Falling In Love with Copenhagen (Part 1)

Have you ever visited a city and fallen completely, head-over-heels in love with it?

I have, a couple of times, but none more so than this weekend. My trip to Copenhagen was EVERYTHING. I could honestly probably talk about it for the next 5 years, but I’ll spare you that and I’ll try to keep it to just a few posts.

We arrived late on Thursday and after a 15 minute train ride from the airport, we checked into the First Hotel Kong Frederik and tucked ourselves up ready for a full day of exploring the city.

Friday morning saw bright sunshine, which was a very pleasant surprise as I’d been expecting grey skies, cold, and rain. In search of breakfast, we followed our noses to the end of the road where we came across Cafe Lillebror.

As it turns out, this is one of the city’s best reviewed breakfast spots, but we didn’t know that at the time. As all the tables were taken by chatting locals (always a good sign), we hopped up to the counter seating by the windows and ordered coffee and eggs on toast from the absurdly friendly staff. The bread was definitely not like the toast I’m used to, but it made a deliciously salty contrast to the egg!

We both could have sat there for hours, people watching and admiring everyone’s perfect cycling posture and supercool monochrome (and the staff seemed perfectly happy for us to do so) but there was a whole city to explore. We didn’t have any set plans, so off we set in the direction of the Rosenborg Palace.

The palace and its gardens were picture-perfect beautiful, with daffodils and…other flowers in bloom everywhere and bright, bright blue skies. And of course, a huge statue of a grandfather-esque Hans Christian Andersen. Doesn’t he look friendly?!

Not only are the people in Denmark super nice – even their lions are happy:

We wandered through the city until we stumbled across Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s most famous and arguably most picturesque street. It is jampacked full of buzzy restaurants and pubs, but it was only just midday so we continued on our stroll (we went back and I’ll put pictures in another post!)

Copenhagen is really the most gorgeous combination of ancient, fairytale buildings and clean lines, and round every corner we found new stunning views. We even found one spot where there were 4 trampolines planted in the ground – can you think of anything cooler?!

All this walking made us pretty hungry and Copenhagen has no shortage of coffee shops & bakeries, so we picked at random and landed on Emmery’s. I had the best chai latte I have ever tasted, one of the very best, most pecan-y brownies ever, and we also shared a delicious chocolate muffin.

We sat there for a while, soaking up the super-relaxed atmosphere – it was exactly the sort of place I would love to settle myself down in for a few hours with a fab book and an endless stream of those chai lattes. But we had places to visit – namely, Christiania.

Now, Christiana is officially one of my new favourite places in the world. It’s a self-confessed “freetown” and it has a fascinating history that I’ve been swotting up on since returning – but basically, it’s a whole town of hippies that exists almost entirely independently of the rest of Copenhagen. Known primarily for its stance against hard drugs (but very, very pro marijuana – it used to be sold openly on Pusher St), it is also one of the city’s most visited spots but it retains its hippie-cool authenticity.

The “green light district” (central Christiania, if you will) has three rules: don’t run, have fun, and no pictures. That means I can’t really share much, but trust me, it is worth a visit and I wish we could have stayed longer!

Having explored the city far and wide, we headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours’ recuperation before heading out for dinner. However, I think I’m going to leave it there for now and cover the evening’s activities in another post – we tried some great spots and they definitely deserve their own spotlight.

Huge congratulations if you’ve managed to get even this far…I promise the other days were (a little) less action-packed!

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Rainy Days in Ilfracombe

Ages and ages ago, Mae invited me to join her for a night in Ilfracombe that her parents had won in some way or another. We picked the last weekend in May and made excited plans to get surfing lessons and transform ourselves into bronzed surfer goddesses in the space of two days.

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Sadly for us, we arrived in Ilfracombe to grey skies and and unrelenting drizzle. Surfing plans abandoned, we donned our raincoats (or at least Mae did…I braved it with a less practical hoodie & leather jacket combo) and headed out to do some sightseeing – after a little stop to the hilariously quaint St James Tearoom, where we ate sandwiches and drank tea in what was essentially somebody’s living room. First up on our sightseeing tour of the town was Verity, the Damien Hirst statue that watches over the harbour.

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From there we climbed up a deceivingly steep hill to the St Nicholas Chapel. On a clear day the views are probably stunning, but I think they were equally atmospheric with all that Dickens-by-the-sea fog over the hills.

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Next up, we decided to walk along the South West Coastal Path in the direction of the Tunnels Beaches, which Mae was keen to check out. Despite the rain, this was a great way to check out the coastal sights of Ilfracombe and we took great delight in reading the signs at the various stopping point – I definitely learnt a lot about coastal wildlife!

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This is apparently the “famous Ilfracombe elephant.” Can you see him? It took us a while…

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We ducked into another tearoom for a quick drink and a cake and ended up staying there for a good couple of hours watching the world go by. I forget its name, but that’s okay because although my vanilla chai latte was perfectly nice, my little chocolate cake was distinctly on the dry side and I wouldn’t say I’d recommend it. Then we took a leisurely drive through terrifying country roads to Croyde and by the time we got back, it was time for dinner. Lucky for us, the sun chose that moment to make a welcome appearance. Suddenly the town looked completely different!

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It took a lot of deliberation, but in the end we went to the very first place we’d found for dinner: The Terrace tapas & wine bar (a phrase that always appeals). I have to say, this was a fab choice and I’d definitely recommend it. The tapas was reasonably priced and the sangria was too, and the service was quick and friendly. The owner was there, milling around in his shirt and chatting, and they were quite happy to let us sit there for a good few hours.

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Two jugs of sangria later, it was time to head back to our hostel (Ocean Backpackers – we had a double en suite room and seeing as it was free, anything was good enough for us). We had planned to maybe do some more sights/actually go to the Tunnel Beaches if it was sunnier the next day, but unfortunately it was just as grey and miserable. After a welcome breakfast at a cafe near the hotel (sausages on toast…yum), we made a quick stop to the chocolate shop for presents for ourselves and for Rory, and then headed home.

I’ve been wanting to visit Ilfracombe, and pretty much everywhere else in Devon, ever since I came to Exe in first year, so it was fab to get away for a day or so and do some exploring – bit of a shame about the weather (story of my life, am I right?!) but I had a lovely time anyway! If you’re a Devon local – where should I visit next?!