Gettin’ Hygge with It

We’ve been in Romania for over a week now, so I figured it’s about time for a post about our transition from Scandinavia to Central Europe. After Stockholm, we spent three days in Copenhagen (København to the Danes) before jetting southeast to Budapest, which served as a bridge to traipsing about Transylvania.

One of the best parts about our travels so far has been the warm hospitality shown to us by friends and family, and our time in Copenhagen was no different. We arrived on Sunday 8/27 and wandered around the city for the afternoon before taking an easy train out to suburb Taastrup, where our Danish hosts, Isabella and Anne, were waiting for us. Isabella spent a year of high school in my hometown of Aurora, IL (Wayne’s World!) and stayed with our neighbor and good friend Patty. Even though we had only met once very briefly, Isabella and her whole family welcomed us with open arms. The night we arrived, father Rene cooked us a delicious meal and mother Anne regaled us with her tales of having traveled all over the US in her early 20s. We felt welcome and at-home instantly, which is a wonderful feeling to have while on the road. Experiencing true hygge (pronounced hue-guh in spite of what this post’s title might suggest) through stories and home-cooked meals around the dinner table and playing with 8-month-old Cairn terrier puppy, Villas, were the absolute highlights of our stay in Copenhagen.


Villas the Cairn Terrier
Our new buddy, Villas, the eight-month-old Cairn terrier puppy.

When we weren’t hanging out at the house in Taastrup, we were exploring the colorful and dynamic city of Copenhagen. It charmed me immediately with its similarities to Amsterdam: cyclists everywhere, canals lined with beautiful old buildings, and the contrast of contemporary culture and architecture against the old world. We packed a lot into a short amount of time, and here are the things that stood out:

Architecture and cityscape:  We had heard from locals and visitors alike that a canal tour is a great way to see Copenhagen from a different angle and learn about its history. A tip from one of our new friends led us to the Netto boat tours, which cost a budget-friendly $7 per person and led us on a relaxing ride around the sun-soaked waterways of the city. We also found that if we just picked a direction and started walking, fascinating new sights and sounds revealed themselves. This was especially true with cold, koozie-wrapped cans of Copenhagen’s finest craft beers in hand, which is perfectly legal in this terrific town.

Food: Everyone we asked for advice about Copenhagen mentioned the quality of the food scene. While we weren’t able to take full advantage of the city’s abundant culinary delights, our sampling was satisfactory. We checked out the food hall scene at Copenhagen Street Food, a collection of market stalls in an old warehouse on “Paper Island,” where we ate tasty Moroccan flat bread atop a converted shipping container while looking out over the harbor at the rest of the city. We also had to taste for ourselves the original Danish, wienerbrød, which puts our bastardized American versions to shame. We found ours at Andersen Bakery the first day we arrived and conveniently stumbled upon the same bakery on our last day in town for one last hit of flaky, custardy goodness. Our fanciest food experience came from Manfred’s, an offshoot of Michelin-starred Relæ, where we stayed under budget by teetotaling while sharing their famous steak tartare and daily vegetable creation. We almost went the entire time subsisting entirely on not hot dogs, but we couldn’t leave Scandinavia without having one last hot dog, courtesy of a street stand in Nyhavn.

Beer: Brandon and I look at beer the same way we look at cuisine when traveling in a new place, as a fun way of getting to know its culture and flavor. Copenhagen has a wealth of awesome craft breweries, with Mikkeller being the most ubiquitous. We sampled our fair share of brews, with my favorite coming from the Mikkeller/3 Floyds collaboration brewery Warpigs, perhaps mostly because it tickled me that a brewery from Munster, IN made it all the way to Denmark. Judging by all of the American accents heard while sipping our brews, I wasn’t alone in that thought.

Brews at War Pigs
Our brews at War Pigs, the Mikkeller/3 Floyds collaboration.

We had a great time in Copenhagen, but our budget was beckoning us to Budapest and beyond. Denmark is yet another place that we very well may visit again, especially since we saw such a small slice of it. If you’ve been to Copenhagen, what did we miss that needs attention next time?

Up next: Our first encounter with RyanAir, which went just how you’d expect, and our handful of days in Hungary. (Maybe I’ll even abate with the alliteration.)

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