I traveled to Copenhagen exactly one year ago and spent three days by myself wandering the streets, inhaling the most beautiful food, and savoring the feel of the city buzzing around me. Though the trip was many days ago, this vibrant Danish capital city is never too far from my mind. As I see pictures on instagram, as I eat Danish rye bread, as I read a favorite Danish cookbook, I feel an exciting reminder of the pulse of Copenhagen life. There I can dwell in my mind’s images: images of bicycles and canals and yellow houses, pottery studios and sidewalk cafes along narrow streets.
Observations made from a park bench in the Botanic Gardens of Copenhagen, (where I finished Lit by Mary Karr and left it behind for the next lucky reader):
“COPENHAGEN, you delight my senses: from the beauty of ancient buildings splattered with a rainbow of colors to the sounds of Danish and gentle clangs of bicycle bells to the smells of bread and coffee and kebab plates that all seem so appealing. Your spirit of life is charming and I adore your streets, your style, and your casual summer ways.”
“Residents of Copenhagen: No wonder you’re voted the happiest people on earth. You get to wake up each morning, put on your expensive clothing items of varying shades of black, hop on your bike (helmet-less!) that you likely didn’t even lock up overnight, and saunter off down the cobblestoned canal streets with the colored buildings of Nyhavn painting an idyllic backdrop behind you. I’m envious of your ease of life and your lovely chats with friends over coffee or beer at a beautiful sidewalk cafe. No one is rushed or squeezing in one drink for happy hour before rushing to the next thing. I’m envious of your appreciation for the pursuit of life that feels so foreign to the culture of busyness we have in the States.” (from the journal, September 1st, 2016)
The truth is, I’d love to live here for a season. But more than anything else, I want to bring this spirit of life back home with me. I want to find my buildings and my food beautiful, as beautiful as Copenhagen. I want to bring their slower living, their sense of presence and most of all their spirit of hygge (creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people – see full definition here) into my current life.
AND, the food is divine. I splurged on some of the best food I’ve ever eaten including a fixed menu meal at Höst, a must if you’re in Copenhagen, that included seven courses, four wine pours, and fabulous service. Alone in a dark, cozy corner with a book, I applauded my decision making as they brought out a snack of octopus ink rice chips with seaweed sprinkles and fish roe served on a bowl of rocks, breads baked with shrimp and fresh cheese, flounder with green noodles and hand poured sauce, a round of muffins served on cracked wheat with sweet grass butter and cabbage soup topped with an egg yolk, pork belly with dehydrated tomatoes, a pre-dessert of crackling yogurt, real dessert of corn ice cream with popped sweet corn and raspberries, coffee, and a meringue served on a rock.
“And now I sit, trying to pour this delicious coffee down my throat but my overly full stomach is groaning against the richness of my seven course meal. Three courses, it says online. In fact, it’s seven. I cannot imagine a better meal. I have not tasted anything collectively delightful as this meal at Höst. Thank you, Copenhagen.” (from the journal, September 1st, 2016)
Other must visit restaurants:
GRØD: For the best porridge inspired savory bowls. I had the chicken curry bowl, which was delicious.
Bang og Jensen: This old pharmacy turned restaurant is atmosphere at its best: cozy, casual, comfortable. Have the frukost plate. Also noteworthy is the antique store across the street. While trying to buy a blue enamel tray without any Danish or Swedish kroner and only a $50 bill, the owner told me to just take it and pay him again sometime when I’m back in town. What a gem. This endeared him and the store to me for eternity, and I will certainly be paying him back. Everyone should visit: Dannebrog Antik.
Atelier September: A design studio and cafe, this is mandatory for the complete visual instagram-inspired Copenhagen experience. I feasted on shakshuka and avocado toast because I couldn’t decide on one or the other. I’d advise you order multiple items and try them all. Divine.
View my list of Copenhagen favorites via spot here.