What We Spent In Copenhagen

Day 1

After a day off loafing about the house, my husband and I call a Lyft to take us to the airport. ($21.44) I’m famished and am not sure whether SAS will be providing us with food (they are budget enough to charge for the first checked bag) so we stop by the Burger King near our terminal. I get a fish sandwich and my husband gets a burger. ($7.42)

We snuggle into our seats, ready for our seven hour economy non-stop flights. ($976.61 + 64,059 Citi points) We are in a two-seat section in an aisle, so thankfully no neighbors to contend with. Nary an hour into the flight, the attendants come by with food. Oh well, that’s fine, I’m still a little hungry. It’s actually pretty good: beef fajitas. But I notice something weird about our dish. Instead of making the meal itself sweet in any way, our fajita plate– with its rice and beef and peppers– has a single slice of sweet plantain in the middle. Weird, but a trend, as we will find out later.

A young child, roughly two years old, is periodically waking up and crying throughout our flight. This is going to be rough.

Day 2

We arrive in Copenhagen from our red eye in the early morning. As we touch down, my husband’s phone gets a text notification from his cellular provider. He gets internet and text for $10/day while roaming. I wish we had gotten a SIM card from the airport at a much lower price, but it’s fine. We’re on vacation, not a big deal.

We’re both exhausted, so we take a taxi on the way to the hotel. ($46.15) We drop off our bags and go for a little walk around Kastellet, the star-shaped park and fort by the canal. It’s early, so the grass is still speckled with dew. Peaceful. Joggers pass us by as we take photos of the corvids walking along the path. My husband is convinced that European birds hop less than American birds. I am skeptical.

We make our way to the canal and visit the Little Mermaid statue (a la Hans Christian Anderson). It is the most-cited attraction in Copenhagen. It’s also, like, six feet tall and takes about two seconds to take in emotionally. Moving on…

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After killing about an hour in the hotel lounge, the staff takes pity and lets us check in early into one of the newly turned-over rooms. ($668.12) The concierge also lets us borrow a travel power adaptor because we totally spaced on bringing one while packing, which was a really nice touch.

The room is lovely. Ceilings almost 20 feet tall. Long luxurious curtains covering the slightly ajar windows letting in a light breeze. We take a nice long nap on the king-sized canopy bed, freshly made with two down duvets, allowing us to temperature control separately. Heaven.

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We eventually “wake up” from our jetlag-induced slumber and freshen up for our friend’s wedding (which is why we’re in Copenhagen in the first place). We take a taxi to the chapel. ($19.66)

After the ceremony we look around at the other guests. Sadly, none of my other college friends were able to come to the wedding. At least my husband is here with me, which helps cut the awkwardness of random stranger small talk quite a bit.

The reception is held in small, minimalist warehouse-esque space by the canal. The food is a Scandinavian take on Asian cuisine. Char siu is served completely unsweetened, but with a few ripe blackberries sprinkled amongst the fatty pork slices, reminding me of the beef fajitas with the stray plantain slice on our flight here.

We meet some of the newlywed’s friends and engage in some awkward conversation. We have a fun conversation a friend of the groom about his business, which centers around interior and industrial design. We also get to know another couple, about our age, who are both also newly unemployed, figuring out their lives. This makes me feel somewhat better, like maybe this quarter life crisis thing isn’t so weird after all.

After some beautiful speeches from the families of the newlyweds, mounds of pickled vegetables, brined fish, and one too many glasses of wine, we make our way back to the hotel by foot, where, barely changing out of our wedding garments, we pass out for a full twelve hours.

Day 3

Our husband and I head out to the nearby train station, hoping to make it to the post-wedding brunch the newlyweds are hosting. We head to Osterport station and find that all the ticketing machines are some version of either broken or not taking our credit cards. After spending twenty minutes hopping from one ticketing machine to another, we give up and just take a taxi to the brunch. ($14.57)

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The brunch is a nice casual occasion. I manage to stuff myself full of prosciutto and lox, so I’m pretty happy. I am also able to have a quick conversation with my friend, the bride. We catch up, which is really nice (I know how busy wedding day can be). She and her husband plan to move back to the States soon, and we talk about all the anxiety of this post-marriage, pre-children time in our lives.

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After brunch, my husband and I skip the train angst and walk back to our hotel. We grab a bottle of sunscreen at a grocery store on the way because, oh my god, the sun is out here like twenty hours a day during the summer. ($5.29)

We stop by the Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art on our way back and see this gem of a photograph by Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore as part of the exhibit. ($21.17)

Before heading back to the hotel, we stock up on some snacks for the week. My husband gets some peanut butter, jelly, and wheat bread– which is his typical breakfast fare, and I grab some kalamata olives which I down in, like, 15 minutes. ($14.95)

After a brief nap, we wander around the neighborhood near our hotel. Hungry, we settle into a Thai restaurant– cashew chicken for me and massaman curry for him. My cashew chicken, unsweetened, has a couple floating bits of pineapple in it. Alright, this is now a thing. The meal is a nice departure from all the Scandi-style food we’ve had so far, but a little bland, as in no heat and very little in the way of spices outside the core ingredients and salt. ($45.52)

Day 4

My husband heads out to a Magic the Gathering pre-release while I lounge about reading Dear Life in our hotel room. After I while, I’m feeling hungry, so I head out and get a kebab plate in the touristy part of town. ($10.59) Meanwhile my husband gets a waffle ice cream. ($12.46)

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We meet after his tournament and head over to Tivoli Gardens, an old Danish amusement park that, as you can probably tell from the picture, loves itself some cultural appropriation. We get two passes for unlimited rides which I didn’t realize was a huge fee on top of the entry fee. Whelp. ($114.93)

After a pretty intense and whiplash-y ride in the bumper cars, I’m feeling pretty nauseous, so we decide to take a breather and get some refreshments at Joe and the Juice. For those uninitiated, Joe and the Juice to Copenhagen is like Dunkin’ Donuts is to Boston (or Starbucks basically anywhere else). The ubiquity is almost maddening. I get an avocado shake with cashew and coconut milk while my husband gets a strawberry juice. ($16.33)

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We spend a little more time in the park, but quickly become tired. We start our trek back to the hotel by foot, passing Nyhavn, the famous colorfully-painted block of row houses along the canal, on our way. We’re both hungry and our feet are tired so we decide to take dinner in one of the obviously overpriced tourist traps by the water.

I get a smorrebrod sampler while my husband has a burger. I imagined that I’d get three types of fish or some amount of variety. Instead, there are three slices of rye bread, and three small glass bowls of pickled herring: one plain, one with slightly more vinegar, and one with some curry spice haphazardly mixed in.

There’s a jazz festival going on in the city, so we can hear music playing while we eat. The Scandinavian conception of jazz is interesting. It’s as if someone’s only knowledge of an entire of music was based on a Billboard top 50’s soundtrack. Very little experimental, like a Stepford-ish uncanny valley of sound. We take in the sunset by the water. Since it’s so far north, and Denmark gets nearly twenty hours of sunshine a day in the summer, it’s nearly midnight by the time we head back to the hotel.

Day 5

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Alright, today is my long-awaited day of food. We head out to Torvehallerne, a two-building food hall full of dozens of independent prepared food vendors, fish mongers, a small farmers market, and various edible whatnots.

We start our food sampling journey with a couple of empanadas: ham and cheese for him and chicken and chorizo for me. They are piping hot and tasty, served with a side of pesto. ($13.55)

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Next stop are blinis from Mulgeo. My husband and I sit on what seems to be reinforced cardboard stools (they’re classy, I promise) while we’re waiting to be served his caramelized cream and microgreen blini and my cornflower, buckwheat, and toasted sunflower laden blini, spread with celeriac puree on a thin slice of eggplant. This is by far the best meal I’ve had in my time in Copenhagen. I immediately search for the restaurant to see if they have a cookbook in case I want to recreate these at home. ($12.64)

After blinis, we have one last stop for savory foods. We go to a Pan Asian place where I get tom yum soup with chicken dumplings and my husband gets bao. ($18.66)

Alright, now it’s dessert time. Banana ice cream for me ($6.77) and a raspberry vanilla cream tart for him. ($5.27) A tasty end to our stall-hopping lunch.

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Before we leave, we grab some chocolates ($6.77) and mixed nuts ($15.05) as gifts for our friends back home. We also stop by a local coffee shop for water. ($7.83) Yes, we spent nearly $8 on two pint-sized bottles of water. Welcome to Europe!

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After lunch, we take a stroll through the botanical gardens. My husband takes a bunch of bird pictures, asking our bird expert friend what species they are. We see a few birds fighting pretty aggressively, but in a way where we can’t tell if they’re fighting for dominance or if it’s a mating ritual (or both?). I feel like that could be the theme for a Tumblr account. Anyway.

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We head back to Nyhavn for our last tourist-y activity of our trip: the oft-recommended boat tour. ($28.63) We spend an hour on the water, photographing the various sights of the city. We pass by a row of upscale condos and then some cheap-looking docked boats. One of them had a sign mounted on it that read: “Not all of us can afford villas.”

After the tour, my husband and I took dinner at Union Kitchen, a small plates restaurant near Nyhavn. We had a lovely meal: beet feta mandarin salad, avocado harissa, fried goat cheese, garlic rosemary potatoes, and mushroom macaroni and cheese. My husband gets a slice of cheesecake for dessert, which is too much dairy for me. ($85.05)

I want something sweet to finish off the night, but without too much milk in it, so I head to our hotel’s restaurant and order a banana fudge tartine from the menu. Little did I know “tartine” really means open-faced sandwich and the restaurant took that really seriously. I scrunch up my face when I realize what I really ordered was an open-faced sandwich of sliced banana on sour rye bread. Sigh, Denmark. (charged to room)

Day 6

Time to head home! We taxi to the airport. ($45.12) Once there, we find out our flight is delayed by two hours. Fun. My husband grabs a water ($2.71) and I buy some meatball penne for lunch. ($20.37)

On the way to our gate, we pass by a little tourist-y gift shop. I buy a few jars of local honey and chocolates to bring back home as presents for friends. ($31.50)

Seven hours, two books, and seventeen naps later, we finally land back in Boston. We get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home via cab. ($41.44) But we’re back, relaxed, and feeling fine. So good to be home.

Summary

  • Flights – $976.51 + 64,059 Citi points
  • Accommodations – $668.12
  • Transportation – $196.67
  • Food – $340.93
  • Activities & Sights – $164.73
  • Shopping – $58.61
  • Other – $50.00

Total Spending: $2455.20

I’m gonna be honest. There are a lot of really interesting places to visit on this blue marble we live on. Copenhagen isn’t on the top of that list, at least for me. It’s a nice city and I’m sure it’s great to live in. But the reality is, if your big tourist attractions are a frequently decapitated mermaid statue and orientalist Disneyland, then for me there’s not enough going on to recommend a visit.

It probably doesn’t help that I don’t really like Northern European food. We had a couple of amazing standout meals (huge shoutout to Mulgeo and Union Kitchen, which were both great), but if I had to describe the palette as a whole, I’d say: brined, smoked, and fermented. Still much, much better than our experience in Ireland. But, if you don’t like your food cured, then you’re going to have a tough time in Copenhagen.

Over the next year, we’ll probably have mayyyybe one more international trip before baby time. Right now, the biggest downside is that I have maxed out my credit card sign up bonuses (to the degree that it is near impossible for me to get new cards because I have such a churner history), and my husband is not convinced about the churning game. So if we go to Japan, which is somewhere we both really want to visit, it’ll be full freight. With the window of family planning closing in on us, we probably want to get on it sooner than later, but the cost makes me unsure if that’s something we’re willing to do anytime soon.

Do you have any travel plans for this year? Any recommendations visiting Japan?

8 thoughts on “What We Spent In Copenhagen

  1. I really enjoy the format of your travel posts, and wish I could make my own succinct and informative at the same time!

    I have to say I’m surprised that the total was as low as it was, as I kept seeing individual numbers that seemed high within the post.

    I’ve been to Tokyo and Kyoto, and they haven’t been our most memorable trips. Since we live in a city, I find that we prefer the country when we travel. Tokyo is all about consumption: shopping, eating, etc. And you know, we already do enough of that stuff at home! But I’m sure the countryside and lesser known areas in Japan are wonderful.

    I appreciate honest thoughts about Copenhagen. I’m going to London for a wedding this year, and I have to admit London is not a favorite for me (again, lots of similar things I can do in NYC). But the wedding is outside of the city, so I’m excited for that. After the wedding we’re flying to Portugal, which ended up being a much harder trip to plan logistically than I thought.

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    1. Yeah, it’s weird, I feel like I’m also kind over cities. Which is annoying, because my husband greatly preferred being in Dublin when we were in Ireland while I loved being in the rambling countryside and old castle estates. After traveling enough though, I don’t know, a lot of big cities seem… kind of the same? I feel really obnoxious saying that, but it feels truer every time I stop by a coffee shop and find it’s the same Brooklyn-industrial style literally anywhere I go.

      Hope you enjoy the London wedding and jaunt to Portugal!

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      1. I’ll second Luxe’s comment on cities. The last time Jennie and I were in Tokyo was a decade ago and we loved it, but when we went again for a week last November, it didn’t feel the same. I think it’s because the rest of Asia has caught up and you can find the same storefronts and chains in other places (for cheaper too). Ditto for London, but we were just there a few days to see friends.

        That said, some cities have managed to retain some “grit” and local culture. We really enjoyed Budapest, Hungary (our favorite city in Europe!). In Asia, we loved Penang, Hanoi, and Kolkata.

        -Ivan

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        1. That’s a shame Tokyo has lost its luster for you all. I love that travel these days is so easy, but it’s sad to see (and be part of) the wearing away of culture that happens with globalization. Kids these days won’t even know what they lost. (grumpy old lady shakes fist in air)

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  2. Great travel post, and your photos do make Copenhagen look pretty. I had not known the famous mermaid statue was so frequently vandalized… Some of my offline friends and I were just talking about how, after living in NYC, few of the other great cities of the world feel quite as special.

    Tokyo was still interesting for me because it just feels like so much “more” city than NYC, if that makes sense – population density manages to feel higher even though it’s somewhat sprawled out and the rush of people in the major transit hubs can be overwhelming even to someone who is used to big cities like NYC. I really enjoyed Kyoto, though it’s the kind of place one only really needs to visit once, I think (and the food in Osaka – which isn’t too hard to get to from Kyoto – was definitely better).

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  3. Three days before I read this, I changed over the format of my SDCC travel recap so I hope it’s as readable as yours!

    Japan has been on my list for a long time for the food and we have friends living there we’d love to meet up with but I just don’t see it in the cards for a while yet.

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    1. Woohoo! I’m glad people liked the format! I was worried this post would be too rambly, haha.

      I think I want to sneak in Japan next year, before I get pregnant so I can eat some raw fish. 😁

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