Springtime and Weekend Getaways

Spring is on its way over here in Denmark and we couldn’t be happier. I say “we” because I’m sure everyone (Danes included) share the same sentiments when those clouds blow away and the temperature reaches up into the mid-forties. I never thought I would feel this way, but 45 degrees is completely manageable and if it isn’t sleeting, it’s enjoyable even! Ha! The other day, my neighbor was having friends over for drinks on the patio, wearing shorts and obviously basking in the rare sunshine that we were so lucky to have for a couple days. I’m pretty sure those are the afternoons that everyone is dreaming of right now. Currently, it is back to the cloudy/windy/sleet-y mess that I am getting quite used to– but I couldn’t have been happier to absorb some vitamin D this week.

Flowers EVERYWHERE
Flowers EVERYWHERE

Besides the beautiful sunshine, this week was pretty amazing, I have to say. Tuesday night I joined a few friends for “Vegan Dinner” at one of the local bars. Now, being a vegetarian is nearly impossible in a country like Denmark. They love anything with meat in it and I’ve gotten used to maybe one vegetarian option on most menus– if any! Their version of vegetarian is usually “dusted with bacon-bits.”

Pretty sunsets in Aalborg, viewed from the hill behind my residence
Pretty sunsets in Aalborg, viewed from the hill behind my residence

So, when I was invited to come to not only a vegetarian dinner, but a vegan one, I was ecstatic. Tusin Fryd, the bar, is probably my favorite haunt found in Aalborg so far. Everything on their menu is vegan (White Russians with rice milk, please) and it’s entirely run by volunteers. It’s a very casual, friendly and welcoming atmosphere that I’m immediately drawn to. Their vegan dinner is in very high demand, so my friend got us on the list a week in advance. We weren’t disappointed. For 25kr each (about $3.75) we got a hearty Indian stew and a hunk of baguette. There was enough food for everyone to go back for seconds, which I eagerly did. It was probably the best meal that I have had in Denmark so far, one, because of the food, but also the atmosphere and the lovely people I got to share it with. We all went home satisfied and full of warm food.

Another cool experience I had this week was going to the local sauna. I’d never been to a sauna before, but it is decidedly Scandinavian, so I knew I would come across one eventually. The sauna was at a large complex that also housed a cafe, three swimming pools and a library. My friends and I alternated between the sauna and the swimming pool, finally understanding how Danish people make it through the long winters. I could only stay in the sauna for short amounts of time before hopping back in the pool, but it was refreshing and I left with my skin feeling softer than it has in a long time. I definitely know where to go now if I need some time to relax.

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Steamy pools on a cold day

Finally, I got to visit Copenhagen again this weekend and this time, I wasn’t alone. My boyfriend, Jeremy, flew over from England (where he is studying at Leeds University) to experience a little of Scandinavia. He bought tickets a while ago and surprised me with them for our second year anniversary. I was really excited for him to see one of my favorite places in the world and I don’t think he was disappointed. Saturday (our full day in the city) was one of those rare sunny days; that was enough to make it a successful trip.

Morning views
Morning views
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Danish coffee = A+

Nyhavn seemed even more colorful than before and flower shops were bursting with springtime blooms. Bouquets lined the sidewalk. The city seemed to wake from hibernation: Strøget was completely packed with pedestrians, cafes were filled with coffee-seekers, ice cream shops opened their doors and beckoned with traditional Danish pancakes topped with ice cream. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Jeremy and I shared an insanely unhealthy concoction of churros, chocolate sauce and soft serve. It was delicious.
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We also got to explore the Latin Quarter of Copenhagen a bit, enjoying a more eccentric side of the city. We saw a woman dancing with her enormous pet rabbit and took up a woman’s offer of FREE HUGS. Around sunset, we climbed the Round Tower (a historic observatory) and got a phenomenal 360 degree view of the city. I even spotted the bridge that connects Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden. Do you ever have experiences where you wish you could put them in a box and store them away for when you want to have them again? This was a weekend like that. I couldn’t ask for more.

Views from the Round Tower
Views from the Round Tower
Christiansborg Palace and where the Danish Parliament currently resides.
Christiansborg Palace and where the Danish Parliament currently resides.
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