New in Denmark

Walking in wintery København

Strolling is my favourite mode of discovering the new and the familiar. From an efficiency point of view it is not the best choice, from the Danish point of view it is quite crazy, considering I prefer stomping on my feet more than I do on pedalling my bike.

Here are a few impressions from our Sunday stroll around the lakes. The blue of the water was truly mesmerizing. It was so lovely to feel the sun on your face and see its rays dance on the water.

Duckies on a nice hygge stroll on Copenhagen lakes

Dronning Louises Bro – The favourite hangout of Copenhageners

Blishøne 1: I am small, but I am determined!

Duck: I am deep in thought!

Blishøne 2: I am beautiful, ain’t I?

Winter reflections

Like a graceful ballerina

Hanging out

Winter shapes and reflections

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Stevns Klint – Denmark’s UNESCO, a collapsing church and dramatic nature

Sense of beauty leads to castles, quest of adventure brings to impressive elements of nature. Of course you should neither expect a breathtaking sight as of the Bavarian pride Neuschwanstein, nor will you find a piece of Grand Canyon in Denmark. Here the beauty shines through modesty, both in castles that dot the country, as well as the natural landmarks, of which this little country has plenty. After all it is home to 5 UNESCO sites!

Margueritruten here we come again…

Where the sun shines...

Where the sun shines…

The most recent addition to UNESCO in Denmark is Stevns Klint, a 65 million year old cliff made of chalk and limestone. It is around 20 km long and there is a hiking route, which is probably very nice in the summer months. On that winter day, despite the shining sun, the winds of the sea made sure that any dreamy intentions of a nice walk along the cliffs were limited to the absolute minimum.

Stevns Klint was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2014

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Before you reach the cliff, pay attention to this beautiful church, set off a few feet away from another more ancient looking church. Yes, this little area has two churches, standing across the “street” from each other, and of course there is a reason for that. The reason is not that the other church wasn’t enough to fit all the residents of the area, nor because they belong to different religions, not even because some rich philanthropist wanted to leave his name forever engraved in the history. Nope… The real reason is rather dramatic.

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A collapsing church! It looks rather breathtaking. You would never imagine that the highly flat land suddenly takes a dramatic 40 meter descend to form the Stevns Klint. Once it was probably a good idea to put the church on this pretty cliff. Not anymore… Surely the people who built the church in 1200 could have never imagined that the land will slide one day, and one part of the church will collapse with it. The newer church was built in 1913 as erosion kept eating away the land from under the older church.

Dramatic cliffs took claim to the centuries-old religious landmark in 1928

Øresund – a beautiful scene opens up from atop the cliffs

There is a rather steep staircase by the collapsing church leading down to the cliffs. It is probably a good idea to keep a grip on the handrail, the level of grip firmness is something that you will find out once you make a step down. It was not an utterly leg-shaking, but also not light-as-a-butterfly descend.

Andreas making his way to the shore

Let your gaze wander up and up. You will discover many different layers of chalk and limestone.

In the cliff you will also find flint pieces - the stone of ancient weapons

In the cliff you will also find flint pieces – the stone of ancient weapons

The sea was rather tamed

Beautiful nature – a perfectly shaped rock has grown trapped inside an old branch

In sync

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Love is in the nature

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Drinking a Danish beer made from coffee bean cat poop is hygge?

Civet eating coffee beansThe Vietnamese weasel-like civet cat, shown in this photo, eats the “best and ripest coffee beans” says Danish beer maker Mikkeller. Then, the cat poop is collected as an ingredient for its Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. Photo from the Washington Post via Mikkeller ApS.

 

For many years, the ‘Survey said!’ phrase – as one host syas on an America game show – comes up with the annual report that Danes are the happiest people on earth.

But what does that mean? And how does a whole country of five million plus inhabitants get classified as ‘happy’?

To most people outside of Denmark, you might as well say hygge because, well, happiness just isn’t part of of life (Adult anyways. We left happiness on the play ground when we were in grade school).

In 2013, woman from Sweden did a four- minute youtube clip about ‘What is hygge?’ in København.

She interviewed various people in København if the activity they were doing or the atmosphere they were in was hygge.

She visited various business establishments:

– At cafe/bike rental/bike shop, she asked the worker to “rate this bike from one to 10 in hygge?” “Ten definitely” said the worker.

– A porridge place: “It’s kind of taking a bite of your childhood…the most cozy dish you can eat,” says the worker.

– Another worker at an undisclosed establishment gave a closer definition of the word: “A little room, it’s quite cozy” rating an eight on the hygge scale.

– A cafe/laundromat, a worker said their establishment was the ‘top hygge’ where one can have a coffee, work, and do ones laundry.

The last sounds perfect for a high energy Dane who loves to multitask.

But the best – and funniest – response was at a Danish pub/tavern (Oh, what a surprise, right? Think again).

How many beers does one have to drink to “get hygge here?” asked the woman. “Between one (to) ten” with “number nine” as being the most hyyge, replied the bartender.

Number nine – called Beer Geek Brunch Weasel –  is “a beer that’s really dark” said the bartender “and it’s made with coffee beans that’s gone through a weasel in Vietnam.”

What? Did I hear her right? Glad I wasn’t drink my coffee at the time.

I did an internet search and found a 2014 Washington Post article (‘Did you try the beer with the weasel poop?’) stating there is an oatmeal stout Danish beer by Mikkeller ApS, made with “water, malts, hops, yeast and Vietnamese ca phe chon coffee.”

Notice they didn’t tell you how the coffee was processed. But then after four or five beers, why would you care?

Just for the record, this cat is a ‘fussy Southeast Asian animal…picky and will eat nothing but best and ripest coffee berries,” the Post quotes brewer Mikkeller. “…Made from the droppings” of the civet.

Nope. No mention of this on the side of the bottle Beer Geek Brunch Weasel using the excrement of a civet cat.

I think I’ll have a coffee – er, make that a tea – to have my happy or hygge time.

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On the road in Southern Zealand – Vallø Slot

Flatness and prettiness are not mutually exclusive. Hard to imagine, but in flat as a pancake Denmark dramatic landscapes, pretty castles and beautiful nature are abound. I have not had a chance to travel extensively in this little country yet, well except from my postcard-perfect Bornholm and Zealand, but there is a lot to explore, especially if you have a car.

Somehow travelling in Denmark is not very attractive when you start doing the math of the crazy high transport / hotel / food prices. It has always been easier, read cheaper, to explore another European country, than venture out into the Nordic landscapes. Despite that, Zealand, where Copenhagen is perched onto, holds many day trip destinations.

Yesterday was one of the exceptionally beautiful winter days, when the sun was shining brightly and the winter air, though chilly, was refreshing. Carpe diem! Stevns Klint here we come :) But before we reach the beautiful cliff that made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list just a few months ago, we took a picturesque route to get to our destination.

Margueritruten – my favourite road sign of all!

Margueritruten – remember this word and keep your eyes open for this sign when you want to turn your road / bike trip in Denmark into a beautiful experience. It is my favourite sign to find on the roads and whenever we are driving by I have made a funny habit to say “Oh look Margueritruten!”. This little flower will guide you to the most beautiful sights in Denmark taking you through small country roads, seaside drives, fields and just pretty nature. There is an iPhone and Android app and Politiken has made a travel guide for all the routes. So take your pick.

Following our Marguerit of the day we set the course towards Stevns Klint, but took a small detour by Vallø castle.

Beautiful scene from the Danish countryside

Vallø Slot is not one of the big landmarks of Denmark and up until now we did not really know about its existence. But just one look at it put this castle on our beautiful-Danish-castle list. Yes, we do keep such a list, albeit in our memory :) It is not very imposing such as Kronborg or Frederiksborg, yet it has such a charming composition. Red bricks, round tower, moat running around, small bridges are all charmers.

Vallø Slot – main entrance

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The castle dates back to 1579. The verified rumour has it that it has been built to house Danish noble women, very posh indeed. When you walk into the inner courtyard, take a moment and observe the main entrance door to the castle. The luxury looking golden plate has resident names on it. Yes! Some people get to call this castle home today. Certainly a fancy address to have.

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Our royal portrait :)

Sød som jordbær, aka Hanne, and I posing in the park :)

I love round towers. This one here immediately went to the top of my favourite list. Just look at those faces gazing at you. I have never seen such a combination before. I wonder who these people are, but they definitely give a certain charm to the building.

The lonely balcony – charming from afar, heart-pounding when you come closer. Not sure how firm that structure is.

Small pond by the castle

It is a very nice detour and definitely provides for a quieter experience than the usual trio of Rosenborg – Frederiksborg – Kronborg. Though by the castle there is a park, which has become a favourite with dog owners, so expect to see much commotion in that area.

Next up is Stevns Klint, a beautiful piece of nature that is many million of years old. To be continued…

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Autumn in the city…

I am thinking back a few months on this dark and stormy night. It was beautiful autumn, and the days of darkness, greyness and coldness haven’t descended on Copenhagen yet…

It was spring last time I planned to write something here. The first flowers had just been popping their pretty heads out of the earth, and the nature was in a vivacious state of revival that made you smile with every step you took. Somehow time slipped away, and I never made that spring post.

Now some six months later, it is autumn knocking on our door. It is a season that never fails to put me in a nostalgic state of mind. I love the vibrant burst of colours, despite the approaching cold and rainy days.

I have been away on a study exchange for the good part of the year, and have now returned to my Danish home to find the city turning into a colour canvas.

Autumn touches a Copenhagen playground

The chillin’ mood of Kongens Have that is usually packed in the summer with crowds young and old (and annoying bottle-collectors) has now been transformed into a romantic hideaway.

The perfect autumn scene

One of my favourite places, Dyrehaven, a deer park north of Copenhagen

One of my favourite places, Dyrehaven, a deer park north of Copenhagen

Forest fairies in Dyrehaven

Forest fairies in Dyrehaven

Autumn reflections

Autumn reflections

Even the awe-inducing lady high atop Glyptoteket is ready for the season.

Photos © Ani Movsisyan