It was lovely to spend the night horizontal, but there was a lot of awake time for Anna and I. The nine hour time change messed with our body clocks and we were rather nocturnal. It was a good chance to get a few things done though and I got three blogs written in the middle of the night before finally falling asleep again. Matt had a fantastic 11 hour sleep – his reward for very little sleep on the plane.
We woke around 8:45, just after the sun had risen. The days are very short here and it’s like being permanently in dawn or dusk. We were lucky enough to enjoy some sunshine, but it had very little warmth and that northerly wind was chilly. When you first go outside it doesn’t feel that cold, but after a longer period of time you really feel it. The high temperature was around three degrees, but it felt much colder with the wind chill. The cold is the perfect cure for tiredness though. If we’re inside and getting sleepy, a few minutes outside soon revives us. The cutest thing I saw all day was this group of kids on a kindy trip.
Our first stop of the day was Nyhavn. I’ve been to Copenhagen a couple of times before, and this is my favourite place. It’s extra special at this time of year with the Christmas markets as well.
Copenhagen is a very Royal city and they have the Changing of the Guards outside the Amalienborg palace at midday. We were heading to the palace to check it out, when we realised the Guards were marching along the road nearby. They march from the castle to the palace every day, then have their ceremony. We were able to walk alongside them all the way to the palace. There was some security around, but generally it was very relaxed and it was neat to be right beside them. Even when we got to the palace the police were making sure people got into the right place for the best views. Another bonus of winter travel is the lack of crowds. There were plenty tourists around, but certainly not crowded. The ceremony was quite long with lots of music and marching, a really great experience.
Malmö city in Sweden is a short train ride away and we couldn’t resist going for a ride to collect another country. After a quick return to base camp for passports and a few more winter clothes, we caught the train to Sweden. It was quite delayed leaving and kept stopping in random places, but at least we had a warm seat. Andy and I have visited Malmö from Copenhagen before, but back in the 90s it was a ferry ride away. Now the train crosses the 8km Oresund Bridge. The train goes underneath the road, so you don’t actually see the bridge as you cross. We still haven’t seen the bridge, but we did find a small bridge built in the same style.
We were starving by the time we got to Malmö centre around 3:30pm as we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast. In Scandinavia the challenge is to find food that doesn’t bankrupt you. It can be done, but you have to work a lot harder than in other cities. Matt spotted a place that looked promising and Anna recognised some of the Swedish which translated as “Big Steak, Small Price”. Unbelievably we had a fantastic meal each with the total bill being NZD60. Matt had a 230g rump steak meal, Anna had ribs and I had salmon. We had lucked in with our timing and managed to get the tail end of the lunch special which went until 4pm. It was a weird time to eat a big meal, but a great way to grab a bargain in Scandinavia!
We checked out some of the shops and Christmas markets on the way back to the station, then caught the train back to Denmark. We love the shops here as a lot of them are completely different to the rest of the world.
Exhaustion set in for Anna (she had been awake since 4am) and she crashed early. Matt and I brewed up a quick meal of pasta and blueberries (not together!) in the communal kitchen. Even though we are all exhausted, it was a wonderful day. Europe really does Christmas so well and the combination of a beautiful city and Christmas magic makes it a very special place.