I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday with a small adventure. A visit to a place I had never seen before, but one which was easy to reach and explore. Copenhagen turned out to be perfect. A beautiful, open, well-organized city, green, watery and welcoming.
Even the flight was a delight, from Heathrow’s well designed Terminal 2, a bright, appealing place to start a special trip.
SAS airlines have flights throughout the day to the Danish capital taking about one hour and 40 minutes. The price of £88 return was just right as a 60th birthday treat to myself.
The journey from the airport to the city’s Central station took 30 minutes and our base for the two night trip, the Hotel Kong Arthur was a ten minute walk from there. Because we were only staying two nights, I had a small rucksack with a change of clothes and a swimming costume. It felt very liberating to be walking along in the sunshine, light of foot and light of heart. A promising start to my new decade.
The Hotel Kong Arthur at Norre Sogade 11, was classic and elegant, set back from a huge lake where swan-shaped boats glided along, transporting passengers across the water as if in a famous fairy story.
We were immediately enveloped in the spirit of Danish Hygge as the charming man on reception told us about Cosy Hour, where wine and snacks were available free of charge. We felt welcome, comfortable and relaxed. Hygge in the Hotel Kong Arthur was living up to expectations and put us in a cheerful mood for exploring on this auspicious occasion.
Copenhagen feels low pressure, low key and safe. We decided to wander slowly, eat fresh, delicious food, find green spaces and have a swim in a lake or the Baltic.
We saw Copenhagen at its best on that beautiful July day. The city was glowing with life, its people like beings from another race. True Scandinavians, tall and strapping, they towered above us, striding along.
Many rode bicycles boldly along the cycle lanes which dominated the city. Everyone appeared either stylish or quirky or well dressed. I was wearing rose colored spectacles as part of my birthday mood (or at least my new Oscar Dene sunglasses). Everything seemed shimmering and special.
Were they born looking so healthy or was it all the wonderful nourishment? In Torvehallerne KBH, the most famous market of Copenhagen just looking at the magnificent displays of food made me feel invigorated, more Scandinavian. The fish looked so fresh and high quality, the summer vegetables were pristine but still earthy.
The prices were high, but I decided that buying less for more money was a good way to proceed. So I clicked my credit card at the machine without a care and sat outside in the sunshine, eating a pile of prawns.
My birthday dinner was a treat and a joy. We went to Vaekst, an uplifting restaurant in a greenhouse on Sankt Peters Strade 34 where exuberant women served a range of menus – with meat, with fish, with just vegetables but all tasting divine. Brown crab, Rosehip Icecream, fried cauliflower with truffles and chanterelles. And so much delicious bread, one of my three favourite foods. It was a heavenly meal in beloved company, one of the happiest of my life.
The next morning after sustaining berries and porridge at Grod in Torvehallerne, we set off on a magical day trip to Louisiana, a wondrous art gallery by the Baltic Sea. It’s a 30 minute train ride from Norreport station to Humlebaek and from here there’s a short signposted walk, which art lovers were following like slavish ants.
Lousiana is not just a world class gallery set in a sculpture park, or an striking modernist building, it’s a good place to sit and look at Sweden, not so far away across the sea. I watched swimmers splashing in that way that always makes me want to join them. The art distracted me, bold and impressive and an open smoked salmon sandwich on the sunny terrace of the gallery cafe enhanced the joyful mood of the day.
That night we ate more blissful fresh seafood and shellfish in Kodbyens Fiskebar, a buzzy restaurant in hip Vesterbro. With its concrete floors and aquarium filled with hopeful fish, it was an exciting choice for my second birthday dinner.
We walked back through the tranquil city and sat by the lake and watched the swan boats gliding across the water, feeling peaceful and a little bit melancholy.
I have never spent time on a beach quite so close to the airport. The next day we bought a big bag of cherries and sat by the sea for much of the afternoon. The water was just the right temperature for a swim. Crisp and refreshing. You can swim in the lakes and canals too but the Baltic was the most inviting for me.