Last week I started up a new little project to help me with learning Danish—a Danish podcast. The podcast is almost entirely in Danish, so if you don't speak Danish, it won't be very interesting. If you do speak Danish well, then it will probably bore you to tears, or be so slow and silly that it'll drive you mad. This podcast is aimed at people just like me, who are in the process of learning Danish.
One of the first really Danish foods I fell in love with was flæskesteg. Flæskesteg translates simply to pork roast, so there isn't anything particularly crazy about it, but the Danes leave the skin on the cut so you get an incredibly yummy, crispy pork rind with every slice. I like pig, and I like crispy pig. Sold! Anyway, it isn't surprising that it was one of the first Danish meals I wanted to learn to cook. I cracked open my Claus Meyer Almanak cookbook to see what he had for me and he had yummy yumminess awaiting. (By the way, he is like the Danish food god and Almanak is one of the Danish food bibles.) I made Sommerflæskesteg med nye kartofler (Summer pork roast with new potatoes) and it really was great. It is a classic flæskesteg, but stuffed with herbs and lemon.
Right now we are at the height of ramsons season here in Denmark (ramsløg in Danish). I'd never encountered them before, and I assume it is because it is native to Europe and so not generally found in the US. They are quite fashionable in Danish kitchens these days. Ramsons are a member of the Allium family, kin to garlic, onions and chives. The flavor is a great blend somewhere between garlic and chive, and you can eat the whole kit and kaboodle: leaves, bulbs, and flowers. We've been using them in various ways from simply adding them as salad greens, to making a pretty kickin' pesto. They are great in a omelet as well. I've also heard tell of making ramsons capers from pickling the flower buds, which I'm dying to try out since I have a deep, deep love of capers and garlicy ones sound divine. I'm hoping to go bud picking this week since the buds are just starting to come up.
Now that we have a sense of the layout of Copenhagen and how to get here to start with, I want to get into moving about the city. I already talked a bit about the metro and regional train from the airport, but I'll dive a bit deeper now, as well as cover a few other ways to move about, namely buses, boats and bikes.
For assistance with figuring out what transport to use to get somewhere, you can use the handy travel planner service Rejseplanen. At the bottom of that site, you can click on either English or German. I use this site extensively to help me sort out how to get form point A to point B, especially if there are buses involved.
A lot of people come to Denmark through the Copenhagen airport (Københavns Lufthavne, airport code CPH). Whenever I arrive someplace new I always sort out how to get where I'm ultimately going, but it can be bewildering to figure out, especially if you're jet-lagged and really don't feel like thinking very much. So this post will try to help the weary traveler sort out what is going on when you arrive in Copenhagen and how to get to the city center in the smoothest manner possible. (Note that many of the links in this post go to pictures I took while in the airport to help give some visual clarity.)
There are quite a few ways to get to Denmark. There are the typical airplane and train methods, as well as a ferry or two, which isn't surprising for a country with so much shoreline. Most everyone arrives in Denmark through Copenhagen, so I'm focusing there, though it is possible to arrive through other ports of entry.
The Copenhagen Airport, Københavns Lufthavne, is a European hub and is the main hub airport in Scandinavia. It is located in Kastrup, on the island of Amager, just to the south of downtown Copenhagen. It is quite close to the city and has frequent, direct, and fast (15 minutes) connections into the city on both metro and train. There are three terminals which are all connected, so if you end up not where you need to be, you may have a little hike, but you can walk all the way through to the one you need. The metro and trains to the city (and Malmö, Sweden) are in terminal 3. My next post will dive into getting from the airport to the city center.
Where to stay is one of the first things I think of when visiting a new city. There are a lot of things to consider. Will I be in a fun place? A safe place? If I'm going for work or an event, how easily can I access where I need to be? I'm not going to give recommendations for specific places to sleep (i.e. hotels or apartments) since I've only stayed in a few myself, but I do want to point out things to consider when looking at where to stay in Copenhagen.
Before I start blogging a lot about where to stay, what to do, etc., you need a little orientation to the neighborhoods of Copenhagen. There are a lot of travel guides out there which explain different aspects of the various areas of the city, but I like to have a clear map of where things are. I just generally love maps actually. There are a fair number of official districts (bydele) in the city, like many cities, but postal codes are grouped into a smaller list of areas for addresses. I'll start with these areas since that is a simpler breakdown and when you look at an address for a place, you'll at least have a rough idea of where it is located.
One concern about visiting Copenhagen is the expense. I'm not gonna lie, Copenhagen is not a cheap city, but it also isn't completely over the top, especially compared to other major cities. Most big cities in Europe and North America are in the top list of expensive cities. In the last EIU report from December 2009 Paris is the most expensive city in the world these days, and most of the top destination cities in the world are near the top.