Last year (all backlogged posts will be henceforth posted as #tbt – or in a book, ha!) I ended up spending three weeks in Denmark with Handsome, the guy I had met and traveled with through Southeast Asia. This year, as the first stop on my Euro Trip I was heading back to good old Copenhagen to visit Handsome, and decompress before heading eastward. And nothing says “relaxing time” quite like working three days straight with minimal sleep, followed by quality time spent at the airport. And for the record, WTF JFK for not providing free wifi.
I arrived three hours early for my flight hoping to relax with a martini so I could promptly pass out upon boarding the plane. Upon checking in I was told that the flight would be delayed three hours, and was offered a consolation $13 voucher from Norwegian Air. Thank you at least for that. However, once I arrived at the bar I was informed that I would be unable to use the coupon on booze, so not wanting to waste free money, I ordered buffalo wings. Definitely a mistake – the wings looked as though someone had just soaked them in lukewarm oil before throwing them onto a piece of checkered wax paper. Not to mention I like my chicken wings like I like my women – not just flats, and there wasn’t a single drum in sight. After not enjoying those, I headed back to the gate with an American I had met, who asked if the plane was still scheduled to leave at 2am. Their response, “Something like that…”
I tried relaxing for a while and around midnight I went to inquire a bit more as to the status of my flight:
Me: Do you know anything about this flight?
Gate Agent: Yes. It’s going to leave on time.
Me: What time would that be? The board still says it’s leaving at 11 pm
GA: It’s leaving on time. At 11:45
Me: Okay thanks.
I’m bad at math, but I’m also pretty sure 11:45 comes before midnight unless we weren’t leaving for another 12 hours…or they were using European time. Mentally and physically exhausted, I went back to a seat debating whether or not to take a nap and set an alarm for the 2am flight. Good thing I didn’t since they started boarding at 12:45 – meaning I would’ve missed it.
Seven hours later, I arrived in Copenhagen after sitting next to a girl that was rubbing her dirty bare feet all over her chair and on my arm rest. Needless to say :::vomit:::. Trying to beat the feet, and the line at customs, I rushed off the plane but sitting in row 58 made this a woefully futile plan and I came to a line that looked like this:
One teller open. One hundred people in line. Yet somehow it only took about 10 minutes to get to the front. I later realized this probably had something to do with the fact that the officer was just looking at the covers of anyone’s passport that was blonde. “Hi, you’re blonde and speak like you have a potato in your throat? Go straight though to Denmark!” Not being too discriminatory, the guy didn’t even look at my picture, just flipped to an open page and stamped me through. Gotta love Scandinavian security.
After a solid night’s sleep it was time to reacquaint myself with Copenhagen. As I had remembered, the city was pretty and clean and the weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. Crossing bridges and canals, beautiful blondes of both genders strolled down the street unsmiling or riding their bikes and nearly running everyone over. I was mostly oblivious to all of this as my only mission while venturing into the city was to find some delicious smorrebrod. If you’re not familiar with smorrebrod, it is heaven on a piece of bread – and this is coming from the girl who hates sandwiches. Basically it’s an open faced sandwich topped any and everything you can imagine . It can be chicken, herring, shrimp, egg salad, bacon, radishes, egg, apple, cucumber, sprouts – literally anything. It’s the quintessential Danish dish that they know better than to fuck up anywhere – it’s like getting pizza in New York. Although every place might not make the best version, everyone has enough pride in the dish not to do it dirty.
After that it was off to Christiania. If you haven’t been to Christiania before, it’s one of my favorite places in Copenhagen. Also known as Freetown Christiania, it started off in the 70’s as a hippie commune that the government let be as a sort of sociological experiment. Forty years later they can’t close the damn thing. It’s part art community, part park, part bar, part miniature Amsterdam. Known for it’s “Green Light District” (no photos allowed) weed and hash are readily available in stands that make no effort to hide what they’re selling. While such things are still illegal in Denmark, the cops are unable to fuck with the drug dealers in this area for fear of retaliation. For the most part the town self governs, frowning highly upon harder drugs in its cafes, bars and parks. Due to the the obvious allure of its relaxed drug laws, there are always tons of young people hanging around spacing out in the parks and on the picnic benches, but simultaneously it’s a major tourist attraction. Which is why in addition to dirty hippies in tie-dye with dread locks and no shoes, there were also a good number for 70 year old tourists in polo shirts and khaki shorts and everything in between. But in all fairness, it’s really a beautiful park, and had it not been overrun by dirty hippies and drug dealers, real estate in the area would probably be pretty expensive.
After a quick beer, Handsome and I headed back home to change and get ready for dinner. Knowing that I have an unhealthy obsession with food, Handsome had made a reservation for Il Buco in Copenhagen, a pop-up restaurant in the back of an Italian grocery that only served dinner once a week. All the ingredients were retrieved fresh from Italy, and reservations had to be made a month in advance. He knows me well. When we arrived, we discovered that everything would be served communally. Tables sat roughly twelve people, which encouraged everyone to be social with their dining mates. If you’ve been to Denmark, you would know that getting Danish strangers to be social is about as easy as it is to get Americans to STFU, so needless to say, dinner started out somewhat awkwardly.
Following a brief introduction by the owner, eating commenced. A welcome drink of prosecco was provided, and fresh bread and some of the best olive oil I have ever tasted appeared on the table. For the first course we were served a bruschetta of roasted red pepper and cured anchovies which was delicious and super fresh. While on one side we were accompanied by a nice Danish couple, our other flank was a party of Danes that we quickly learned would be an obstacle to the enjoyment of our meal. They dominated our half of the table with which we would be sharing food, and had a tendency to hog the oil and bread, and help themselves to large portions of the food before passing the remainders to us. Meaning, on the shared dishes we ended up with a bit more of a tasting menu than a full meal.
Overall the dinner ended up being delicious, although I did feel a bit like we started out great and then leveled out. After the salad/tartar we were served a caprese salad whose fresh mozzarella was some of the best I’ve ever had. It was smooth and creamy with the inside barely achieving firmness and matching perfectly with fresh cherry tomatoes and aromatic basil. The next course was 24 hour roast beef topped with shaved celery and creme fraiche. I barely got to taste any of this since the other diners had taken four of five pieces each and left Handsome and I to split the rest. After that came the ravioli, in which the pasta and broth were perfect, but the chorizo was a bit salty for my taste. Dessert was surprisingly delicious; I’m going to have to try to make mint sugar for myself sometime. All in all a great dinner, especially for the price, and considering there was only one chef for all ninety people. Upon finishing the meal, stuffed full of fresh delicious food I thanked Handsome for a wonderful dinner. “You’re mostly welcome,” he answered. I guess he also had some issues with the food…or company…or English.