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Christmas Vacation 2009-10, part 3 – Copenhagen, Malmo and Amsterdam

Posted by on July 21, 2010

Copenhagen airport is pretty well hooked up to the city, with a train that takes only 12 minutes to get there. When we were collecting our luggage, we saw an ad for the Copenhagen card, which sounded like it could be pretty good value, so I told Jeremy to go ahead and get a 24 hour card, thinking we could start using it any time, and he got it to start immediately. My lack of communication of desiring to meet a friend in Sweden the following day meant that it wasn’t to be, since we now had to make use of the Copenhagen card. This card allows you to use as much public transport as you like, and gives the visitor free entry into a range of museums and other sights around the Copenhagen area. We bought the card at around 8:30pm, so all we used it for on the first was our train into Copenhagen, as we then walked to our hotel since we didn’t know there was a bus. When we arrived and saw the reception was already closed (it was before 10pm, and I thought it wasn’t supposed to close until then), and a note on the door for us to call a number to get our key, panic started to set in. Especially when we didn’t have a phone we could use. Luckily some other nice guests let us into the hotel, and then other guests helped us with the passcode to get our key, so we were able to have a bed to sleep in!

Though the weather was clear when we arrived in Copenhagen, it snowed overnight, and it was the first snow we’d seen since Manchester, so I was certainly unprepared for it again. Still, we ventured out and took a couple of buses to start with, to see a bit of the city that way, before getting off in the Norreport area and visit the Rosenborg Slot (castle), which is now a museum that houses royal antiquities and part of the treasury (including crowns). It’s amazing how much they’ve squeezed in covering every inch of walls and ceilings!

We took a break for lunch, which was Turkish pita sandwiches, as there seems to be a lot of this style of food around Copenhagen, and it’s fairly cheap compared to other options. Then we took the S Bahn out to Hillerod, which was about an hour away, in order to get to Fredericksberg Slot, the castle that was used by Danish kings after Rosenborg. Unfortunately when we arrived, it was already half an hour until closing, and Jeremy had lost his Copenhagen card somewhere, but since I still had the ticket from the last place, was able to convince them of the truth so we could both get in and see the castle. It was a rushed trip for a castle probably at least twice as big as Rosenborg, but everything was more spaced out so we did, surprisingly, manage to see the majority of the rooms inside. The Great Hall was especially impressive, with its paintings and carved ceiling, and probably worth the trip on its own.

We had planned to go to the Hans Christian Anderson museum on the way back to our hotel after that, but by this time, I was feeling too unwell to do anything else – probably a case of doing too much (and outside in the cold) over the course of the previous week. So I sentenced myself to bed rest for the rest of the night and then stayed in the hotel for the majority of the following day, leaving only to find lunch (when I’d hoped to meet Jeremy, but must have just missed him). Jeremy, on the other hand, walked around the whole city seeing sights and taking photos in -5°C temperature, so I’m not sure who got the better end of the deal (I stayed with Doyle, which was Doyle’s choice).

I was feeling much better on the 3rd, which was Monday (I know, I’ve been having a hard time keeping track of the days of the week). Jeremy planned on taking us to the National Museum in Copenhagen but when we got there, we found out it was closed on Mondays, so we decided to change our plans completely and hop a train to Malmo in Sweden, seeing as it is only about half an hour away by train, and we get to see another country that way. Not that this was totally spur of the moment, as we would have gone on Tuesday otherwise. We didn’t even have to go back to our hotel to collect our passports because there’s no border checks on the other end – that’s definitely one plus to the European Union. Speaking of the EU, if you were like me and assumed that the UK is the only country not to adopt the Euro as the official currency, you would be wrong. Both Denmark and Sweden also have their own currencies, which made things rather interesting for us, when we had no clue what the exchange rate with Sweden was when we got there, and decided it was perhaps better for us not to know.

Most of Malmo’s attractions are fairly close together, and close to the train station, which was really convenient. We decided to head over and see what their Slot/castle had to offer, which had also been turned into a museum. And compared to its Danish competition, it didn’t live up to expectation, though the museum itself was nice. We had lunch here, and showed our silly need to have traditional national foods by ordering Swedish meatballs with potatoes and gravy, much like what you would find at any Ikea around the world (speaking of Ikea, we didn’t go, but we did go past one on the train on the way into Malmo!)

Our museum ticket entitled us to entry to another museum down the road, so when we’d finished with the first one, we headed on down there until it closed.

Before we left Copenhagen, I’d also sent a text message to my friend Lova to see if she might be able to meet us for dinner. When we left the second museum, we found that she was, so we headed back to the town centre to meet her. It wasn’t quite time for dinner yet, given it was only about 4:30pm, so Lova took us to the local “nerd” shop, which she was pretty proud of. I like it when my geeky Internet friends take me to such places when I meet up with them, even if I have been to shops like that all over the world. I possibly shouldn’t have bragged about how many geek shops we have in Kuala Lumpur, however… Oh well! I actually didn’t spend that much time looking around the shop, instead favouring general chit-chat with Lova.

For dinner, Lova took us to a Danish restaurant chain called Jensen’s Bofhus that she recommended. I was glad that we had the opportunity to still meet up, despite missing out on Saturday, because I had a wonderful time with Lova and she was lots of fun. The food was definitely worth it too.

Lova joined us on the walk back to the train station since she could catch her bus from there, and then we said our goodbyes, and got on the train back to Copenhagen, arriving back at the hotel pretty much around bed time.

On our last full day in Copenhagen, we spent pretty much the entire day at the National Museum, except when we left to have lunch at a nearby restaurant, Riz Raz. I would’ve enjoyed it more if the majority of the “hot” buffet wasn’t already on the cold side, because the food was pretty nice otherwise. The national museum is incredibly large, and we didn’t even have enough time to see everything. Like the castles we saw on Saturday, this museum used to also house royal figures in Danish history. I thought it was a good look into Danish history, and it was interesting also reading about how some of the collections came into the museum’s possession, especially the artifacts from Ancient Rome and Greece.

We didn’t do much in the morning before leaving Copenhagen to travel to Amsterdam. Since we had some friends who live in Amsterdam, Jeremy took charge with the directions they gave him to their vacated apartment (they were in Australia themselves), which is where we were to stay for the duration of our trip. Unfortunately we ended up waiting several hours for the bus we should’ve taken, but it never came, presumably because of the snow. So we caught another bus to who-knows-where and got off near a shopping area to have dinner, and was fortunately on a tram route. Since Jeremy also had tram directions to the apartment, he managed to get us to our destination without drama after that.

After travelling for a few weeks already, and having found out I was pregnant when we were in Geneva, travel and morning sickness had really started to take a toll on me. And the snowy weather in Amsterdam wasn’t very friendly to my desire to leaving the apartment, which meant that I didn’t really do much over the few days we were there. I had hoped to trek down to The Hague via train but for a 45-60 minute trip, it was considerably more expensive than I’d expect to pay, and the day we planned to go was the snowiest yet. So, in the end, all I really got to admire was a lot of external architecture because even the museums in Amsterdam I might’ve been interested in viewing were more expensive than we were interested in paying. I think if I ever head back to the Netherlands, I’ll be better off staying in The Hague; at least I know there is art I’d really like to see there.

When we arrived back in London, the plan was to stay just one last night. Yet we were met with even more unfortunate circumstances on our day of planned departure when my handbag was stolen from the library in the suburb we stayed the night in. The afternoon was spent talking to police officers and the Australian High Commission in London, and our flights had to be changed because all of our passports had been in the handbag and there was no way we would be able to leave the country without them. So we stayed in London a few days longer than we originally planned, stressed out from these events and having to sort them out, though luckily for Jeremy’s sake, Consumers International has an office in London, which meant he was able to work from there rather than have to take more time off work. And while he worked, I took advantage of some free museums, taking Doyle to both the British museum (which was only a few blocks from our hotel) and the Natural History Museum. When you’ve just had to pay a huge chunk of cash to change your flights and buy new passports and you’re unsure if insurance will pay you back for it, it really is the time to take advantage of the free things you can.

We had more issues to deal with Malaysian immigration once we got back due to our visas being in the stolen passports but, despite the unfortunate ending to the trip, there were definitely countless worthwhile moments.

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Dominica has a strong interest in exploring diversity in media, seeing people subverting corporate control of creativity through crowdfunding and indie publishing, and spending as much time as she can travelling the world and discovering culture. This is what she most regularly blogs about. In her spare time, Dominica is primarily focused on long-form improv theatre, and writing and publishing speculative fiction. You can find links to some of her free and published stories and screenplays on her writing page, or check out her pirate time-travel novel Adrift. Though born and raised in Australia to American parents, Dominica lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2008-2014, until she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She also has a background in web programming, filmmaking, and stand-up comedy. For more information, check out her about page, or any of the specific pages about her various creative pursuits in the links at the top of the page.

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