gluten-free food duo takes Copenhagen

My dad recently got back to Great Neck after an incredible few days in Cope. We had so much fun, fulfilling the goal of having him try as many delicious gluten-free foods as possible. We also did so many activities, two of which I hadn’t already done—always exciting. We also had a lot of time to talk, both about my semester in Copenhagen and everything else going on at home. It was a great reflection period for me, especially the tour we took yesterday. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to share this amazing city with both of my parents (we missed you, Eric!).

I walked quickly back to my apartment after classes on Monday, eager to drop my bag off and get back outside in the beautiful sun. With only a light jacket, I walked down the main street that connects Norreport to Norrebrø, as I was going to meet my dad, who was coming from Bluetaco in the opposite direction. (He got bluetaco while I was in class, as I wanted him to maximize how much yummy gluten-free food he could eat while he was here, even if I couldn’t have it all with him.) He reported that the churros were the highlight of the meal—no surprise there! During a short phone call, we thought we had agreed to walk on the same street on the same side of the road, but after a while of walking and not seeing each other, we discovered that he was actually on another street. Eventually, we found each other, and we walked together back towards Norreport.

I can’t believe how long it had been since I’d seen him! I guess I’m about to have a lot of long-time reunions, so this was good practice. There was a lot to catch up on. But, since my dad is a loyal blog-follower, I was immediately able to point things out that we saw, relating each sight, store, or restaurant to a story or post from the blog. Now that it’s almost been an entire semester in Copenhagen, I feel like I have so much more information about random places in the city that in the beginning, may have seemed so ordinary or unimportant.

Our first stop was the Rosenborg Castle and the gardens, but we stopped inside the Glass Market as we passed it. I pointed out several places within the building, not knowing if we’d be able to squeeze it in as a meal during the trip. Then, we walked to Rosenborg, admiring the gardens and people-watching, as many people apparently decided that 60 degrees was warm enough for sun-bathing! It looked like the Cornell Slope on the first day of Spring. My dad also told me about a book on hygge that he’d read to prepare for the trip. I thought that was so cool, and it definitely provided an interesting topic of conversation. We discussed what I’ve learned in my classes about hygge, what the concept includes, and how Danes create “hyggeligt” (the adjective) atmospheres.

Next, Dad wanted coffee before we climbed the Round Tower, and I wasn’t about to let him have it from Expresso House (the Danish equivalent of Starbucks). Instead, we walked a little bit out of our way to Emmery’s, where he could try their delicious and organic coffee. Then, we headed up the Round Tower. It was a beautiful and sunny evening, and we spent a while up there. I pointed out several different buildings, neighborhoods, and streets that are now familiar, and my dad was happy to have a bird’s eye view of everything he’d seen and walked so far. For the rest of the trip, he would reference streets we had seen from the top perspective, so it was definitely a good activity to do at the beginning.

We then walked towards the Christiansborg bus stop to head to Reffen, where I was eager to watch dad try all the yummy food there. I always get overwhelmed by all the options, but for the purposes of having dad try as many good foods as possible, I got things I had already had there: the Mediterranean plate with falafel, as well as polenta fries. He also got a jerk chicken bowl. It was really fun to walk around and look at all the different trucks, and we sat by the water to eat. I ran into a couple of classmates from Positive Psych, whom I now haven’t seen in a few weeks, so we all caught up for a few minutes. Unfortunately, we were too full to get a dessert crepe at the time, but I will hopefully be back once more before I leave, and that’s the first thing I’m getting!

Our last activity of the evening was Bastard Cafe, the board game bar. I’ve written about it enough times in the blog for my dad to know exactly what it was. We ordered dessert drinks at the bar, and then we started what ended up being a very long game of chess. We didn’t even finish the game because it was getting late, but it was great to play chess with dad again after a hiatus of many years. We used to do that a lot when I was younger. Since dad had flown into Copenhagen that day, he went back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep, and I headed back to my apartment. I caught up with Adina about our weekends, as I only barely remembered the middle-of-the-night conversation we had when she got back from Rome. Then, I went to sleep.

I woke up Tuesday excited for the day. Dad and I met at 42 Raw for breakfast, where I had an acai bowl, and he had a “blue bowl,” which is more banana- and pitaya-based. I also wanted him to try the gluten-free bread they have there, and he wasn’t able to resist buying the gooey chocolate-chip-banana-muffin sitting on the display. We shared this, which I hadn’t had since my first time at 42 Raw at the beginning of the semester.

After a yummy breakfast, we walked to Nyhavn canal, stopping at the trampolines along the way. When I walked towards the trampolines, Dad thought I was about to step on subway grates until I pointed out that the trampolines were built into the ground. It really is a cool design. It was nice to walk around the canal in the morning, as I do not think I’ve ever been there at that time.

The next activity was taking the metro to Fredericksberg, which is a suburb a little outside of the city center. On the walk there, I showed Dad the app Citymapper and how I’ve been using it throughout this semester to navigate to unknown places. I mistakenly thought I had had a recommendation to bike through the Fredericksberg Palace gardens, but it turns out that bikes are not permitted in the park, which we learned just as we were about to mount the bikes inside the park’s gates. When we got off the metro, we rented “Donkeybikes,” which are bright orange bicycles that are scattered throughout the city. Unlike the scooters, though, which you can leave wherever you want, you must return the bikes to their designated locations. This got us a bit lost later on. Once we downloaded the app to unlock the bikes, we rode them towards Fredericksberg Garden. When we discovered we couldn’t ride them through the park, we decided to walk instead. Fortunately, it was a very pretty area to take in all the scenery. Everything was green; there were several small ponds. We also passed the Fredericksberg Zoo along the path, where we saw some elephants and extremely tall flamingos. Then, we got to the palace. Visitors are not able to go inside because it’s a military base, but it’s a pretty building with a look-out view of the city to admire. We spent some time at the top before deciding to head back and get the bikes. At first, we were trusting our memory to get us back along the right path. But, we did take many turns to get there in the first place, and after a while, we realized we were lost inside this enormous garden. I tried to use the Donkeybike app to direct us, but it kept sending me to the bike drop-off location, not the location where we had left them. It wasn’t particularly user-friendly. After several minutes of studying a map and asking a few Danes we passed along the way, we found our way back to the park’s entrance, and at that point, we were both ready to head back to the city. Although we didn’t ride the bikes for long, I’m glad dad got to have the experience of bike-riding in Copenhagen, as it’s an authentic one!

We took the Metro back to the city, where we headed to Matcha Bar for lunch. It was warm enough to sit outside on the terrace, which was beautiful. We ordered a savory waffle, blackberry bowl (the one I’d had last time that looks like a galaxy), cinnamon bun, and Danish tree truck, which I hadn’t had before. Additionally, Dad noticed that they sold gluten-free beer, so we tried this as well. It was not my favorite, but he said it was one of the better kinds of gluten-free beer.

Next stop was Tivoli. While it was cloudy at this point in the day, it was still great to be there. After walking around for a little while, we stopped at one of the little stands to get coffee, and dad said he had a “perfect mocha”–meaning it was the ideal combination of espresso, milk, and chocolate. Since we were tired from all the walking we had already done that day, we spent some time sitting in comfortable chase-like chairs on the lawn and talking. It was fun to people-watch while getting to chat.

Once we left the park, we headed towards the GoBoat area across the canal, where we were meeting Adina and Goldie at 5:15. Although it was a long walk, we had some time on the way to stop inside a few supermarkets, which dad had wanted to see. Then, we stopped inside a pretty art gallery, where we talked to a Danish painter about her work displayed on the walls. She was very sweet, and she told us some of her motivation behind each piece.

After picking up a bottle of wine from a nearby supermarket, we arrived at the GoBoats just on time. I think all four of us hadn’t exactly pictured being sent off with so little instruction from the guy working there, and although he pointed out on the map all the turns we should take, it was a little overwhelming. Who trusted us to drive this boat alongside all the much bigger boats?! Once we started driving, however, it got easier, as driving the boat was not difficult. The weather was pleasantly warm and sunny (a surprise!), and we didn’t even need to bundle in the layers we had brought with us. We enjoyed the beautiful water and scenery of Copenhagen from the water line’s perspective, and we drove around for about 90 minutes. This was one of the coolest things I have gotten a chance to do in Copenhagen, and it was so much fun to be with dad, Adina, and Goldie, driving a boat in the canals. Along the way, a large swan started following us, and at one point, it even stuck its head inside our boat! This was funny. You would think that it would want nothing to do with us.

We safely docked the boat at the end, and we were all happy to have done it. Adina and Goldie left to do work on their final papers, while Dad and I continued on our food-tour to Union Kitchen, where we shared five different smaller dishes: a spicy chicken (I didn’t have this one, of course), green salad, lentil sweet potato salad, beet salad, and french fries. It was all delicious; my favorite was the lentil salad. After dinner, we were exhausted from our 12-mile-walk day, so we headed back to get some sleep.

I woke up fairly early on Wednesday, as Dad was coming to my apartment to drop off his suitcase for the day. Then, we walked to Paludan around the corner. I just had a mango smoothie, as I wanted to make sure I was hungry for lunch. However, I knew that dad should get the brunch plate, and he very much enjoyed it. We also shared the side of gluten-free bread. Next, we walked to the Black Diamond Library to meet Gry, our walking “hygge and happiness” tour guide. We were both surprised when she approached us, as I guess we had conjured a different image of what she’d look like. However, once we recovered from our shock and heard about her plan for the morning (she edited her original tour because we already had lunch plans), we started really enjoying her company and wisdom. In addition to working as DIS teacher for a communications class, Gry is a reporter and journalist, as well as having a lot of travel experience.

She started her discussion by telling us about five elements of Danish culture she believes support the concept and lifestyle of hygge. As we continued on the tour, she often referred to these five principles, giving us several examples of how each one contributed to Danish culture. As a wrap-up to a semester of witnessing these things first-hand, it was super helpful and interesting to hear her perspective. So, here are the five, as well as examples we discussed along the walk:

  • Trust. Danes have an incredible amount of trust in their government, the social welfare system, and most importantly, one another. Gry admitted that this trust could sometimes be taken too far. Trust is evident in many different aspects of Danish culture, such as the norm of leaving small children outside in strollers while parents buy coffee or go shopping. In the United States, parents would be arrested for this behavior.
  • No shame. Almost to a fault, Danes are very much blunt—they have no shame in anything they say or do. They will make fun of women or minorities in a joking manner, and they will not think twice about how this type of humor may be offensive. An example of this is the tradition of hot tubs in Denmark: the poorest Danish man will (nakedly) sit alongside a major political party leader, and in this context, there is no shame in the body. Both men can have equal statuses while sitting there.
  • Community first. Unlike Americans, who often hold an individualistic perspective, with the idea that they should strive to put their own interests first, Danes have the opposite priority. They care about doing things for the common good and helping their neighbors. This is evident in everything from Denmark’s social welfare system to people’s view on taxes. We talked about the dual approach to thinking about taxes: Danes view the money they make as belonging to the government and their own pockets, while Americans view the money they make as all their own, thinking that they must “give up” some of that to the government as tax money. However, Gry shared a personal experience with us, which is one example of why Danes really like the system of a welfare state. When Gry was a child, her dad required a year of hospitalized medical attention, and because of the healthcare system that exists, he was able to get the help he needed, while she was still able to attend one of the best schools in the country. Another conversation topic that relates to this point is the Law of Jante, which stipulates several principles all saying, that, basically, Danes should not think they are above other Danes. I talked about this with my Psychology of Peak Performance class in the context of athletes: technically, it is not the “Danish way” to put your own interests ahead of others, even if that means distinguishing yourself from the team environment.
  • Ordinary man is king. In Denmark, you’re cool if you blend in. Sticking out, making a show of yourself, and bragging is not fashionable. Gry pointed out that someone like Donald Trump would have a much more difficult time gaining support in Denmark, as they would not be swooned by his fame and money; instead, they would be wary of those things from the beginning. In fact, as the three of us sat on a bench in front of the parliament building, we saw a so-called “famous person,” along with two of his guards, which is what prompted this discussion. The word “ordinary” applies to several different Danish cultural norms, including the fact that many people here dress in black and grey to blend in.
  • No religion. The Danes don’t really believe in a being that exists above humans. Yes, most Danish people belong to churches, but they do not believe in following a religion.
  • Peace. Danes avoid war at all costs, and they try to stay neutral in circumstances of conflict.

Dad and I really enjoyed the tour, especially the focus on “hygge,” which we also discussed can be defined differently by everyone. For example, we both enjoy talking, coffee, and good food, so these are elements of our own hygge. While on the tour, Gry brought drinks and some gluten-free bread for us to try.

After the tour, I took dad for his last lunch at Souls Norreport, which I hadn’t been to since Mom and company visited several weeks ago. I finally had a chance to try the brunch plate, which included several items such as gluten-free pancakes, bread with pea-puree, yogurt with honey and granola, and fruit salad. Dad tried the warm potato salad (my suggestion from the last time) and an open-faced sandwich, as he wanted to taste the Danish cuisine. On the way home, we made a quick stop at the Glass Market so he could try the gelato, which he confirmed was very good. After that, he got ready to go to the airport.

It was such a great visit, and it is crazy at this point to say I’m going home next week. Stay tuned for a post on my last week in Copenhagen.



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