Ah, the curse of being a traveller: once you start you just can’t stop. I often wonder to myself how amazing life would be if I could be a nomad, travel around discovering new places, new foods, new people. I imagine that I would be known as ‘That Travelling Girl’, I would carry my possessions on my back, I would write about my experiences and live the perfect existence… and then I think about my comfortable double bed, my jingly-janglies that I always wear, and my love for pretty shoes… yeah. Maybe not. But it’s still nice to dream, no?
Some of you may know that the other week I disappeared to Copenhagen for the day to have lunch at the number one restaurant in the world, Noma. After such a huge trip around the world you may have wondered why I was still travelling and, even more importantly, why for only one day. You may have said, ‘but Jackie! You only just got home! Why can’t you be satisfied with home?!” Well, I’m sorry – I just couldn’t help it. Home is where my heart is and at heart? I’m a traveller.
After a very early start to the airport and a pretty short flight, I landed in Copenhagen, awake and raring to go. I got myself a Metro Card from the airport, jumped onto the (extremely fast and very efficient) metro and away into the centre of the city I went. I’d had a quick peruse of Copenhagen main sights the night before and scribbled some addresses down, but as I only had a few hours before my lunch at Noma, I could only tackle a few of them.
Copenhagen is a very walkable city. It’s not only stunningly beautiful but is rich with culture and history. Never having been to Scandinavia before I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but what I found were an abundance of bicycles, water everywhere, a freshness to the air and extremely friendly Danes. The only downside is that Denmark is, er, not particularly multi-cultural and so I found people were staring at me a lot. Possibly also because I was by myself and had a big map I kept pulling out, but there were people on bikes who just couldn’t stop staring at me, almost to the point where they crashed into each other. Moving swiftly on…
I knew that I had to visit Den Lille Havfrue – the Little Mermaid statue. One of the most iconic images in Denmark, the statue is based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen. She’s located in the harbour by Churchillparken (Churchill Park), gazing longingly out across the waters. Fairy tales are such a huge part of my childhood – an avid reader, I grew up with these stories, devoured them and committed them to memory, and the original Little Mermaid story was always one of my favourites. In fact, I love fairy tales so much that for my senior year thesis (dissertation) I actually wrote it on Disney’s adaptation of children’s stories; that’s right, I combined Disney & fairy tales. Uber geek over here, ta.
Finding her, whilst no great feat, suddenly turned into this incredible surreal moment where I was standing on top of a raised island in the middle of the park, surrounded by water and cannons. To my right I could see the statue and a group of tourists but somehow I just couldn’t figure out how to get to her. I had ended up walking into the centre of the park which is part of an old fort, hence the cannons and raised ground. It’s in the shape of a star, which meant that in order to get off the centre of the park I had to walk all the way around until I found a path to the other side of the water. It took me a good hour when it really should only have taken me twenty minutes had I not gone the wrong way! Still, the sun was out and it was a very pleasant walk, so no complaints here!
Mermaid mission complete, I wandered back towards Kongens Nytorv, really the “centre” of Copenhagen and happened to be in the right place at the right time as a marching band paraded across my path. I didn’t have time to whip out my video camera as well, so I snapped a few shots and enjoyed the music before wandering off to Købmagergade to find the Rundetaarn.
Most cities have a central point of interest that you can climb up to see the land laid out beneath you. Copenhagen’s Rundetaarn (round tower) is unique in that it is also a museum and historic building that features not steps but a gentle curving slope to climb it. This means it’s fairly deceptive, as you end up climbing pretty high – just look out the windows and you’ll suddenly realise you’re at roof height.
Whilst in the Rundetaarn I was lucky enough to stumble upon Peter Menzel’s exhibit What The World Eats, featuring images from his book Hungry Planet – it was absolutely fascinating and I spent a good half hour wandering around, looking at the images and reading the information. Lucky me, right?
Upon reaching the top I had the whole of Copenhagen spread out beneath me – it was just perfect. I checked my watch; it was time for Noma.
I’m actually not going to give you my full review of Noma – you’ll have to wait for that to be published in The Arbuturian – but I will give you a sneak peek of some of my favourite shots from the meal. I know, how annoying am I?
After my meal, Sous-Chef Sam Miller – a native Yorkshire man and Rene Redzepi’s protege – gave me a personal tour of the kitchens and the building. It was fascinating, especially seeing the chefs hard at work on so many different things, some of them not even for immediate meals. Though the restaurant technically closed at 4pm, I don’t think I left until about 5pm.
Sam took me into the upstairs part of the restaurant, currently a staff dining area, kitchen and extended office, and showed me the herbs they grow themselves and the moss they use in their dishes. He told me about their plans to convert the area further, all with a smile on his face and passion in his voice – the other chefs looked up briefly from their work to say hi and grin at me. Downstairs in the main kitchen the chefs moved around me with their various tasks – a well-oiled machine.
I took photos and chatted to Sam, watched the chefs at work and felt, well, incredibly special. It was a glimpse into something wonderful. As I left Sam gave me his card and told me to email if I had any more questions. The staff beamed at me and wished me a safe journey home, telling me to be sure to come back to Copenhagen and try more food soon – upon my arrival they had greeted me by name and informed me that they had read my blog that morning – the personal touch was a much appreciated (and in the case of the blog, most surprising) one.
Checking my watch I felt a huge wave of sadness come over me: it was time to head off to the airport and go home.
Copenhagen in a day was definitely not enough. The servers at Noma were dismayed upon hearing that I wouldn’t be exploring their wonderful city any further this trip; I was just as distraught. I almost wanted to move into the colourful houses I spotted as I was walking around, it was just so idyllic… but a traveller I am and a traveller I will continue to be. I know I’ll return to Copenhagen, for longer next time, and explore some more. Maybe I’ll even be one of those people riding past on a bike, staring at the tourists with their maps and smiling to myself because that’s who I used to be.
Until next time, peace and love.