There’s a certain amount of trepidation that always overcomes me when a transatlantic flight begins its decent. It’s not a fear of flying, I love everything about that, especially takeoff and landing. It’s almost like first-day-of-school nerves, really. I’m so excited to begin this new adventure, to explore this foreign land with its new people and unfamiliar customs. But it’s a foreign land and the people are new and the customs are foreign. What if I don’t fit in? What if I stand out as a tourist so tremendously and I just can’t figure it all out? What’s if I get so terribly lost and can’t find anyone patient enough to help me with directions?
See? Just like first-day-of-school nerves.
Of course, this is the point of travel. We go off to explore these unknown cities because we want to know them. There’s always a bit of validation in getting lost and finding out you were never really lost to begin with. You just took the scenic route.
It’s what I do anyway.
The flight to Berlin was uneventful enough, except the food was completely terrible. If United Economy was a restaurant, I wouldn’t recommend it. I wouldn’t even bother writing up a review because I wouldn’t want anyone else to happen upon it. Rubbery pre-cut chicken is the image I’d like to leave you with. The Lufthansa flight from FRA-TXL was long enough for me to plan my route into Berlin. They did hand out full-sized candy bars, which was a real treat when you compare it to our domestic bags of nuts and pretzels.
Once at Berlin-Tegel Airport, I was able to store my bags and take the X9 Express into the city and then the U-Bahn into Charlottenburg. I’ve heard so much about the excellence of the Berlin metro system, and it really is incredibly efficient and wonderfully cheap. 2.10€ for the express bus is unbelievable. From start to finish it’s about 30 minutes, if traffic isn’t too heavy. A day pass for the metro was 6.30€, which would have given me unlimited rides for my selected zones until 3am.
I didn’t have long to spend in Berlin my first day, as I would be catching a flight to Copenhagen later in the evening. Add to that my sluggishness post 11 hours of flying and I was obviously not going to be the most effective sightseer. Still, a friend recommended the Schloss Charlottenburg Palace, so I walked over and bought a day ticket and began exploring. The palace was the home of Queen Sophie-Charlotte, Queen consort of Prussia. Check out her digs.
And the dinnerware was pretty ridiculous. If the you-cook, I-clean rule reigns supreme here, I would hate to be stuck with the dishes.
The weather was a bit crappy, but I could still see how beautiful the city is. I initially had thought one week was too long to spend in Berlin, but I’m excited for it now. In no way did I feel like I was a tourist, despite doing touristic things like taking a castle tour and over-examining the metro map…and sometimes walking in circles. Whatever.
The flight to Copenhagen was very short and thank goodness, because I was a bundle of nerves. I was going to visit two friends and couldn’t wait to get there! I even got to share my bed with a very handsome man. A very handsome, four-legged man who insisted on being the little spoon and sniffing my face. I’ve seen weirder.
Okay yes, this man was a dog. Moving right along…
In the morning, after a bit of porridge, we were on the road and off to Göteborg for the Midsommer weekend. A car ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg, Sweden, was involved, which tiny Walter greatly enjoyed. Helsingør, incidentally, is home to Kronborg Castle, where Shakespeare’s Hamlet is set.
The weather hadn’t improved much, but after settling into our apartment near Göteborg, it was dry enough to go for a short walk down to the pier. It was decidedly nice enough for Harrison to go for a swim.
We made it back before the rain started to pour down and after showers and baths, dinner was prepped. A wonderful quinoa salad with leeks and other produce, some boiled potatoes with olive oil and gorgeous organic sausages.
It continued to rain on and off, which Walter loved to watch.
Soon enough it was time for everyone to head to bed, although this is what the sky looked like circa 11:30pm.
Saturday was Midsommer and, as a very helpful man in Göteborg told us, is the second most closed day in Sweden, just after New Year’s. He wasn’t kidding. The streets were completely empty and all the shops were closed. That, of course, just meant there was nobody to fight with at the candy shop and all our money could be spent there.
Later in the evening we drove up to Näset for a Midsommer dinner. While everything was cooking, we walked down to the beach. Well, most of us walked. Walter the Park Ranger swung.
The maypole was still up from the Midsommer Eve and the sky had finally cleared up a bit.
We’d be returning to Copenhagen on Sunday evening, but we decided to make a run for it and try to visit Marstrand, an island 40 minutes away by car and 5 minutes by ferry. There are no cars on the island, which made it much easier for Walter to dart about.
It’s a heavily touristic island, comprised of summer homes, a few inns and crowds of rich Swedish teenagers. There are loads of cafes and nautically themed shops close to the water. We stopped before heading back for some shrimp wraps and fish and chips.
The aioli was so delicious, even though the raw garlic nearly killed me later, but I found the roulade to be a bit too sweet for my liking. Everyone was a bit exhausted after that adventure, especially Harry.
Of course, I never fell asleep. Everyone knows I’m not one to sleep during car rides.
In between naps and the eventual cleaning and packing, Peter fixed us all some delicious spicy chicken sandwiches, blackened by cumin, paprika, onion and garlic powder and lots of other goodies. Tasty is the word that comes to mind…in addition to spicy, of course.
The chicken was on a bed of lettuce, tomato, mayo and thinly sliced apple. All topped with a salty but creamy Swedish cheese that was a staple of the weekend. Cheese – how do you live without the stuff?
The drive back to Denmark was plagued with rain and traffic and very restless passengers. Once on the return ferry, Winnie bought us each a massive flødeboller, a Danish treat made of whipped egg whites coated in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut shavings.
Sugar rush is an understatement.
The weather hadn’t improved much by Monday, but Honey and I set off for Copenhagen sans pup and baby. July sales are on, after all, and one simply cannot shimmy into a summer dress while chasing a speedy one-year-old who has an obsession with stairs. We walked through the park, past the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) and into the Kongens Have (the King’s Garden) where Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle) is situated.
Danish is clearly my forte.
We did a bit of shopping before lunch because really, who can shop on a full stomach? Nothing ever seems to fit right (for whatever reason that may be) and you’re always too sluggish to feel like bothering with another shop. I bought a great loosely knit jumper at Acne (which is technically Swedish but you remember what the nice man in Göteborg said) and a fantastic raincoat with some rose gold colored hardware. I’m in love with both pieces, not only because they were 40-50% off, but I also qualify for tax back at the airport. Viva America!
Honey and I ate at Café Victor, a Danish version of a French bistro. From my understanding of Danish prices, the meal wasn’t terribly expensive and it was very, very good. I had the Pariserbøf, described as a Danish “beef Paris”, roasted steak tartare with its garnishes. A picture usually helps.
Starting at 9 o’clock is a mix of pickled veg in a creamy mustard sauce, then pickled beets, capers, diced raw onion, a raw egg yolk and finally – the star of the show – the meat, topped with shavings of horseradish. As I seem to not be much of a make-out bandit these days (except where Walter is concerned but seriously, who wouldn’t want to cover him in kisses?), I ate all the stinky things on that plate, and happily.
I do wish the meat had been a bit rarer, but it was tasty nonetheless.
I will be in Copenhagen for one more night and then it’s back to Berlin on Wednesday evening. I’m already a bit sad to leave here, despite the not-so-gorgeous weather. But weather isn’t everything, and good friends can make the very best of any situation, be it gray skies or poop-filled nappies.