It is indeed Mr Fletche’s birthday today. However it is not bright and sunny. If anything, it is more miserable and grey than it was yesterday. I remain optimistic, but also vow not to try anything as silly as wearing sunglasses today. Breakfast. More Flying Doctors. Little girl stuck down a well. “Find a winch” in Danish is “finde et spil”. If anyone gets stuck down a hole today I’ll know what to shout. Although this may not help in Sweden. For this is today’s destination. I’ve given the birthday boy the choice, and he has decided to leave the country in search of some sunshine.
It’s back to Kongens Nytorv metro station, and two more three-zone tickets to the airport. We discover later on that we could have got the S-Train from Norreport Station, saving us an unnecessary metro fare. Two separate inspectors declare us legal to travel despite my still panicking about not being able to validate my non-validatable tickets. From metro to tog we purchase our return train tickets to Malmo. It’s just under £50 for two tickets, which seems expensive til we remember we’re actually going to another country, it’s really quick to do so and you couldn’t turn up and get a train in the UK to another city for much less than £25 return. We wave our passports, the train is at the station and we’re on our way! We can’t wait to see the views of Denmark and Sweden from the Øresund Bridge. Except we can’t. Because it’s so foggy we can barely see the tracks beneath us. I’m still excited though. I’m about to tick another country off my list – although technically Sweden is a big country and I’m not claiming that I have now “done” Sweden, never to return.
Another passport check at Hyllie – this must be very frustrating now for Swedish/Danish commuters with all these extra security checks? – and then we’re free to enter Malmo. We get off the train, leave the station, then return to the station five minutes later when we realise we have only Danish krone with us and that may not get us very far in Sweden. We leave the station once more, this time clutching 500 Swedish krona. This should get us coffee, lunch and souvenirs – we hope.
We wind our way through misty Malmo. I get excited when I find Candy Crush HQ “King” which is located here. I wonder if they’ll give me infinite lives if I pop in.
I’ve promised Mr Fletche that Malmo has a beach, and we’re determined to find it to say we’ve been on a Swedish beach. The beach is not close to the town centre. We walk through a park, a residential area, down a main road. We walk across another park, where there are joggers and dog walkers and we know we must be close. We can smell the seaweed and hear the seagulls! And then, lo and behold…we’re on the beach. The tide is in, so there’s not much beach to speak of, and the mist is still lingering so we can’t really see much that’s not within about 5 metres but still…we’re on a beach! In Sweden! We think we can just about make out the pier, and possibly even the bridge. Or maybe not.
We walk along the coastal path, stopping to admire the non-existent views and hoping that the fog will start to lift soon. As we cross the bridge to head toward the harbour area, my breath is taken away. Ahead of me, framed by mist and clouds, is part of a ghostly skyscraper. I blink and it’s gone. I may be hallucinating. Maybe I’m jetlagged? I blink again, and there it is again, slowly coming clearer into focus. I cannot move, I am so enthralled by the sight that is being revealed before me. Of course, now I know it’s the so-called “Turning Torso” building, but for a time it just looked like a castle in the clouds.
We continue our walk along Sundspromenaden, and the mist finally begins to clear; there is even evidence of blue sky and a little bit of sunshine. I do not put on sunglasses for fear of scaring the sun away once more. We stop for a cappuccino and a muffin at Espresso House overlooking the waterfront. Mr Fletche is intrigued by the big ships and cranes at the docks, so we take a stroll over, not realising how far away from the centre we had come. Its nice when you’re walking along the seafront; not so much when you’re walking through a business district along a main road. There’s hardly another soul around, but then again, we have wandered out of tourist central. We need a toilet stop and lunch. We finally find our way back to Central Station, where we pay 10 SEK for the restroom (about 80p). We can either get a train back to Copenhagen, or Mr Fletche can have his birthday lunch in Sweden. We opt for the latter.
We head back to Lilla Torg – Little Square – where we had walked through earlier and noticed cafes and restaurants lining the square. Of course, on a main tourist square the prices are ramped up once more, and with a birthday meal at Norrebro Bryghus booked for tonight we don’t want to spend too much. We have about 320 SEK left – about £28. There’s no-one eating at La Grappa, but the prices are right and there’s a light lunch menu. I have a burger, Mr Fletche has the ciabatta, we have a beer each. The service is efficient, they kindly put on all the outdoor heaters around us, and when it starts to rain they wind out the awning so we can continue to enjoy our lunch. We get the bill. It comes to circa 330 SEK. Luckily we have the credit card with us, but now we have £28 of SEK that we need to get rid of. We manage to spend it in a gift shop on fridge magnets, a postcard and a Christmas decoration. We have just enough left for a final 10 SEK restroom visit.
It takes about 35 minutes to get back to Copenhagen, this time straight to Norreport station. We’ve spent longer in Malmo that we imagined so we head back towards the hotel. We emerge once more ready for our final night in Copenhagen; Mr Fletche has his camera and is ready to capture stunning sunset reflections at the lakes. However, today’s light drizzle has now turned into full blown rain. Horizontal rain. The type of rain that makes you really really wet. And Norrebro seems like its miles away. The plan had been to take a stroll around the area, finding all those cool little bars I’d researched, hanging around by the lake. Instead we’re cold, wet and too early for our 8pm reservation. We wander up this street and down this street, getting more miserable as we go.
We decide to head towards the restaurant in the hope we can be seated early. And then we find The Barking Dog. This was definitely on my list of recommendations, so we descend into a cosy little bar – definitely some hygge here – where we’re greeted by a decidedly non-Danish barman who gives us tissues to wipe our steamed up glasses, a glass of water each and a choice of what music we want on. We opt for funk and soul, a locally brewed beer for Mr Fletche – the Hundelufter or “dog-walker” – and a Margarita Highball cocktail for me. If this was a bar back in Brum, we would frequent it a lot. Definitely our kind of place, however being Copenhagen prices aren’t cheap and we’re kind of glad we didn’t discover it earlier as we would have spent all our money sampling the different beers and cocktails. As it is, we bid hej hej and mange tak to the barmen – even the English one – and head for Nørrebro Bryghus.
I’d been having my doubts about my choice. There was a set menu, but I wasn’t crazy about the starter choice. The prices were reasonable for a good restaurant, but the menu wasn’t extensive – what if I wasn’t happy with my food? It turns out I didn’t need to worry. We both decided not to go for the set menu, and have a main course and a dessert instead. After all, at a brewery restaurant, the focus is on the beer. Our lovely server was more than happy to go through the beer menu with us, making recommendations based on what we liked or usually drank. I had a lemon ale to start off with, but liked Mr Fletche’s IPA so much that I went for that second time around. I did make a bad food choice, but only because I was still feeling a little full from my late lunch and the stodgy fish and chips – although beautifully presented and tasting – made me feel a little queasy. Mr Fletche had the veal, with carrots cooked so beautifully that he had the server asking the chef how exactly they were cooked. My queasiness did not prevent me from demolishing the rhubarb trifle – although the Danes idea of trifle is a little different from ours (a dollop of ice cream, a dollop of cream over rhubarb and crumbled biscuit. More of a deconstructed trifle. There was definitely no cold custard or sherry.)
It was good to have a nice meal which didn’t cost the earth – for main course, dessert and two beers each it came to 770 DKK, circa £85. It’s a great atmosphere in there, with families, couples, groups of friends and business people dining, and it’s a great looking industrial style interior. Top marks for the service as well, definitely made the experience one to recommend.
Its birthday boy’s choice to finish off with a final beer at Heidi’s. This time we manage to find our way there and I am left in charge of ordering at the bar. However, the 2-4-1 offer is definitely not on tonight and its 120DKK (£13) for our two beers. Heidi’s Bier Bar has gone down drastically in my estimation. However the barman in lederhosen has been replaced by a barwoman in a milkmaids outfit so at least Mr Fletche has something to look at.
Full of beer and food, we make our way for the final time back to our hotel. We both agree that Copenhagen hasn’t captured our hearts the way that other cities have done. If the construction hadn’t been going on, we may have been able to see more beauty in the architecture and public squares. If the weather had been better, we would have spent – and enjoyed – more time walking along the waterfront, and going over to Christianshavn, and the other areas we didn’t get to. If it hadn’t been so expensive to eat and drink we would have lingered over meals longer, people-watching and just soaking up the atmosphere.
I think that we caught Copenhagen at exactly the wrong time. In the summer – even with the construction – it would be a much more vibrant and colourful place, although that of course brings floods of tourists, even higher prices and less opportunity to sample an authentic Danish experience. We didn’t visit any museums, or the Carlsberg Brewery or Christiania. I’d have liked to get the train up to Louisiana, or to Frederiksborg Castle, or Elsinore, or Roskilde, or to Aarhus. If prices were less prohibitive, you could easily base yourself here, travelling off to other areas of the country. We spend around £450 in our three days in Copenhagen (including money spent in Malmo), excluding hotel and flights. And unlike other city breaks, our consumption of alcohol, was probably about half of what it would usually be… Maybe that’s not a bad thing 🙂