Denmark

Copenhagen and its Christmas Markets

Our flight from Tallinn to Copenhagen via Riga was nearly empty in this brand new Airbus A200-300. I like the modern and practical design for short range flight like the bottle holders:

Each row has a mini overhead monitor that display useful info such as connection flight gates.

The 2-2 configuration is my favorite for couples so no need to sit with a stranger. Although the seats looked “thin”, they were fine for a short flight with plenty of leg rooms. Most importantly, adequate overhead bin spaces…passengers mostly bring carry-on for short flight.

We arrived Copenhagen at 8:10 AM, walked to the airport service information desk to redeem the 24-hour Copenhagen Card. I purchased the Copenhagen Card from Viator.com with a 10% discount coupon so it was $56 per person which included unlimited transportation (including the train to/from the airport) for 24 hours starting from the first time of use and free admissions to museums and palaces. I did the math and it made sense to get the card for the places I planned to visit: Christiansborg Palace, Amalienborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, and Tivoli Gardens.

We took the train from Copenhagen Airport to København H, only a 13-minute ride, the central station right next to Tivoli Gardens. From the train station, it was a 11 minutes walk to the Marriott Copenhagen. Alternatively, we could’ve taken the bus has a stop right in front of the Marriott hotel but I wasn’t sure about the bus so decided to walk instead. I booked a night for $239 (Copenhagen is very expensive!).

When we arrived at the hotel, I wasn’t expecting our room would be ready since it was no where near the check-in time but surprisingly they have our room ready and upgraded us to a corner room with water view (more on that later). As a platinum member, access to the hotel’s executive lounge, located on the ground floor, is free and we went in for a quick bite before heading out to explore the city.

We took the bus to Christiansborg Palace, on the walk from the bus station to the palace entrance, I found the architectures and the canal reminded me of Amsterdam.

Christiansborg Palace entrance:

We arrived before it opens at 10 AM so I was checking out the brochure that I got with the Copenhagen Card.

Hum..it was past 10 AM and no one open the door. The adjacent building door was opened so we decided to go in and check that out. It is the palace ruins which also included with the Copenhagen Card:

Not much to see since we are not history people so it was a quick walk around the ruins and we left.

We walked back to the palace entrance and pull on the door, it’s unlocked LOL. Probably, it has been unlocked since 10 AM, duh! We presented our card and the lady scanned it and give us a brochure. She said we need to put on the shoe cover provided by the palace and store Jason’s backpack; my purse was fine. First time touring a palace required wearing a shoe cover, a good idea indeed so not getting the floor dirty especially during the snowing days.

The palace is very grand as expected but not overly excessive.

The rooms with handing chandeliers and massive wall paintings.

A little bit Christmas decors and treats.

The patterns of the ceiling….very detailed.

Then we came to this huge hall of hanging chandeliers and paintings. See the shoe covers we had to wear?

It was surprisingly quiet, we came across less than 10 other visitors; perhaps we were early or it’s the low season. The advantage is that we can take all the photos we want without getting photo bombed 🙂

Then, more rooms…I especially like this chandelier, very fairy-tale like with lots of hanging crystals.

This table is so long that it could easily sit 50 people!!!

This room’s chandelier is more formal and elegant.

Then the library, small but very beautiful. I have a quest to visit the most colorful places in this world, maybe, I should also add to visit the most beautiful libraries?

More rooms and the ceiling details.

A collection of ceramics:

Not sure what kind of room this is but this strangle shaped, elongated chandelier caught my eyes.

Christiansborg Palace is relatively compact compared to other palaces that I have visited in Europe so probably an hour or so would see all the rooms they opened to visit. After that, we took the bus to our next sight: Amalienborg.

There was no shoe cover required but we had to store Jason’s backpack as well in the locker room. I am puzzled on why no backpack or big bags allowed as there’s really no way you can steal anything in this palace, everything is behind glass walls LOL! The glass wall made it hard for photos due to the reflection and glare.

Christiansborg Palace is more of a grand palace with luxurious rooms whereas Amalienborg displays the every live of being a royal and their “functional” rooms.

This chandelier looked like a Murano glass chandelier with colors.

On the top floor of Amalienborg is an exhibition “The Fairy-tale Queen” of the current Queen of Denmark’s collection of the costumes she designed.

If I didn’t read the signs, I would’ve never thought those were all designed by the queen herself! Very artistic and creative!

At around noon, we walked out to the square in Amalienborg to wait for the changing of the guards. Before that, I had a photo with a guard standing, he moves often so whenever he stand still, it was the best time to take a photo at that short interval of time!

More and more people gathered around the square waiting for the ceremony to happen.

I have seen changing of the guards in London and Seoul, South Korea and enjoyed both of them. However, I have to say, the changing of the guards in Copenhagen is very boring!!! Basically, you see the two groups of guards standing facing each other…then this long pause of stare LOL.

They just stare at each other, no other cool moves or demonstration, this long awkward pause. It was almost like a game of freeze and see who moves first.

Then this officer standing right in the middle to photo bomb everyone’s photos…what the?

After a 10-minute stare or so, they started to change place and move…that was it! Super boring!!!

Right next to the palace is the Frederik’s Church.

I typed in Google Maps: The Vietnamese and followed the direction to have our lunch. We walked by this interesting looking brick building, patterns formed by the brick color arrangement.

We were the first two customers…urg not a good sign. We both ordered a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup (Pho). The bowl was small compared to the ones we had back home and the beef were not thin sliced but nevertheless good quality beef. The noodle is much wider but the booth was flavorful. Having a bowl of hot noodle soup during the winter was super comforting. Guess how much this small bowl of Pho cost? $16.5 each, doubled what we paid in the US and not as much ingredient. It was already considered “budget” eats in Copenhagen!

After lunch, we walked to the nearest post office hoping to get some stamps for Jason’s collection. When we got there….it was a building with mail boxes, that was it urg. Then, we walked to the next nearest one which is a small convenient store that does shipping, urg again! We ended sending a postcard to Jason’s friend in China and it cost more than $7….wahhh the most expensive postcard postage ever, super expensive!

The typical streets in Copenhagen with bright colored houses that added color to the gloomy dark winter.

We walked to Rosenborg Castle to check it out.

Once again, we were required to store our bags in the locker room….unlike the locker rooms of the previous two palaces where they were free, the lockers here are coin-operating one that required a 20 Danish Krone coin (if I remember correctly) but I have no coins with me. The lady charged my credit card and give me a 20 Danish Krone coin.

Rosenborg Castle is very dark inside, very masculine.

The wall of all Danish kings and timeline is awesome looking.

The light colors from this painting really stand out from the rest of the dark color toned castle:

Giant lion statues on the floor like guarding the king’s chairs.

A massive collection of vases and porcelains.

This room is probably the brightest room in the castle with white tone instead of dark tone.

The circular stairways filled with hanging picture frames.

Then, at the basement of the castle are the jewels and crown jewels that made this castle famous. Weapons embedded with precious stones and gold are one of the remarkable pieces we have seen.

The huge collection of masterpieces carved out of ivory and amber like this Norwegian Lion ship:

The details are unbelievable that someone could crave it by hands.

Then, we walked into the treasury vault through this thick (more than a foot in thickness) metal door like we were in a giant safety box! The golds and diamonds are eye-blinding!

No matter what color you are wearing today, you’ll find a matching ring!

Stunning jewelry sets:

A golden sword!

The details of the sword case:

The king’s and queen’s crowns.

Rosenborg Castle doesn’t look fancy at all so who would’ve thought they store the crown jewels underneath it?

We went back to the locker room to pick up our belongs and left, it was almost closing time at 3:00 PM. Palaces and castles close early during the winter season so plan your visit accordingly and make the most value out of the Copenhagen Card! From Rosenborg Castle, we walked back to the colorful waterfront and probably the most photographed spot in Copenhagen – Nyhavn. On the way, we passed through the garden of the castle with this row of trees.

Near the Nyhavn, we came across a Christmas market filled with wooden stalls selling various Denmark goods. Prices here of course are much more expensive than the Christmas market in Tallinn.

The craving candles looked quite nice.

Nutcrackers anyone?

We browsed through the stalls and finally, the beautiful Nyhavn! There’s also a small Christmas market there, stalls along the riverbank.

The colorful houses are my favorites, they are brighter colors than the houses in Amsterdam.

A lot of tourists sat on the edge and people watching as canal tour boats come and go.

Even though it was a complete overcast day, it didn’t affect the colorfulness of the houses.

The street of colorful houses is much longer than I thought so it was a nice walk around the loop.

We checked out the Christmas market in Nyhavn.

Blue cookie can, the famous icon of Danish cookies. I didn’t think of buying one to try out to see if it’s different than the ones we find at home…hum….

Glogg is a spiced alcohol drink that served warm, it’s popular in northern Europe…I seen that in Estonia as well.

All sorts of fudge you can imagine of!

We walked back to the Christmas market we passed by on the way to Nyhavn instead because it is bigger.

What a unique oven that you can bake 4 different things at once!

We still have time to kill before the blue hour which I planned to take photos of at Nyhavn so we went in a department store to get warm and use the restroom. It was super busy as people were shopping for Christmas gifts.

All the streets were decorated with Christmas lights so the atmosphere was very lively and festive.

Blue hour finally, we walked back to Nyhavn and got some night photos.

It is especially pretty at night when the Christmas lights were turned on and lit up the colorful houses.

After the blue hour, we took the bus to Tivoli Gardens to check out the Christmas market there. When I was researching on the most famous Christmas markets in Europe, Tivoli Gardens often appeared in the list so I was having a big hope for it. Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest operating amusement park in the world dated back to 1843!!!

It was a zoo, filled with people, and the park was actually not as big as I thought. Although decorated with Christmas trees and lights, I found it too noisy with screaming kids from the rides.

We walked through the different theme rides in search for the Christmas market. Guess what, they don’t have a centralized “Christmas market” like the ones we visited. I was expecting rows of wooden stalls, instead, the “stalls” (actually cute houses that almost looked like ginger bread-men house) are all scattered throughout the park. This one for example:

I much preferred the wooden stalls that are more authentic in look and also easier to browse the items. Those houses are so small that when I went in, I hard to be very careful when making a turn so that my purse and winter jacket won’t knock down things. It was really not enjoyable at all and Jason agreed.

After the disappointment of the Christmas market, Jason and I decided to leave this noisy place to have our dinner.

I had two choices that are close by – Momo Wok Box or another Vietnamese restaurant. Since we had Pho for lunch, we wanted to try out Momo Wok Box (a Chinese fast food stir-fried like kind of restaurant). We walked through the square where this beautiful brick building caught my attention and then to the shopping street where Momo Wok Box located.

We arrived Momo Wok Box and this small shop is filled with people so must be good right? Before we placed the order at the counter, a girl in front of us complained very loudly “OMG, are you serious, this stir-fried noodle cost $20, it’s like fast food in the US!” Her friend answered “this is Copenhagen, everything here is expensive.” Totally agreed!!! I ordered the mala noodle soup with beef.

Jason ordered the seafood noodle soup. There is a small wall bench and some seats and tables outside. Luckily, someone just left so we were able to sit inside. The noodle soup…urg…I think Jason and my soup’s booth is the same thing but they added in a spoonful of canned mala sauce! Not impressed but once again it is considered “budget” meal at $36 for two noodle soup yikes!

We usually don’t like expensive places especially when it’s not super uniquely beautiful so I was glad that I did Copenhagen in a day and checked off one country from my list. It was a long day where we visited 3 palaces/castle, Christmas markets, and the Tivoli Gardens even though we didn’t do any rides. We walked to the nearest bus stop and waited for the bus back to the hotel.

Finally, our corner room at the Marriott Copenhagen…it was dark already so no point on the “water view” haha. The room is spacious.

I tried out to order extra toiletries using the Marriott app (free) and those were delivered by the time we got back to our room – dental sets and extra body wash.

The bathroom look dated for the price of the room we paid but once again, everything is expensive in Copenhagen!

This short trip over the Thanksgiving break, we visited two countries and Christmas markets. I enjoyed Tallinn much more than Copenhagen, we are not big city people and like affordable good food. I highly recommend Tallinn, Estonia, please add it to your bucket list!

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