Nordic Adventure: Copenhagen Day 5–Boats, hot dogs, ruins and a lesson on pizza

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Although we got up at 4 a.m. yesterday, today is the day that really hurts. Neither of us really slept in that bed. In fact, I’m up by 6 and am convinced I’ve become a morning person as I watch “Party of 5” rerun after “Party of 5” rerun (it was that, or “Providence,” a show that made me change the channel so quickly in the U.S. I couldn’t even remember its title until I queried Facebook friends when I got home from the trip) –until it seems like an appropriate time to awaken Neil (8:30).

Then we hit our now regular coffee spot around the corner for a “filtered coffee” (me), a latte (Neil), a fruit cup and an hour’s worth of free wi-fi as we plan our day.

First stop: Bike rental. While walking towards the town center, we pass a bike shop and pop in so that we can get around Copenhagen like the locals do. Then we hop on our clunky wheels and join the fray. First thing to note: Though their bikes are big and heavy, the Copenhageners make them move! I don’t, however. I’m passed time and again. Fortunately, we’re in a raised, separated bike lane so two at a time can plow by me as I grit my teeth and try and keep up.

We ride along, obeying both the lights for cars and cyclists (there’s a little bike that lights up on some of the traffic signs and we know it’s telling us to stop). We arrive at our destination canal and see that the roads are blocked by the world championship bike race. It’s the perfect opportunity to pop into a nearby waffle shop and get a waffle with soft serve for Neil (I had a bite and could have mawed through a few of those). Then we wander the street, looking for the boat that’s going to take us on tour.

Along the way, we pass by a sign that says “Red Light District” (it was the name of a business) and all kinds of adorable canal-facing sidewalk cafes. We find our boat and they tell us it’s going to be a bit. So we quickly take a detour to a Polsar stand–hot dog–and order two by pointing to a sign with photos. Just like Iceland, Copenhagen is somehow known for their street-side hot dogs. We both choose small ones that fit into enclosed buns with a hole hollowed out (like a pig in a blanket, with the hot dog sticking out of only one end). I get ketchup, Neil goes bare back. His was better (that ketchup is just too sweet). But these were delicious dogs. For this lamb-hater, they blew the Icelandic version into the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

The hour-+-long boat tour went around the harbor and into a number of canals, under bridges so low and narrow we all ducked and sucked in our stomachs. We learned about the history of Copenhagen, some bits about design, saw their beautiful new theater and opera house, gazed at a ferry that someone turned into a houseboat, passed by the curiously famous Little Mermaid and more. Even better, it was free thanks to that Copenhagen card.

After the boat trip, we went to a coffee place to caffeine up and figure out our next stop. We decided on Christiansborg Castle, which has been rebuilt multiple times (privy to fires, this one) and sits atop ruins dating back to the 12th century. The 12th century. That’s centuries before the United States was even a flicker in the white man’s eye.

After touring the basement and then the upper floors (there was a cool display revolving around desserts) it was time to eat again. We wandered around until we found a traditional Italian place. When we got there, we were seated downstairs near a small family–the only other people in the place. We should have taken it as a sign. Most of the places we’d been, til now, had an English menu. This one did not. That’s not a problem for Neil, who could pretty easily translate the pizza offerings, but it was more of a struggle for me, who wasn’t in such a pizza mindset. The waitress was kind enough to offer to read the menu to me, but my eyes had settled on a pasta dish that sounded good–salmon and zucchini–and I was convinced that was for me. What I couldn’t read was that the salmon was smoked or perhaps even pickled or creamed, and the zucchini served as a coloring to the pasta. It wasn’t ideal.

Watching Neil happily snarf his pizza, I was reminded, for the umpteenth time, that even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good, and that boyfriend of mine is one smart guy.

Keep going! Read about day six of the Nordic adventure here.

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