Pies and friendliness: our holiday in Copenhagen

Here’s a tip: if you’re booking a hotel online and request a family room for two adults and a child, double, triple, quadruple check that the booking agent does not include a note to the hotel that reads: “the child can sleep in the parents’ bed.” While it was a large double bed, the five nights we spent co-sleeping with E were a nightmare. Never believe any parent who says they happily co-sleep with their child. It’s a downright lie. (I realise it wasn’t her fault that she had a hacking cough, but the subsequent dribbling and tooth grinding were dreadful, and then there’s the fact the she doesn’t keep still. At one point her legs were literally climbing up S’s back.)

So tip: if the cheap Ibis airport hotel can provide me with a double and a single bed then so can lots of hotels.

Aside from that. we had a lovely time in Copenhagen. The Danes are a child friendly country, they smile at children, say hello to them in the street, generally acknowledge them and don’t tut if they open their mouths. They are a friendly country altogether, even airport security staff are nice. They leave their bikes unattended and unlocked outside shops and railway stations without fear of theft, and I did once see the mythical unattended pram outside a coffee shop.

E took to travel very well. Aside from a slight fit when she saw that our plane didn’t have as pointy a nose as she expected, she was fine, going through security and passport control with aplomb, dealing with flight and ear popping nonsense easily. Her new found reading skills were tested somewhat by the Danish words but she understood the difference in language and the concept of speaking differently so that was interesting to her.

The Radhus

The Radhus

Copenhagen is a relatively small city and you can get tourist travel tickets that cover the bus, boat bus, train and metro, though I would recommend hiring a bike if you’re not like me who gets thoroughly flummoxed by foreign roads where they drive the wrong way. (I lived for a year in America and it’s only by the grace of god that I didn’t get flattened by a Cadillac, looking the wrong way every time I stepped into the road.) Anyway, the Danes have a great road system for bikes and everyone seems very rule abiding when it comes to lights, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists.

Among the tourist sites we visited, we saw the Lego flagship shop (obvs), the Little Mermaid Statue and harbour area including Nyhavn, The National Museum of Denmark (GREAT for children), the notorious Copenhagen Zoo, Conditori La Glace cake shop, a day trip to Malmo (over the bridge), and Tivoli.

Tivoli is the amusement park in the city centre and I’m still a little unsure about it. You pay to get in, and there are rides, stalls of tat, stalls of food, decorations, music, theatres and restaurants inside. Everything inside must be paid for extra to the entry fee. Dealing in Danish, I was unsure of how much it actually cost (the exchange rate at the time was 8.29: the pound and I had no hope of translating it) but while I understand the need for paying for gifts, theatrical performances and dinner, the rides narked me. If you paid more to start with you got unlimited rides but as many of the rides were not suitable for E, we didn’t get that. So it was buy as you went for the carousel rides and so on. Having done the maths, I believe entry for me was £20, she got in free. Additional rides were £3 per person. But that’s £20 to walk around a park. A nicely decorated park with a lovely atmosphere, granted, and I did enjoy going there with her but… The other thing was that the rides were not very long. Not by British standards. We went on a carousel and went round three times. When I told her it was time to get off she said “already?” It wasn’t very long. The roller coaster lasted 30 seconds. So I did have a good time at Tivoli (S had gone back to the hotel to catch up on sleep) but if you go, beware: value for money is not its strong suit.

2016-10-20-14-08-17The rest of the attractions we liked very much. The Little Mermaid was rather lovely, despite all the guidebooks telling me it was a disappointment. E loved it, though her actual highlight that day was the lady who slipped on the rocks to get near the Little Mermaid and nearly fell in the water. (They moved the statue to stop people vandalising it.)

Copenhagen Zoo is notorious because a few years’ back they killed a giraffe and fed it to the lions. They said it was natural. They’re right. I believe zoos these days are the best way we have of preserving wildlife, given how many creatures you see in the news having been killed by poachers/ American dentists/members of the Trump family but I was uneasy about areas of this one. We did see a lot of the animals, so got good value for our entrance fee but of course the reason for this was that the enclosures were quite small. The polar bear (I’ve never seen a polar bear that close before) paced back and forth on a tiny patch of his enclosure (which wasn’t very big); I’m sure that’s not a good sign. The lions and tigers didn’t have far to roam either and were in good view all the time. The areas for elephants, giraffes and so on were much bigger and better but the big cats and bears seemed cramped. So more to do.

A final word about food. Pricey, yes. The pies are absolutely worth it. We stocked up on our hotel breakfast each day and snacked at lunch time, but if you are going to eat anything in Denmark, make it a fruit pie in a coffee shop somewhere. I had two during our five days and they were heaven. The cakes in the posh cake shop were good but a bit too much. The pies were lip smackingly great.

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