Nordic Adventure Day 6-7: Copenhagen, police museum, underground art, viking beer, Sweden and tarts

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Up at 6 again, I page through the guidebooks (while watching “Party of Five” reruns) to get some ideas for our day. When Neil gets up, we head to our coffee spot, check some online maps and then hop on our bikes to Nørrebro. Well, actually, we go to a number of places before we make it there because we get a little turned around. It turns into an hour-plus-long impromptu bike tour of Copenhagen, riding in protected and unprotected lanes, over canals, under overpasses, passing cargo bikes full of children, holding straight as buses whiz by. Everywhere we go, I see women wearing the helmet I wear at home (which almost no one in the U.S. wears).

Finally, we arrive in Norrebro, a cool area of town that would be great to stay in, should we return to Copenhagen. It’s more diverse here, with all kinds of kabob restaurants and other more ethnic enclaves. Menus are less likely to be in English, fruit is sold along the street, and there’s a restaurant called Pussy Galore’s. We hit a doner kabob place, where Neil has a delicious gyro pizza and I have falafel and hummus, as we await the 10 a.m. opening of the Police Museum.

The museum is off-beat and macabre, and I wish the displays had been translated into English, so I would have some idea of what they said. We wander through, looking at a mug-shot chair/numbers set-up, an array of police uniforms, a stuffed horse. Upstairs is a peephole and the porn/prostitution/gambling room (Vegas memories!), where you could pull out drawers and peer into smut magazines, or look at photos of prostitutes and tranny prostitutes. The drug room shows off all kinds of confiscated tablets and vials, a homicide display exhibits gruesome photos, a fetus in a jar and more. But the strangest thing we saw was when we arrived: A group of 15 to 20 kindergarteners being corralled out the door by their teachers. Interesting spot for a field trip.

From there, we cycle over to Cisternerne, a museum of modern glass art. It wasn’t the glass art we were so much interested in as the location. The entire museum is underground, in an old, dark, cavernous water cistern. We arrive at 2 p.m., just as the place is opening. We walk across a bright green lawn, towards two gem-like glass enclosures. These serve as the entrance to the museum, which sits underground. The floor is still wet with puddles from the day’s lawn watering, and there are stalactites (or is it stalagmites?) growing from the concrete ceiling. It’s the perfect setting for a horror movie, and completely beautiful at the same time. Art is set up throughout, between beams and up and down the slanted sides of the cistern. Candles, along with dim lights, illuminate the place. For the first few minutes we are the only people in there, and as we look at the many busts and sculptures, the echoes of our own shoes on the watery floor make as much of an impression as the art. Then a bunch of school kids come down for a tour and we head to Carlsburg.

Yes, the Carlsburg Brewery, known not only for its beer, but its industrial impact on brewing. We take the tour, wandering around the campus where workers once slept in dormitories. Like most breweries, there are horses here. Do horses have some kind of modern-day function in beer making? Why do breweries all have horses? And, of course, there is a tasting room, where we enjoy Tuborg Classic and a seasonal dark beer (delish and delisher) with our two free beer tickets.

Then it’s time to return our bikes and hop the train to Sweden. It’s just a 20-minute train ride to Malmo, and we figured it’d be a good place for dinner and a great excuse to check out another country. The train crosses a giant bridge, and before we know it, Sweden. Not surprisingly, it isn’t that different from Copenhagen. Maybe a little cleaner and brighter, less Amsterdammy. We wander one of the main streets for about 20 minutes, looking at restaurant menus, which are all in Swedish. It starts raining, so we settle on a casual-ish spot where we could see people eating steaks served on skillets surrounded by icing-piped mashed potatoes.

They don’t have an English menu, but tonight, neither of us hesitates when the server asks if we’d like her to read us the menu (she was a bit off-put at first, but warmed to us). Neil gets a phenomenal cod dish and I have a pesto chicken, both with rich sauces. It is one of the better meals of the trip.

From there, we wander around for a bit, but since all of the shops close at 6, there isn’t too much to do outside of rainy-night people watching and consuming calories. So we pass on both and catch the train back to Copenhagen. This is our last night, and we’re both exhausted, so we hit the hay in preparation for a long day of travel.

The next day, we really want just one thing: A tart (or so we call it). We’d seen these pastries all around town that look like the inspiration for Poptarts and it’s time to try one. We head to the Stroget, the main shopping area, knowing we have some time before our flight to do some shopping and find a tart. It takes about three bakeries, and then, there it is. Neil orders “a tart” and the server looks at him as though he should be the one popping out of a toaster. He points to the pastry and she says its real name, describing it, as he nods fervently (I had a roll with cheese….oh so good). That tart is way, way, way better than a Poptart (even the cinnamon kind). It’s like two layers of thin shortbread with raspberry jam in the middle, icing and sprinkles on top. It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious, sweet and rich.

We wander around the shops for a bit, passing Disney, H&M and Lego, checking out the Danish design stores and admiring the clean, whimsical displays. It’s so far outside of our price range, it’s laughable. Before we know it, it’s time to hop the train to the airport. We stop for a quick lunch (Neil gets a pizza, I had a hummus sandwich) to prepare for the long travels ahead, and say good-bye to Copenhagen and Iceland, for now.

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