**LONG post! Scroll down to simply see photos :) ** By far out of all the countries we were traveling to I was most excited to visit Denmark. Ever since I can remember, I'd heard my beloved Granny Gretha reminiscing about her days in Copenhagen and her homeland with the most sincere love. She, along with her mom and grandmother (and aunt and father who had left six months prior) emigrated from Denmark in 1921 and headed for Ellis Island. Eventually the family ended up in L.A. and later, the pacific northwest. Adding to the tales of Denmark is my dear Aunt Judy, who I'm sure has traveled there even more than my Granny did! I simply could not wait to walk the streets my ancestors and family members had, see where we came from, eat pickled herring and pølser like a true Dane, and mingle with "my" people. Denmark had been my #1 place to travel since I was 12...which, yes literally, I am blessed to check off.
So, to my surprise, I am still a bit letdown that Denmark was one of the most stressful times of our trip. Don't misunderstand me though, this country is a treasure. Copenhagen in particular is a must see city, topping all we saw on our trip. But having come from 5 days of sheer relaxation with friends and making new family, to landing in a new city where none of us had ever traveled nor speak the language was ROUGH. In Helsinki we had Santtu and Amy, guiding us around their home-away-from-home. Here neither Jason, Sean, nor I had taveled here before and didn't have the slightest idea of the layout of Copenhagen. Nor did we correctly judge the sheer size of this place!
After an hour flight from Helsinki, we arrived at Kastrup airport at 8am. Blessed with a beautiful day of sunshine and clear skies, we set out on a train to the heart of Copenhagen where we'd be spending the next 3 days. Attempting to find our way anywhere during rush-hour was our biggest mistake, since bikes literally PACK the streets and if you aren't careful (or, like us, if you have your face planted in a map while walking) you will be clipped by these speeding maniacs. We spent most of our first day heading in the wrong direction, walking way too many miles than we needed to in order to get to our destination, complaining about the price of water (and therefore, lack of water in our system), and being testy with each other. Finally, after walking to the wrong hostel on the other side of the city with our packs and eventually finding the right one, we settled into our tiny 6x15 3-person room. I'm pretty sure that was my first and only break-down of our trip, sitting on my hideaway bed crying because of sore feet and dehydration, and vowing that I officially hated Denmark.
But things started looking up: we learned the metro system, planned out our days site-by-site with a map for efficiency, and learned that our hostel had five buck .75 liters of Carlsberg during happy hour. While it was still a trying time (reconciling our planned-out style of travel with Sean's fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style, seeing too many touristy sites, and managing it all within the ridiculous hours of 10am - 4pm), we learned a ton, and saw incredible places, scenery, and family history sites. We climbed a lot of stairs in some seriously old buildings (which ended in incredible views at precarious locations), had a few great conversations with some natives, and enjoyed way too many street hotdogs for almost every meal. One of the biggest blessings was, after being gone for 13 years now, spreading some of my Granny's ashes in her old hometown with my brother by my side and my loving husband capturing that precious moment on film.
After 3 days in Copenhagen we rented a car and headed out west to the rest of the country. Jason loved driving the diesel manual compact car, especially with a speed limit equivalent to 90-100 mph...not officially, but it seemed no one in Denmark obeys the speed limit. We made it to Roskilde (home of the Vikingship Museum and other viking history), all the way to Malmø Sweden (you can see in this post), Helsingør (where Hamlet's castle lies), Frederiksberg, Ribe (the oldest town in Denmark), Horsens, and finally to Aarhus which is the 2nd biggest city in Denmark and known as a college town. We finally found some grocery stores and were blessed by CHEAP water (only .75 DKK per liter!), and had much less to see per day. We enjoyed a lot of great conversation in that little car of ours, and really enjoyed the very rural countryside of this beautiful country. After seven days total in Denmark, Jason and I parted ways with Sean and continued our trip down into central Europe.
Denmark was an amazing, incredible blur. But I stood where Granny stood, mingled with "my" people, *somewhat* enjoyed pickled herring and LOVED Danish pølser. For all that, I am so grateful and blessed. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime.