Bremen here we come … again

Hello All

Sunday 22 April 2018

Another day of train travel. Five trains to get us from gorgeous Copenhagen to lovely Bremen… and get us there they did. Only one observation: German train stations are REALLY busy on Sunday. When I inter-railed last autumn I avoided travelling on Sundays ‘cos I thought everything would be quiet and closed…how wrong can you be?!

But with connections easily made and trains on time – we even managed to make time as our train from Fredericia to Flensburg was in early so we caught an earlier connection to Neumunster – we were in Bremen while the sun still shone and there was time for an evening stroll.

I loved that we walked to an area new to me, outside the old town in Ostertor. It was buzzing with cafes and bars and cool (how hip am I? … not at all?! Mon Deiu!) graffiti.

Close to the hotel we had a fabulous supper of tapas style sides and salad.

No 1 Daughter like me thoroughly enjoyed it. By the by those little pepper things (Pimientos de padro) were a real treat.

After a long day it was then time for bed.

Night night Bremen.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Finding Soul

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Saturday 21 April 2018

Our last full day in Copenhagen. There was a brief respite for my toes – No 1 Daughter is training for the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge and is a spirited walker is all I will say – when we boarded one of those wonderful (well my feet thought so) double-decker tour buses. We (my toes and I) sailed happily around some of the places we may have missed on our perambulations.

Of course the Little Mermaid is a must.

Everyone else seemed to agree! When I visited the same site [whispers] over 40 years ago we almost walked past our fishy tailed friend as there was no tell-tale crowd of onlookers to highlight her presence.

But the bus-ie balm for my tootsies was short-lived as we had set our sights on a much vaunted vegan eatery that was “off the map!”. So carefully checking out the best stop (confess that was just me) we sallied forth to go off piste and find ‘Souls’.

A little aside about hard-copy maps versus location finder apps. I love a proper paper map and while I have one clutched in my hot sweaty (it was still warm) hand I feel geographically safe and able to find most places I want to be. On the other hand I discovered a distinct downside to apps while on this little walk…they take you via diversions that they think you will be interested in (ie shopping opportunities) rather than straight from A to B – the Romans would surely be horrified.

The good thing about this ‘finder’ thing is, I suppose (did I mention my feet hurt?!), that it gave us more opportunities to enjoy the charming Copenhagen streets and be truly ready for lunch.

N.b. These pictures were not necessarily taken on this walk but No 1 Daughter loves a bicycle photo opportunity and I rather like them too.

After a block sized detour in a side street we found ‘Souls‘.

It was well worth the walk.

Here’s my Viking Salad … had to be…. with plant-based balls and salads to die for including delicious pickled onions…got to stop … my mouth is watering …..

Anyhoo fired up with all that super-food goodness I was ready to stroll back to our hotel picking up a beautiful frock for little Peanut, the one thing that was cheaper in Copenhagen than back home, and have a quiet beer in the sunshine before weeping inwardly at the thought of leaving this lovely city in the morning.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Eat Copenhagen – Walk Copenhagen

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Friday 20 April 2018

Letting No 1 Daughter have a lie in I caught up with my journal and checked out the map for our planned trip to Norrebro. Lucky for us it was sunny and mind-blowingly I even discarded my coat…and May not even out yet! Shocking.

Copenhagen is a city of water, wide uncongested roads and greenery and now for us tasty eateries. To find them we ventured further afield and felt we were given an opportunity to explore the city.

We had a beautiful walk, ambling through parks, crossing over ‘lakes’ in the brilliant sunshine.

I couldn’t help but smile at the statute of the Nile on the south side of Dronning Louises Bro the bridge which crosses between the lakes Sortedams So and Peblinge So. Why all the little ‘Cupids’ are wearing red woolly hats I don’t know. But it was adorable.

It may be a ‘tradition’ as I have seen a photograph of them wearing teeny Santa hats too. If it is a custom long may it continue.

We timed our arrival in the Norrebro area to the north of the city perfectly for lunch. We had identified two vegan friendly cafes, Blue Taco and Cafe N, in the same street Blagardsgade. But which to choose?

Blue Taco won out with it’s scrumptious menu of Mexican street food and plentiful outdoor seating. Using blue corn the tacos which were indeed blue and filled with three different yummy fillings,

The deliciousness was washed down by a cool ‘Jamaica’ drink which had a refreshing ginger kick and a sprinkling of hibiscus.

Enjoying the combined warmth of the food and the sunshine we walked on to Assistens Kirkegard Copenhagen’s famous cemetery. It’s a lovely space for introspection and calm. It is also the final resting place for several well know Copenhagen-ites.

Touchingly ‘pilgrims’ have left pens and pencils at the foot of Hans Christian Anderson’s gravestone.

The lovingly kept graves of unborn children and young children were poignant yet appropriately captured the mourned for children. The cemetery is still in use and I understand that an area for the poor and homeless has recently been set-aside.

Rather wonderfully the living sat happily amongst the graves enjoying the Spring and the peace.

Sigh.

Unbelievably it was actually getting rather too hot. A good time for an ice-cream…oh dear perhaps not for us vegans..maybe a sloppy sorbet is the best we can do…but no! Nice Cream on Elmegade came to the rescue.

My vegan strawberry and lemon double scoop ice-cream was soooooo good and gave me the lift I needed for more walking before a grateful sit-down in the grass overlooking the Rosenberg Slot a beautiful 17th century castle complete with moat and gardens.

It is years since I just lay down in a park, soaked up the sun and read a book. Perhaps this is due to the fact that some unsavoury character normally breaks your reverie with all sorts of weirdness/criminality/lewdness and often all three. Admittedly I was with No 1 Daughter but I don’t think I have ever felt as safe sitting in a British city park. Here groups of students played drinking games – the rules of which we couldn’t fathom – enjoying themselves without f-ing and blinding, screeching and getting blind drunk. It was very convivial.

This little respite set us up perfectly for an evening in another kind of park. Copenhagen’s world-famous Tivoli Gardens.

We had held off visiting until Friday night so we could enjoy the added atmosphere of a free concert – turned out to be hip-hop! – and a busy vibe. Large numbers of teens thronged in front of the stage it all felt huge fun and despite gaudy lights, cafes, souvenir shops and old style fairground shies not at all tacky. I can see why Copenhagen is proud of Tivoli one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. In multi-generational Denmark this is a must for all the family.

We loved it and wended happily around the now still (no roller coaster for me …. what a shame!) but illuminated rides before toddling back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before our last day in Copenhagen. Sob.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Roskilde

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Thursday 19 April 2018

Before I go on to extol the wonders of the very very delightful Roskilde just bear with me for that promised word about food…

After thirty or more years as a vegetarian bumbling my way along I decided to join No1 Daughter and take the plunge and become … vegan. I know just too hip and trendy for one such as me and good grief what a struggle to make a decent cup of tea without dairy milk! (If you are interested hemp milk has proved the most successful alternative).

Being shallow I turned vegan mostly for my own health and weight control but much as I love a salad sometimes – 12 hours on a train definitely qualifies as one of those ‘sometimes’ – I just want a calorific stodge-fest. On arrival in Copenhagen we had to resort to U.S chain Hard Rock Cafe. It was fantastic (fajitas if you are asking) but we really wanted to eat local and following a lunch at another chain Wok and Go the next day we were determined to make a better fist of things. Hurray for the Happy Cow app!

After a couple of foodie disappointments on Day 1 in Copenhagen we eventually got our act together in Roskilde so you will notice a spike in the ‘this is what we had for lunch’ pictures. Feel free to whizz past if they are not your cup of tea … no pun ….

Now to my happy place Roskilde. Only 20 minutes by train from Copenhagen Roskilde lies at the head of a fjord and is home to the (I have died and gone to heaven) Viking Ship Museum (brace yourselves for LOTS of ship photos) and the stunning Roskilde Cathedral.

But we start with our quest for good grub. Tucked away just off the main street on Rosenhavestraede we found the cosy little Satchmo Cafe. Lots of goodies were on show, our mouths were watering …. and bless her the wonderful owner and her colleague made us up a vegan platter each. Heaven. (Food photo alert)

She also threw in some energy balls and heaps of useful tips about where to go and eat in Copenhagen. As we sat chomping happily in the cafe’s sun trap terrace we were in no hurry to leave.

And yet the long ships were calling. After a quick visit to the local Tourist Information office where we were again given lots of information and two maps – one for following and one for inspiration – we set off through a sun-drenched park for the museum, those long ships have quite a loud call.

Pipe down boats … I am showing you off to the readers now.

To quote No 1 Daughter this is where I ‘got my geek on’ …. well really!

OK there may be some truth in that … here comes that photo fest of the 5 scuttled Viking ships used as barriers to Roskilde Fjord way back when (1060 to 1070AD). The ships are both trading vessels and long ships and the museum goes into depth about how they were resurrected and rebuilt. They are things of craft and beauty.

And with all this seafaring wonderfulness on view what’s a woman to do but have a go:

Erm may have been looking in the wrong direction … watch out for that iceberg…

As you can probably guess I had a fantastic time enjoying the displays about experimental and maritime archaeology together with the ships themselves and even a small hemp weaving display.

No 1 Daughter did very well. No doubt soothed by the wonderful location of the museum she humoured her old mum’s weakness for things antiquarian.

But the day was too glorious to stay inside for long. A stroll along the fjord was called for.

A walk back along the water and through the park brought us again to the centre of Roskilde and to it’s wonderful Cathedral.

Inside one can stop and think a while

And contemplate the intricate iron work and trolls!

The troll motif adorns the wrought iron grating to the Trolle family burial vault – definitely have a sense of humour these folks – where the Trolle tombs have been housed since 1600.

You can also view the tombs of most of Denmark’s royal family. Even the present queen, Queen Margrethe II, plans to be interred here. Ermmmm. Time to get back out and enjoy the evening sunlight with an al fresco supper and a short train trip back to Copenhagen.

I have wanted to visit Roskilde for many years it did not disappoint. Roskilde is now top of my must re-visit list.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Explore Copenhagen

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Wednesday 18 April 2018 – Copenhagen

With the glorious weather – which I was happy to find we were sharing with friends back home – and a hearty late breakfast under our belts we tootled out into the sunshine to start our exploration of the wonderful city of Copenhagen.

We didn’t have to go far just round the corner and we were at our first port of call, the National Museum of Denmark.

A beautiful bright atrium welcomed us to the museum

And from there we went on a journey through Danish history from the Palaeolithic right through to the 21st century. Here are some of my favourite exhibits:

But my absolute favourite had to be this cabinet full of extraordinary instruments

Just in front of the hotel was a monument that gives you an idea of how they were played.

From the National Museum we walked via Slotsholmen passing the stunning Christiansborg Slot (castle) on our way to the National Library – the Black Diamond – where Lonely Planet report a great cafe….not for us …. but I will skim this. There will be more on food in tomorrow’s entry.

Refreshed by a Wok and Go we headed off to the unbelievably picturesque Ny Havn for a harbour cruise.

What a dream. Small quaint houses surround a canal head where superb boats are moored along the quay.

The cruise took us along canals and out into the harbour where we could see the Little Mermaid perched on her rock, the work of Denmark’s famous King Christian IV (you got to love a monarch who makes his subjects drink beer rather than water), the Opera House, one of Hans Christian Anderson’s houses and much more. The low bridges and tight corners were quite thrilling. From our waterborne vessel we could happily people watch – the whole city seemed to have come out to enjoy the sunshine – and allow the history of Denmark’s capital to gently unfurl before us.

No1 Daughter and I were loving life.

A wonderful afternoon spent in Spring sunshine.

Hold that thought I will be back soon

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Will we make it?

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Tuesday 17 April 2018 – travel to Copenhagen

Today was either going to be a train travellers dream or a lost in Europe nightmare. We were planning to travel from Amsterdam through Germany to Denmark and the Nordic haven of Copenhagen in one day….yes one day….

I love timetables (sad isn’t it?) but even for me tying together connections and timings (allowing enough time for me to wobble from one platform to another), reserving seats on several trains and finding contingencies should it all go ‘orribly wrong was something of a feat. Oh, alright I thoroughly enjoyed this planning exercise but it is one thing drawing up schedules (it was a work of list-art at an advanced level for which you will have to take my word as I can’t find a way to insert it here…) to having a heavy rucksack on your back knowing you will spend the next twelve hours train hopping across a large chunk of Europe….

We set off via No 2 tram enthusiastically.

Would this last?

Unbelievably (or possibly not as the trains were great on the continent) it did last … almost. Amsterdam to Osnabruck … easy-peasy …. tick. Seventeen minutes to change at Osnabruck for Hamburg … tick. Good grief only 9 minutes at Hamburg to board next train to Fredericia (Denmark) … tick.

Here’s one tip I discovered on the Hamburg to Fredericia train: learn the German for ‘this train is back to front’. Not knowing this useful phrase meant we got on at the wrong end of our train and felt like we were walking to Denmark as we spent the next 25 minutes wobbling our way to our seats. I am afraid I got a hopeless case of the giggles and was almost hysterical with laughter having become attached to a young man’s seat by the corner of my coat and could only be released by his having to unthread said coat from his chair. Perhaps you had to be there but I am chortling ever so slightly now as I re-live the embarrassment.

Luckily I did have (just) enough German to explain to the man who thought we were in his seats – good grief we earned those seats! – that he was in the wrong Wagon (carriage). Phew, it was a relief to have a rest. At the next stop we only had 8 minutes to change train….gulp…..

Oh dear no tick at Fredericia. After a long stop at the border between Germany and Denmark – the only place that our passports were checked – our train was running late. Despite a polite run (the Danes are very polite and there was no pushing, shoving, expletives nor shouty-ness … thank goodness) we missed the Copenhagen connection.

Everyone calmly awaited the next train (only about twenty minutes) and fellow passengers made sure that No 1 Daughter and I knew what was happening. Infact this little mishap was a wonderful introduction to Danish (and German) courtesy. We even made a friend. Hi JR if you are reading this!

We arrived only a little later than planned in Copenhagen but after four trains and over 12 hours traveling we were glad to find the hotel – only a few minutes from the station – and take off our backpacks.

(Taken in sunlight next day).

Copenhagen we made it!

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Amsterdam

Hello All

I will come clean I am not a huge fan of the city of Amsterdam. But this time in the company of No 1 Daughter – an Amsterdam lover – and staying in a hotel near Vondelpark and away from the centre I warmed to the place and we spent a pleasant day there.

After a night on the ocean waves and traveling straight to our hotel to dump our backpacks our first port of call was Coffee and Coconut

A quirky cafe (Amsterdam does these really well) inside a converted cinema which serves fresh coconut juice, refreshing iced teas and a range of goodies to eat.

From Coffee and Coconut it was a short walk through picturesque streets, along a huge market and via lots of indies (some with familiar names!)

To reach the giant Amsterdam sign so popular with postcard printers,

(There’s always one …. actually there were hundreds!)

Until we reached the Museum Quarter. We skirted the Rijks Museum (huge so it will have to await another trip)

To the object of our visit Moco, a small museum housing a humongous exhibition of Banksy works.

It might seem a bit odd to view an exhibition of works by a Bristol graffiti artist in Amsterdam but it was an amazing collection spreading over three floors and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly like the wall devoted to a group of ‘Riot’ Police skipping through a meadow…

This is where modern information technology came into its own. We found out about the Moco Museum and it’s exhibition because No1 Daughter could see where friends had visited and this came recommended. In addition we love the Banksy piece used on the advertising as it looks very like Peanut!

Footsore but happy we wandered back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before the next day’s mega-(several)-train journey to Copenhagen….

Until next we meet

Moke xxx