I didn’t think that I would be able to travel to the Scandinavian countries so early in my European tour, but I’m so happy that I was able to do it while completing a big milestone in my life. Denmark was a remarkable place that’s full of rich history and a lively culture. The first couple of days were spent in preparation and execution of our wedding ceremony. Michael and I had spent most of our first day running around making sure that we had everything lined up for the big day, from our cake to our marriage documents. The second day was our BIG DAY! We spent the first half getting married, and then the rest of the afternoon in the City Hall, the Botanical Gardens, and at a restaurant for dinner. We did make it out to have just one drink after our wedding, and then racked out from our big day. We spent the third day driving to Sweden, which was only a 45 minute drive away, but I’ll write about that in a separate blog. The second half of that day, we spent going around Copenhagen eating at Paper Island, it's famous for it’s street food. On our last day, we went all over Copenhagen to see as much as we could. Hopefully this blog helps you plan your trip to the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark
Where we stayed: First Hotel Kong Frederik - Vester Voldgade 25, 1552 København V, Denmark - I was able to book a bundle through Expedia which included this hotel. The location of the hotel was perfect for our wedding because it was only a 5 minute walk to the City Hall. It was also centrally located to the downtown shopping area, and many of the sites that were worth seeing. You could tell that the hotel was dated, but it was very well kept. Our room was fairly well-sized, and we had a view of the Queen’s Garden, which was the courtyard shown in most of the photos on Google. Since the days were very sunny, the courtyard was lit with natural light, allowing it to light our room.
You could tell that the hotel was a little dated, but it wasn't less than what I expected. Taking showers was a really loud ordeal, because you could hear the water going into the pipes or something like that. The tub didn't have a curtain, it had a small glass window that only covered the first fourth of the tub. Water was still spilling over onto the floor, but there was a drain so it wasn't a big deal. The bed was comfortable and the linens were clean. The amenities were shops that were NEAR the hotel, not in the hotel itself. I was able to get my dry cleaning expedited by the people next door. I just dropped it off at the front desk and they were able to get it back to me the same night.
The hotel had a restaurant called “The Italian” attached to it, and breakfast with an additional fee, unless you upgraded your booking online for it to be included. The staff were very pleasant people who helped us as we scurried around the hotel in preparation of our wedding day. They allowed us to keep our flower arrangements and cake in their cooler. They gave great recommendations of what sites to see and where to eat. They even posted a short story about us on their Facebook page!
How we got around: We flew into Denmark on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines). If I were to choose to go back to Denmark, I would try to look for another airline carrier. Not that Scandinavian Airlines was bad, but it ended up becoming very expensive. We had to pay to book our seats because they weren’t included in the initial payment to reserve a SPOT on the aircraft, and we had to pay 70 euro for our check in baggage of 23 kilograms. And like most airlines now, you have to pay for food/snacks that you want on the plane. The only two beverages that were complimentary were coffee and tea; not even water.
We walked most of the time we were in Copenhagen, except for the last day when we took the car to drive to the Little Mermaid and to the harbor. I think that the only con about staying in our hotel was that parking wasn’t included in the price. We were required to park in a garage about two blocks away. The distance of the garage wasn’t bad. We had hoped that there would be closer street parking, but we were out of luck. And the biggest downfall of parking was the price. It was about 280 DKK to park for 24 hours, and if you left your car in the garage for the hourly rate, it would be 40 DKK. If you do the conversion, it’s about $40 per day or $6 per hour. Which may seem like it’s not “too bad”, until you realize your rental cost $80 for 4 days, and your parking cost $160. Long story short – Don’t rent a car if you don’t need one. Also, if you do decide to rent a car, make sure that you stay there long enough to see how much they are going to charge you, and get a final quote face to face. Don’t allow them to say “we’ll send you the invoice at a later time” because then they’ll be able to bill you whatever they find and you’ll be countries away before you can do anything about it.
Where we ate:
Where we visited: I would go into great detail about the places we'd visited, but I'm not, because this blog is already so, so long! So here's a list of where we went instead!
Click here to view our Flickr album of Copenhagen!
I wasn't planning on going anywhere far... but how could I turn down a paid trip to Switzerland? I was kind of bummed that my friend Allie couldn't come, because she'd been wanting to go on this trip for so long. At least when we do go, then I'll know where to take her.
Our morning started very early. I had worked the night before, and had gotten into bed at 10PM just to wake up at 2AM to start getting ready. We had to be at the bus by 3:30 AM, and it would be a 5.5 hour journey to our first tour destination, The Cailler Chocolate Factory. German law required our bus to stop at the four hour mark, after we had crossed into Switzerland. The rest stop we were at was extremely nice. It was like a mini-shopping mall. Everything inside was very overpriced, so we just decided to grab coffee, and I grabbed my traditional postcard for my collection. From the border, it was about 1.5 hours to Gruyere. I was a bit dismayed with the weather. The rain was pouring and the clouds covered up the view of the surrounding Alps, but we didn't think of this while we were in the chocolate factory
Maison Cailler - Rue Jules Bellet 7, 1636 Broc, Switzerland - When we got there, we were able to skip the line. If you plan to go, try to see if you can purchase tickets online to save your self some trouble from standing outside. When you enter, there's a giant section of chocolate to the right for purchase. Don't get too distracted that you don't look up. Giant chocolate decorations were hanging from the ceiling, and the scent of chocolate overpowered the room. The tour has an audio guide available for your language convenience, but if you travel in a group, then each room is spoken in a certain language. The tour is a timed tour. You move through different rooms, a short history about chocolate it said accompanied by moving pieces in the room, and then the door opens to the next section. This made it easier to get through the Maison without getting too distracted.
Towards the end of the tour, they have a room where you can see, touch, smell, and even taste the ingredients being used. Just make sure you're grabbing from the correct bin when you're trying the ingredients. You don't want to eat something everyone hands have been on! There's a clear wall separating the tactile room and the factory. You can actually watch small chocolates be made, and at the end of the line, you can grab a sample! Enjoying your piece of chocolate from start to finish. Then comes a long hallway, that will tempt you with chocolate at the beginning. It'll instruct you to savor the chocolate by first looking at it, smelling it, biting it but not swallowing it, letting it melt, and then finally enjoying it how chocolate should be enjoyed - or devoured for that matter.
You're led into a small room with trays of different chocolates. If you want to try a chocolate twice, try it twice. You don't get to go back around for seconds. There are two different rooms for tasting. One room is already prepared chocolate, and the second room is where you'll see chefs preparing the chocolate in different ways - like French macarons... French macarons I didn't get to taste. So if you're on a guided tour, make sure you have ample time to indulge in the sweet, chocolate goodness.
La Maison du Gruyère (Fromagerie) - Place de la Gare 3, 1663 Pringy-Gruyères, Switzerland - A trip to Switzerland wouldn't be complete if we didn't go indulge in salty, cheesy goodness. (Today was a great day for the salty & sweet combination, + wine). This fromagerie was only 10 minutes away from the chocolate factory by bus. It was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, but when we went inside it seemed like it was so much bigger. The tour wasn't long either. They gave you an audio guide, and the character of the guide was very funny to listen to. It walks you through the different ingredients used to make Gruyere cheese. You can smell the ingredients, some smelled great, and some made me feel like I needed to throw up. The second half of the tour, you could see the factory.
Did you know that it takes 400 L of milk to create one 35 kg round of Gruyere cheese? Can you imagine having to try and make a batch of 20 rounds? That's a lot of milk! The cheese is turned in these large barrels for quite some time, and then poured into containers where they're shaped and turned every... 16 hours I think? They get run through a salt bath, and then are placed on shelves. I was able to see the robot they use to turn the cheese. It goes up and down the aisles and spins and turns the cheese so everything is... even? I don't know. They can tell if the cheese is done by the elasticity and the "bounce back" of it. It's really interesting...
The only thing was the cheese tasting was only given in a small packet of cheese that had 3 different ages of Gruyère. I ended up buying two slices of cheese because it was so good. I would've liked it more if it were like the chocolate factory, and you lined up in a room full of cheese.
We ate brunch there, kind of. I had a sorbet, my mom had leek soup, and my aunt had a mixed salad. Everything there was very overpriced, and everything was covered in cheese. The food was pretty good, but not good enough to spend hundreds of Swiss Francs on. After our snack, we ventured into the town to explore.