and family. It such a great experience and it felt like a window into what the culture and community of Copenhagen is like in the warmer summer months.

Ice skating!

10 parks and outdoor spaces for a sunny afternoon…or any old day

Recommendations

Let’s talk nature. Copenhagen is a city filled with green spaces. I swear every time I go on a run or walk I end up on a path leading me through a new park. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts about the city. This post is a round up of some of my favorite spots that I have discovered so far, ranging from urban city parks to nature reserves just outside of the city.

All of the places I mention are on this map and can be found on Google Maps.

  1. Frederiksberg Have

Frederiksberg Have is a large park located in the Frederiksberg neighborhood of Copenhagen. I go to this park most frequently as it is located very close to the kollegium I am living in this winter. There are lovely paths that weave through trees and grassy open spaces. A very fun feature of this park is that it is runs right up to the Copenhagen zoo so on some days you can catch a glimpse of the zoo elephants (apparently… I have yet to time it right so I can’t confirm this myself but my friends assure me that this is true). Besides the mysterious elephants the main focal point of this park is Frederiksberg Slot. The impressive yellow castle sits on top of one of the few hills in Copenhagen and looks down on the rest of the park. The building is still in use by the Danish Army for officer training but I believe under normal circumstances you can take tours of the building.

Frederiksberg Park from the top of the hill
Frederiksberg Slot

2. Søndermarken

Located just across the road from Frederiksberg Have it took me until very recently to realize that the two parks were just that – two separate parks. Søndermarken is slightly smaller and feels to me at least a little more wild. Ok so wild is a strong word it is still very much a city park but there are parts to the park that have thick trees with paths winding up and down little hills. I really enjoying running around the perimeter of the park before going over to Frederiksberg Have.

Søndermarken as the sun sets

3. Damhussøen – Lake

I accidentally came across this lake on a run a couple weeks ago. I had followed a green pathway parallel to the S train tracks when all of a sudden there was a lake. There is a great walking and biking path that goes around it. At the northern end there is a meadow/green space where there seemed to be lots of families walking their dogs.

A beautiful evening walk around the frozen lake.
View of the lake as the sun sets

4. Sydhavenstippen

This park is awesome. It is home to a herd of sheep and a couple of alpacas that just wander around for you to find. I came here for the first time with a couple of friends to go on a short run but mainly because I wanted to find these sheep, both of which were accomplished. It is located on the channel running between the main Copenhagen island and Amager so you can walk along the water. There a couple main paths that lead you around the park but there are also a lot of little trails (probably made by the sheep) you can explore.

A sunny afternoon at Sydhavenstippen. Land on the left is Amager

Sheep!!!!!!

5. Valbyparken

Valby is connected to Sydhavenstippen via a walking/biking path. The park is quite large with gorgeous views of the water, big green spaces, picnic tables and a disk golf course located in the inner part of the park. I have really enjoyed running and biking alongside the water as well as trying my hand at disc golf…something that I definitely have room for improvement in.

Disc Golf
A view of the water from the park

6. Stadsgraven – Christiania

This park/lake area is right next to Christiania so makes for a great addition to an exploration of that neighborhood. It’s another great pocket of nature right super close to the center of the city. Walking around the lake you get a glimpse into the fun, eclectic architecture that makes up the surrounding neighborhood.

View of the Church in Christiania (Church of our Savior)

7. Assisstens Cemetery

Despite being a cemetery, Assisstens is full of towering trees, hedges and weaving paths through gravestones. I wrote a blog post about my first visit there for my travel writing class, you can find it here. It is a space in the summer where people will come to relax in the sun, although the freezing temperatures and snow are currently stopping the sunbathers the paths are still full of families, walkers and runners enjoying the outdoors.

The main pathway in the Cemetery.

8. Superkilen Park + Nørrebroparken

Another area that I discovered on a run is the Superkilen Park or Red and Black squares located in Nørrebro. There is a narrow stretch of park that runs through the Nørrebro neighborhood where in the evenings there are always lots of people out for walks and children playing on the various playgrounds. One of the most interesting features of this area is the Superkilen Park, an urban park with art installations dedicated to embracing the diversity and tolerance that Nørrebro as a neighborhood is known for. It is a popular area for skateboarders and families alike.

Sunset at Superkilen Park.

9. Dyrehaven

The last park I talked about was urban and right in the middle of the city, this one is the opposite. Located a 20 minute train ride north of Copenhagen Dyrehaven is a large park with tons of trails and spaces to explore. It is a wonderful escape from the city for a breath of fresh tree filled air. Plus there is a very cool old royal hunting lodge, oh and did I mention the deer. It is full of deer. (Learn more about my experience going to Dyrehaven here)

Dyrehaven

10. Kongelunden – Amager Nature Park

Like Dyrehaven this is located a little ways outside of the city and offers a full escape into the woods. It is a large nature reserve on the island of Amager and encompasses both woodland and coastal wetlands. So far I have only biked through it, as part of a long bike ride my roommate and I undertook several weeks ago (read about it here), but I can’t wait to go back and explore more thoroughly. Regardless, I completely recommend adventuring out to this park for an afternoon outside in nature.

Biking through the woods in Amager Nature Park. 🙂

This is your sign to grab a friend to drag along, put on some shoes (both of those are completely optional) and head outside (not optional)! Enjoy!

Weekend Escapade – 30 Miles around Amager

Adventures

Welcome back to the second episode of the Weekend Escapade….still haven’t come up with a better name so it might be around to stay. This is a reoccurring segment where I chronicle an adventure I took over the weekend, something that I have been trying to do each week.

Today I am going to be talking about the 30 mile bike ride my roommate and I embarked on a couple weekends ago.

AMAGER

Before I get into it, first a little geography lesson. Denmark is made up of lots of different islands and Copenhagen is mostly occupied on the island of Zealand, however, there is a small portion of the city located on the island of Amager (pronounced Ama). See image below. Amager is home to the airport and a large nature reserve (plus lots more).

Our route around Amager

Okay, now that you know way more about Danish geography than I did prior to this bike ride let’s get this started. My roommate had heard of this bike route around the island from our danish flatmates and attempted it previously, however, she missed a turn and ended up cutting off a significant portion of the ride. This time though we had more specific instructions and we were ready to go for it.

Walking out on the dock at Amager Strand

We started out at around 1pm and headed towards Copenhagen’s harbor to cross over the bridge to Amager. The first part of the ride took us through the densely populated portion of the island, full of tall apartment buildings and stores. About 45 minutes into our ride we were riding past Amager Strand which is a sandy strip of beach. We decided to stop and check it out. There were lots of families out and about for a stroll along the beach plus a few winter bathers braving the cold waters.

Amager Strandpark

The next stretch took us past the airport and into smaller farm villages. The big concrete buildings that had been consistently on our right suddenly fell away and were replaced with sprawling green fields dotted with the occasional horse. For most of our ride we had been following the coast looking out at the ocean channel between Sweden and Denmark, now however, the bike path veered inland towards the village of Dragør. There may have been a way to stay along the coast but the bike path we were following ended quite suddenly leaving us to take a shot at the neighborhood streets in the outskirts of Dragør.

Amager Countryside

After making our way through the village neighborhoods we reconnected with the bike path..sort of. The path was gravel and quite narrow taking us right along side the ocean. There were lots of people out for hikes which made it difficult and slightly uncomfortable to be biking but based on the signage I’m fairly certain it was ok for us to be on bikes. This part was a lot slower but it was very fun to critique the big fancy houses that looked out at the beach. This portion of the path took us into Amager Nature Park where the sparse landscape became a densely wooded forest. The trail linked up portions of the park across roads, where parking lots full of cars and families reminded us both of the state parks at home.

It was wonderful to be out in nature surrounded by tall trees and crisp fresh air. A welcome escape from the bustling city.

Woods!
Horses! There were horse trails along side the walking/biking trail full of riders.

The woods didn’t last too long however, the landscape changed once again and I could in fact answer the question Taylor Swift so persistently asked in her song “Out of the Woods” as we were in fact out of the woods. We were back once again along the coast, this time riding next to wetlands. At this point we had rounded the island and were heading back towards the city, trading a paved bike bike trail for the dirt and gravel we had been on for the last several miles.

We made a couple stops along the way back towards the city, stopping to appreciate the view of the water, skyline and eventually the setting sun. At this point it had gotten chilly…my hand function – greatly reduced. Could I feel my toes? I wasn’t sure. Regardless, we were still having a great time experiencing Copenhagen and the surrounding area in a new way.

Fisherman (?) motors by as the sun attempts to break through the clouds

The last portion of the trip was alongside the island closest to Zealand (the larger island with the rest of Copenhagen) and as we got closer we could see the parks and buildings on the other side. At one point we were certain we saw sheep (this was in fact true as I learned later – Sydhavnstippen is a park with a flock of sheep and is along the water…stay tuned). The sun was setting, it was almost 4 o’clock *sigh* and with it created a very pretty sunset at our back.

Reenie, our bikes and the sunset 🙂

The last portion of the ride was through Island Byrgge, a more recently developed neighborhood on Amager with lots of big apartment buildings. It was very interesting to compare the new developments with the older more historic neighborhoods where we are living.

Across the canal, new apartment complexes in Copenhagen

Apartment buildings in Islands Brygge

We made it back to the Kollegium at around 5, very cold and happy to be home but incredibly satisfied with our Saturday adventure. The wide range of landscape that we rode through over the course of a relatively short amount of time was very interesting and kept me on my toes. It felt like we got to sample all the different parts of Denmark in a couple hours, from historic city to new developments, beaches to woodlands, big city to farmland.

I highly recommend exploring Amager, you don’t have to do the whole island in a couple hours like we did but biking around the different parts is perfect way to get out of the city and find brand new landscapes.

Field Study: Assissten’s Cemetery

Field Studies

A feature of DIS classes are the field studies. Under normal circumstances these would take place with your entire class and professor, but this term so far this isn’t possible. To still provide some of this experience and make us explore Copenhagen field studies have become a more independent activity. It has been a really great way to see the city.

A peaceful morning in the cemetery.

One of the classes that I am taking is Travel Writing. The first field study we had was to Assissten’s Cemetery, located in Nørrebro it contains the graves of famous Danish writer Hans Christen Anderson, and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. A classmate and I went together, which was a really great way to forge strong connections with the people in my classes.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Grave
Tree lined main pathways through the cemetery

Sunlight streams through the trees, angular it contrasts with the soft morning light blanketing the surrounding gravestones and hedges. A blue sky is opening up overhead as I walk through Assissten’s Cemetery, searching for Hans Christians Anderson’s grave. The mud squelches underneath my boots, birds chirp boldly exerting their dominance over this environment that humans have so laboriously groomed. Faintly children play, their joy muffled by the trees and soft ground. Wandering in between gravestones, I notice many have have lost much of their identity to time, names barely discernable underneath moss and weathered stone. For a place that is so often a symbol of death there is tangible feeling of life and community. Maybe it’s the towering evergreen trees filtering in the morning sun or maybe it’s the group of chattering kindergarteners ambling in groups of three, hands tightly gripping their teachers, either way there is an overwhelming sense of new life here among the stories of the past.

Low walls separate the peaceful interior from the bustling neighborhood

Weekend escapade: Dyrehaven

Adventures

This post marks the start of a series I am currently calling “weekend escapade”. It’s a working title, can’t decide if I like it yet. I have made it a goal to go on some form of adventure every weekend in an effort to fully take advantage of my time here. So this is going to be a weekly segment chronicling an adventure of my choosing.

First up….

DYREHAVEN

Dyrehaven or “the deer park” is a large natural reserve with…like the name would suggest, lots of deer. Originally the park was royal hunting grounds but now completely open to the public it is a popular escape from the bustle of Copenhagen or nowadays, lockdown.

It is located just north of the city and on the train lines so it is very easy to get to. I think the train ride is 20 minutes or so but my friends and I decided to make it a bike ride, opting for the 9 mile ride along the coast. I highly suggest this route, although planning it for a sunny day will greatly boost enjoyment levels. Plus you can take the train back to Copenhagen with your bike – my friends decided they were going to be sore enough already and opted for this option. It’s the sane thing to do.

A little stop by the sea

We left Copenhagen around 12:30 in the afternoon on our first Saturday in the city. Feeling quite invincible with our newly acquired bikes and fully functional google maps we started on the bike ride. The ride takes you out of Copenhagen on some fairly busy roads which definitely jumpstarted our bike comfort. The best part of the bike ride is making it to the coast, with the sun shining we were definitely not the only people taking advantage of the wonderful weather. Walkers, bikers, runners, roller skaters, and the occasional winter bather all populated the beach and walking paths.

Nell enjoying the sun and the view!

We didn’t know that much about the park besides that it was a place to go and there was a cool castle thing. With that limited knowledge we started to explore, staying on our bikes. There were lots of people out and about since it was such a nice day so we went slow and often got off to walk to avoid getting too close.

BAKKEN

Close to the entrance of the park is Bakken. Opened in 1583 it is the oldest amusement park in the world, currently however, it is the oldest closed amusement park. This meant though that we got the unique experience of wandering around the empty ground. It was fun to look around and take pictures. Definitely a place I want to come back to when things are up and running.

London or Copenhagen? In amongst the amusement park booths.

EREMITAGESLOTTE

Eremitageslotte “The Heritage Hunting Lodge”

Eremitageslotte or the Heritage Hunting Lodge is as you may have guessed is the old royal hunting lodge located in the park. We biked around the park for a while, enjoying the scenery and being in nature before trying to make our way over to the lodge. I would suggest taking some time to wander around on foot. I am planning on returning to the park and hiking around but we were trying to get back to Copenhagen before it got super dark so we had limited time.

Biking up to the lodge! Sun sun sun sun 🙂
Behind the lodge, a view of the ocean.

It was golden hour by the time that we were approaching the lodge (keep in mind it is winter and the sun sets around 4…). It was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was shining behind us, illuminating the grasslands surrounding the lodge which was glowing itself.

WAIT BUT THE DEER?

The park is home to thousands of deer belonging to several different species. I think since we were on bikes and stuck mainly to the wooded paths we didn’t see that many deer. In fact we were heading back from the lodge to go home before we saw our first and only herd of small deer. They were very short and stocky, like little reindeer.

Deer! Finally. Kind of hard to see but they are amongst the trees.
Hanging out with the deer

FINAL THOUGHTS

I absolutely loved this adventure. It was an incredible way to spend my Saturday afternoon and I cannot recommend it enough. I know for a fact that I only saw a fraction of the park so I am for sure planning on taking another trip up to the park before I leave.

Our trusty bikes enjoying the sunset.

Getting here…Pandemic style

Travel

Covid tests, masks, planes oh my!

BEFORE TAKE OFF

There is always a lot to do before a trip under normal circumstances – packing, last minute laundry, printing out plane tickets…the list goes on and on. But nothing is normal nowadays especially not travel. COVID tests, permission letters, passports…(okay so maybe a passport is always a pretty big requirement).

Let’s talk passports. It’s a very important aspect of studying abroad, arguably the most essential one. Now, I have been fortunate enough to have a passport since I was very little but I have clearly had no reason to use it in the last year so I was caught slightly by surprise when I opened it up in November to realize that it was expiring in January. Uh oh. I immediately got started on the renewal process. Figuring out how the system was working in this pandemic world. Within the week I had all my documents mailed off and all of my fingers crossed.

COVID test time!

Fast forward to the end of December, my flight to Copenhagen was drawing closer and with every passing day my excitement grew but so did my anxiety about not having a very important little blue book. I was calling the passport agency every couple days but no luck. All of a sudden I was leaving at the end of the week and I didn’t have a passport. It was time for more drastic measures. After a stressful morning full of desperate phone calls I managed to get an appointment at the passport agency in Minneapolis. Three days out from departure.

A very happy Madeleine with passport in hand!

The next day I checked off two essential things – a COVID test and a passport. By that afternoon I was ready to go! Wait maybe I needed to pack first…

DEPARTURE!

The day of departure was strange. My flight was in the afternoon so I had time to run a couple of last minute errands – printing permission letters and flight information. The whole day I couldn’t quite figure out how I was feeling. Nothing felt real. Up until this point I had been so focused on planning, packing, you name it, now all that was done and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was just waiting at this point, waiting to finally be in Copenhagen. I remember thinking that I should feel more excited but I think the fact that I was really about to go live in a completely foreign country was finally sinking in. And I was nervous. The car ride to the airport with my Dad was quiet, a couple random comments here and there. He asked how I was feeling.

“I don’t know” I responded. And I really didn’t.

Walking through an airport was wild. I wish I had a better adjective to use but truly thats how it felt. It was strange to be in a place and go through a process that I used to be so comfortable with in a completely new context. I was flustered going through security, forgetting to take off my shoes and struggling to get my computer out of my backpack.

Finally it was time to board. Standing in line with my ticket and filled out health forms, a desk attendant made an announcement “All COVID tests must have been taken before 2 am on December 30th”. My stomach dropped. Oh no. I messed up.

I had made a poor judgement call. The test centers I looked at had been closed due to New Years and I underestimated the strictness of the regulations. My heartbeat skyrocketed. I wasn’t going to be able to get on the plane. I wasn’t going to Copenhagen.

Fortunately, I was able to get on the same flight the next day and all was well but it was hard watching a couple of my fellow classmates who were on the same flight as I was board as I retraced my steps back home.

I guess feeling like I wasn’t actually going had a little more truth to it than I would have like it to.

TAKE TWO

A full 24 hours later I was back in the airport checking in, a brand new negative covid test result in hand. This time I made it on the plane and finally said goodbye to a snow covered Minnesota. Copenhagen here I come.

Finally!

I’M HERE….SORT OF

Copenhagen! Denmark! YAY! Let’s go explore!

Not quite. Quarantine. In the interest of everyone’s safety before I could go run off and spend all my time wandering the Copenhagen streets I first needed to become well acquainted with Clarion Airport Hotel. All of my peers in the Carleton DIS Program needed to quarantine for 72 hours before we were free to eat pastries to our heart’s desire. I had a room all to myself since my roommate was already in Copenhagen (she was here last semester). I can’t say I had the time of my life but certainly can’t complain about the meals delivered to my door three times a day (a definite daily highlight). I only became more excited about the upcoming weeks the longer I spent staring out my window watching the bikes speed past on the road below.

My hotel room view. One I became VERY accustomed to.

FREEDOM!

The 72 hours was up. No positive covid tests. It was time to say goodbye to my hotel room, I had new places to be. My room in the Kollegium was calling. There was another student who had been delayed so we coordinated our departure together. The rest of the group living in the Kollegium was transported via DIS buses but we were on our own. We decided to try out the metro. Google maps served us well and before I knew it my roommate was leading me up the stairs to our flat that we were sharing with two Danish students. Standing in our room, backpack still on, I looked out the window. Huh. I’m really in Copenhagen. It’s real. This is happening and I couldn’t be more excited.

My room for the next couple months.