The Christmas season was upon us and we were all excited for our upcoming visitors and trip. Of course, it started out with sickness (tis the season, right?).
I had to pick up Avery early from school a week before the holiday season. She was complaining of an earache and the teachers were unable to console her. I brought her home and gave her some pain medicine. She seemed perfectly fine until that evening. Her eye started oozing (gross) green gunk. Great…
Off we went to the doctor’s office the next morning after dropping big sister off at school. The doctor said it was likely viral and she wasn’t too concerned since Avery’s ears looked fine, her eyes were still white and she had a runny nose. Likely just symptoms of a cold. So we spent the weekend wiping the eye and cuddling. By Monday evening, it had spread to the other eye and was not getting any better. Her eye area was completely irritated and the gunk didn’t seem to stop. Another trip to the doctor Tuesday morning and she was diagnosed with a bacterial eye infection. We picked up our eye drops at the pharmacy and headed to the aiport.
GRANDMA AND GRANDPA WERE COMING TO VISIT!!!
We were so excited to see them! Avery was especially excited that she was able to pick them up at the airport. She was suppose to be in school but since her eyes were requiring constant wiping, I decided to keep her with me. She was so excited to see them when they walked through the security gate.
We then went to pick Claire up at the school and showed Grandma and Grandpa the classrooms and our home. I made them an authentic Danish meal of frikadeller (Danish meatballs), potatoes and veggies.
Wednesday we allowed some time for Grandma and Grandpa to rest. Jet lag is no joke and can really mess up a person’s schedule. Avery stayed home again and she was happy to have two new playmates. We made a few crafts while the grandparents caught up on some sleep.
We then decided to check out the Christmas market in Esbjerg which was located near the ice skating rink we had visited earlier in December. It was small but was a good way to get out of the house for a bit.
That night, we opened Christmas presents and enjoyed another Danish meal of flæskesteg.
Then late into the night, Avery came to our room. This time she was crying while going to the bathroom and I noticed blood. I called the on call doctor and we were told to call our doctor in the morning. We were instructed to take a urine sample from her and bring it in for testing. Collecting a urine sample from a three year old. Fun stuff. But with some bribing and a little ingenuity, I dropped the sample off at the doctors and was told we’d have results the next day. Well this made me super nervous. We had plans to travel. How was I going to get the prescription if it was determined to be bacterial? What if it wasn’t? How serious would it be? What about all the activities we had already paid for that were nonrefundable? To say I was stressed out was an understatement.
The next morning, I was called before the doctors office even opened. They said it was bacterial and a another round of antibiotics was needed for Avery. I also found out that once a prescription is ordered by a doctor in Denmark, you can go to any pharmacy across the country to get it. It is just automatically stored under your number. Pretty neat.
So with the doctor’s ok, we set off to Copenhagen. We got to ride the train for the first time. It even included a switch at another station and although we were a bit confused at which wagon we were suppose to be on, we didn’t miss it. The girls enjoyed the train too.
We arrived in Copenhagen Central Station and picked up the antibiotics and Copenhagen cards. These cards were very similar to what we used in London. For one card, we were given access to museums, tours, public transportation and discounts at certain vendors. However, I only purchased a 24-hour card so we decided to hold off using it until that evening.
We made our way out of the train station towards our hostel. It was the first hostel I had ever stayed in and it was certainly an experience. We had arrived an hour and a half before check in and were directed to drop our luggage off at the lockers. We had to pay to store it there and there were young adults scattered all around the open space just waiting for check in. We decided instead to go find food.
We located a nice little burger joint called Jagger. I was pleased with my gluten free burger and bun! Avery hated the chicken nuggets but everyone else was happy and full. The walk there was also…interesting. Google Maps led us down a street with many erotic shops including one with a large, golden phallus sculpture. Needless to say, we did not take that journey on the way back to the hotel and instead found a nice park for the girls to release some energy.
Back to our hostel we went. It included two bunk beds and one double bed for the grandparents. It was definitely cozy for all of us.
After some strategizing on what we should do first with our Copenhagen card, we decided to go to Tivoli. It was only two blocks from our hostel and is a definite must for tourists to Copenhagen. Tivoli is the world’s second oldest operating amusement park. It opened in 1843 and has been updated with some particularly scary rides. There is one called the Star Flyer that is 80 meters (~263 feet) high. You spin around in a big circle on nothing but a swing (video here). No thanks…
The sun was setting and we knew it would be all lit up for Christmas. The entrance fee was covered with our Copenhagen card.
Tivoli did not disappoint. There were lights everywhere; rides at every turn; a huge Christmas tree decorated with crystal. Christmas market booths and food. After some begging, the girls were allowed to pick one ride to go on with one adult. Avery and dad went on a Ferris Wheel and Claire and grandpa went on a roller coaster. We spent the rest of the time traversing Tivoli and finding somewhere to eat. It was also very busy so all the restaurants were packed. Luckily, there was a food court so the girls and I picked a gluten free spot and found stools right next to the ordering counter. Some nice ladies gave me a stool before they were finished eating so I could sit with the girls. Very kind of them!
Tivoli is definitely a place to take in the sites and rides. If you like amusement parks and want to do rides, I suggest buying the wristbands. You’ll get your moneys worth then. We were only there for a couple hours so we couldn’t justify the wristband. But we had a good time and only one major meltdown.
After a good nights rest, we decided to explore Copenhagen sites by first starting with a canal cruise covered with the Copenhagen card. We had to take the new metro to get there. You could definitely tell it was new. So clean!
The canal tour was about an hour long. Just long enough for two little girls. Avery and I bounced from seat to seat as she had to check out different views. Claire stayed put with Grandma and the dads spent the cruise out in the cold, open view area.
Except for the constant moving and restless children, I would definitely recommend it. The boat has a clear cover so you still get a great view of the harbor and it’s many sites. While the tour guides were not as hilarious as our London canal guides, she provided excellent information on the different buildings we saw. We even saw the Little Mermaid statue which is a famous Copenhagen icon and is based off Han Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. Claire remembered the statue the most from the tour due to the information about her being vandalized and decapitated several times.
Below are some pictures from the tour taken by me and Avery (had to keep the three year old entertained).
A few highlights from the tour:
-The incinerator plant is estimated to be the cleanest in the world. It produces zero carbon and actually produces more clean water than it uses. It provides Copenhagen with electricity and heating. It is apparently so productive that waste is being shipped in from other countries. The plant also features on artificial ski slope on the roof, hiking and wall climbing for the public.
-The bridge (Inderhavnsbroen) featured in the pictures took many years to build and had a bit of a design flaw (depending on who you ask). Near the end of construction, there was a six to eight centimeter gap. According to our guide, steel had to be placed in the middle to get the bridge to “kiss”.
– Børsen (The Exchange) is the building with the spiral spire. My pictures do not do it justice. It actually depicts four dragons with their tails intertwined. Really breathtaking.
-The canal tour also offered a look at the more modern yet gorgeous Playhouse and Opera house. Very slick designs and even the location for jumping into the harbor (which is completely safe to swim in by the way).
-Church of Our Saviour has a beautiful helix spire. The figure on the top is known as the ugliest sculpture in Copenhagen because it’s features are so exaggerated. This is so people can still see the features from the ground. Our tour guide said it was down for a week but was put back up quickly due to it’s ugly appearance.
After arriving back, we decided to cruise the Christmas market at Højbro Plads. We grabbed lunch, grandma got some authentic wool socks, I picked up two pie-sized slices of chocolate along with coffee and Claire picked out a handmade, glass Danish heart ornament. We also used the public restrooms. And I’m pointing this out just because it was the cleanest public restroom I have ever used. It was almost cute as it was underground in the middle of the street and filled with copper pipes. And so shockingly clean!
We then decided to walk to Nyhavn (New Harbor). Nyhavn is probably the number one tourist destination in Copenhagen or at least one of the most well known. If you type in Copenhagen in Google, it’ll be the main picture.
On the walk there, we ran in to two more Christmas markets and PIGEONS! This was one of the girls’ favorite things of the day. Chasing the pigeons at Kongens Nytorv.
There were also painted Christmas trees around the plaza and a beautiful icicle display at Hotel D’Angleterre.
After yet another Christmas market, we made our way into Nyhavn and took our obligatory tourist pictures.
We decided we hadn’t heard enough complaining from the children about having to walk so we made our way to Amaliehaven (gardens) along the harbor and near the Queen’s winter residence. Yes, Denmark has a monarchy and it is over 1200 year old! (Learn more about it on Wikipedia if you’d like.)
The gardens were pretty empty since it is winter and all but it did offer a beautiful view across the harbor to the opera house and towards Frederik’s Church.
We then walked into Amalienborg, the Queen’s winter residence. We learned on our canal tour that the flag meant the crowned prince was in residence while the queen was not.
Guards very similar to what you see in England where standing guard at many different stations on the property. Many tourists were trying to get them to smile and snapping pictures with them. I kept my distance. We then heard a bit of a commotion and a bunch more guards came out of a neighboring building. We had timed our stop perfectly and saw the changing of the guards.
After watching one guard relieved of duty, we decided to walk to Frederik’s Church.
The sign on the inside said it is still a place of worship and absolute silence should be observed. Yeah. I had a three year old. We did not stay in there for long. But it was quite beautiful and decorated for Christmas. A nice, quiet place for a quick pause.
Next, we hopped back on the new, clean Metro and made our way to the Round Tower. Admission was included in our Copenhagen card so we decided it was something the girls would like. It is a tower with an observatory and no stairs. It’s just one big spiral ramp.
Of course, I still had to carry Avery some of the way and she had to go potty about one minute after we got to the top….of course. But I was able to capture some gorgeous views of Copenhagen.
Next, we walked some more. Back towards city hall and our hotel. We did run into a lot of amazing architecture and one important dude. SANTA!!
My phone also died at this point so I don’t have many other pictures of Copenhagen. But we had about 30 minutes left on our Copenhagen card so we stopped at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The girls had a fun time there except for a few scarier parts (one about torture and another about the inner workings of the body). We then grabbed a meal and called it a day. We were exhausted and had a big day the next day. An early flight to Norway (future blog post coming on that crazy adventure).
All in all, I feel we barely scratched the surface on what Copenhagen has to offer and I feel we’ll be going back sooner than later.