Canal cruise and Tivoli Gardens

On Monday we had breakfast at the hotel and the headed to Ved Stranden to buy tickets for a canal cruise. As the boat that was about to take off was a covered boat I asked the person at the ticket booth when the next open boat would leave which was in around 30 minutes, so we had a coffee at a nearby Espresso House and boarded the boat at 11 am. There was a little bar at the dock where you could purchase refreshments to take onboard (soft drinks, water, beer, etc.) but we opted not to. The cruise was equipped with an audio guide in several languages but there was also a live guide on board who provided us with some additional/alternative information. The tour lasted one hour and was a great way to see the city from the water.

Ready to set off on the cruise
The Little Mermaid statue attracts loads of tourists
Many interesting abodes can be seen on the shores of Christiania
There is a copy of the statue of David outside
Den Kongelige Afstøbningssamling
Church of our Saviour whose serpentine spire was inaugurated in 1752.
The Marble Church and Amalienborg
The Black Diamond is an extension to the Royal Danish Library on Slotsholmen.

Once we returned to Ved Stranden we decided to walk to Torvehallerne for a spot of lunch. We chose to share a margherita pizza with tomato, buffallo mozzarella, cherry tomato, basil oil and fresh basil at Gorm’s Pizza. The pizza was tasty but could have used a bit more spice. We also had ice cream at Is à Bella. We shared two scoops in a cup, pistachio and lime and they were super delicious. We also stopped by Exotic Mix that sells various nuts, seeds and dried fruits, and bought a couple of bags of nuts to take home.

Pizza for lunch
Is á Bella’s selection

After lunch we hopped on the metro and headed out to explore Nørrebro. We strolled around, stopped for some refreshments and slowly made our way back to the hotel. In the evening we went to explore Tivoli Gardens. We decided to buy only entrance tickets without any ride access. The area is really nice with lovely buildings, beautiful flower installations, fountains, thrilling rides and some 40 places to eat. We ended up having dinner at Italia – La Vecchia Signora. I had a La Caprese salad to start and hubby tried the Carpaccio, both were delicious. We opted for the same main: Ravioli ai Funghi al Burro e Salvia (mushroom filled ravioli with a butter and sage sauce), delizioso! When we were finished eating the sun had set and we got to enjoy Tivoli at its best, all lit up with various light installations.

Tivoli houses some peafowls
Inside Tivoli Gardens
A snack to tie us over to dinner
Waterfront restaurants at Tivoli
Tivoli at night
Tivoli at night
Tivoli at night
Tivoli at night
Tivoli entrance

In the next post we will visit Nyhavn and the Marble Church.

Nothing was rotten in the state of Denmark

I had some vacation days that I had to use before the end of April and as hubby had enough frequent flyer points to get us two return flights within the Nordic countries we decided to take a short vacation in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We arrived early on Sunday morning, took the train into town, dropped off our bags at the hotel (The Square/) and headed out to explore the surroundings. We decided to walk to Rundetaarn or the Round Tower. The tower was inaugurated in 1642 making it the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It is most noted for its equestrian staircase, a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the platform at the top at 34.8 meters above ground, and for the expansive views which it affords over Copenhagen. By the time we got back to street level we were hungry so we decided to go get something to eat. A place I wanted to visit called Paludan Bogcafé was a couple a blocks away so that’s where we headed for brunch. Paludan combines the traditional bookstore with a functioning eatery and it was a really cool place, plus the food was good.

Inside Rundetaarn
My delicious goat cheese sandwich for brunch
Hubby’s ham and mushroom omelet
Inside Paludan Bogcafé

Next we wandered around for a couple of hours and stopped for a beer at The Taphouse. The place offers 61 beers on tap and the selection may actually change during the day. After enjoying our beers it was time to head to the gathering point for a walking tour we had pre-booked with Viator. It was a 2.5 hour guided food tour during which we would visit five different food/drink stops and learn about food history and culture from our guide. We were a group of 10 people plus the guide. The tour started with a traditional Danish hotdog in Rådhuspladsen or City Hall Square. The Danish hotdog is served with apple ketchup, mustard, remoulade, chopped onions, fried onions, and crisp, sweet pickles. The sausage or pølse is distinguished by a very bright red color and called Røde Pølse (red sausage). I really enjoyed the hotdog. Then we actually went to The Taphouse that we had visited just before the tour and had a little beer tasting of two beers and tried to guess which of the 61 beers we were tasting.

The city hall
The Danish hotdog
Our merry tour group at The Taphouse

Next we walked to a restaurant called Godtfolk where we were served smørrebrød and some more beer. Smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich that usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød), a dense, dark brown bread, topped with commercial or homemade cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads, and garnishes. The smørrebrød we were served was a shrimp and egg one and it was super delicious. Our next and final stop of the tour was Torvehallerne. The history of TorvehallerneKBH dates back to 1889, when Grønttorvet (greens market) was established at Israels Plads. Grønttorvet closed in 1958, and only in 2011 when Torvehallerne opened did Copenhagen again have a fixed marketplace in the middle of the city. Torvehallerne is a marketplace that offers Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish and meat, chocolates, baked goods, pizza, etc. Torvehallerne consists of more than 80 shops located in two buildings and an outdoor stall area in between the buildings. We had a look around the “savory” building and then got to taste the local fishcake with some remoulade sauce, which was quite nice. To finish off we strolled through the “sweets” building and ended with a small dessert, flødebolle, which is a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat with a marzipan biscuit base. This was not to my liking as I do not like marzipan. All in all, the food tour was a great experience and good value for money.

Shrimp & egg smørrebrød
Flower stall at Torvehallerne
Produce stand

After the tour finished we made our way back to the hotel and got our room. We unpacked and took it easy for a couple of hours. As the food tour was quite substantial we did not need a big dinner so we headed around the corner from the hotel and ended up at a place called Rosie McGee’s and had some pub grub. The food was nothing to write home about and the place in itself was quite an experience.

Second post on Copenhagen will include, e.g. a canal cruise and a visit to Tivoli Gardens.

Food glorious food in Antwerp

Despite the conference schedule being quite exhausting I did have time to enjoy some nice meals in Antwerp. I decided to kick-off the week with a true Belgian classic – Frites (also known as fries). The Belgians cook their fries twice, which makes them extra-crispy. As I was quite hungry and not in the mood to go roaming around to find the best Frites vendor I simply opted for a tourist trap near my hotel called Frituur No. 1. I had the special fries with mayonnaise, ketchup and onions. Not the best frites I’ve had but definitely edible.

On Tuesday, we had a nice dinner with the conference attendees at a restaurant called Huis De Colvenier. The restaurant itself was very interesting, located in an old townhouse with several different rooms for dining, a wine cellar, a kitchen you get to walk through to get to the dining area, etc. We started in the wine cellar with a Tartare of Fresh tuna with a tomato vinaigrette and green herbs and a glass of sparkling wine. Then we headed upstairs to the dining room for a three course meal. The starter was a Trio of North sea fish with vegetables, butter sauce and grey shrimp accompanied by a glass of white wine. For the main we had Duck breast with a sweet sauce, vegetables, and potato garnish, I am usually not a big fan of duck but this tasted nice. The duck was served with a glass of red wine but I personally opted to stick with the white wine which also worked well with the duck. For dessert we got Panna cotta with Madagascar Vanilla served with red fruits and ice cream made of almond cream. To polish it all off they served us coffee or tea with an assortment of cakes (I had to skip the cakes as I was already stuffed). The dinner was absolutely delicious, the service was friendly and with a price of EUR 60 including the drinks I would even call it a bargain.

On Wednesday, I met up with my niece and we headed to Otomat for pizza. My niece is a vegan so I had her pick a place that had some good options for her. We got to the pizzeria around 7 pm, which was a good thing as later the place was packed and people had to wait for a table. My niece had the Las Vega pizza, which had a vegetable curry sauce, baby leaf spinach, garlic and mushrooms, topped with a homemade extra spicy chili pasta and a foam made from soya yogurt. I went for a vegetarian option called Zorba the Freak, which was a white pizza with feta cheese, tomatoes, eggplant and mint. We both had beer with our pizzas. The pizzas were really good even though the spicy one was very spicy and the service was nice even though the waiter spoke a mixture of English and Dutch.

On Thursday, I found something really interesting, a place called De Peerdestal (I believe it means the horse stable) that serves horse meat. I love horse meat but it is rarely available. As the place offered its own gin I simply had to start with a G&T. It was the first time I had G&T served with a cinnamon stick but I liked it. I ate a 225 g Horse filet ‘Rossini’ with Béarnaise sauce. It was served with vegetables and fries. The meat was absolutely lovely and cooked to perfection. I naturally had a glass of red with the meat and the recommended wine worked really well.

 On Friday, it was time for another Belgian staple – mussels. I chose a place called Grand Café De Rooden Hoed (the red hat) which was also near the Grote Markt. This time I decided to kick-off my meal with a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of the conference week. Among the various mussels choices I picked Mussels Pastis with fennel, leek, white wine, pastis, onion & cream. These were naturally served with fries and mayonnaise. I barely touched the fries as the smaller serving of mussels was 1.2 kg and I could not even finish that. I washed down the mussels with a beer. The mussels were very nice and I loved the anisey flavor of the fennel and pastis. All in all, the food in Antwerp was really good and I can’t wait to go back one day and sample some more of the local delicacies.