Stockholm and Copenhagen with Lisa Knotts
Have you been to any of the Nordic countries? If not, what are you waiting for? I’m so glad to have finally made a visit to at least two now, but it won’t be my last trip. There is still so much more to see and explore.
I was lucky enough to have some friends organize a weekend visit to Stockholm where I squeezed in a kitschy although interesting walking tour of Old Town Stockholm, with a haunted theme. Maybe because the sun was up for so long a little more of the spooky factor was missing, but we still had fun exploring the cobbled streets and hearing the stories.
Stockholm felt safe and the August sun reflecting on the harbour waters was a treat. Located just below the 60th parallel, it is similar to Whitehorse’s location just above making for lovely long summer evenings.
I only stayed in one hotel and a unique one at that, the Langholmen Hotel and Hostel offers guests a unique and totally private stay in a prison cell. The hotel also has full conference services for 6 to 80, a full-service restaurant, bar, and banquet services too in addition to the onsite museum that delves into the prior purpose as a prison for more than 250 years.
The Långholmen Hotel provided a super location for our social group meeting and reminiscence about our travels together, more than 30 years ago. Kayaking, boating and swimming are at your doorstep, and you are a 10-minute walk from Hornstull for a variety of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants in the neighborhood. Hornstull is also the nearest metro station for a short trip to the harbour and Old Town. If you rather walk, it is an easy 45 minutes from Old Town Stockholm on a level even path along the water. Stroll past a wide variety of old ships that are now serving as houseboats, restaurants, and even floating hotels.
As we had Swedish hosts for this trip, we enjoyed some of the local dining spots and Timmermans 1857 was my favorite dinner out. Leaving the stereotypical Swedish meatballs in old town, here I enjoyed a traditional Swedish dish, Biff Rydberg, which is a lovely diced fillet of beef that melts in your mouth and is served with fried diced potato, onion with egg yolk and a whipped mustard cream.
In Stockholm don’t miss out on any of the cafes along the harbour serving lunches and FIKA, the Swedish experience of “a coffee and a cake break”. More than the meal, FIKA is about socializing and reconnecting with friends.
Since I was in Sweden, it was an easy excuse to hop on a train and visit Copenhagen and the area. It was an easy ride on the coach and in about 5 hours we went from one city centre to the other in a relaxing alternative to flying.
Denmark was a different experience as I stayed with a friend in Naestved, a town about an hour’s train journey to Copenhagen so we had a local living experience. This included a visit to the shore, a couple trips to the local shopping mall and even a visit to the very efficient drive through recycling centre. Who doesn’t enjoy exploring like a local and imagining a life somewhere else, at least for a little while?
In Denmark we had to visit Camp Adventure, home to the Skovtarnet, or Forest Tower. Located in Ronnede about 45 minutes from Copenhagen it is worth a day trip out of the city or book a glamping stay for a night or two. You can spend time exploring the Climbing Park in the forest, or frolic in the wildflower fields of the farm.
The Skovtarnet is the jewel of this stop, but you can also combine it with a little glamping for a longer stay. A wooden footpath leads you into the Gisselfeld forest and stroll easily through the forest and over streams until the Skovtarnet comes into view through the trees and rises 45 meters high. Begin the climb as you walk the tower’s circular path. 12 circles around the tower and you can see the forest change around you as you easily ride above the forest floor. Once you reach the top of the tower, take in the views in a truly 360-degree span that overlooks the forest, nearby fields and on clear days, you can see over to Copenhagen and across the water to Sweden’s Malmo. This is a unique experience and photo-worthy stop.
Another Danish attraction well worth visiting is the impressive Frederiksborg Castle, located in Hillerod, near Copenhagen, dating back to the 17th century. I’ve always been fascinated by history, and this is the largest Renaissance complex in the Nordic region. While I have not visited Versailles, this certainly made me think that there must be some similarities between the two. This castle also serves as the Danish Museum of National History with portraits, paintings and more. Interestingly, the museum was established by the Carlsberg brewer, JC Jacobsen. You shouldn’t miss the Castle’s Chapel that still serves as a church today and houses a stunning altarpiece made from gold, silver, and ebony.
If you have an interest in gardens, don’t forget to make time to visit both the Baroque and English gardens before you leave. While you are here, make time to explore the town of Hillerod and the shopping district. The Hillerod Smorrebrod makes a beautiful lunch stop. But they close at 2pm.
What is Smørrebrød? In Denmark you really must try this ‘open faced’ sandwich and probably the most well-known classic Danish food. Quite simply a slice of rye bread topped with a variety of combinations including pickled herring, a hard-boiled egg slices heaped with mayo and shrimps garnished with fresh dill or roast beef.
And save some room for dessert. In Denmark they often add Guf to the ice-creams. This is the marshmallow ooey gooey goodness from the insides of a flødeboller. Or they might add an entire flødebolle, a chocolate covered marshmallow puff, but the puff inside simply melts in mouth. Check out the wide variety of options when you have a Danish ice cream.
In both cities, much like Vancouver, you can easily ride the metros and tap is the way to go. In Stockholm the Arlanda Airport is about 45 minutes north of the city. Flygbussarna operates every 10-15 minutes at 129 SEK. Or if you are in a rush, the Arlanda Express lets you do the trip in 18 minutes for an adult fare of 320 SEK. Both do the job easily and efficiently.
Uber is also an option in both cities.