Whenever the family travels, we normally take separate flights to just to stay on the safe side, in the event of a catastrophe. Interestingly enough, I usually arrive a day or two before everyone else, and stay longer for a couple of days. You would think that with three older brothers one of them would take the role of the sacrificial lamb, but clearly the family figured out that you can throw ToT anywhere and I would survive… plus some travel memories.
This time, I had the chance to spend some R&R with my mom, otherwise known as ESF. We see each other on a daily basis because we work together, plus I’m still a boarder at their abode. We’re not the ‘how’s your day’ type of mother/daughter because of proximity and pressures at work, so it’s always a privilege whenever I get to spend some Mommy & Me time, preferably away from Manila and at a place with a ton of shopping.
We stayed at the Copenhagen Plaza Hotel, which is right across the Central Train Station and a stone’s throw from all the major sights in the city.
The rooms are traditional European 3-star hotel rooms, with warm blue tones. My only negative comment is the lack of pillows and how sparse the filling was. It was almost like using a duvet as a pillow.
From our balcony, you could see the Central Station, which makes its location very convenient.
The hotel isn’t grand or modern, but it does boast of a long brass list of all the celebrities and VIPs that have called the Copenhagen Plaza home.
I have a feeling it is because of the breakfast buffet, which is a substantial offering of (REAL!) danish pastries, charcuterie, eggs, cooked meats, and cheeses.
I liked the Muesli station with several varieties. I did not, however, like the fruit salad bowls and wished it was just actual slices of fruit.
Traveling with ESF comes with its perks as well as its pressures. Pressure, because it falls on me to make sure I don’t pick too modern a hotel (why are the owners nagtitipid), too far from the center (I didn’t fly business class so I can take a subway/I don’t wanna walk), or too cheap/expensive a room rate (this place is crap/WHAT! We paid $$$ for this?). So I had to make sure that all three points were covered. It was a 5 minute walk from the Copenhagen Town Hall (above), which is the, absolute city center. Designed by Martin Nyrop in 1893, he drew inspiration from the town hall in Sienna, Italy, hence it isn’t the typical Nordic design.
Copenhagen Plaza is also right beside the Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and famed as Walt Disney’s lightbulb for Disneyworld. And after Hans Christian Anderson visited the Tivoli, it inspired him to write The Nightingale. More on Tivoli on next post.
Everything is walking distance in Copenhagen, and all roads lead to Stroget. Stroget (pronounced stroyt) is the ultimate shopping center in the city.
It’s the largest car-free shopping area in all of Europe, so it’s any shoppers dream. You can walk or bike (lightly) around cafes, shoppes, fruit stands and experience the beauty of the city by foot.
Of course the main artery of Stroget is Frederiksberggade, which forks into other smaller streets filled more shops and galleries.
Since Stroget is the ultimate tourist trail, it’s no surprise that you’d find street performers with their own oddities that seem to capture the eye of passersby.
The only thing that seemed to capture my mother’s eye were the SALE signs plastered on every store. Apparently, I picked the best time to go to Copenhagen! And this is where perks come in.
Whenever we would walk a couple of blocks, we would come across these brightly painted elephant sculptures displayed all around. Was this an art exhibit? Do the Danish love elephants that much?
Turns out, this is a rolling exhibit called Elephant Parade. Each one of the elephants are designed by renowned artists from all over to become the world’s largest financial support organization for the Asian elephant, which is on the brink of extinction. Last year, the elephants were in London, and after Copenhagen, they trollop off to Milan. You can even own your own Elephant, if you’d like.
After a bit of shopping, we decided to stop for some little mid-morning refreshment. For those who are not Filipino, it is a normal habit for us to have mid-snacks before and after real meals. People in Copenhagen seem to have the same notion, as we caught them having brunch at about 1pm.
We sat by Europa Cafe and I had my first taste of Somersby, which is like a flavored cider/shandy with a hint of alcohol. This Brambleberry one was refreshing.
My mother is very friendly, when she wants to be, and easily struck up a conversation with this English couple from the UK who were also in Copenhagen for vacation. They are seated at the infamous Stork Fountain, a present for then Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Louise for their silver wedding in 1894. The other photo is a nice idea for a wine-rack. Mr. S, care to make one for me?
For lunch, we decided on a busy cafe with tons of al fresco diners. Even on a cloudy day, the seating preference for the summer is always outdoors.
Interestingly enough, when asked by tourists on where are some of the best places to eat around Stroget, the Creperier at Pancake-Bike noted Cafe Norden as one of those place with really good food and a view to die for.
He is definitely right. The open air seating are like patron seats of the Amagertorv, where Kobmagergade andStrøget meets and is the most central square of Copenhagen. This is where families gather for brunch, friends meet up for drinks and drama, and couples step their best foot forward all while people-watching at the stylish Danes.
Though the prices are quite pricey compared to nearby dining spots, it’s actually semi-self service. You have to order at the bar, and get your drinks there as well. They deliver your food at the table after some time, but everyone doesn’t seem to mind the situation since there were throngs of diners coming and ordering.
The ambiance is charming, with aubergine accents on the wall and a winding staircase leading up to more seating.
We were seated right by the vast open windows, semi-al fresco, beside a lady who is a dead-ringer for Vanessa Redgrave.
First on our list: Drinks!
This is where the perks of traveling with a parent comes in, as you can dine in style without worrying about your budget. My mother eats like a bird, but whenever she is with me she somehow feels liberated to ease out of her diet and enjoy a little bit of culinary bliss.
Somersby Apple Cider and Cafe Norden Iced Tea
I vowed to order all the different flavors of Somersby available, as I don’t drink beer or anything carbonated but find Somersby refreshing for the summer weather. But it’s that Iced Tea that won it for the both of us. Freshly brewed and sun-ripened sweet tea, it becomes special with the additions of peaches, raspberries, grapes, blackberries and other seasonal fruits which tasted remarkable and worth it’s DKK55 price tag. That’s $10.60 or PHP450 for one. Cognitive dissonance tells me I’m just selling it to myself, but if my mother agrees that it’s worth it, then we must believe so. And then came our meals.
Traditional Danish Porkloin Burger
with homemade remoulade and cucumber salad – served with potatoes
First of all, there is no dainty way to eat this massive “burger”. Just note the lovely strip of crackling circling the salad greens, seducing you to just “go for it”
Slices of juicy pork loin layered with purple cabbage slaw, cucumber salad, and other leafy greens, which make this dish a feast for the palate as well as the eyes. The dressing tasted like Russian sauce, and the acidity of the cabbage slaw cut through the fattiness of the pork loin. It was so massive, I took it home and ate it for dinner afterwards.
Each component was a sampling of Cafe Norden’s best salads, and this kept us coming back to the restaurant a second time after!
Honey Mustard Marinated Chicken Salad with Mozzarella & Walnuts
Luscious and tangy sweet from the honey, which I could actually taste, the walnuts added some texture upon every bite. The chicken were generous strips, not chopped up chicken. This would have been perfect as a sandwich filler as well.
Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto,
served with Serrano ham, mozzarella, pine nuts and melon
Vibrantly green and herbaceous, this was like a Caprese salad gone pasta, with sun dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella discs, and Serrano ham. The pasta was just the vehicle for all the flavors to conjoin together.
Baked & Smoked Salmon Salad with semi-dried tomatoes
The description seemed simple enough, but the complexity of flavors in this salad is inexplicable. The baked salmon had a flaky texture, while the smoked version lent the dept of flavor that alternates between smoky and briny. Since salmon is such a robust fish, the cucumber slices added a freshness to every bite.
No wonder the line at the counter never ended, everyone wanted a piece of the action, and probably some salad.
I loved dining at Cafe Norden even if I’m not used to the price-product inflation. In Copenhagen, everything is expensive, but they can ensure that you will enjoy each and every bite. Oh, and I LOVE the server’s shirts!
After our heavy late lunch, Mom & I walked through Stroget to do some shopping and absorb the eclectic street culture carried out by street performers. I saw Agent Provocateur on sale, but figured my companion might not be the best person to shop lacy nexttonothings with. Will save AP for another day.
People seem to conclude that all I think about is food, but has anyone ever wondered where I get that itch from? Copenhagen, I must note, has some irresistible pastries and bread selection.
No, we didn’t indulge in some bread… we had some pie, and ate it too! When on vacation, the smartest way to keep the happy face is to just act ignorant about the exchange rate. These 2 iced-coffees + a slice of blackberry pie held us back DKK165, or $32. For US and Manila standards, that’s a decent meal for 3. Apparently for Copenhagen prices, that’s just a cuppa joe and some pie. But, as proven, the coffee was nice and strong and the pie fruity and fresh.
On our way back to the hotel, we passed by this produce stand, still in Stroget, and fawned over how luscious the berries looked and how sweet everything was. Copenhagen’s weather is the perfect berry maker and make even the tiny blueberry look massive and plump.
My mother and I both love fruit, and could not resist a bagful of these beautiful dark cherries, which were so juicy and sweet that it tasted like you were drinking juice from a little sippy cup.
We settled early back into the hotel, which had a very red lobby reminiscent of my Singapore stay at the Scarlet Hotel.
One thing I noticed, while trying to battle jetlag, is that summer in Copenhagen never ends. Which means, darkness hardly falls at night, and at almost midnight, you can still see the light of day in Denmark. What a beautiful way to end a great day with Mommy & Me.