Just a Couple in Copenhagen
After our two days in Iceland, Mark and I flew over to Denmark for his work commitment. For a whole week in Copenhagen, he learned about fluid bed coating and agglomeration techniques in a hotel conference room (huh?), and I did something far less cerebral but thoroughly cathartic.
That was my mission upon arriving in this new-to-me European city. I didn't want a plan or a long list of places I had-to-see. I just wanted to explore with my camera and take in the beauty of an experience so totally different from my life back home with four little kiddos.
Copenhagen lent itself well to this ambiguous goal. It's not a city full of famous tourist attractions. The most popular one is a sculpture of a mermaid that's underwhelming at best.
I think the allure of Copenhagen is really the city itself. The architecture, the history, and the people. It's full of vigor and yet altogether tranquil with its well-balanced way of life.
I started every day with an amazing - what we thought was complimentary - hotel breakfast. We later found out it was not included, but if we had known, we would have skimped and bought some bananas from the grocery store or something. I'm so happy I thoroughly enjoyed that buffet. My plate was piled high with danish pastries, perfectly scrambled cheesy eggs, and pre-cut fruits that I ate in blissful ignorance of the bill to come.
**Be warned - I don't know if this is true of all Danish hotels, but it sure looked like a complimentary breakfast based on our American standards. They didn't give a receipt after we dined, and there was no labeling or pricing anywhere to be seen. I'm sure we looked like giant, American dollar signs as we stuffed our faces full of meusli.
Anyway, after our daily decadence, I would head over to the King's Garden which was a five minute walk from our hotel.
This was by far my favorite spot in the city. The weather was beyond superb and people kept telling us how rare continuous sunny skies were for May. I soaked up the zero humidity, 75 degree days knowing I'd go back to the beginning of a hot North Carolina summer.
Whenever I started thinking forward like this and placing myself out of my present situation, I'd stop and refocus. I'd pray for a contented mind because in this garden, I was truly in paradise.
Because of the exceptionally perfect weather, I think the whole city took a holiday while I was there. The garden was always packed with people lounging around, inspiring me to sit and do nothing.
Wonderful, magnificent, remarkable nothing.
People spend a lot of money in taxes to live in Copenhagen but to the visitor's eye, it's definitely worth it. You can't turn a corner without running into the most picturesque spot to stop and appreciate life. Perhaps this investment in beauty is partly why Denmark consistently dominates the World Happiness Report rankings year after year?
After I basked in glorious nothingness for a sufficient amount of time, I'd wander some more.
Here's one of the entrances to the King's Garden. I'm assuming people live or work here and it is my life's goal to be their best friend and visit them regularly.
I'm not sure what's more impressive, the Hogwarts castle or it's dignified neighbor.
When we first arrived and got a taxi from the airport, the driver asked me what I wanted to see. I replied, "I want to go to that area with the historic buildings that are really colorful."
Driver - "Welcome to all of Copenhagen."
The streets were full of quaint shops that I never actually entered. Shopping was too much of something. I was focused on nothing.
And more wandering.
I found a fellow Mick on the streets.
I couldn't help but take a shot of these men in deep conversation. One rocking socks and sandals and the other in an artsy blazer with a pocket square and hipster glasses. Maybe it was a fashion intervention?
Here's a shot of our hotel - the Phoenix in central Copenhagen. I would highly recommend a stay here on all accounts, but for the lack of a complimentary breakfast AND the misleading set up of the non-complimentary breakfast.
It was a beautiful place to stay though. I loved opening the window and looking out on the canal. Mark spent most of his time in a conference room on the main floor. Whenever they'd have snack breaks, he'd send me a text and I would swiftly return to the hotel so he could sneak me one of the extras.
He's so good to me. (Can you tell we like free food?)
After Mark finished for the day, we walked down to the area in the pictures below called Nyhavn. It's an iconic tourist spot with restaurants and a canal filled with boats. On our first night we decided to splurge and buy tickets for the boat tour of the city. Then the next night we found out we got a free one through Mark's work. So, we enjoyed the tour twice and it was just as impressive the second time around.
Mark and I soaked in the view and the chance to sit together and hold hands. It was lovely.
After the boat ride, we walked around the canal and listened to street music. Did I mention the weather was amazing?
Even more than the boats, I loved the Danish bikes. They were everywhere! The streets even have bike lights directing traffic.
I was kind of intimidated to rent my own because people go really fast and they seem so comfortable working around the cars. But on my second to last day I finally did it. The bike below was my good friend for a full day of what I like to call "extreme wandering."
With my increase in speed and Danishness, I was determined to see as much as possible.
My first stop on my personal bike tour was the famous "Little Mermaid" sculpture in Copenhagen's harbor. I probably would have appreciated her more if the area in front of her wasn't jam-packed with picture hungry tourists. That guy standing in front of her in the picture below did not move for, I swear what felt like 20 minutes, while his wife attempted to use the camera feature on her smart phone.
I've never seen such obstinate patience in the face of a mob of hatred. People started to literally boo these people and demand that they move. I found the whole scene entirely fascinating.
Why didn't the wife ask for help with her phone? Why didn't the husband move out of the way while the wife figured it out? Why wouldn't she want to be in the picture with him? WHY ARE PEOPLE SO OBSESSED WITH THIS SCULPTURE?
I mean the mermaid's beautiful, but angry mob beautiful? No chance.
So after that, I decided I was done with the standard attractions and meandered the streets some more. My favorite picture from my time there is the third shot below of the arched alleyway leading into an apartment courtyard. In a different life, where I am Danish, rich and without children, that's where I would live.
We spent one of our nights catching up with Mark's old teammate, Niels Bo (below middle), from the Minnesota Thunder. He was Mark's roommate back when we first became friends and he had no idea we got married. Niels Bo isn't a social media guy but Mark managed to find him on LinkedIn so they connected and we were invited to a traditional Danish dinner at his home.
It was so fun showing up and having Mark introduce me as his wife. Niels Bo looked at me for a moment and we could see the light go off in his head. "What???!! You were with the Thunder!"
We told him our story and had a wonderful evening with his family of five. He and his wife have three young girls right around our kids' ages. For how surprising it must have been for Niels Bo to see us married with four kids, it was equally bizarre seeing him as a working father. I'm so used to knowing (at least vaguely) what's happening in people's lives thanks to social media. It was a fun experience being totally surprised by his situation. He's done extremely well for himself and he's still the same charming guy with an edge of cynicism that we knew long ago.
He and his wife prepared the most delicious food we ate during our time there too. Such a treat! After the meal we wandered around the local gardens with him, drank a Danish beer, and talked about life, politics, and the awesomeness of Copenhagen.
This was definitely a main highlight of our trip.
While social media hasn't connected us with Niels Bo these past 14 years, it helped us make a whole new connection during this trip. I really wanted to do a photo shoot of someone in this most perfect, European setting so I did what anyone would do nowadays - I tapped into the power of the hashtag.
I looked up #copenhagenphotographer and found Rebekah Schott, a fashion and fine art photographer who happened to be adorable and very pregnant. I LOVED her style immediately and bravely wrote her a DM asking if she'd be up for a trade. To my delight, she said "yes!" and we made plans to meet up at the Danish Parliament below.
We instantly felt connected to this couple and loved the opportunity to share unsolicited parenting advice with them (you can be sure my previous blog posts - parts 1 and 2 - were part of the discussion). And now since we've been home I've been able to see her sweet baby boy on Instagram, wishing I could take pictures of the three of them together.
See all you social media haters, Instagram can be pretty amazing. Am I right?
I plan to share the photo shoot of them on my photography blog soon. If you're ever in Copenhagen and happen to be a high fashion model looking for an uber talented photographer, Rebekah is your girl. Check out her website HERE.
Here's one of my favorites below. I am definitely not a high fashion model so it took some time to loosen up. Mark always helps by getting me moving (by literally picking me up and moving me).
Outside of these social events, we enjoyed spending time together, just the two of us. We face-timed with kiddos every night and loved hearing their stories of the days, but we managed to focus on each other as much as we could. There are so many places to relax and enjoy life as a couple in Copenhagen. We would visit again and again if we had the chance.
So now I wait for advances in fluid bed techniques so Mark can attend another class in Copenhagen and I can resume my wandering.