Tag Archives: citybreak

Luxembourg here I am!

How did I get here? Luxembourg had never been anywhere near my top 20 countries to visit…

But when my Emirates airmiles where converted into an EasyJet flight, all I could reach from London was Luxembourg. So I thought: why not?!

And one Friday evening I found myself on a bus from the airport to Luxembourg City, listening to announcements in French and wondering what to expect from the city.

It didn’t take me long to get excited at the idea of a new destination to discover, though! And with the help of a map, a travel app and an ice cream – while relaxing at my hostel – I quickly set my itinerary for the following day.

A new adventure was about to start!

Hippie Copenhagen: Christiania

Christiania is an entirely different world in that Amsterdam-looking part of Copenhagen called Christianshavn.
Surrounded by a long wall completely covered in graffiti, the only external sign that something there is “different”, this hippie community-turned-tourist-attraction maintains a relative amount of autonomy within the municipality of Copenhagen. A sign at the entrance simply states “Christiania”. The other side of it, which you see as you exit, states “You are now entering the EU”.

pusher street christiania copenhagen denmarkSo-called Pusher Street (officially named Green Light District) remains the main drag, with hash and skunk weed on sale in makeshift stands. Multiple signs warn the tourists that taking photographs here is not permitted, as buying and selling hash is still illegal in Denmark.

Creativity dominates in Christiania. Colourful houses built in interesting architectural styles are seen everywhere. Street art, installations, cultural activities, music events. You name it.

Christiania Copenhagen lakeThere is even a lake!

And yes, there are a lot of dodgy-looking characters walking around so I wouldn’t recommend a visit after dark, but I would definitely encourage everyone to experience the spirit of Christiania when visiting Copenhagen.

A short break in Copenhagen

Say “Copenhagen” and everyone immediately thinks of the Little Mermaid.
And admittedly that was the only attraction I had planned to go and see, not having spent a single minute in planning my impromptu citybreak to the capital of Denmark. So unlike me. The TripAdvisor guide I have downloaded on my phone will come in handy once I reach Copenhagen, I thought. And I was right.

mermaid copenhagen denmarkSo back to the Little Mermaid statue. This icon of the city is definitely overrated. Placed on a rock at the far end of the main promenade, a good 25 minute walk from the main tourist sites, it is not as visible as I expected. Swarms of tourists surround it and cause huge amount of frustration to any photographers. Dislike.

But once you have overcome the mermaid disappointment, you will soon realise that Copenhagen is a great city to visit over a long weekend.
The majority of tourist attractions are within walking distance from one another, but if you get tired easily there is a fairly good metro network that will come to your aid. Boat tours on the canals that cross central Copenhagen are another good way to get around, offering a different view of some of the main sights.

Here are my picks, in no particular order:

#Nyhavn: the old harbour area, characterised by picturesque colourful houses and boats. And lots of nice (yet expensive) cafes along the waterfront. Great area where to hang out at any time of the day and night.

#Christianshavn: south of the harbour, this part of town reminded me of Amsterdam, with its canals, boats and colourful waterfront houses. Very pretty.

#Christiania: crazy place but interesting to visit (lots of graffiti and street art too). This is a hippie community that maintains some autonomy and is famous for its Pusher Street (no photos are allowed there!). A sign on your way out advises you that “You are now entering the EU”….

#Climbing to the top of the Church of Our Saviour: great views of Copenhagen from above. Only slim people can make it to the very top as the staircase gets very very narrow.

#Rosenborg Castle: up until 1710 this was the royal summer residence. Beautiful castle with interesting collections, including the Danish crown jewels.

#Amalienborg Palace: the winter home of the Danish Royal family, it consists of four palaces surrounding a central courtyard. The changing of the guard takes place here everyday at noon after a march across the city centre.

#Lego Store in Strøget (Strøget is the main shopping and pedestrian area): a bit of a childhood weakness, but I couldn’t resist entering and buying a little souvenir there…

#Happy Wall in Kongens Nytorv: this is a piece of interactive art in one of the main squares in the central part of town. Brainchild of artist Thomas Dambo, the wall consists of nearly 2000 wooden boards that can be flipped to change color. Everybody who wants can in this way create patterns, animals, words or statements. Great to watch as passers-by stop to let their imagination run free!

#Walking along the waterfront: great way to enjoy the laidback atmosphere (and the great weather I was blessed with).

#Smørrebrød and Danish pastries: yum! Smørrebrød is a traditional Danish lunch and is basically an open sandwich (try the one with smoked salmon and cheese!). Danish pastries are absolutely delicious and come in loads of different varieties. Unfortunately for all my readers, I was too busy eating and forgot to take photo evidence of the food ;-)

More about Copenhagen will follow!

Escapism

What do you do when the pressure of daily life becomes too much? What do you do when you are not happy with all that is going on around you (or inside you)?

Do you treat yourself to a lovely meal in an expensive restaurant?
Do you indulge in chocolate icecream?
Do you go on a shopping spree and buy a new dress/handbag/pair of shoes/latest tech gadget (or all of them)?
Do you retreat in the arms of your loved one?

I will tell you what I do.
I book a flight.
And I go travelling for a few days.
(Well, not always. Or I would be broke)

 I have posted about my love for travels, planes, road trips, and the feeling of freedom they give me (check out Road Trip, On a plane and Boarding Gate). That is what I seek.

Last week I had enough of everything. Work was driving me mad. So I booked to have a Monday off just to give myself some space. A three-day weekend, mmmm, what’s the best use I can make of it???
I suddenly found myself staring at a map of Europe on GoogleMaps trying to identify potential destinations for a city break.
What European country have I not visited before? Where can I get a cheap flight to, at such short notice (i.e. 4 days)? Are flight times reasonable? Is there hostel availability in the centre of town? What currency would I need? Can I pack all I need as cabin baggage? Is my SLR camera ready?

An hour later I had completed my mission. Destination identified. Flight booked. Hostel accommodation booked. TripAdvisor cityguide downloaded on my phone. Bag semi-packed.

Four days later, at 3am, I was on my way to the airport for a three-day city break in Copenhagen!