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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Denmark - One of the Happiest Countries in the World

In the 2016 World Happiness Report, Denmark held the top spot. Of course, there are plenty of reasons why Denmark would perform so well year after year. It has the highest percentage of arable land of any country in the world, more than half of its land by area, and is known for its enviable work-life balance. Its capital, Copenhagen, is a world-class haven of art and design and was recently named the fifth most livable city in the world. It's a haven of comfort, too, thanks to its obsession with “hygge,” the way of living that’s pronounced “hoo-gah” and translates roughly to “cozy.” For a relatively small country, there’s a lot going on in Denmark. -- Direct quote from an article on Forbes from 2018 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/bishopjordan/2018/10/09/happiest-countries-in-the-world/#280705e417ab)

When telling people about my trip, I heard the same question: "What made you pick Denmark?" The better question is why would you NOT you pick Denmark?

If I'm being completely honest, Denmark was never really at the top of my list of places to visit. There is so much to see and do in Europe and I feel like Denmark falls to the side for a lot of travelers. I have Daniel (and Scott's Cheap Flights) to thank for enlightening me on Denmark's beauty and culture.

If Copenhagen isn't on your "to visit" list, go ahead and add it. Then do yourself a favor and move it up higher on your list.


After our debacle of trying to get to Copenhagen as originally planned, we were very thankful to land (you can read about my bad luck with traveling here.) Lucky for us, our Airbnb host was more than happy to meet up with us so we could drop off our bags to explore the city before check-in. Our host, Lars, was incredible. He went out of his way to make us feel comfortable and be able to enjoy our time to the fullest in Copenhagen. To book Lars' place, follow this link. You will not regret it.

Side note: I am a big fan of Airbnb so I definitely recommend checking out this website when traveling. There are risks to consider with this website. I have not always had the most amazing experience. Unfortunately in New Zealand, the place I booked looking NOTHING like the pictures (not being pretentious, this place resembled an unclean, unkempt jail... it was terrible). My best advice, read, read, read the reviews! You may not be familiar with the area but people will be very honest. Be weary of people saying "you get what you pay for" aka, some places may be desirable because they are very cheap but they may not be your best selection. 

Back to our travels. After dropping off our luggage with Lars, we ventured out into downtown Copenhagen. After sightseeing a little bit, we ended up grabbing a bite to eat at Cafe Norden. A beautiful little cafe with delicious food. When traveling to Copenhagen, this is a must visit. The breakfast platter was so worth it and plenty of food (see the below picture). Plus, my chai latte was served in an actual bowl. That is about how much coffee I needed to survive the day. 



After Cafe Nordan, we continued to walk around the city. Best thing about Europe is how easy it is to entertain your time there. The architecture was beautiful and we found ourselves just browsing past buildings to take pictures. A lot of the pictures below were from us just walking around. With our early arrival, I was able to sneak some pictures of the sun rising. 






We took a self-guided tour inside of the Rosenborg Castle which was lovely. You have the option to have a guide or walk around yourself. As we were starting to get hit by our jet lag at this time, we opted for the self-guide. Not sure I could have tolerated someone wanting to talk to us for a few hours. Neither pictures nor my words will do the castle justice. It was a truly beautiful sight. Something that any first visitor to Copenhagen should visit. 





Fast forward a few hours later (post our jet lag nag), we grabbed wine and dinner at a local restaurant called The Globe. The place was small but our food was delicious. 


Luckily for us, we had two friends from Charlotte also visiting Copenhagen. We planned to walk to a popular European brewery called Mikkeller & Friends. Along our trek to M&F, we stopped at a few bars to grab a drink and snacks. I desperately wish I had jot down the names of the places we stopped because a few of them were some of my favorite spots. I had an espresso martini that made me forget what timezone I was in. 

M&F is absolutely worth a visit. The atmosphere is fantastic and they have a beer for everyone. 


Another place I would recommend is the Ruby Cocktail Chronicles. This has some of the best cocktails. We had a lot of fun just hanging out in the relaxed and dark atmosphere. A great place for a night cap. 


Bastard Cafe was another fun bar we visited but very busy for a Tuesday night, which was surprising. It is known for having hundreds of board games and especially popular for a rainy day/night. 

We visited La Fontaine, a jazz bar in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, since we were there on a Tuesday night, there wasn't any live jazz music. Still a pretty cool place to visit, especially if you're there on the weekend. 

All-in-all, we visited a lot of bars this night. Copenhagen is a great location for bar hopping. Never felt unsafe and we had a great time at every bar we stopped into. 

An important thing to note is business hours for a lot of places. The reasoning behind their high rating for being one of the best places to live, work/life balance is very important. A lot of stores, shops, and restaurants close at 5:00PM during the week. I'm not sure if the weekend is any different but be sure you check the hours of locations before planning your visit!



Our next day in Copenhagen was ironically Valentine's Day. I'm not a huge fan of the holiday so spending it abroad was something I really enjoyed. We did not have to make crazy plans and deal with crowds. 

The repercussions of our late night adventures certainly caught up to us *cough cough*. We slept in a little longer than anticipated but once we were up, we did not waste a moment. 



On our dreary Valentine's Day, we visited the Christiansborg Palace. This place is beautiful to visit but the best part is the city view from the top. You can take the elevator up and see 360 views of Copenhagen. 





From there, we decided to walk to our dinner reservation at Relae. This was probably one of my favorite parts of our trip. Starting off in downtown Copenhagen, we HAD to stop for a legendary Copenhagen street dog. 


Though the walk was much longer than anticipated, it was so worth it. We saw so much of a Copenhagen and even stumbled upon Assistens KirkegĂ„rd, Copenhagen's largest cemetery (if you know me, you know I love creepy stuff). It was beautiful. 



We first stopped at The Coffee Collective that is right down the street from Relae. I enjoyed a latte and Daniel had their drip coffee (which he described as delicious). The Coffee Collective is pretty well-known and has many locations. I definitely recommend spending some down time here. The vibe is relaxed and was a nice pit stop before dinner. 



Now for the best part, our dinner reservation. I can say with complete confidence that this was the best meal I have ever had. 


Service was fantastic and the food was divine. We decided to Chef's Special with the wine pairing so we had every single thing on the menu below. Small plates but still, a lot of food. 


Lots of fresh Pike fish and THREE DIFFERENT DESSERTS. Yep, you read that right. We ultimately got three different desserts (one not pictured on this menu). I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to explore some fine Danish dining. The Head Chef came from Noma (shout-out to Anthony Bourdain) and it exceeded our expectations. 










Dinner was wonderful and a true experience. I wouldn't have wanted to share that with anyone else but Daniel. After essentially a 13-course meal, celebratory champagne, and a whole bunch of wines, we settled for a night cap at a local bar before getting some rest. 

Because the next day, we were flying to a place that has always lived on my bucket list, Iceland! 

Our travels to Iceland, back to Copenhagen, and Toronto to be continued! 

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