‘Do you think I can become the Queen of Denmark to live in an Amalienborg Palace here please?’
My tour guide looked back at me, bemused, at the gasping wondrous comment I made.
I grinned and looked around again at the centrepiece of Copenhagen where the Royal Family lived.
Sure, I’d make an awesome queen, with my little toy soldiers, standing guard at the entrances, to play with. Okay, okay, I’ll have to be King because, duh, I’m a man. But secretly, I think every man would love to be a powerful queen. Am I right?
On the second day of my time, I had just about finished my Sandeman New Copenhagen Tour and again, it revealed even more reasons why Copenhagen should be visited at any time of the year.
With Spring rearing its flowery head, Copenhagen has become of an Aphrodite of its own beauty (is that what the Little Mermaid is for?). The capital’s quiet streets, even at peak times, are just so peaceful allowing you to wonder if you could live in this gem. (I could!) The Danish people may be quiet and distant but they are ranked as the happiest people on Earth according to the United Nations World Happiness Report. They are so happy that they voted down a proposal to reduce their income tax from 48%!!
Find out why I think Copenhagen is so happy here: Copenhagen is the happiest capital in the world?
There are so many reasons why you should be visiting Copenhagen and I’m going to list them all for you!
1. Get ready to be fat on Danish pastries!
Really? The first reason I am going to show you why you should be visiting Copenhagen is to get fat on Danish pastries?!
I’m not kidding. These delicious delicacies are literally melt in your mouth/party in my pants gorgeous! Move over Scarlett Johansson (sexiest Danish actress), these pastries outclass you anytime. But wait! These pastries aren’t even DANISH! Made in the Viennoiserie tradition, this concept was brought to Denmark by Austrians and then Denmark made it their own. Like a croissant, this is a multilayered and laminated sweet puff pastry that is topped either by chocolate, pearl sugar, glace icing and stuffed with jam or preserves.
Your mouth’s dribbling with saliva, isn’t it?
Once you arrive in Copenhagen, pop into a bakery and ask for ‘wienerbrod’ (don’t laugh) which translate as ‘Viennese bread.’ Then let your stomach thank you. Gladly.
2. Perv on local musicians in Nyhavn… not too much
After you’re settled into your hotel room/Air BnB/hostel dorm/friend’s place/snuggle buddy’s bedsit (circle as appropriate), you need to get yourself headed out to Nyhavn pronto.
Oh, sorry, I’m using Danish speak here. Nyhavn in Danish means ‘New Harbour’. There you go, it’s amazing how viking words have integrated well into the English language enabling us to understand the local language (mostly).
So, what’s the big deal. It’s just a harbour…that’s new. Well, prepare to be amazed. Not only you get to see the vibrant and psychedelic colours of the houses that line the 17th century waterfront, but you get to see the best of Danish culture too. The strumming of guitars accompanying the crooning Danish voices amid the backdrop of shored up historical wooden ships, are definitely a great way to experience while you’re having a pint of the good stuff on the terraces that line in front of cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s also rather romantic, too! But if you’re with a partner, keep a keen eye on them as they may elope with the musicians, judging by the attention they get!
3. Be a part of Copenhagen’s world wearing clam shells!
Oooookay, wearing clam shells on a cold day? Are you kidding me? Can’t you see how much a chafing issue that would be with your nipple against the coarse exoskeleton? Oh, you’re looking at me why I would want to wear clam shells on a warm day instead. Well, if it’s good enough for Ariel of the Little Mermaid fame, then it’s good enough for me.
This Little Mermaid statue was actually commissioned in a naughty hanky-panky kind of way. In 1909, the son of the founder of the Carlsberg beer, Carl Jacobsen, was supposed to have fallen in love (I think lust, really) with a ballerina, Ellen Price, who danced in the fairytale production of the Little Mermaid at the Royal Theatre. He showed his appreciation by asking her to model for the statue. After all, she jumped at the chance for a bit of self-promotion as Instagram or YouTube wasn’t around at that time. But after her face was modelled, she soon twigged that Carl actually wanted to see her in the nude. So, (in my mind how she talks) she said, ‘Non, mon cherie, I say no.’ Luckily, for him, the sculptor’s wife was used for the body. Therefore, the Little Mermaid statue is two parts woman and one part fish. A man’s ‘wet dream!’ Oh, how we laughed.
The citizens of Copenhagen either love it or hate it, but the Little Mermaid has become an iconic statue that symbolises the city. Like the Manneken Pis in Brussels, the Little Mermaid has become a major tourist attraction, since 1913, on a rock at the Langelinie promenade.
Would you go and love it? I’m there… with clams on.
4. Bigger, better and boisterous beers
The beers may be more expensive in Denmark (£5 for a beer) but they can be really worth it! Just take your choice between the two most popular beers, Tuborg or Carlsberg. When I wrapped my hand around the said ‘pint glass’, I found myself nearly knocking it over with my clawed hand, not able to cup and hold my well-deserved beer after a trip to Helsingor (more on that later). I looked on, aghast at the loss of my beer glass picking skills. But on closer inspection, the glasses were bigger… better… and held boisterous beer. Boisterous, you say? It’s what I became after a few of the Tuborgs!
So pull up a pew and let’s clink our super-sized glasses!
5. Get high on Copenhagen at Sunset
No, I’m not talking about the drug infested area of Copenhagen called Christianhavn (avoid at all costs!), which is actually a free state not affiliated with Denmark or the European Union.
I’m talking about the skyline of this beautiful city at sunset when you get a natural high. Your face will fall slack, your mouth will drop open in amazement and you’ll feel a sense of everything that’s alright with the world.
Come on guys, I’m not talking about looking at me (it does happen…) but rather the peaceful looking sunset glow that emanates serenely on the rooftop below.
Where am I?
At the top of the Tarnet Tower that’s a part of the Christianborg Palace where the Danish Parliament meets.
Paying a few bob (best to book in advance) at the weekend and bank holidays (free on weekdays), you can shoot up in the lift right to the top and be inspired by the beauty all around us. What a hit.
But you can get that by looking at me too! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
6. Get your fill of Nachos to last a lifetime
I didn’t know why and I STILL don’t know why, but the Danish people absolutely love their nachos. It was a befuddlement to me every time I opened a menu in Copenhagen that this Mexican food is a winning staple in starters, appetisers and even mains. Literally everywhere sold it. Am I speaking to a secret race of Mexicans here? Is this where the Incas disappeared too, carried off by hoarded of Vikings to their motherland?
Every Danish person I asked simply smiled and said ‘We just love it.’
Either way, you’ll not be wanting for more nachos!
7) Growl like a Viking in the Copenhagen History Museum
We all know about the Vikings particularly the British. Arriving on the shores of England from Denmark, first at Lindisfarne, a monastery island, where the first record of Vikings could be found pillaging and looting towns across the coast to setting up a kingdom in the East of England know as the Danelaw. They spread far and wide across the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean to Iceland, Greenland and even as far as North America. So, Christopher Columbus really didn’t discover the Americas. It was the Vikings who stared at the new continent and then promptly went back home.
I wanted to see how the Vikings came to being. After all, the modern English language owe it all to them with guttural words such as ‘fog’ and associations with ‘Scunthorpe’ meaning ‘village’.
There, the National History Museum is the ideal place to find out. Plus you get to dress up as Vikings. That didn’t influence my visit at all. Really, it didn’t (it did).
Starting from Prehistoric times to Vikings to modern Europe from 1600s to now, it was interesting to follow the kingdom of Denmark that used to rule Greenland, Iceland, England, Norway, parts of Germany and parts of Sweden to the country as it is today. I was very intrigued to notice a significant point in Danish history when the British Navy in early 1800s bombed Copenhagen and its fleet (the second largest in the world then) to stop Napoleon getting his hands on them. With their economy in full collapse, they lost many lands and thus starting shrinking ultimately losing Norway in the process.
On my own, I came across the Viking costumes. Looking around to find nobody in the room, I donned a rather fiercesome tunic, a helmet and shield and hid behind a column waiting for an unsuspecting visitor to enter the room. I didn’t have to wait long.
Out I jumped, growling loudly ready to pillage the visitor of their worldly goods.
It was one of the staff.
Concerned about my activity on CCTV, he wanted to see what I was up to. But then he was further concerned about my growling.
‘That’s not good growl, you need to do this.’
He growled rather violently back. So, I tried to copy him. It didn’t work. For the next five minutes, we would be growling at each other only finishing when a mother raised her eyebrow at us as she shuffled past us with her incredulous child.
8) Stay in Copenhagen at Generator Hostel and cry like a baby at Games Night
Guys, I’m too competitive at games. The amount of times my mother turned an embarrassed blind eye when I screamed in despair, storming out of the room snuffling snotty sniffs, when I lost a simple card game has not changed who I am today. And that was only last month.
So, when I went to check in at Generator Hostel Copenhagen, I was soon greeted by a rather bouncy girl who gushed that she was delighted I was staying here. I soon found myself smiling at her enthusiasm. I confess, I rather got lost in the excitement of it all that I hadn’t realised I agreed to be joining Games Night a few days later.
Did the guests at the hostel knew what they landed themselves in for?
With my keycard and breakfast voucher handed over along with an itinerary of events (of which Games Nights continued to scream at me), I was still slightly worried when I opened the door to my hostel room, a six bed dorm, and a rather scarily enthusiastic American wearing the skimpiest underpants soon jumped in my face to say hello. We shook hands, mindful not to grab the wrong appendage and he told me what happens in Generator Hostel Copenhagen.
This luxury hostel is glitzy with huge swathes of social areas, a dance floor, cinema, a library and a long stretched bar. There’s always something on every night before you crawl back into your comfy bed that comes with its own power points and lamp.
Tuesday night is Game Night. Parking myself up on a stool, drinking a beer to reward myself after a long day of sightseeing, I waited in anticipation on what games to play with the unsuspecting multinational crowd including Germans, Americans, Swedish and Irish.
Oh, what fun, we played a variety of games including Pétanque. But it was the Monopoly games that pushed me to the edge and soon everyone could see how ultra-competitive I was like a grizzly bear trying to fish out of the river with only fake bank notes.
What happened next? There were tears, sweat, swearing and perhaps blood drawn.
I shouldn’t tell you.
9) Pretend to be an extremely handsome Dane (not hard for me)
Okay, you want to be one? Just simply join the Sandeman New Copenhagen Tours and pretend to be a local like one of the tour guides. My tour guide was ravishingly beautiful with not only Dane blood in him but Swedish and Norwegian. He was Scandinavia personified. I admit I was hugely jealous of him. How dare, nay how OUTRAGEOUS, that he try to be more handsome than I am! But it was all forgotten as I too, like the rest of our tour group, fell for his charms, only to find myself hugging him a bit longer than expected at the end of the tour.
Revealing secrets of the capital city, he took us a wander through the Old Town, starting from the Town Hall via Nyhavn and finishing up at Amalienborg Palace. I started to copy his long legged walk, ambling coolly with no dripping of arrogance and stared intensely at people making them feel they were the ones who got my totally undivided attention. People just guffawed at me instead.
Weird facts and figures swarmed around my head from this tour and I began to recite them back to local Danes and fellow tourists, who stepped back and nodded back at me with respect in their eyes.
Soon, towards the end of my stay in Copenhagen, I got mistaken as a resident of the city while I was on way to buy my tacky fridge magnet souvenir (I didn’t tell them that) by a Swedish family.
This was it.
This was my true test.
Dropping my shoulders to slouch and gyrated my hips to one side, I simply peeled at them from under my fluttering eyelashes whilst giving them a corner smile.
They simply wanted to know where the National History Museum was.
I knew it. Giving them the instructions in English with a bad Danish accent, they uttered thanks and I gave them my best seductive stare to make them weak at the knees.
‘Are you in pain?’
10. Attempt to become the Danish Queen in Amalienborg Palaces
Quite often, you save the best until last. That’s no question with Amalienborg Royal Palaces in the heart of Copenhagen where the current Queen, Margrethe II, lives in splendour in one of the four Palaces. (The others are shared out between her sons).
Let me tell you, the place is BEEEEEEAUTIFUL!
I grew insanely jealous. Here were the cute soldiers guarding all four entrances and their changing of the guard is a sight to behold, going to all four stations and, my god, I wanted them to guard me! After all, I seem to have the Lynx effect when I smile with hundreds of people trying to get to me. (i know, I know, I’m totally modest).
I asked my tour guide,
‘Do you think I can become the Queen of Denmark to live in an Amalienborg Palace here please?’
He looked at me funnily and asked why,
‘Well, my surname is Rex, which in latin means ‘King’, therefore I have a high chance of becoming Queen. Honestly!’
I crossed my heart solemnly.
He laughed, shaking his head.
‘We love our Queen. She’s the only royal who does her speech live at…erm… what do you have in the UK… State Opening of Parliament. Your Queen gets her script in advance but ours… she doesn’t. We love it. We love it so much that she sometimes makes mistakes in the speech and we now have a drinking game every time she does! Now, she’s getting older so she makes more and more mistakes so many Danes are often drunk halfway through. We love her!’
Well, you can’t argue with that logic! I found myself laughing along with him and somehow gained more respect for the Danish Royal Family.
But looking around, I couldn’t help that Amalienborg is truly a special place in the Danish people’s hearts. It’s where history is made.
Now, Tuborg and a Danish pastry, anyone?