Phew. I’m currently sitting in Copenhagen Airport awaiting my flight home to the USA. Four months and lots of traveling later, it’s time to head home. Here is a recap of my parents’ visit to Copenhagen——my personal victory lap around the city I have called home this semester. (More pictures here.)
Sunday: After my parents arrived at the airport, I took them to the hotel to drop off their luggage. It was great to see them after such a long time away from home. We took a walk down Strøget, the main walking street in Copenhagen, and our first stop was the popular bakery Lagkagehuset (LAH-kay-hooz-et). (My mom wasted no time snapping pictures, of course.) On the Flickr page, you can find a picture of us in front of the Christmas tree outside City Hall. After browsing some of the souvenir shops and Christmas markets, we decided to have dinner at a little café called Bøf og Ost (“Beef and Cheese”) off of Skindergade. To be honest, it was only my second time eating at a sit-down restaurant in Copenhagen…restaurant prices are not suited for a college kid’s budget.
Monday: We hit the ground running by going to see the Church of Our Lady, the national cathedral. After that, we met my Danish teacher Suzanne for a few minutes at DIS so that my parents could have the chance to see my school and one of my professors. Our next stop was Vestamager, the big national park in Amager where I rode my bike often. Two metro stops away was Ørestad, where I lived this semester. We took a stroll through Field’s, Scandinavia’s largest mall, and unexpectedly ran into my roommate Christian. We also stopped by my kollegium, Signalhuset, which is across the street. Our last sightseeing stop of the day was Christianshavn to see the freetown of Christiania…my mom was a bit nervous there so we didn’t stay too long.
The highlight of this day, however, was having a traditional Christmas dinner at my visiting family’s house. My visiting dad Flemming made flaeskesteg with gravy, and my visiting mom Sanne made boiled and candied potatoes, rødkål (boiled sweet-and-sour cabbage), and salad. This was a super hyggelig evening——complete with dozens of candles, of course——that left an excellent impression of Denmark on my parents. It felt as if we had known this family our whole lives. After giving some presents to the family to thank them for a great semester, we had risalamande, a very traditional Danish rice pudding. I even won the game where the person who finds the whole almond in their pudding wins a prize! (It was a huge box of chocolate that I’ll be enjoying over break.)
Tuesday: Despite the rain, my parents and I continued our sightseeing with stops at The Little Mermaid statue, Nyhavn (the place with the colorful houses), a canal tour, and Amalienborg, the Queen’s residence. Coincidentally, we ran into the Queen’s Guard marching their way through the streets as they do every day after the Changing of the Guard ceremony each day at noon. That afternoon, my dad and I had a beer at my beer tasting teacher’s bar, Fermentoren, just one train stop away from the hotel. It’s a microbrewery with a new menu every few weeks——definitely worth a trip if you’re going to be in Copenhagen. That night, we had dinner at Torvehallerne, or “the glass market,” by going to different food stands and sharing small dishes like a roast duck sandwich, Danish bleu cheese, and Spanish tapas. To top it all off, we ended the night with a stroll through Tivoli Gardens just across the street from our hotel. As I’ve said before, this place has Christmas decorations on steroids with thousands of lights, trees, and ornaments. We also tasted some gløgg (hot mulled wine) and æbleskiver, pancake balls topped with powdered sugar.
Wednesday: Exactly four months to the day after my arrival, this was my last full day in Copenhagen…a bittersweet moment to say the least. To eat away my sorrows, the first stop of the day was St. Peter’s bakery, the oldest one in Copenhagen, to have their famous Wednesday Snegls (huge cinnamon rolls) fresh out of the oven. We also climbed the Round Tower for some nice views of Copenhagen and then did some shopping at the Christmas Market set up near Christiansborg, the parliament building. At Christiansborg, we got a chance to see the Queen’s white horses in the royal stables. Across the street is the National Museum, which has free admission, so we took some time to check that out before regrouping at the hotel. That afternoon, my visiting sister Sara took us on a short tour of her gymnasium (high school), Ørestad Gymnasium. It is an ultra-modern high school that uses 100% e-textbooks and is designed to be one open room; besides a central staircase, all classes meet around tables or in rooms with glass walls in order to create an open, relaxed learning space. (I wish I went to high school in a place like that…)
Finally, my semester in Denmark concluded with a final dinner out on the town with my parent and my visiting family. We went to Café Dalle Valle near DIS for a buffet dinner. My visiting family presented me with a gift and a farewell postcard that left my mom teary-eyed. The gift was a red “Hoptimist” (click the link), a very famous Danish toy from the 1960′s. It’s more a decoration than a toy, but it will always be a touching reminder of my experience in Denmark. We parted ways at Nørreport (appropriately, the station I commuted to almost everyday) and then packed for the long journey home.
Thursday [written after arriving home]: Everything went smoothly with my flights back to Newark. Aside from a layover in Iceland and some traffic on the way home, this trip was just as easy as my arriving one. After an exhausting couple of weeks, I’m looking forward to a nice long sleep in my own bed.
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Stay tuned for one more post before Christmas where I will reflect on the semester and try to leave some advice for future study abroad students. Vi ses!