Our morning flight to Copenhagen, Denmark was pretty uneventful, always a good thing for a flight! I slept for a majority of the time, about 3 hours. We landed at 6AM (2 hour time difference than Iceland, 8 hours ahead of Denver) and were exhausted, but ready to see the city! I attempted to connect to the airport wireless in order to contact our AirBnb host to let him know we had landed and were on our way. For some reason I couldn't connect which made for a frustrating moment. After 10 minutes of trying, we decided to just head in the direction of the apartment, find a coffee ship with wifi, and go from there!
We somehow managed to leave the airport without going through customs or getting our passports stamped? I've never had that happen before.. but we just walked right onto the Metro! Before we left for our trip, BHW and I purchased the Copenhagen Card for 72 hours. It's a card that gets you free public transportation (bus, metro, train, etc) as well as many free attractions and even more that have a discount! We didn't use our cards for our first metro ride because the card doesn't start the 72 hour count down until you use it for the first time. Our flights leave thursday afternoon, so we wanted to use our card for the first time in the afternoon, so we could have the full 72 hours we were here while being able to use the card! Our metro ride was about 20 minutes to our stop in Fredriksberg. Once there, we found a cafe and I was able to call our host using the wifi. Thankfully we were only a couple blocks away from the apartment and he met us at the cafe, how lucky! Our host showed us around the beautiful and charming apartment before he left to go to work. After not having a bed for almost 2 days.. we were ready to just lay down for a second. As usual, that never lasts long with BHW... we decided to get up and explore for the day and call an early evening instead.
Wanting to explore, while also keeping things low key for our 'running on empty' minds and bodies.. a nice long leisurely walk down to the harbor was in store, oh, and COFFEE. I've been following a roaster in Denmark for a couple years now, Coffee Collective. They have amazingly high standards for their coffee, and have many prestigious awards to prove just that! The shop closest to the apartment is their newest shop and roast site. The decor is bare bones and I LOVE it. White walls, wood tables, no frills or fuss. We shared a cheese, marmalade, and toast snack along with a cappuccino, latte, and a pour over. BHW dubbed it the best meal of the trip so far and I am backing him up 100% on that. The coffee was phenomenal and the barista was so friendly. We told her that we'd be back tomorrow.. and most likely the next day too! Now that we were all jacked up on coffee, it was time to get walking!
Aside from being new to the country, we felt out of place in more ways than one. We were one of the very few people not on a bicycle. I knew that Copenhagen had a huge bike scene and everyone rode a bike everywhere.. but I didn't know that LITERALLY EVERYONE RIDES A BIKE. It was mind boggling to see all those bikes, I've never seen so many in my life! Because of the bike life, which equals WAY less cars on the road, the streets are packed, but it's quiet as can be!
We made our way towards Strøget, one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets (almost 2.5 miles). Not being 'into' shopping didn't stop us from enjoying the hustle and bustle among the old buildings and cobblestone streets! Strøget is in the center of town so it was easy to quickly walk through on the way to the harbor! Our Copenhagen card had a free canal tour connected to it so we decided to hop on after our long walk to get a little tour while on the water! I usually don't like to do those types of gimmicky tourist things.. but it was informative and a good way to experience the canal! We rode past the Copenhagen Opera house, Amalienborg (the home of the Queen and the Prince's home), and the Little Mermaid. An interesting fact about the Royal Family's homes is that when the Queen is away, the flag on her roof doesn't go up. So you can tell when she or the Prince is gone! We saw the Little Mermaid from the back side, AKA her butt, there were so many people crowding around her taking photos. I don't understand what the fuss is about.. but hey, I can say I saw it.
After the tour we were excited to have lunch at the Paper Island. The Paper Island is an old industrial building that used to house un-printed newspapers, hence the name. In 2013 it transformed into an open area for street food vendors to set up shop temporarily! We rode past Paper Island on the canal tour and it was packed! When we arrived after the tour is was still hoppin' with people relaxing by the canal and eating delicious food! There were so many kinds of food to choose from, almost every major ethnicity represented! We opted for fish and chips since we are so close to the water, and also a Brazilian meat plate. We split and shared our meals like we typically do! That way we get to experience more types of food! The Brazilian meats (chicken, sausage, and pork neck) were cooked on an open coal and were out of this world good!
On our walk home we stopped by Free Town Christiania. Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, covering 84 acres in the borough of Christianshavn in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune, but the area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989, which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state. It was temporarily abandoned by residents in April 2011, whilst discussions continued with the Danish government as to its future, but is now open again. Christiania has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. In the years following 2004, measures for normalizing the legal status of the community led to conflicts, police raids and negotiations. During our walk through, we were amazed at the cannabis market called 'The Green Mile'. Living in Colorado, seeing people sell marijuana isn't unusual, but these people were wearing masks and had guard dogs. They were very strict about no photos in the 'town'. I saw one girl whip out her phone (so dumb.. there are signs EVERYWHERE) and they immediately yelled at her 'NO PHOTO!!!'. It's basically a hippie village in the middle of a huge city!
Since it had been 2 days since we had see a bed, it was time for us to get to the apartment and crash. We stopped on the walk from the Metro and grabbed some groceries at the store so we could snack and have breakfast without needing to eat out for each meal ($$$). The sun also sets quite late here, like Iceland. It was about 10PM before it was actually dark. Tomorrow has been dubbed 'castle day' for us, another full day of walking! Today we covered 10 miles of walking between 10am-5pm! ZZzzzz!
BHW and I arrived in Iceland rearing to go! We had 18 hours in between touch down and take off and a lot of things we wanted to see and do!
I was welcomed to the country with a text from Jan, our AirBnB host in Denmark, letting me know that our apartment was ready! 'YAY!', I thought. And then it hit me that he was telling me our apartment was ready TODAY. We are not supposed to be in Denmark until tomorrow! Somehow.. in some odd turn of events.. I booked our AirBnb from the 8th-12th.. instead of the 9th-12th! I think the travel of 2 days really threw me off when I was booking the apartment and just wasn't paying attention. Well, there went $90! Grr. Thankfully, our host wasn't upset, but how could he be.. he was getting paid for nothing! I was pretty frustrated about it.. but BHW can usually help bring me back into perspective. He said, 'It's already done, and there's nothing we can do now, so let's not get bent outta shape about it.' Ok. Easy enough (I think.. still mad about that wasted money!). Now lets enjoy Iceland.
I had read that there was a place we could store our bags at the airport, that way we wouldn't have to lug them through Reykjavik all day! What I did NOT read was that the place to store the bags was a mile away. On top of that, the woman that pointed us in the correct direction did just that, she only pointed.. no name of the business, no color of the building, she just pointed and said 'by the rental cars'. All the rental car places had super long lines so we ended up asking a hotel nearby where to put our bags. They pointed to a building.. and this time gave the name (thanks annoyed lady at the hotel!). I had a feeling by her response that she gets asked this question often. We went to the building she directed us to and a kind man let us know that the luggage storage used to be there, and that we had to go to a different building. After walking in circles for what felt like an hour.. we finally dropped our packs off for the day.. so worth the $15! Unfortunately, that wasn't the way we wanted to start our extremely limited time in Iceland.. on top of being hangry (mom, this means hungry and angry) and exhausted. But, life is boring when it goes smoothly.. so we just rolled with the punches! We then bought our bus tickets and hopped on for the uneventful hour ride into the city center!
We drove through the lava fields near the coast until we reached the city. The landscape was so foreign! It seemed like we were on another planet! Reykjavik is a super quaint town .. I can't even really call it a city! All the houses are tiny, colorful, and of course adorable! As soon as we arrived into town, we headed straight for Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Church, the largest church in the country! I was blown away at the organ inside! There was a gentleman practicing for the late morning mass and it was just amazing! The organ was MASSIVE! We sat and listened for a while before moving on to more important things.. COFFEE. Our first coffee stop of the day was at Mokka Kaffi, one of Iceland's oldest cafes and the first to have an espresso machine! We entered and it was dark and filled with grainy wood tables and chairs. To some it may have seemed dank or old.. but I really enjoyed the feel of it. I ordered a Mokka and BHW got a cappuccino, we also split a ham and cheese sandwich. I'm not sure where the mix-up happened.. but apparently ordering a mocha gets you a hot chocolate? I was utterly confused since hot chocolate was also on the menu, but I didn't complain and enjoyed my mug full of sugar.
After coffee (hot chocolate, lame), we walked up and down a few streets and window shopped a bit before ending up at Reykjavik Roasters because I seriously needed some caffeine in my mouth. The roaster was small with a nice line waiting at the bar. I always love to see a line at coffee shops, it's a sign of what's to come. It also helped that they had like 32872 million awards all over the shelves and walls. Since I had already been tricked into drinking a hot chocolate, my belly was pretty full of milk. I opted for a cortado (espresso and milk 1:1 ratio). The espresso was light and fruity, exactly what I needed to conquer the walking and weather that ended up hitting us during the day!
Old Harbor was next on our list of places to explore! We stopped first at the gorgeous Harpa Concert Hall. It's strikingly modern in a town full of old (but equally as beautiful) buildings. After exploring Harpa, we went outside to hunt down the world's best hot dog according to many different sources! As soon as we left the concert hall, it started raining, but we were prepared and didn't let the unexpected rain get us down! Our hunting led us up and down the harbor, but not to the hotdog! We walked past many small fishing boats, and a couple whale watching tours. It was such a beautiful sight with the snow covered mountains in the background! Ducking into the tourism center, we warmed up and tried to dry off while using their free wifi to find out exactly where this magical hot dog was hidden! Thankfully we were only a block away! Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is just a food stand on the corner of a busy street. I have read that there is typically a line that's worth waiting in, but we lucked out and only had to wait behind a family of 3! The hot dogs were pretty cheap, and I will say they were mighty delicious! We got our dogs with 'the works', mustard, mayo, ketchup, and crunchy onions! Eating a hot dog makes anyone want a cold beer, so we walked down the street to Sæta Svínid, a local pub! We grabbed a beer and tried to dry off completely before making the long walk to Perlan!
The walk to Perlan (The Pearl) was our biggest distance covered of the day, but it was fun to wander through the outer skirts of the city! It was still raining, but it was just a light drizzle.. so we at least weren't soaking wet! The Perlan hosts many events and concerts, there is also a restaurant on the top floor, with an outdoor 360 degree viewing deck! We went to check out the viewing deck, and it didn't disappoint! By the time we reached the Perlan, the sun had forced its way through the clouds. It made for a gorgeous view of the town, bay, and mountains in the distance! Once we soaked in the view of the town from above.. we were ready for a little R&R after walking almost 12 miles during the day!
We caught a bus to The Blue Lagoon, where we had already purchased tickets for the evening session. The Blue Lagoon is a man made geothermal destination! Although the pools are man made.. the water itself is 100% natural. We arrived and were directed to shower off and put some conditioner in our hair before we hopped into the pools (this is due to the minerals drying out your hair). Once ready to go, we headed out to the milky water! The color of the water comes from the minerals that are in the pools, and also the silica and algae. It looks like a milky blue color to the eye, but the water is actually white! The sun is what makes it look blue-ish. There were many people in the pools, but once you swam past the main area.. there was really plenty of space to find a little peace and quiet. Buckets of Silica mud were throughout the pools and you could just dip your hands in and slather it all over your face! Letting it sit for 10 minutes in the sun and washing it off again was like a mini spa treatment! The Blue Lagoon also had a steam cave, sauna, and a waterfall. The waterfall was so fun to stand under, it felt like a massage on your back with the water falling over you. The pools closed at 9:30PM and were our last stop before going to the airport for our 1AM flight. We weren't planning on leaving until closing time in order to prevent hours of waiting at the airport! If I'm going to have to wait somewhere, I would rather it be in a scenic thermal pool than the cold airport!
When closing time rolled around, we called a taxi and went back to the airport. For a tiny airport, it was strange to see 4 other flights leaving at 1AM! It was oddly loud and busy for an airport in the middle of the night!
This is the first time in my life where getting to the airport requires a trip in itself! BHW and I took a morning shuttle from our house to the airport. The trip is 2 hours and includes driving up and over the Rocky Mountains! Aside from the length of the tip, we had some pretty wild weather! It first started with heavy rain and quickly turned into blinding hail. I was so glad to not be driving.. we had such a good driver (Thanks Debbie from CME!).. and it really took the stress off the trip!
We got to the airport in once piece and with plenty of time to spare. We grabbed a coffee and a beer before we headed to our own terminal. I exchanged some of our US dollars and called my momma before we boarded. All morning BHW and I had been a bit worried about the size of my pack being able to fit as a carry on. It's a slim bag but it's a little too tall. We were one of the first to board and luckily the two people in front of us got snagged for bags too big so I quickly and quietly slipped past and got my bag on with no problem. This likely won't be the case for the other flights, but we'll see!
Our flight took off at 6PM and we watched movies and dozed on and off throughout the flight. It was one of the bumpiest flights I've ever been on but everything went fine! We landed at 7AM the following day.. so head on over to the next post to read about our 18 hours in Iceland!
As many of you know, BHW and I LOVE to travel. We have learned how and what to pack from many trials.. and a few errors.
I wanted to compile a few tips and tricks that we've learned over the years! This trip is extra interesting for us since we are bringing some gifts/goodies for our friends, which means we can pack even less than we normally do. We love being challenged, especially when it involves seeing the world, so.. here are a few of our best pieces of advice!
With every trip abroad, BHW and I can never seem to visit just one place! Being in Europe makes me feel that much closer to the rest of the world.. how can you just stop at one country when the others are so close?! This trip, BHW and I will be experiencing three new countries; Iceland, Denmark, & Czechia (formally known as Czech Republic) and BHW will also be heading to one that always has a hold of his heart.. Germany.
The journey begins May 7th with a flight from Denver, Colorado to Denmark, Copenhagen. Seems simple enough, right? Well, we like to keep things interesting and slightly chaotic, so we added in a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland just for kicks. We land in Iceland at 6:00AM (May 8th) and have until 1AM (May 9th) the following morning to explore. I have a feeling it's going to feel a little like the Amazing Race, zooming from one place to the next!
By the time 1AM on May 9th rolls around, we will most likely be more than ready to sleep on our flight to Denmark. It's only a few hours, but with the time change we land at 6AM in Copenhagen. We will be in Copenhagen until May 12th (BHW's birthday!). On the 12th BHW and I will split up abroad for the first time. I will be heading to Prague to meet up with AH (the bride) and her son. I will be solo traveling for the 12th, and meeting up with AH on the 13th. I'm not really nervous about being alone in Prague.. but I certainly will be more cautious! BHW will be heading to Berlin to hang out with AC (the groom) and IC (our best friend who is also visiting for the wedding!)
BHW and IC will take a train to Prague the morning of the 17th. We will be staying there with another friend, MW, for a couple days before heading to the location of the wedding for the weekend! After the wedding, BHW and I fly from Prague to Copenhagen, spend the night in Copenhagen, fly from Copenhagen to Reykjavik (8 hour layover), and finally.. fly from Reykjavik to Denver.
If this seems exhausting and confusing, good, that's the way we like to travel.
JMW & BHW : Denver -> Reykjavik -> Copenhagen
JMW : Copenhagen -> Prague
BHW : Copenhagen -> Berlin
BHW : Berlin -> Prague
JMW & BHW : Prague -> Copenhagen -> Reykjavik -> Denver