"It's just like riding a bike" or so the saying goes when trying something you haven't done in a while. So when I arrived in Copenhagen around noon on Thursday, I figured that riding a bike, something I hadn't done in over a year, would be well, just like riding a bike. I hadn't slept since I woke up for work Wednesday morning, since I needed to leave in the middle of the night for my 7 AM Thursday morning flight. so when I arrived I had already not slept in over 24 hours. I was also wearing a sweater dress, which admittedly isn't the best attire for biking. All of these things were easily corrected for the second day of biking, but one problem remained: the bike was about three inches too big for me. Oh, three inches is about seven and a half centimeters (yes, I looked that up on Google just now- A few weeks ago, I spent all day telling skaters in inches how much lower their sit spins needed to be and then on the last session realized that inches were meaningless to them. Not only do I need to learn Icelandic, I need to grasp the metric system!)
Anyway, once I actually got going on the bike, it was fine and I greatly enjoyed peddling over the cobblestone roads and past coloured houses. Each time I needed to stop though, my bike would tip to the side because I couldn't reach the ground. Sometimes the bike would topple over and I'd have to jump off to avoid falling. Eventually, I learned to stop right next to a curb to assist my balance.
I arrived on Maundy Thursday, which meant most of the shops in Copenhagen were closed so we decided to take a twenty minute train to Malmö, Sweden. I had been to Sweden before, but this was my first time outside of Stockholm.
Malmö was full of cute, little shops and felt more like a quaint town than Sweden's third largest city. The twenty minute train ride was scenic and mostly a long bridge over the water. There have, apparently, been problems with balloons in the past.
When I first arrived in Copenhagen, I was approached by a British couple on a crowded train platform asking if I lived there and for directions. I replied that I was from a land far, far away from Denmark but that they were not at the metro like they had intended, but were at a train platform.
Conveniently, "thank you" in Danish, Swedish, and Icelandic is all "takk" (though spelled slightly differently in each language). I was surprised at how much I could read and translate (though not pronounce!) in Danish due to the similarity with Icelandic.
One night, my friend and I decided to get some fruit and cheese for our flat (both wannabe vegans- my attempt at going dairy-free is best illustrated with the following anecdote: I was at the mall with a friend and was planning on getting a coffee before work. I saw a place, but said, "Oh, they don't have dairy-free milk. Oh, look there's that ice cream place we always go to. Let's just go there instead." My friend said, "You went from needing dairy-free milk to full-on ice cream." #confessionsofafailedvegan).
My minimal Icelandic translating to even-more minimal Danish did not extent to dairy products, so we were trying to find goat cheese when what to our wandering eyes should appear, but a stranger with an accent (neither American, British, or Danish. I guessed Kiwi, but my friend thought Hungarian, so one, or both, of us was way off!) offering help. As I suspected, the cheese with the goat on it was indeed goat cheese. Considering that the last time it was suggested that I try foreign dairy products resulted in the Baby Brown Swiss Dairy Cow Incident, at this point, I became paranoid that the Baby Brown Swiss Dairy Cows had conspired with the Danish Dairy Goats. Fortunately, this was not the case.
Copenhagen was the perfect size city. There was plenty to do and see, but it was definitely not nearly as crowded and fast-paced as London. I especially liked both markets and their all-porridge restaurant called Grød.
One afternoon, we took a twenty minute train in the opposite direction of Sweden to visit Roskilde, the old Danish capital. We toured the cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visited the market, which has been there since Medieval times!
On Easter morning, we biked to the Elephant Gate for a quick look at one of Copenhagen's most iconic landmarks.
We got to the airport to board our flight to London, however our gate was not announced until right before boarding. When we got to the gate, it was completely shut off. Then, we moved gates. Then, no one from Norwegian ever showed up to get us on the plane. My friend went to the Norwegian desk, where she was told that the flight was cancelled. We were told to go through border control again and go to the Norwegian desk and get re-booked for a later flight. We went and no one was there. So after waiting a while, we went back through border control (this is why I have three stamps in my passport entering and leaving Copenhagen on the same day!) and went to the gate for the other flight and were finally given a new boarding pass. Once we got on the flight, we were delayed another two hours on the runway. The ground crew certainly wasn't very informative, however we sat next to an off-duty pilot for Norwegian who was very helpful explaining air traffic information and the flight crew was wonderful. So, despite the hassle, yes, I would fly Norwegian again.
My next stop was London, which will have its own blog post soon!
Sweden was high on my list of European destinations to visit during my year abroad for several reasons. I always thought Scandinavian countries looked beautiful, I was interested in culture, and it is the home of my University of Colorado at Colorado Springs iBuddy, Amanda! I am fortunate to only have classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so after class on Wednesday, I hopped on a plane to Stockholm! Surprisingly, the flight was reasonably priced and only two hours.
When I arrived, I realized that I didn't know anything in Swedish nor how exactly (or at all really) the currency worked. Luckily, most everyone that I encountered spoke English as well, even if they did initially begin speaking in Swedish. On my first cold and rainy morning in Sweden, I was standing in line at a coffee shop when a friendly, elderly woman started talking to me in Swedish. I replied in English that I was sorry, but I didn't know her language. Unfazed, she kept on talking and laughing in Swedish! I would have liked to pick up a few words in the language, but it is so different from English!
My first tourist activity was a hop-on, hop-off bus tour while listening to an audio guide. This gave me a great opportunity to see the city and decide where I wanted to check out further! I ended up stopping in Old Town and wondering around for most of the day. It was quite nice! For dinner, we went to a Thai restaurant that was decorated like a bungalow. At our request, it even "stormed" like at the Rainforest Café!
The next morning, I went to the Vasa Museum to check out the Viking ship that sunk in the Stockholm harbor. It was massive! I didn't know much about the Vikings beyond what I learned in elementary school history classes, so it was really neat! They also displayed lots of artifacts that were discovered within it.
We went to Herman's all vegetarian buffet for lunch, which had a gorgeous view of the harbor! I love how most Swedish restaurants include tea or coffee with lunch.
I found that hat and mittens I'm wearing in Old Town. I heard that the mittens were made in northern Sweden out of wool and are fantastically warm. The hat says "Sweden" on it.
Later that day, we went to Kaknastornet, which is a tower overlooking the city and harbor. Even though we both hate elevators, we braved it for the views! And it was worth it! We arrived right as the sun set and it was a gorgeous view in all directions! It looked way better than the photos portray!
The next morning, we went to Skansen museum and zoo. The museum included historical re-enactors, complete with a book binding store, a bakery, a glassblowing demonstration, and a pottery shop. The zoo had a variety of Nordic animals. I especially enjoyed seeing this owl!
There was also an adorable little chipmunk hanging out by the caramelized nut stand.
Amanda and her family generously hosted me and really made me feel like part of their family! On my last night there, we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and then to a go cart park, where I rode a mechanical bull for the first time! It's amusing that my first time on a mechanical bull wasn't in Butler, but rather in Stockholm! The padding was an American flag inflatable, which I also found amusing!
The next morning, I flew back to London and my neglected reading! A few last random comments:
1) I really like how most shops and restaurants burn candles in front of their buildings. It makes it look so cozy and comforting.
2) Did you know Swedes eat more bananas than anywhere else in the world? Below is the place where they store all of the imports!
3) It was a lot colder in Sweden than London and it gets dark so early! I think the sun started to set around 5 PM.
Thanks for reading and many thanks to the Moser family to the incredible stay!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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