Day 9 – Berlin

Breakfast was included in our hotel – Sofitel, and it was really a big buffet of so many choices, plus a chef preparing any type of eggs, waffles, crepes and more. Basically, whatever you wanted, it was there or they could make it. The fruit was so fresh and tasty which mixed well with the lovely yogurt that was like a thick, rich Greek yogurt, topped off with some freshly made granola. Round two included fresh smoked salmon with different toppings, or accents – orange rind, dill, etc. I could go on and on about all the meats, cheeses, sausages, potatoes and more. We ate too much the first day. Burp. Sorry.
Walking off our big breakfast was next and it was really cold, due to the low temperature and the wind. We both used long underwear, wool sox, micro fabric undershirts, plus warm boots, down jackets, scarves, gloves and warm hats. We were fine. When you’re bundled up without being bulky, it’s fun, fresh and invigorating. We love walking, but today we were meeting a fragrance friend of Seb’s, Olaf, so we didn’t walk too much. We met at KaDeWe, the largest department store in Germany. It’s huge and filled with just about anything you can think of to buy.
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We sniffed a bit and I let the two of them continue, while I went back to our beautiful room to catch up on photo management and blogging here. I love hanging out in a beautiful hotel room on vacation. It’s a great way to break up the day, at least for me.
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When Seb came back, we went to the bar for Negronis again, then went back to KaDeWe to repeat a fun experience we had last time we were in Berlin – sausages and beer at the sausage shop in the food court. We had currywurst, with shredded potatoes on top and it was all so tasty.
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We were going to have dessert, which I volunteered to handle. I walked though the Christmas Market on the way back to the hotel, but didn’t spot anything that sounded good, so t stopped at a little Italian chain restaurant that was next to our hotel – Vapiano. It looked like a winner. I got in line to get inside, which took about 10 minutes. I got to the front of the line and was told to just go to one of the lines around the room to order. I chose the shortest one and after a few minutes, I was told that guy was going off duty, so I chose another line. After 10 -12 minutes, I got to the front and was told desserts are in the center, by the bar, so I got into that line. I got up front, ordered two desserts to go and he packaged them up and I was almost ready to go. I handed him the credit card and he said I need a “chip”. I showed him the chip in the card, but he said, “No, I need to get one at the cashier, where I started.” I couldn’t do it, so I left. What a mini nightmare. WAY to high maintenance for me.

Day 8 – Copenhagen to Berlin

Got up early and a lot of things are closed, like breakfast at the hotel. Darn. Taxi to the train station and found coffee and some tasty baked goods.
I’m glad we didn’t party too much, like this guy. At least he had a bottle of Champagne!
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OK, this was something we didn’t expect. The train boarded a ferry to take us from Denmark to Germany. What an interesting experience!
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Then we changed trains with only 8 minute between trains. Boy, they cut it so close, but it always seems to work.
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This train was BEAUTIFUL … the real woodwork was amazing.
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The person with her face down was the wife of a guy sitting in front of us. They never sat together. Maybe they were arguing?
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So may wind generators. Nice to see how some countries are embracing new technology away from fossil fuels.
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German lunch was tasty and the beers were so big, but tasty.
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Surprise! We checked in and got upgraded to a huge junior suite. Now I’m in love with the Sofitel Chain, using the added benefit of our membership with Accor Hotel Group. Check out this group. They have a lot of great hotels. We learned about them in Dijon, France a couple years ago and had a stunning room there too – with two balconies overlooking the main square in town. JOIN now and even without a big number stays, you’ll get a free check-in drink and a nice upgrade. We didn’t ask for anything and we got a nicer room for FREE.
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After two free negrons (notice mine on the rock=normal, but Seb’s was UP and that glass was almost 12″ tall) we were ready to take the U-Bahn to go to one of the original Donar Kapop shops in Berlin.
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I learned they were invented in Berlin, by a Turkish guy, which might have been Mustafa? His have a lot of fresh veggies in them, which makes them even better than most. Check out the website, it’s very quirky to say the least. Be sure to click around to activate some of the fun parts of the page.
We stood in line for a little over 2 hours. Unbelievable, even for us, but we’ve been there before and it’s so good, we just did it. We ended up chatting with a Spanish couple. It was fun to compare notes and differences of our home regions. We were also chatting up another couple – she was from Belgium and he was from Italy.
Mustafa’s is very quirky and worth the wait. You can get beer at the store in front, or have someone hold your place in line, then go into the pub, also right there – warm up and have a beer, then trade places. The beer was only 2.50€ and I mentioned how cheap it was to the bartender who said, “You’re in Germany now.” He’s right. I never realized just how cheap it was. In Stockholm and Copenhagen, beer, wine and drinks are very expensive. Generally, cocktails in Europe are comparable to US prices, but beer and wine is usually very cheap, and it’s a lot better. I’m not big beer fan, but the beer there is much better … and higher in alcohol content.

Day 7 – Copenhagen

The last day of the year and the last day for us to be in Copenhagen.
Again, due to the brisk weather and wind, decided to take another tourist adventure … the Boat Tour. We were kind of crammed into a long boat with plexiglass windows all around, including the top, so we could see in all directions. A few of the sites were repeats from the bus, but not many, and it gave us another perspective of this beautiful city. I’m amazed at the care and attention to architecture. The Danes feel it’s important to put a good focus on each building. At least it seemed to us that it’s a big priority, which is great.
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This is so appropriate … Legos are from Denmark. Who knew???
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Tivoli was a bit like Disneyland. It was highly decorated for Christmas and filled with kids and families, but we managed to have fun and stayed for about an hour, which was enough for us.
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Tivoli … one quiet view. Stay tuned and be sure to watch the roller coaster video.
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Another elaborate display in Tivoli.
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Click here to see the roller coaster!

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Waiting for our table at the resto for … herring buffet!!!
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We had a reservation for dinner at Nyhavns Fargenkro, a very cute little resto in the Nyhavn Port. This is where our friend from the gay bar told us the herring buffet was worth having. We started with some Akvavit, which is an aperitif with a variety of optional flavors. I’ve only had one that I really love and is highly flavored with caraway seeds, so after a shot, your mouth thinks you just ate some rye bread. It’s unique and not something I’d do frequently, but it’s fun to keep a bottle in the fridge to share with guests! About the food … OMG, it was beyond delicious. I didn’t realize how many ways herring could be prepared. I love it pickled with dill at home and often have a jar in the fridge, but this place had it with curry, sour cream and several other recipes, and they were all good. I didn’t have one I didn’t like. Some were quite rich, but worth a taste. It was definitely a fishy experience and not for everyone. I loved it.
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Since we had an early train the next morning, we decided to skip fireworks for the new year and just go back to our hotel, hang out and prepare for our trip. The goal was to see if we could squeeze in breakfast, which was included in our room price, but they opened at 6.30am and our train left at 8am and we had travel time to deal with too.
Well, as we were settling into the room, winding down and packing to leave, I noticed a big burst of fireworks at about 7.30pm. It seemed so early to start, but shortly after one neighborhood started, another one started too, then another and another and another. Remember, we were on the 20th floor of the hotel and could see for mile. In fact, we could see Sweden and the bridge from Sweden to Denmark from our corner room. So … as time passed, we saw more and more and more neighborhoods shooting off fireworks. Apparently, they’re legal in Denmark and it seems that people are willing to spend a LOT of money on fireworks, because they kept going on in all directions. We could even see them from Sweden!!!!. I couldn’t believe it, but we saw fireworks for over 7 hours!!!!! And, these weren’t the little “kid” fireworks we have in the US, these were serious and “big time” fireworks almost as good as what you see at professional displays. It was truly amazing. I’ve never seen more fireworks … EVER!!!

Click here to see the fireworks!!!

Happy New Year!!!!

 

 

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Day 6 – Copenhagen

The wind added to the cold and when we were walking to the metro from the hotel, we had to walk between the two buildings. OMG, the wind that “funneled” thorough that spot was overwhelming. If I’d opened my jacket, I could have become airborne … seriously. Hats were losing their grip and had to be held tight or lost. I suspect the buildings were designed that way, because they seems to point to the giant wind generator, which makes total sense.
Due to the cold, we decided to take the Hop On, Hop Off Bus. I usually hate these sorts of things, as well as group tours, but it was a fast easy way to see a few things on the list – The Little Mermaid, Christiania, the spiral steepled church and some of the beautiful architectural sites – The Playhouse, the Opera House and several government buildings. It worked and helped us see things we wouldn’t have walked to go see.
The rest of the evening was spent at the hotel.
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FROM WIKIPEDIA:

The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, who had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre and asked the ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue, which was unveiled on August 23, 1913.[5] The statue’s head was modelled after Price, but as the ballerina did not agree to model in the nude, the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen, was used for the body.[5]

The Copenhagen City Council arranged to move the statue to Shanghai at the Danish Pavilion for the duration of the Expo 2010 (May to October), the first time it had been moved officially from its perch since it was installed almost a century earlier.[3][6] While the statue was away in Shanghai an authorised copy was displayed on a rock in the lake in Copenhagen’s nearby Tivoli Gardens.[7] Copenhagen officials have considered moving the statue several meters out into the harbour to discourage vandalism and to prevent tourists from climbing onto it,[8] but as of May 2014 the statue remains on dry land at the water side

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Translation? Fireworks!!!!! OMG … you’ll see how excite the Danes are about fireworks in tomorrow’s entry here.
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This was a new discovery … a kind of natural energy drink, heavy with ginger. Hot, tangy and peppy. YUM!
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The Spiral Steeple Church. The steps go all the way to the top, but no one was going up there, so we passed on it too. Apparently, it’s a novelty that the steps go counter clockwise. I’m not sure I would have noticed, but interesting to note.
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Many of the pews had speakers with seemed odd to me, so I asked and was told the were added much later (of course), because the acoustics weren’t good and there are often 800 people in one service and many couldn’t understand the priest. Interesting, huh?
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I didn’t realize that Legos was a Danish invention! This the Nyhavn arbor done in legos.
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After the Hop on Hop Off Bus, we had a Danish Hot Dog. They were tasty and oh so cheap.
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I’m not sure I’ve seen a violin repair shop before. Or, perhaps they build them there?
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Nyhavn Harbor on a nicer day. It’s so cute.
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Tivoli Gardens. We didn’t go inside because it was late and cold, but stay tuned. We went the next day.
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Simple dinner sounded good, and Seb spotted a shawarma cafe that was packed, so we took a chance. OMG, it was so good and filled with a variety of cultures and languages. There was a chili sauce on the table that was truly amazing – not hot, just tasty, almost like sun dried tomato.

Day 5 – Copenhagen

For some reason, we both woke up about 4:45am. YIKES! But, we fiddled around with computer projects and I told a nice long bath and listened to a new audio book from Hoopla – The Swiss Spy. It’s getting good, but we needed to eat, so we gathered ourselves and went to the buffet breakfast. Eating without gorging ourselves, we ate, went back to the room, and I felt completely listless, so I sat on the bed, then laid back and promptly fell asleep ….until almost noon. Lordy, what happened? I don’t know, but I rallied and we grabbed our serves, jackets, hats and gloves and headed to the main part of Copenhagen.
One of the many views from our room. The Bella area is where a lot of conventions are held. AC Hotels cater mostly to business travelers, so they usually are outside of the normal touristy areas. The prices are better and many include a large buffet breakfast.
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Another angle of the hotel. Stunning, don’t you think?
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The metro took us within 2 blocks of where we wanted to go, which included the main scene from The Danish Girl. It was really cold – 39, but the wind chill factor, it was below 30. We were dressed for it, but it was still a really chilling cold. We were told it was the Siberian winds. I believe it.
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The famous old harbor is Nyhavn, so the street name is the same.
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Here it is, straight out of The Danish Girl movie. Ha, ha.
If I had to name the main focal point for the essence of Copenhagen, I’d say Nyhavn Harbor is it. The bright colors of the buildings off set the gloomy weather, and the quaint atmosphere make is truly a very special place.
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After Christmas sales in Denmark start the day after Christmas and they’re good. I bought a pair of shoes and another pair of black Diesel jeans … my favorite. Illum is this store.
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I’d read about the oldest Gay bar in Scandinavia, which was close, so we went there. OMG, people are allowed to smoke in some bars, and this was one of them. It was packed with people and filled with smoke and Christmas decorations. There was a large woman standing at the bar in a ankle length fake leopard coat. We talked and here friend was really drunk, but we didn’t talk to her much, thankful. We had a blog with almonds and raised and sea really tasty. We chatted with a guy from Greece, who recommended a restaurant that sounded good, so we went. He was right. The herring sample (below) was a real treat and dinner was too – cod done a bit like fish n’ chips, but instead of the chips, there were small roasted potatoes with a parsley gravy on the side. It was a ll really good, but we went there for the herring buffet, but it was only on the lunch menu, so we vowed to go back. I’m sure we will. It’s in the cute little harbor too.
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We managed to have a Glog, which was homemade and delicious – heated wine with spices, raisons and slivered almonds. It was perfect for the cold weather.
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In chatting with a buy next to us, we discovered a restaurant he recommended. We went for the herring buffet, but it turned out that it was only for lunch time, but we stayed anyway. We had fish and chips, Danish style, so it wasn’t deep fried, but rather breaded and lightly fried. It was really good and it was obvious the fish was fresh.
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We shared a herring platter which was really amazing. Everything was made there and again, it was all so fresh.
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This creepy ad kind of stopped us in our tracks. It was a giant LCD screen advertising upcoming events.
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One of the main department stores in Copenhagen – Magasin.
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The shopping street was packed because it’s Sale Days and everyone is ready to buy whatever they missed out on for Christmas. At least that seemed like it. The cute cobble stoned streets war filled with people of all types, nationalities and ways of dressing. It was so interesting to see so much variety.

Day 4 – Stockholm to Copenhagen

Today, we left for Copenhagen, but first we had to walk around and take more photos. The train trip ahead was 5 hours, so photos and some exercise were at the top of the list. With the sun shining and new fallen show, we had fun tromping around and taking photos in and around Old Town.
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After buttoning up our luggage, we walked the 1/2 block to the Central Station and got ready to board our train. We had a little snack in the First Class Lounge, since we had First Class Eurail Passes – a nice little plus.
The train ride was beautiful. Most of the trip gave us views of fields and little villages all covered with fresh snow from the night before. Little far houses all seemed to be painted either red or yellow – both with white trim. I’m sure the ride without the snow is also a treat, but the snow added a whole other dimension to the trip. The 5 hour trip whizzed by and we both enjoyed taking photos and naps too.
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Here’s a little video of the view out the train window.

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After a full day on the train, which was a great way to get to our next city … whizzing through the snow-covered landscape while staying warm and cozy, we arrived at the Central Station which was as busy as any train station I’ve seen. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. In order to get to the hotel quickly, and without hassle, we took a cab. OMG, the driver was whizzing along at a speed that was borderline terrifying. He was safe, but took advantage of every straight section of road as possible. Turned out the hotel was about $26 from the Central Station. No biggie, but we thought it was much closer.
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AC Hotel Sky Bella is in the Bella District which is a convention center and close by is the largest mall in all of Scandinavia. Fortunately the metro was very close, so after checking into the hotel, getting a very nice upgrade to a good sized room with viesw of Sweden and the bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark. The building is only 4 years old and is definitely a Danish design – very modern and quite unusual. The entire hotel is powered by one wind generator. It’s a little amazing to think how this huge hotel will never get a power bill. I’m sure that’s a huge savings! We’re on the 20th floor on a corner with views for miles in two directions. I’d definitely stay here again and highly recommend it.
Both the inside and outside are beautiful. Interesting design everywhere – high tech and clean too. The junior suite on the corner was perfect.
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Below is the bridge between the two buildings and the entrance to the Sky Bar on the 23rd floor, which overlooks the city.
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This unique piano was fun and hard to capture the rest of it, but hopefully you get the idea?
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The Sky Bar on the top floor was really special, with views in all directions. Going early meant it wasn’t full, but there were a few families with kids we though were completely undisciplined – running around and often screaming. I asked our waiter and we were told that in the Danish culture, parent’s rarely discipline the kids – they are “king”/“queen” of the family and it was definitely showing. We noticed this everywhere after that … in stores, restaurants on the metro. Kids can just do as they please and the parents say nothing … or think it’s cute. URG.
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One of several plant walls in the lobby.
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The bridge between two buildings added an element of flair. Our room was in the one that is mostly shown below, so we got to walk across the bridge a lot.
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Taking the metro was easy, as it was only a block away from the hotel. The biggest mall in Scandinavia was only a couple of stops away.
The mall was packed and we went as a “fall back” place to find dinner, rather then hunt for a restaurant or eat at the hotel. We spotted a Mediterranean restaurant “with our name on it”, so we went of for it. It was a buffet filled with mostly Turkish dishes and it turned out that everything was really tasty. We ate, grabbed some desserts to take back o the room and hopped onto the metro and went back to our nice and cozy room. It was really cold and getting colder, but at this point, we didn’t care. Bed was next on my agenda and Seb sat up for a while adding to his blog and answering Facebook messages.