March 21, 2011

SaturDAY in Copenhagen

I had originally found the bike tour on a list of top things to do in Copenhagen, but my coworker didn’t seem too thrilled about it, so I figured I’d just go off on my own. However, when I ended up being absolutely freezing while walking to lunch and dinner (and realizing that I really hadn’t packed any warmer clothes/gear), I thought maybe I’d skip the bike tour in favor of something indoors. As it turned out, my coworker and her friend ended up being totally psyched about doing the bike tour… and if they were doing it, I wasn’t about to back out! Instead, I roused myself with the others and off we went.

It was about a 20 minute walk to the meeting point, and we arrived to find a few others waiting as well – two guys who were visiting from New Zealand. After waiting a few minutes to see if there were any latecomers, our tour guide, Mike, started unchaining the bikes and handing them to us one by one. Each bike had a basket in the front, which I hadn’t expected, and I wished I had brought my full purse along instead of just cramming my camera and wallet into my pockets, but at least I could put those in the basket to make riding more comfortable. However, I found that I was a terrible biker! This surprised me, since I’ve always been very comfortable on a bike. Here, for some reason, the handlbars seemed to wobble a bit when I tried to go slow and in a straight line. At first, I thought that maybe I just had a bad bike, but after swapping to a different one (sadly, not pink like my carefully-chosen original), it became clear that it was user error instead of mechanical difficulties. After a few turns around the block, I mostly got back into it though. The trickiest part for me was remembering that these bikes were rigged so that backpedaling would act as a brake, and in fact, needed to be used as brakes, since the handlebar brakes didn’t work very well. Not at all what I was used to!

We set off across a park that was just two blocks from my old school, and I wondered why I had never come here as a student. This set the tone for the bike tour as a whole – we explored so many different cool places and got fantastic history lessons along the way… and I was left to wonder why on earth I hadn’t been to all these places when I was living in Copenhagen.

Instead of looking at my past experience as a squandered opportunity, however, I turned it around to look at this trip as a reminder of how much I have grown since college. Being in Copenhagen reminded me of all the lonely feelings I had and how I missed home like crazy when I was studying abroad; now, I go on solo international trips without flinching, and my friends seem to look at me as a worldly and fearless traveler. I found it really empowering to see how far I had come, and it put me in a great mood.

But all this was what I was thinking after the bike tour; during the tour, I was mostly just thinking how cold I was! Our new friend Josh, who was staying at our same hotel, had been up and about before we got up, and told us that it was so gorgeous out that he wasn’t even going to wear a jacket. I took his word for it, and while I didn’t skip my jacket, I wore a lot fewer layers than I had initially been planning, since I didn’t want to be hot. Far from it, though – I was freezing! While I of course was an avid listener for the whole tour, I must confess to wanting our guide to just hurry it along so we could get to the coffee shop where he had promised we could stop in to warm up midway through 🙂

Given my “no coffee for Lent” rule, I instead ordered a large hot chocolate (for $9!! The exchange rate is crazy), which I downed way too quickly. I usually don’t drink any caloric beverages aside from alcohol and coffee, so it was very different for me to drink such a dessert-y drink as hot chocolate, particularly one piled high with whipped cream as this was. Yum!

I contemplated ordering another one, since I knew I’d start getting cold again as soon as we headed back out for more of the tour, but decided not to both because of the price and because I didn’t want to look like a glutton 🙂 However, the coffee break had definitely not come at the midpoint in the trip, and the last bit went by much faster than the rest, which meant I didn’t get nearly as cold.

The tour wrapped up around 2pm, leaving me to decide what to do next. My coworker and her friend wanted to go to a few museums, and Josh was just heading back to the hotel to nap and check email – neither of which appealed to me. Instead, I decided that I’d enjoy the now-sunny day and head over to my old stomping grounds around my school. I had skipped lunch (but had a big breakfast and that decadent cocoa), and I wanted to make up for that by finding the amazing pastry shop I used to visit every day before class.

Honestly, I don’t know how I didn’t gain a ton of weight when I was living in Denmark back in college – I used to eat a buttery chocolate croissant every morning for breakfast on weekdays! Now that I was back, I was determined to find the shop that sold this amazing treat. It actually turned out to be pretty simple – I headed toward a square called Frue Plads, where I thought I remembered the shop being, and when I saw the sign with the twisted golden crown, I immediately recognized it. The interior had been completely remodeled, but the window was still piled high with luscious treats, including that delectable chocolate croissant.

I purchased one and sat at the bar in the shop to people watch and enjoy it.

While eating it, I even thought I saw one of my old teaching assistants from the study program walk by! I couldn’t for the life of me think of her name, but I was sure I knew her, and the whole experience was very deja vu.

After leaving the pastry shop, I headed generally in the direction of home. Unlike when I had studied in Denmark and felt trapped by my loneliness, I now felt so confident and sophisticated to be wandering around in this foreign city that surprisingly wasn’t so foreign – many of the streets and shops were looking familiar to me, and I remembered little tidbits of stories as I passed the various places they had taken place. Copenhagen had opened a lot of new places since I lived there 6 years ago, but there were a lot of old familiar places as well.

I ended up spending the afternoon at the hotel after all, working out and then lazing around to read. Part of me wanted to nap, but I was afraid that I would totally screw up my sleep schedule in doing so. Instead, I tried to take it easy – I had a late dinner reservation at one of the hottest restaurants in town, so I knew it was going to be a long night ahead.

(To be continued…)


1 thought on “SaturDAY in Copenhagen”

  1. I think I had the best pastry of my life when I visited my sister when she was studying in Copenhagen. It had marzipan and jam in it and was sooo buttery… it pretty much took me all day to eat it :-).

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