Copenhagen, Denmark, France, Germany, Travel

A week-long road trip in Europe mid-pandemic..?

(featured photo was taken on the Rødby-Puttgarden ferry)

I’ve just returned (well, a few weeks ago now…) from a week-long roadtrip with my partner. We traveled from Denmark through Germany, then France, Germany again, and back to Denmark. I had the best time, but I’m so happy to be back in Copenhagen!

When the trip was being planned, travel within most EU countries from Denmark was more or less open. Things changed in the lead up to the actual trip. Originally we would have driven through Belgium (which would have allowed us to cut through to France faster), but fresh travel restrictions made these routes unadvisable. And as a non-EU citizen, even with legal residency in Denmark, it’s virtually impossible for me to keep up with new border rules because they’re framed in terms of EU vs non-EU travellers and I’m too pessimistic to trust that I really wouldn’t be the first person to be screwed over at some border control during times like this. To be honest, as a ‘foreigner’ (or ‘Alien’ as we’re called in Danish legal lingo, ha), I want to stay invisible in emergency situations – to keep my head down and not get caught up in some bureaucratic mess.

But hey, after a summer of non-stop working (by which I mean, I didn’t take July off like the Danes do 😉 ), I just couldn’t live in fear and say no to the prospect of spending a whole week exploring new places with my partner. We’ve talked a lot already about travelling abroad together post-pandemic. This unique opportunity basically landed in our laps, and with the ‘safer’ routes still open, it sounded like a wonderful idea.

And I mean…what better way to travel in this pandemic era than by driving ourselves in a socially distanced bubble with even less contact with others than we would make in our usual lives?

So we packed our bags, and visited 6 different cities over 7 days:
Cologne (KĂśln), Germany
Orleans, France
Bordeaux, France
Dijon, France
Heidelberg, Germany
Hamburg, Germany

That’s about 4000km+ of driving in a week!

I took about 1500 photos on this trip so I think I’ll have to dedicate a big post for each place we visited. So for the next 6-7 posts or so, you can expect some image-heavy recaps of our trip 🙂 I will also share with you what it was like to travel with the new pandemic related guidelines in place and how it differed in each country that we travelled to (Denmark actually put France on the ‘closed’ list after we got there).

Until the next post, I’ll leave you with some actual on-the-road shots…

The weather conditions were intense…rain, storm clouds, sun, the works.
Danish countryside.
I do love this contrast of the field with the gloom and doom of the sky.
We took the ferry over to Germany.
I think I see a muffin in those clouds, ha.
The ferry was a mere 45 minutes.
I can’t resist sharing a photo I took from the car, all the way in France. Isn’t the scenery just beautiful? But I’m getting ahead of myself – stay tuned for my next posts!
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Louisiana – ‘Fantastiske Kvinder’ (exhibition)

(featured photo is ‘Tree Pantomine’ by Rita Kernn-Larsen)

It’s another Sunday Museum post! But this one is going to be a little bit different – I’m just going to be sharing with you some photos of paintings and illustrations, mostly, from an exhibition I went to at the Louisiana showcasing surrealist artworks by women (including big names like Frida Kahlo and my personal favourite – Remedios Varo)!

If pictures of paintings is not your cup of tea, no worries, I’ve got plenty of museum posts that showcase others. Also, my camera is annoyingly bad at taking photos of paintings – so some of these images may be a bit blurry. But if, like me, you are fascinated by art and perhaps take an interest in surrealism, I hope you will keep scrolling to see what this fantastic exhibit was all about.

I am the first to admit that I don’t “know” anything about art. But I love the way that artistic expression stretches the human imagination, I love that art is a creative process, I love that art is a narrative, and, well, I also like how it reminds me that the human brain is a weird, beautiful, and profound place. I often walk around worried that everybody else is normal and that I’m not – and art can be a real consolation in that respect. It helps me understand that I am not necessarily a lone weirdo in existential free-fall, but rather that the world is full of weirdos, each of us bound to one another through shared yet unspoken passion, sadness, frustration, rage, dreams, nostalgia…and that we are all here with something to say, something to express, no matter how little, big, trivial, or meaningful our message, and no matter how quiet or loud our voice. That moment of connection and understanding when I recognise that shared experience in art moves me. Just how certain artworks evoke these feelings seem totally mysterious, yet at the same time artworks demystify life for me as well – as if a clearing fog, art presents immortal, priceless, and lucid moments that stand out in the nebulous tangle of human experience. But enough from me on my personal take on the value of art – it’s one of those things I might ramble about forever.

Anyhow, I feel like this exhibit really ticked all the boxes for me – all these aspects of art that keep me going back to museums and galleries. It was really inspiring to see some of these pieces. Even though I’m no artist, the sudden feeling of inspiration, and wanting to create something, is just so rare and wonderful. I can only hope I can return to these sources of inspiration for time to come. What are your sources of inspiration?

Below, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite works displayed in the exhibit – ones that I found thought-provoking, strange, funny, or just nice to look at. As usual I tried my best to credit the artist.

Remedios Varo, Creation with astral rays
Remedios Varo
Bridget Tichenor, The Surrealists/The Specialists
Rachel Baes, Le Leçon de philosophie
Rachel Baes
Elsa Thoresen, Surrealistic Composition
Rita Kernn-Larsen, The Party
Valentine Penrose
Edith Rimmington, Museum
Eileen Agar, Ladybird
Leonor Fini
Valentine Penrose
Frida Kahlo
Valentine Hugo, Paul Eluard and Greta Knutson
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim
Meret Oppenheim, Mona Lisa’s Eye (I recognised it straight away, ha)
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark

Broens Gadekøkken (Bridge Street Kitchen), Copenhagen

Broens Gadekøkken is basically a mini Reffen, a street food market. It’s smack dab in one of the nicest areas to stroll around in the city centre – a short distance past Nyhavn and right across the bridge from The Playhouse. As it so happens it’s walking distance from my workplace as well. All I need to do is get out of my building and walk in a straight line down the road. Working in the heart of the city makes it almost too easy to get distracted by vibrant places like this, especially on a sunny day!

The food I tried was pretty good, though there aren’t as many options as you’d find in Reffen – so I suggest you do your research on the various stalls before going. It’s definitely a nice place to stop over for a quick lunch or refreshments, and I look forward to trying out a few more stalls when the city gets sunny again.

What lovely views crossing over the bridge to the street food market!
The stalls are bright and colourful.
Hygge.
Dumplings for appetiser.
Greek-style veggie pita for my main. I think having experienced cheap fresh Greek food in Greece spoiled me. This is the problem with trying new food in Denmark – I keep comparing to food I’ve had for cheaper and fresher elsewhere!
Coconut-based vegan ice cream from Nicecream – everyone I know who’s tried this place, vegan or not, speaks highly of this place.
You face some nice canal and harbour views from the market…
…like so.
There seem to be other venues worthy of a visit nearby too.
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

ILLUM, Copenhagen

ILLUM is a department store smack dab in the middle of Strøget, one of the longest pedestrianised shopping streets in Europe. I’ve been to a fair few fancy department stores (hello, South Korea) and ILLUM strikes a good balance – it’s not intimidatingly big (it’s almost cosy!) and there’s a decent selection of stuff to browse, ranging from clothes and accessories to quirky trinkets and household items. And though this particular department store doesn’t make a point of having a massive food court or anything, there are a couple of cafes/restaurants to stop by for a bite or drink on the top floor, where you can get some really nice rooftop views of the city and the busy streets below. Keep scrolling to take a look at my aerial shots!

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (outdoors)

It’s another museum Sunday post, and I’m thrilled to share this great place with you today!

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, situated near HumlebĂŚk (a 40-minute train journey from Central Station Copenhagen) is worth a visit for the forest and proximity to beach alone. It definitely helps that it so happens to be an awesome museum as well – a complex of glassy halls surrounded by forest and an outdoor sculpture gallery. It makes for a great day out, with an immersive indoor-outdoor experience, and there was also some experimental live music outside when I was there! I saw a wonderful exhibit here on surrealist women painters, which I’ll post about separately on next week’s Sunday museum. For now, I’ll share the outdoor sculpture gallery and natural settings alone – you’ll see the place is quite vast with lots of different scenes to view when walking about. I especially loved the silver balls (?) floating around in the museum garden pond.

Enjoy!

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Vesterbro, Vesterbro

Tivoli, Copenhagen (Part 2)

If you haven’t seen my first post on Tivoli, I suggest you have a look here 🙂 In this post I will share another set of pictures from Tivoli, with captures of the marching band, arcades, restaurants, and funny little items I saw in the cute shops dotted around the place.

Isn’t everything absolutely adorable?

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Vesterbro

Tivoli, Copenhagen (Part 1)

Tivoli is apparently the second-oldest operating theme park in the world, having opened in 1843. I must confess I didn’t think much of Tivoli when I visited during my trip to Copenhagen in 2017 (probably because I went alone…), even though I do remember it being a cute place. It’s consistently in “Top things to do” type of articles on Copenhagen and well…I just didn’t see the hype.

Well, I’ve completely changed my impression of the place now. I got my boyfriend a year pass to Tivoli for his birthday (clever me found him a birthday gift that would benefit both of us, haha) and we visited just to have a walk around. And I must say it was so fun and completely magical, even though we didn’t go on any of the rides.

This time, I really noticed what a nice and well-kept amusement theme park it is – when I think amusement park, I tend to get these images of rickety, rusty, run-down rollercoasters and creepy music running in the background, or I think of tacky arcades and Ferris wheels in some nondescript seaside resort town. But Tivoli is nothing like that. It hosts upscale restaurants, a cute marching band, pantomime shows, proper concerts, perfectly manicured gardens, vibrant arcades, specialty gift shops (including a fancy liquorice shop with items like gold-dusted liquorice – very Danish) and a great balance of fun-to-look-at rollercoasters. There is definitely something for everyone, and all age groups – not just kids!

The other big amusement park I’ve visited in Europe is Disneyland Paris, and though Tivoli is a lot smaller, I think it really does compete for amusement and recreational value (and the entry fee isn’t too bad in comparison). The rollercoaster rides are much more interesting and it’s definitely a plus that the park is very much accessible as part of a city break – it’s located right in the heart of the city, basically a stone’s throw from the Central Station, Glyptoteket, and Strøget.

But I think the photos will do a better job of explaining the appeal of Tivoli, so I’ll just leave you with some images below. There will be more in my next post, so keep your eyes peeled 😉

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life

Stadens Museum for Kunst (SMK), Copenhagen

If walking around for a good few hours admiring European art sounds like your idea of a good time, SMK may just be the place for you. It’s not necessarily my favourite museum, or the most impressive collection I’ve seen – but the way this place was designed to be experienced has something of a Danish vibe to it. Maybe something like hygge. So as a leisurely indoor activity this place does not disappoint.

I personally like to check out the major museums in cities I visit, so of course SMK (The National Gallery of Denmark) was on my list. I think the museum shop and cafe are themselves worthy of a visit – I like how good Denmark is at making their cultural spaces attractive and places that are pleasant to really hang out in! The glassy modern extension in the museum building that houses the sculpture gallery is lovely too – you’ll see below where the newer architectural style meets the old. As usual, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Expat life, Travel

Assistens Kirkegürd, Nørrebro

One of the first things I noticed after moving to Copenhagen is how well kept the cemeteries are – none of that haunted or creepy feeling about them. They are honestly quite beautiful green spaces. Assistens KirkegĂĽrd in Nørrebro is certainly no exception. This is reflected in how people use and pass through the cemetery as well. People come in here to have a picnic or drink with friends in the grassy areas, to lay in the sun, and have a quiet chat on the many benches dotted around the place. There are also cycle and walk paths through the cemetery that allow you to make shortcuts across parts of the neighbourhood.

Some of the individuals buried here whose names you may be familiar with are H. C. Andersen, Niels Bohr, and Søren Kierkegaard. For this post, however, I’ll share with you the more garden-like features of the cemetery, rather than the gravestones.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel, Uncategorized

Indre By, Copenhagen

Copenhagen town centre is an aesthetic, cosy, and walkable area (as is many other areas of the city, really). Compared to many capital cities I’ve been to, it’s not super congested either in terms of vehicle traffic, and public transport tends to be efficient and reliable if needed (though pricey, I will give you that). Honestly, it’s up there as one of the nicest cities to walk around in Europe in my opinion, because it’s got a really nice balance of things to do and see. I have to laugh when people point out to me the parts of the town centre that are apparently more ‘grungy’. Having moved from a neighbourhood in Bristol where it was pretty standard for me to dodge broken bottles and other, even more questionable trash on a daily basis, I have yet to find ‘grungy’ here. If any of you have lived in Copenhagen, I’d be curious to know what you think about that.

To me, the city centre is very clean, there are plenty of colourful buildings, a mix of older and more modern architectural styles, cute streets, cobbled courtyards, flowers and ivies climbing up houses, parks and gardens every other corner, design-focused shops, and stylish cafes and eateries to grab a bite or people watch. Even in rainy weather (which I must say is quite a lot of the time…) there is something romantic about the vibe in the city. Hopefully the pictures below capture something of that atmosphere. You can see that even on gloomy and cloudy days, and in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, the city is just nice to look at.

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