Copenhagen’s secret to happiness

Dear Copenhagen, we wish to apologize: you were not our first choice for a destination, since London and Reykjavik monopolized our thoughts in the beginning, but after what we saw, you have definitely convinced us about visiting again! Was it the Lego, the Hans Christian Andersen spirit, or simply the laid-back, hygge lifestyle? In any case, we couldn’t help but falling in love with you!

We visited Copenhagen last October as part of our tradition to travel together. Even though the trip was a short one, we managed to squeeze in as much of the Copenhagen experience as possible! We stayed at Hotel Alexandra, conveniently located on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, only a few hundred meters away from the Central Railway station. Its retro feel, Danish design and the warm, hygge atmosphere at the lobby each evening officially makes it the coziest hotel we have every stayed at!

In our typical way we didn’t linger around the hotel too much, though. Armed with our Copenhagen Card, we immediately set out to explore Copenhagen the moment we arrived. And, even in less than 48 hours, we found so much to love about this Scandinavian city!

Very soon, we discovered that Copenhagen has a special allure: it is cosmopolitic, just like a city of millions, but it also has a down-to-earth quality. It seduces the visitor with its effortless combination of the old and the new. In its heart, urban modernity and ongoing trends harmoniously coexist with tradition and history. On the downside though, we both thought it was expensive, but class and sophistication does come with a price, doesn’t it?

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In the end of October there were cozy lights everywhere. No need to wait for Christmas…
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The streets in the center were full of people day and night.

The inhabitants of Copenhagen are said to be the happiest people on Earth. How could they not be, when they can efficiently bike to every destination in such beautiful surroundings?  Indeed, the most impressive thing about Copenhagen was the flawless network of cycling roads that seemed to extend to infinity. We both marveled at the smooth co-existence of cyclists, cars and pedestrians alike- an every-day reality in Copenhagen but a very rare phenomenon in our native countries of Cyprus and Bulgaria, or even in Finland. The Copenhagen Card gave us free access to the efficient public transportation, but going around on two wheels would have been just as easy and practical.

Still not convinced that Danes are really the happiest people in the world? We felt that a visit to the famous Tivoli gardens would instantly lift one’s spirits, at least that’s what happened to us! In the daytime, the Tivoli gardens and the neighboring Nimb Hotel both appeared as rather unremarkable. But in the evening…everything had changed: Tivoli welcomed us clad in the bright orange hues of Halloween. Once we crossed its gates our senses were bombarded by smells of popcorn and cotton candy, lights that made night feel like day, sounds of people yelling in delight…  It felt like entering a different, surreal world where everything was wrapped in layers and layers of delicate spider-web and dominated by evilly laughing pumpkins, witches, and other equally spooky creatures. Danes proved their reputation that they can do wonders with lighting, and brought us a spectacle that we will remember forever.

And guess what happened…carried away by the magical environment, we bought tickets for not one, but two rides. Nothing too extreme, though. We are not so keen on extreme activities. The Carousel brought us back to our childhood…

…and the Ferris wheel offered us some spectacular view of Tivoli. This was the most fun we had during this trip, or any trip we had taken together!

As the evening progressed, Anna Maria got even crazier and wanted to experience the delight of the Tivoli roller coaster, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world. But, to Rossi’s great relief, there was a tremendous line to that famous attraction. Note to Rossi: there is always the next time! 😉

Foodies will agree that Copenhagen is a food mecca. We, however, decided to go for more budget-friendly option without compromising on food quality. Our first, and best dinner there, took place at restaurant Honey, the little brother of the more high-end Kadeau. When it comes to food, nothing can bring Rossi to a fine dining place. Honey delivered a great culinary experience for a fraction of the price (although still being quite pricey, even compared to the equally pricey Finland). As its name suggests, it was a welcoming, approachable place to spend our first evening in Copenhagen and offered us a first glimpse of what the famous hygge is all about. Also, the staff was really friendly and helpful.

Rossi’s childhood was filled with tales of princesses, mermaids, broken tin-soldiers and nightingales. Therefore, a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen dream house was an absolute must! As we strolled past the intricate representations of the Andersen’s most well-known fairy tales we momentarily dived into the fantasy world of one of the greatest storytellers of all time – definitely the most enchanting part of our trip.

However, like in every trip, there are also bitter disappointments. Copenhagen was slightly more popular with tourists than expected – which, in retrospect, is less of a surprise, given the city’s indisputable charm. After unsuccessfully attempting to enjoy the panorama form the Copenhagen City Hall tower (only guided tours offered at 12 pm!), we were advised to try out Christiansborg Palace for a similar experience. It seems that many other had the same intention, though. We wouldn’t have minded the long wait if we had not booked a cruise along the Copenhagen canals later that afternoon. Unfortunately, with no knowledge of the waiting time for the lift that would transport us to the tower, we ended up spending all the spare time until our cruise left absolutely in vain. Namely, after queuing up for one hour, we left, frustrated that we missed our turn only by a few minutes, and rushed to catch our cruise.

The cruise made up for all the lost time in Christiansborg Palace, though. It turned out to be a very efficient and pleasant way to view many monuments and buildings that make Copenhagen special. Apart from the most idyllic moment of our trip, it was by far the coldest!! As the daredevils and avid photographers we are we decided to sit outside on the boat, which ended up in frozen fingers and toes. Warmer dressing is guaranteed for next time, but even so, it was totally worth it!

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The Little Mermaid was rather unspectacular.
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The Black Diamond – what a way to brand a library!
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Nyhavn at sunset

Last, but not least; the peak, highlight, climax of this trip was offered by a yellow-brown four-legged animal. Yes, this blog post is about to end on a high note – quite literally. We were both amazed by the beauty and grace of the giraffes, the pride of the Copenhagen Zoo. Even though being in the company of other exotic animals (polar bears, lions and elephants, no less) we must admit that the adorable giraffes definitely stole the show.

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Rossi got a travel companion in honor of her first meeting of the giraffes. Poor one, it doesn’t have a name yet. But it will follow us through our journeys.

Thank you, Copenhagen, will be back for more hygge very soon!

 

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