Dear Zoo (Holland Edition)

I think I left off early Thursday evening after Leendert Jan and I parted ways. Going back to our day together, and it even came up in our conversation, that whenever I/we meet up with Four Seasons friends whom I haven’t seen in awhile (it’s been 9 years since I last saw LJ), we always seem to pick up right where we left off. There is rarely even a pause in conversation, which is just a testament to how special those years of my life were. I sort of liken it to going to war together, as the hours you work in hotels are ridiculous at best and the days are hectic and crazy, because you’re usually putting out fires all day. The bonds you form are deep and apparently last a lifetime in many cases. Anyway, it was so incredibly nice to see my old friend, and trust we’ll be back again soon for a visit.


It was still relatively early (5pm) when Greyson and I got back to the hotel, so we turned around and headed to Central Station to catch the last bus tour of the night. Greyson was surprisingly calm and sat the entire time; he even fell asleep for the last 20 minutes or so, which was nice as I could actually listen to the tour.  ūüôā

Bus Ride!


While I generally stay off grid for the most part when abroad, I do typically buy an International data plan with a little data so I can use Google Maps when I’m out and about if need be. I forgot to do that this trip, so I’ve been navigating the old school way – with an actual map. And I have to say that I have learned the city and how to get around (without a map) so much faster than usual. It also helps that Amsterdam is actually really easy to navigate, despite all the canals and whatnot (I can’t even tell you how lost I was the entire time we were in Venice a couple years ago). Sooo, after our bus ride, I started walking in the general direction of our hotel through side streets  to mix it up and figured I’d break out the map after I thought we were getting close. Well, my instincts literally led us right to the front door – I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I was strangely excited…and proud of myself. Grey and I still needed dinner, so we stopped at a cute little pizza joint just opposite the canal from our hotel and had a lovely dinner al fresco. Date nights with my little guy never really get old. Then again, they don’t get old with the big guy either.

Lower left: our dinner apot. Lower right: most of the cabs in Amsterdam were Teslas.


I really like to visit the zoo in the cities we visit, as I don’t really enjoy them in general (they’re sort of sad), so I figure that I can check off the educational component for Greyson, and also enjoy the scenery of a new place for me. European zoos also tend to be older, with really interesting and different elements. More than anything, most are modeled to feel like a garden or park, so they’re strangely peaceful. With that said, visiting Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo was high on our list (the oldest zoo in The Netherlands), so it was our big outing for Friday.

We started the day with our final canal boat ride, then hopped off near Artis Zoo. First impressions: you can get SO close to all the animals! Very few of the exhibits had railings any higher than my thigh, and a small body of water was all that usually separated us from the animals. One of the multiple monkey exhibits actually had you walk in their habitat, so monkeys are running around mere inches from you with no separation whatsoever. All I could think about was that lady with the first-ever face transplant who was mauled by a chimpanzee – these were obviously much smaller, but still…

We were IN the monkey exhibit.


I always love seeing the art students at zoos doing sketches.

The top photo is the vultures’ habitat – you can see some of their prey on the ground (like a baby goat). I walked by this right before lunch. Needless to say, I didnt eat much.


Not too long after we got to the zoo, Greyson ran into a garden to play for a bit and quickly found a playmate. He was just running back and forth, but approached a little Dutch girl (named Farah, I think) who was 3.5 to join him, so they raced for 20 minutes or so. At one point she started getting into racer position (hands on the ground, one leg extended), so Greyson did the same – it was even cuter than you could imagine. As Farah and her family were getting ready to leave, she said to Greyson (in Dutch), “you can come with us..” as she grabbed his hand. Grey and Farah followed each other from exhibit to exhibit for awhile and even reconvened later near the restaurant playground where they shared a pretend meal at one of the playhouse table and chairs.

Playround at the Zoo


After 4+ hours, we decided to start heading back towards he hotel so Greyson could take a nap. I walked around as Grey slept, and took him to a cute Dutch pancake shop near the Nine Streets when he woke up. He seemed to really like his strawberry, banana, and chocolate pancake, but was distracted by the big faux ice cream cone, so he insisted on some of that too. In all, he had about 1/8 of his pancake and 1/4 of his ice cream scoop, so I was mostly proud that we didn’t go as overboard with the eating as we did the ordering.

Dutch pancakes!


While it‚Äôs probably pretty apparent when reading these posts, Bart was super occupied with his conference once we got to Amsterdam, so we were much like ships passing in the night. As it seems to be the case with all tech conferences, the nights are particularly late with strings of after parties lasting well in to the morning hours, but the morning start times all kick off as those everyone was in bed by 8pm. So we were excited that the conference wrapped up Friday night, as it meant that Greyson and I largely had Bart to ourselves on Saturday. I say largely, because Bart had a 5pm flight to Hong Kong that night. Bart‚Äôs not one for super touristy stuff, so I saved our best excursion (in my opinion) for last: Amstelpark.

Vondelpark had been described as Amsterdam‚Äôs Central Park, because of both its size and location, but Amstelpark felt a lot more like it ‚Äď the location just wasn‚Äôt as central (it is about 2.5/3 miles south of the city center). My impression is that it is really much more of a local‚Äôs park ‚Äď it wasn‚Äôt on any city map I had, I didn‚Äôt find it mentioned anywhere in the standard tourist stuff, but I had read about it in a number of blogs before we came. I even mentioned it to Leendert Jan, who has admittedly only been living in Amsterdam for a year or so, but he‚Äôd never heard of it. I was excited to go even without the fanfare, but as we made the long walk there I started second guessing myself. Boy was I wrong (to second guess myself) ‚Äď Amstelpark was even better than I imagined. If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam (especially with kids), this park is an absolute MUST VISIT. I would put it above anything else you might do in the city, other than possibly the boat and bus tours, because those are just a minimum requirement in my opinion.

So, what‚Äôs so special about Amstelpark? Let‚Äôs start with the playground(s). My favorite thing to visit in foreign cities (since I‚Äôve had a kid) is the playgrounds, as I don‚Äôt think anyone else in the world is as litigious as Americans, so they get a lot more creative with all public spaces, but especially playgrounds. The play areas are all in one ‚Äėsection‚Äô of the park ‚Äď there were six distinct playgrounds/play structures, each geared for slightly different ages. Two of them were big towers that involved some death-defying climbing to get to the top of (I might be exaggerating, but they were super tall), then had a zip line to connect them. The zip line was about 100 yards long. The second tower then actually connected to a third with a rope bridge. There was also a little kiddie amusement park that had a merry-go-round with swings, bumper boats, bumper cars, a smaller Thomas the Train steam engine (that did shorter loops on a track around the kiddie area), a whole row of coin operated rides (e.g. a bucking horse, a mini carousel, train, car, etc.), and a cute little restaurant. Last, they had a pretty big petting zoo with pigs, mini horses, goats, donkeys, chickens, and cows ‚Äď which was totally free. To recap, all of that was just the “playground”.

Amstelpark


Amstelpark Playground


Amstelpark Petting Zoo

Amstelpark also had a train that went around the entire park (it’s HUGE), so naturally we had to go on it. The ride was 20 minutes or so. I’m struggling to really describe what the park itself looked like, but it was sort of like several themed gardens surrounded by lush vegetation. For example, we passed one area that looked like a bonsai garden with super tall bonsai (or something that looked like them) trees throughout. There was another area that sort of looked like an art project as it was a manicured green space with randomly placed chairs everywhere – each chair was secured on its own cement pad. Then of course there were bodies of water, winding paths, and even a huge wooden windmill. There was also this adorable “midget golf” course, with scaled down windmills. I mostly like their name for miniature golf though. Adjacent to the golf was a cute little restaurant, and there were a few others throughout the park. We stayed pretty busy at the park for a few hours until we had to head back so Bart could grab his things and get to the airport.

Amstelpark

After Bart left, Greyson and I decided to walk around a bit more in the Nine Streets area before going to dinner. I sort of wish we had spent more time there earlier on, as the area is filled with really cute boutiques, almost all of which were closed by the time we walked through. We eventually found a cute restaurant called Dante’s, where Greyson and I had a lovely meal and wine. But the wine was just for me. I don’t share wine.

Favorite new game – building “tunnels” and “houses” out of pillows, then bursting out of them.

(Upper Left): As I walked through the Nine Srreets I couldn’t help but notice that the shop employees gathered out front of the shops for drinks after the shops had closed – it was like an on-site happy hour everywhere you looked. So cute.

Our time in Amsterdam really seemed to fly by – more so than usual I think. We had an 8am pick up on Sunday morning from the hotel, so Greyson and I got up a bit early to get some breakfast before heading out. 

Grey found mini donuts earlier in week at the hotel restaurant, so he was wuick to ask our waiter for one when he couldnt find them. Then he got 2.

Our flight home was on time, uneventful, but still sort of long. It actually marked the first time I’ve flown solo internationally with Grey, and it really couldn’t have gone better.  I tell everyone this, but I got the best advice when Greyson was a newborn – and it came from a woman traveling with the best behaved 5 year old I’ve ever seen, so I trusted her word. She said, “just never, ever get up and walk with them or let him walk. Even when they’re newborns – tough it out in your seat when they’re little and it’ll pay off.” Simple advice, but it works. It doesn’t even dawn on Grey that getting up to walk the aisles is a possibility. Subsequently, he sits in his seat without issue for 8-12 hour long flights. There was a family with two kids on our Amsterdam to Chicago flight (8.5 hours) who let the kids run laps down the aisles (and through the flight attendant kitchens) for 10-15 minutes at a time at least 4 different times. They were screaming/giggling and running as fast as they could. I try not to judge other parents, because they could have just been survival mode, but in addition to it just being sort of annoying to fellow passengers, it was so wildly unsafe. All that is to say that I appreciate how insanely well behaved Greyson is – so much that not a flight has passed where multiple strangers haven’t come up to me afterwards to compliment his behavior on the flight. And needless to say, we’ve been on a lot of flights – somewhere around the 70 mark at this point. 

I AM Sterdam

Our train ride back to Amsterdam was much less eventful, and Greyson was awake to enjoy this one a bit more. What is so cute is that it’s not even just the trains that were exciting: there were escalators, elevators (buttons!), taxi cabs (we rode in two!), busses, and so many people. I’ve said it before, but seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler really is such a gift. As most of you know, I sort of fell into documenting his life on Instagram every day. And I really did fall into it. I originally planned to post nearly nothing, and to keep him off social media at all for the most part. It’s a long story as to how my daily posts became a thing, but they did – and after a few months, I found an app called Chatbooks that automatically makes mini photo albums based on your feeds, hashtags, etc. Once I found what became a really easy way for me to document his life – the funny sayings, weird little quirks, observations, and basically all the little things I hope to remember years from now, but know that I probably won’t (at least not without help), I was hooked. All that is to say, that this mildly obsessive documentation of Greyson’s life is sort of my way of soaking up some of that magic. The magic of seeing, learning, and doing things for the first time. Because as adults, how often do we do something for the first time? Not often enough, I can tell you that.

Somewhere in Belgium…

We got to our hotel, NH Doelen, just before dinner time, so we settled in then headed out for a bite. Our hotel’s location is pretty great – we seem central to everything as we’re just a couple blocks from the flower markets. It’s a boutique property with modern, light, and bright rooms. Despite the limited amenities, I was pleasantly surprised. And I think it’s been established that I’m sort of picky about hotels…

Regarding dinner, I had read about Restaurant Anna in a blog or something, so I suggested we wander there to check it out. I went to their site just before we left to make sure they had availability, and they had tables available every 30 minutes all night. So with that, we headed up through DAM Square and into the Red Light District where Restaurant Anna was located. And yes, we inadvertently wandered down some alleys where Greyson got a peek at women engaged in the world’s oldest profession. That should’ve been a sign. Let me preface this by saying I thought we looked nice. Bart and I were both in jeans, but he had a collared shirt and I was wearing a nice blouse. Greyson also looked devilishly handsome, per usual. We got there around 7:30pm, so we were in the prime dinner time frame, and found exactly one of their roughly 50 tables occupied. But we were told that they were fully booked for the night and we couldn’t be accommodated. Remember, they had open tables every 30 minutes when I checked 20 minutes prior. I tried not to be offended, but it was hard not to be. I would get it if they just really didn’t want kids, but there was only one table occupied, so maybe they just didn’t like us. I clearly need to work on becoming okay with rejection. Soo, we found a friendly restaurant in DAM Square called Majestic who graciously let us dine with them. It was much more laid back and proved to be a great meal. I even went local with a Holland trio of meats and mash. Side note: Holland’s “sausage” is a hot dog. Surprising. 

We planned to go on my beloved double decker bus tours + canal rides on Wednesday – Bart had meetings most of the day, but moved things around so he could join us for one of the two boat loops. We were up by 8am to squeeze in breakfast before heading to the docks by 9am, which was pretty early for our super messed up sleep schedules. Grey was so tired that he slept through me changing his diaper and clothes, loading him in the stroller, and taking him down to the hotel restaurant. He didn’t finally wake up until right when we got to the boat. Like most kids, when Greyson wakes up he usually does all his little stretches, does lots of yawning, and then slowly opens his eyes to see where everyone is. He then tends to let out a little cry to make sure I’m paying attention, but perks up in a minute or so, excited to get his day started. On this particular morning, he perked up the second his eyes started to open though – “boats, mama!” “Pigeon!” “Oh, wow.” Unfortunately, the novelty of the boat with the added distraction of the breakfast I packed lasted only about 20 minutes of the 2 hour boat ride, so we bailed on ours plans to do the 2nd boat loop and bus tour.

(L-R) Hotel de l’Europe, Flower Market stalls (x2), Dutch Baked Goods, 3-Story Cycle Park, Misc Shots from Around Town (x4)

Plan B generally consisted of wandering through some new neighborhoods, which I always enjoy. We explored DAM Square, the Royal Palace, Central Station, the Flower Market, Leidsplein, the Rijksmuseum, and then found ourselves at Vondelpark, so we finished the afternoon there and Greyson was able to finally run and jump to his heart’s content. Grey fell asleep for a couple of hours in the midst of all that walking around, and I was about to do the same myself, so when I saw a Starbucks in the Flower Market (which doesn’t really sell flowers, incidentally – mostly bulbs), I quickly popped in to caffeinate and rest for a few minutes. I always feel so guilty, like the tacky American tourist, whenever I find myself in an American chain abroad, but in this instance, with my comically large coffee by European standards (a Venti) in hand, I didn’t care one bit. Sometimes familiar, and a ridiculous portion size, just feels so good.

The Starbucks break also included a super healthy muffin (sarcasm). It was pretty heavenly.

The botton left is Old Church, and the bottom right is on the sidewalk outside of Old Church.



Rijksmuseum, I Am Sterdam sign


Vondelpark is definitely one of the bigger and more popular parks in Amsterdam. I couldn’t totally figure out why, but the bike traffic was downright crazy. I often felt like I was on a freeway, so despite the beautiful surroundings, I couldn’t really let Greyson run loose until we found a fenced in playground which was sort of sad. The playground was pretty standard, all things considered. Greyson had been cooped up so long in the stroller that he mostly ran and jumped on things to burn energy, but also really enjoyed throwing sand in the sandbox. I’m so proud. :/

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Vondelpark – the pic in the lower left is a lost and found display covered in clips to hang found items.

An old friend of mine from my days in D.C. (who grew up in The Hague) recently moved back to The Netherlands, and is living Amsterdam so we met up with Leendert Jan Thursday morning. We mostly just walked around and caught up with one another, but after 6 hours of walking, we covered quite a bit of ground. Leendert Jan proved to be both an excellent tour guide, but also Greyson’s new BFF. Greyson was totally obsessed with him, which is always fun to see. I can’t list everything we toured, but here are a few: Pijp District, Albert Cuyp Market, Rembrandt Plein, Western Church, Anne Frank House, Jordann District, 9 Streets, and more.

Western Church + Anne Frank Statue

Rembrandt Plein, Heineken Tour, Albert Cuypen Market

I’m always a sucker for the random fun facts I pick up along the way, so here are a few of my favorites so far: 

  • Amsterdam sits below sea level; a dam was added in the River Amstel in 1270 AD to control the water levels and prevent flooding. River Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam.
  • The land in the city (especially the city center, inside the canal rings) is marsh-like, so homes are built on top of wooden poles that go deep enough into the ground below until they hit hard sand. Despite that, there are still many homes that have moved over the years, so you can find tilting homes just about everywhere you go in the City Center.
  • When many of the canal homes were built during the Dutch Golden Age they served as a place for both work and personal residence, which meant basements and attics were often used as storage for people in the trade business (which was just about everyone). To make getting goods and furniture upstairs easier, hooks were affixed to most of the gables on the narrow canal houses, so things could be hoisted up by rope and brought in through a window. They are still regularly used today, so it’s not uncommon to see a couch dangling from the hook at the top of a house.
  • The hotel 2 doors down from us, Hotel De L’Europe, is owned by the Heineken Brewing Company and is one of the nicest hotels in Amsterdam – they also have a Michelin Starred restaurant. Rumor is that Freddie Heineken bought the property in 1896 because he forgot his wife’s birthday, so the hotel was a gift to make up for the oversight.

Tilted House + Hook and Pulley

    Gibraltar of the North

    On Sunday night we went to a cute seafood restaurant called Brasserie Guillaune recommended by the Concierge – much like most other places we’ve visited with Greyson, there wasn’t a kids menu, so we attempted to wing it, which is always interesting as Greyson is sort of a self-imposed vegetarian. Thank goodness for bread. It might not have been the most balanced meal for him, but he had some bread, licked a croquette, then ate some mashed potatoes, a single slice of carrot, and about 5 pounds of cherry tomatoes.

    It came in handy that Greyson was super into our hotel’s bathtub – he requested two baths that day and he’s never even asked for one before – as we he soaked in cherry tomato seeds (and juice) after dinner. We aren’t totally sure what the appeal of the tub was, but it was sunken down a bit and the spout was in the center of the tub, so it might have seemed more like a kiddie pool with a water feature than a bath. Either way, it was amusing how much he loved it.


    We had another late start on Monday, but again, I was able to go get coffee and walk around a bit before the boys were up, so I’m not complaining. Once they were up, we headed out for lunch and found a cute Nordic cafe where I was able to indulge in some smorrebrod. Luxembourg is an interesting little melting pot of cultures and languages, but French seems to be the most dominant. Next, we were off to trek through the Casemates du Bock, which are part of a bigger fortress dating back to 1745. The entire city was essentially a fortress and the walls surrounding it had tunnels, underground passages, and cannon ports – the Casemates are part of one of the walls. Luxembourg was said to be the Gibralter of the North back then because of its impressive defense mechanisms. Greyson is really into tunnels right now – sort of a strange thing to be “in” to, but it made the Casemates extra interesting to him as they basically feel like underground tunnels. After we left, we happened upon a little train tour, so we hopped on for a ride around the valley and got a bit of a history lesson while we were at it. It was pretty cold and windy, so it was a nice way to get around.


    Later in the afternoon, we stopped into a French patisserie shop for some coffee and macaroons. It was super upper crust, filled with well dressed women having tea and such, then we rolled in and Greyson was feeding his toy tow truck “tea” from the tea cup. We’re super classy.


    Before dinner, we went to a pirate ship park that we read about and it did not disappoint. The whole thing was sort of a death trap, but it was so fun – Bart and I had to do lots of climbing, rope walking, and sliding with Greyson since he couldn’t do it by himself, but I think that made it all the more entertaining. After that, we had a nice dinner at L’Osteria, then just called it a night as we had an early train to Amsterdam in the morning.




    Trekking to the Fatherland

    It’s been almost six months since our last big family trip and I think we were all starting to get a little restless. Even Bart, who has been on the road a lot this year and racking up miles like they’re going out of style. 

    After Finland and Ireland last November, we went to Phoenix as a family twice over the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), then again in February and April. Sadly, that April trip was our last one with a 1-year old, so we have to start buying Greyson a ticket from now on. Greyson decided to mark that milestone by throwing up on himself (and me) three times about 20 minutes before we landed back in Denver on our way home. Not only was the the first time he’s thrown up on a plane, but I think it was the first time he had ever thrown up at all. We were both pretty traumatized by the whole thing. Him because he didn’t understand what just happened, me because there was just so much of it to clean up and I was absolutely covered in vomit. Thank goodness for baby wipes is all I can say.

    Similar to our November trip, Grey and I are tagging along on a business trip of Bart’s and we’re turning it into a mini vacation (10 days). Bart is attending a conference in Amsterdam at the end of next week, so we’re heading out early to visit Luxembourg for a few days before spending a week in Amsterdam. Luxembourg is actually where the Lorangs all hail from, and since none of us have been before, this seemed like a good excuse to visit. The Lorang surname  is sort of the American equivalent of Smith here, so maybe we won’t have to spell it 3 times everywhere our names are taken down.

    Our travel day was long (30 hours), but mostly uneventful. We had an 8am flight out of Denver on Friday, and arrived in Luxembourg City around 6pm on Saturday local time (10am Sat MT). We flew into Amsterdam, then took a 5 hour train to Luxembourg – we thought Greyson would be so excited to be on a real train, but he slept through almost the whole thing, so he didn’t really believe us when we told him he was on a train after he woke up. He did, however, enjoy the cow, horse, and train spotting as we rolled through Belgium’s countryside. Our trek felt a little like Planes, Trains, and Autombiles at the very end though, as there was work on the track, so they made us get off the train, onto a bus where we were packed like sardines, then on to another train. It wouldn’t have been so bad except we had a big stroller, two suitcases, and three smaller bags/backpacks. Oh, and a squirming toddler. Also, the two train stations involved didn’t have elevators or escalators to assist with changing platforms, so we had to haul all of that down two flights of stairs, up two flights of stairs, then onto the bus, off the bus, then down two flights of stairs, up another two flights of stairs, then up onto the train. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. 


    “Race Daddy! Race Mommy!” Greyson had us running all over Dulles Airport…and everywhere else we’ve been.


    Our hotel, Hotel Le Place d’Armes, is a really cute boutique property right in the Place d’Armes square, which seems to be the center of downtown. After we checked in and freshened up, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a pizza place on the square before retiring for the night.

    Hotel Le Place d’Armes



    Bart deserves a medal for sleeping – I think he logged about 17 hours (9pm Sat to 2pm Sun). Grey did pretty well, he also went to sleep at 9pm, except he had a little break from 11pm-2/3am where we played some games, read some books, but mostly I just begged him to go back to sleep, which he eventually did and also woke up around 2pm. Somehow I, the resident narcoleptic, only logged a total of 8 hours total though – the upside being that I was up and out of our hotel by 11am, so I was fully caffeinated, had a visit to the gym, a nice walk around town, and ready for the day by the time the boys woke up.

    Bart unfortunately had some work to do, so I got Greyson ready and took him out for lunch and some running around for a few hours. We mostly just walked around, but there had been a bit of rain earlier, so Grey made sure to jump in every puddle he passed. Sunday ended up being a good day to be lazy as virtually everything was closed- museums, sights, shops, and even a lot of restaurants. Greyson and I did, however, score a table at The Chocolate House which is apparently a must-try stop for the Luxembourg experience. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, but I was a bit underwhelmed by our cake – our neighborhood shop in Boulder (Piece, Love & Chocolate) is really quite a bit better. 


    I think it was my father-in-law who described Luxembourg as looking like something out of a fairytale book, and that definitely seems to be an accurate description. Absolutely everything is almost painfully picturesque.













    Since today was our first day really getting out, I thought it was interesting to notice how little English is spoken. I’ve sort of taken that for granted in every European city I’ve ever visited – meaning, just about everyone speaks English, most restaurants have English menus or at least a second line of text in English, maps and signage include English translations, etc. Not Luxembourg. There are three official languages here and they don’t include English – Luxembourgen, French, and German. Interestingly, French is the most common spoken language, and German is the most common written. Thankfully my limited knowledge of Spanish helps quite a bit with reading menus and whatnot, so I get the gist of what things say. It is also a good reminder to get serious about brushing up on and improving my Japanese for our month-long Tokyo trip in October, as virtually no one speaks English there.

    Tomorrow should be a good day of seeing the Luxembourg sights before we head back to Amsterdam on Tuesday – thankfully it’s a small city (and country), so a day is probably enough to see all the highlights.

    Lufthansa Strikes Again

    Pun intended. Given that the strikes were still going on, and we had a connection through Frankfurt, we sort of knew it was going to happen, but we were waiting to hear. Sure enough, our flights home for Friday morning were cancelled and not re-booked until Saturday. So, another extra day in Helsinki.

    I actually really like the city, it’s just been so cold and rainy that it’s been hard to enjoy much. I was attempting to describe my observations of the people here to Bart, and I summarized by saying that the Finnish are sort of introverted it seems. They aren’t unfriendly (the opposite, actually), but most don’t make eye contact with you walking down the street. People tend to walk head down everywhere, which I think has something to do with the weather. That habit materializes in other interactions like elevators, stores, etc. as well. One place it does not is when it comes to opening doors. Everyone – young, old, male, female – RUNS to get the door for me when I’m pushing Greyson in his stroller. I mean, people walking in the opposite direction or even passing on a sidewalk will go almost uncomfortably out of their way to help me before I even get to the door. I’m pretty self-sufficient (and I have long arms) so even by myself, I can get the door and stroller in a store with no hesitation, so it’s not like I’m struggling when the good Samaritans come running. It’s sort of amusing, but mostly endearing. And probably one of the reasons I’ve really fallen in love with the Finns.

    I’m grateful that I got most of the stuff I wanted to do in on Wednesday, because Thursday was a total bust. It was pouring rain almost the entire day. I waited it out for quite a while, but finally just needed to leave the hotel by 2pm or so for my own sanity (and what little sunlight there was, was going to disappear by 4pm). Greyson and I walked back along the Esplanadi (my favorite area in town) and found a play area in a book store, then another in a department store called Stockmann. While my sample set is somewhat limited, I’m beginning to think that most European department stores have the top floor dedicated to dining and Childrens play areas – it definitely comes in handy on rainy days though.

     

    Presidential Palace + Marching Band

     

    Changing of the Guards

     

    Grey really didn’t want to take his shoes off.

     

    While Grey was playing I was looking up other options for us, and got so excited when I found a “fairy tale” museum just a few blocks from where we were. So back into the rain we went, only to find that the museum was closed for renovations. So disappointing. Since we were out, I decided to walk around for another hour or two until Bart came to meet us for dinner.

     

    Esplanadi

     

    I didn’t take nearly enough photos of them, but Helsinki had really interesting sculptures all over the city (in unexpected places).

            

    With Friday now our bonus day, we had a leisurely start to the day before we walked down to Kauppatori Market for coffee, and then to a little island about 20 minutes from our hotel called Tervasaari Island. Kauppatori is a food market similar to Hakaniemi, but is designed more for tourists because it has mini-restaurants and lots of take-away food options. It was also a lot cuter. Tervasaari is said to be a smaller version of Suomenlinna, but without the fortress. I obviously didn’t go to Suomenlinna, so I can’t compare, but there wasn’t anything particularly special about it. The views were nice, and I could see the appeal of visiting in the summer, but it was just meh. I’m glad we went though, as I wanted to see it for myself. Tervasaari means tar island, but I didn’t see much indication of the island’s former use.

     

    Kauppatori Market

     

    Kauppatori Market

     

    Kauppatori Market

     

    Kauppatori Market

     

    Traditional Finnish Cinnamon Roll

    Bridge to Tervasaari

     

    Tervasaari

     

    Tervasaari Playground

     

    Tervasaari Playground

    Tervasaari Playground

     

    Tervasaari

     

    Tervasaari

     

    Restaurant Play Area

     

    Thankfully, rain was not forecasted for Friday, but super chilly temps and wind were. Since Bart hadn’t actually seen any of Helsinki yet, after Tervasaari, we walked the scenic route past the Helsinki Cathedral, back down to the Esplandi where we grabbed some lunch. The restaurant (much like our hotel) had another little play area off in a corner, so kids can play when they start getting impatient, versus screaming. Subsequently, we decided to have a wine-heavy lunch since Greyson was fully immersed the wonder of the bead maze. Post-lunch, I was ready for a nap, but Bart was headed back to the hotel to do some work, so Grey and I stayed out for a few more hours. There was some walking, some shopping, but mostly Grey played, because I felt bad for keeping him cooped up in the stroller.

     

    Helsinki Cathedral

     

    Helsinki Cathedral


    Saturday morning was another early start for what what was sure to be a long day. Our “taxi” picked us up at 5:30am; if it wasn’t so early and I wasn’t so out of it, I totally would have gotten a photo. It was a limo-van with leather seats that were holding onto the scent of cigar smoke from passengers past, had a large mohagany table with seats facing it on either side for “doing business” I suppose, and track lighting with multiple color settings to help with mood. I imagine there was once a disco ball hanging somewhere towards the back along with a hidden bar, but you never know. I also think the “business” being done was probably mob-related. Mind you, this amazing party on wheels was just for the three of us at 5:30am – what a waste.

    Helsinki’s airport offered no more surprises upon our return (note my previous comments regarding the taxidermy displayed in baggage claim). I had read about nap pods in their airport, but didn’t see any myself. Bart said they had them at his conference, so maybe the airport loaned them out. I digress.

     

    Way to rub salt in the wound, Helsinki.

     

    Our re-booked itinerary was pretty miserable looking with 3 legs and 30+ hours of travel, but it was probably a blessing in disguise. The shorter legs (the longest being 9 hours) and lengthier layovers allowed Greyson to run around, get a good meal, etc. between flights, so there was more sleeping than we could have hoped for with something more direct. In an effort to further simplify our travels, we decided to experiment a little this trip. We still brought a car seat with us on the trip, and even on to the plane on our way to Europe, but have decided that we won’t be traveling with one in the future at all. I bought a CARES Airplane Safety Harness (FAA approved) and we tried it out on our return (and checked the car seat). Grey slept fine with it on, and was actually more patient sitting in his seat – I think it’s a win! The worst part about traveling with kids is all the stuff, so we’re always looking to simplify. Grey and I are in Phoenix so much that we hardly need to bring anything at all anymore – he has a car seat there, as well as a stroller, crib, PJs, all his bath/diaper/toothbrush-type stuff, toys, books, you name it. Anyway, it was a relief to be able to knock off one more thing from the packing list.


      
      


    We finally made it home Saturday night and all promptly went to bed by 8:30pm or so. We had also all started sleeping for the night around 4pm MT on our flight from Chicago to Denver, so Greyson and I were awake by 3am. Bart slept in to a luxurious 4:45am. Boulder welcomed us back with a 60 degree and sunny day on Sunday; it’s good to be home.

    Finally in Finland

    Tuesday morning started way too early. I’ve given up on a normal sleep schedule, so I wasn’t going to sleep in Ireland until 1-2am most nights. Monday night was no different, but I had to wake up at 4:30am to drive back to Dublin. Well, thankfully Bart was driving because I may as well have been drunk for how out of it I was.

     

    Grey has been saying “choo-choo” a lot lately, so he was extra excited to find a train at the Dublin airport. It totally blew his mind when we put money in to make it move. Cheap thrills.

     

    Greyson: Trucks! Me: Yes, there are some trucks. But to you see the planes?! Greyson: Hmm, Truck!

    If we’re looking for silver linings with the whole cancelled flight debacle, our revised flight to Helsinki was direct, whereas our original one was not, so there’s that. I’m not bitter at all. Kidding. We made it to Finland by early afternoon, but the sun was already setting and it was completely dark by the time we finished lunch (they are 2 hours ahead of Dublin, so our late lunch ended at 5pm local time). In short, the day was sort of a bust. Our hotel has this kids play area right off the restaurant (genius!!), so Greyson played there for quite awhile to burn some energy. We were all wiped, so we all went to bed pretty early. So with only a few days left in our trip, I’m finally acclimating to local time. Go figure.

     

    Helsinki’s baggage claim is decorated with taxidermy. I’m unclear if it’s supposed to be art or a scare tactic.

     

    Dad has the best rides.

     

    Bart had an early start for his conference. Greyson and I also had an early (for us) start to hit the breakfast buffet, and then the town. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Helsinki before this trip, so I had few expectations. It actually sort of reminds me of Latvia, which made a little more sense when I read up on Finland’s history. Finland was part of Sweden from the 12th century until 1809, when it was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Finland only declared its independence in 1917, which explains the significant Russian influence here. Like Riga (Latvia), Helsinki largely looks like most Western European countries in terms of architecture, churches, green spaces, etc., but it has a certain grittiness that I struggle to properly articulate. I’m sure the overall gloomy weather has something to do with that though.

    Grey and I actually covered quite a bit of the city today: first we walked through Esplanadi¬†park and the surrounding neighborhood, which is really cute. There were several nice shops and restaurants lining the two streets on either side of the park. Next we headed south to the Design District and the Design Museum. As luck would have it, the museum had a special exhibit called “Century of the Child”, which was really great for a couple reasons – first, there were play structures and toys that Greyson could use, so he wasn’t confined to his stroller like he is at most museums, and second, since I’m obviously totally immersed in all things baby/toddler right now, it was facinating to see the history and in some cases, evolution, of so many baby things.

     

    Uspenski Cathedral

     

    Bridge of Love – Why does every city have one of these now?

    Street just off Esplanadi

     

    Johannes Church in the background

     

    Design Museum

     

     

    Design Museum – Fun Fact: Fiskars (scissors) is a Finnish company. I had no idea.

     

     

    Jacket for Lonely People – Materials: Velcro, Cotton

     

    Design Museum

     

    Design Museum

     

    Design Museum

     

    Design Museum

     

    Design Museum

     

    Finnish Maternity Box, Angry Birds (Finnish), Christania Bike (Danish)

     

    Johannes Church

     

    After leaving the Design District, we walked a couple miles north to Toolo Bay and the surrounding park. We got there right at sunset (4pm) which proved to be perfect timing. Next, we cut over to check out the local food hall/market, Hakaniemi. Hakaniemi is more authentic feeling than most food halls, as it is really just a market with no bells and whistles. Like any foreign market though, seeing all the different kinds of food is always interesting though.


      

    National Museum

     

    Toolonlahti – Notice the tops of the lamp posts are hands.

     

    Toolonlahti

     

    Toolonlahti

     

    Toolonlahti

     

    Opera House

     

    The first Finnish playground we found was under construction. ūüôĀ

     

    Sunset over Toolo Bay

     

    Pockets!

     

    Grey’s favorite view – watching the trains go by.

    Part of another playground we found, but Greyson wasn’t interested in playing.

     

    Hakaniemi Market

     

    Hakaniemi Market

     

    Hakaniemi Market – Cheese stools!

     

     

    Helsinki Cathedral

     

    Helsinki Cathedral


    After we got back to the hotel, Greyson played in the little play room there for 90 minutes or so – after being stuck in a stroller for most of the day, he really needed to run. At some point he found the bead maze, and while he’s played with one before (many times, and he has a similar one), I’ve never seen him so transfixed. He played with it for at least 45 minutes, and again after dinner for another 30+ minutes. It probably isn’t interesting to anyone but me, but I think one of my favorite things about being a parent is watching when things just start to click for Greyson. In this case, he really started to understand how the beads move, and how to move them around the board in a partiular way. Again, it’s not rocket science, but you can just see the wheels turning in his little head …. and I love it.

    Hugs

     

    Playing with the bead maze

     

    Change In Plans

    I suppose part of travel is expecting the unexpected…and being okay with it. And I have to say that I am usually really good with the unexpected stuff. Delayed flights, bad weather, being stranded somewhere you don’t want to be, and lost luggage rarely (if ever) bother me at all. Don’t get me wrong, there was a time those things would be enough to get me riled up, but after a few years of supremely bad travel luck when I was traveling a lot for work, I came to the realization that it always ends up okay, and letting the hassle of it all get to you just lets ‘them’ win. It’s a lot like holding a grudge – the only one being punished is you, so what’s the point? With all that said, both Bart and I were pretty bummed when Lufthansa’s strike derailed our big plans in Finland. We were supposed to leave for Helsinki this morning, with an immediate connection up to Lapland. What’s in Lapland, you ask? Igloos, reindeer, and the Northern Lights. We planned to stay in an igloo for two nights at this place (one of their new ones with a cabin attached) with hopes of seeing the Northern Lights and taking Greyson on some of the fun winter excursions that the area is known for – it’s like the real North Pole. Unfortunately, both legs of our flight to Helsinki (Dublin –> Frankfurt –> Helsinki) were cancelled as part of the strike. With 115,000 people trying to get re-booked coupled with the fact that there are only flights to Lapland every few days, we aren’t going to be able to make it up there. We were, however, able to re-book on another airline to get to Helsinki on Tuesday. So we have an extra day in Ireland and one extra day in Helsinki. More than 24 hours after they canceled our flight, we still haven’t even been able to get ahold of anyone at Lufthansa if that tells you how bad their situation is. Getting home could be interesting, but only time will tell. There are certainly worse places to be stuck. 

    Where we were supposed to be staying tonight.

    We got the news about our flights yesterday afternoon when we were driving back to Dublin to stay for a night before our planned 6am flight this morning. On our drive back, we made a small detour to visit the town of Adare, which is said to be Ireland’s “Prettiest Village”. Bart was sick of driving and neither of us were particularly interested in spending more time in Dublin, so we made the call to stay in Adare for the next two nights. And because we were feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to stay in the most obnoxious place in town: Adare Manor. If Trump Doonbeg was straight out of The Bachelor, Adare Manor is a real-life Wayne Manor. It was originally a Georgian home built in the 1700s, but was purchased by Lord Dunraven in 1820. Lord Dunraven and his wife completed the manor’s expansion and renovation over the next few decades, completing it 1864 (although Lord Dunraven passed away in 1850, so he never saw it completed). The manor remained a family home until 1982. 

    Adare Manor

    Adare Thatch-Roof Cottages

    Adare Thatch-Roof Cottages

    Adare Thatch-Roof Cottages

    Adare Town Park

        
        
          

    Adare Town Park

     
     

    Adare Town Park

      

    Adare Town Park

      

    Adare – Holy Trinity Abbey Church

     

    The hotel is super old school, maybe even too much for my liking. For example, there is a printed dress code for each area of the property and the time of day (e.g. things get even more formal after 5pm). The property and golf course are gorgeous, but the hotel could use some sprucing up. Rumor is that they’re closing the entire property (golf and spa too) in January for 18-24 months to do a full interior renovation. They sought to get permits to expand the main building, but were told they must not alter the exterior structure (hearing things like that always makes me happy). With that said, we’re happy to be here and to relax for a couple days before going to Helsinki. Hopefully we’ll get our chance to stay in an igloo and see the Northern Lights another time.
     

    Adare Manor

      

    Adare Manor

      

    Adare Manor

      

    Adare Manor

     

    The weather has been pretty gloomy and rainy, so we took advantage of our extra day by doing nothing. Well, I did nothing. I spent the afternoon in the Spa,and generally just hung out around the hotel with Greyson while Bart worked most of the day. We have a super early start tomorrow to get back to Dublin for our flight. 

     

    Greyson’s new favorite bathroom feature: the bidet.

      

    Our Sommelier

      

    Milk with a view.

     
     

    Adare Manor

     

     

    We caught part of someone’s falconry lesson today!

      

    Adare Manor

      

    Adare Manor

      

    Adare Manor

        

    Adare Manor – Drawing Room

     

    Adare Manor

    Discovering MOHER of Ireland

    With the Web Summit over, Bart was free to leave Dublin yesterday, so after a low key morning that included another fancy breakfast at our hotel and Grey showing Bart his favorite parts of St. Stephen’s Green and the Temple Bar neighborhood, we made our way to the western coast. More specifically, Doonbeg.

     

    Greyson is getting a little too used to beig spoiled.

      
      

    Since I seem to be experiencing the longest drag of jet lag ever, Grey and I slept in pretty late, but Bart was up bright and early to visit the hotel gym. As he was waiting for it to open, he struck up a conversation with another man waiting. They chit chatted for awhile before Bart finally figured out who he was: Josh Hartnett. In a weird dose of small world, I walked through a filming of Penny Dreadful (Josh Harnettt is in the starring role) the day before at the Natural History Museum. 

    Penny Dreadful Set

    By 2:30pm, our rental car had been delivered and we hit the  road to explore Ireland’s west coast. The drive was relatively uneventful, because after a brief stop in Limerick, the sun had gone down and we were mostly driving in the dark. And by “uneventful” I  just mean that there was not view to enjoy and that we survived. The latter being touch and go for a bit. I kid. The roads to Doonbeg are in many cases a single lane for two-way traffic, and either side of the single lane has a wall of shrubs (or an actual wall). With no street lamps and super winding roads, it’s enough to give a girl a coronary. I’ll just say that 1) Bart did an awesome job driving on the left side of the road (with a manual) and avoiding any head-on collisions, and 2) there was a lot of wine at dinner. 

     

    Ready to hit the road!

      
     

     

    Trump Golf Club

      
     

    Our hotel is actually sort of comical on few levels. First, it literally looks like something straight out of ABC’s The Bachelor when you pull up. Second, it’s a Trump Hotel, so we’ve sort of been re-playing all of Trump’s catch phrases as we walk around, and Bart does a pretty impressive impersonation which makes it even more entertaining. With that said, the grounds are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of amazing places. 

     

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

      

    Trump International Golf Club at Doonbeg

     

    Once we got to take in western Ireland during the day, I really became awestruck. The Tuscan countryside has always set the bar for gorgeous ‘country’ roads for me, but County Clare just won that game. Holy cow, it is breathtakingly beautiful here. After breakfast (staring out over the Atlantic Ocean, I might add) we drove about 40 minutes north along the Wild Atlantic Way (similar to PCH) to the Cliffs of Moher (pronounced “more”). If the countryside filled with winding roads, little stone walls (that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old), cows, sheep, horses, and cottages  weren’t enough, we landed at the Cliffs of Moher, which was breathtaking. Like it literally took my breath away. It might have also been the hurricane-like winds, but it was really something to behold. We stayed pretty far away from any areas where we were near the cliffs without a wall because 1) I’m terrified of heights, so even being in the vicinity of a 60-story cliff gave me anxiety, 2) we had a toddler with us, and 3) that seemed to be where the crowds were (which is not where we wanted to be). 

    The least intimidating single lane (2-way traffic) road as it 1) did not have walls immediately on either side, 2) was straight, and 3) it was daylight.

      

    Stone Wall

     

    Cliffs of Moher

     

     

    Cliffs of Moher

     

    Cliffs of Moher

     
     

    Cliffs of Moher

      

    Cliffs of Moher

    After the visiting the Cliffs of Moher, we drove south to Kilkee and Carrigaholt on the advice of a driver at the hotel. We had lunch at a cute place called The Long Dock in Carrigaholt, which opened in 1820. Seriously. We drove back along the coast on Dunlicky Road which was amazing – the cliffs weren’t quite as tall as the Cliffs of Moher, but they were certainly close. The particularly nice part was that there wasn’t another person in sight, and you could theoretically get as close to the edge as you might want. I didn’t want to get very close though. I still can’t get over how beautiful both the cliffs and the general landscape were. 

     

    The Long Dock

      
     

    The Long Dock

     
      

    Dunlicky Road – Just outside of Kilkee

      

    Dunlicky Road – Just outside of Kilkee

      

    Dunlicky Road – Just outside of Kilkee

      

    Dunlicky Road – Just outside of Kilkee

       
     

    We got back to the hotel just after sunset, and were pretty lazy the rest of the night. We did successfully teach Greyson how to play his penny whistle though (well, he can blow into it and make sound), so we’re pretty proud parents to say the least.

     

    Greyson playing his Irish penny whistle.

      

    Greyson is obsessed with the shower here – I think it’s because it echos when he stomps around.

     

    Exploring Dublin’s History

    The time change has been sort of rough on all of us this week, but the hardest part is that Greyson and I aren’t synced up. When he’s tired, I’m not, and vice versa. I had to laugh when I woke up to find him in the closet at 1am organizing his shoes though.

       
     

    We were hoping he was wrong, but the weatherman got it right – rain. Lots and lots of rain. Given that we’re in Ireland and all, I was sort of expecting it, so I bought a rain cover for Greyson’s stroller before we left – it made all the difference! I wish I had thought of that for the week or so of rain we had in Copenhagen. It would have made life so much easier. 

      
    While I generally prefer to get the day moving quickly when we’re traveling (as in, start the day’s agenda as soon as we’re dressed and ready), Greyson has been really weird about eating since we’ve been here. As in, he won’t eat hardly anything, so we started the day with a proper sit-down breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, where I could order some scrambled eggs (a guaranteed crowd pleaser). Our hotel, The Merrion, is old-school luxury at its absolute best, and has made me so nostalgic for places like The Biltmore (Est. 1929), Hotel Raphael (Est. 1925), The Cloister at Sea Island (Est. 1928), The Breakers (Est. 1925), and the list goes on. To say I love it would be an understatement. Anyone who knows me knows that 1) I’m a hopeless hotel nerd, and 2) I love old luxury properties – with that said, I did feel a little guilty ordering my toddler a $20 plate of eggs for breakfast. He loved them, but I’m not sure he fully appreciated the egg tower or the sterling silver cutlery. I, however, appreciated every last detail.

       
       

    Once breakfast was done and I finished an entire pot of coffee by myself (no joke), we went to Merrion Square Park (another formerly private park for the residents of the neighborhood) hoping Grey could run around a bit. It was still raining and the playground was soaked, so Greyson took a nap instead. While much smaller than St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square felt so much more charming…and empty, which I’m always a fan of.

     

    Merrion Square Park – Memorial

      

    Merrion Square Park – I’m not sure how visible the details of this sculpture are, but this sculpture and many others in the city, are surprisingly graphic. It’s not like Greyson can even comprehend most of them, but I still felt the need to turn him away more often than not.

      

    Merrion Square Park

      

    Merrion Square Park Playground

      

    Merrion Square Park Playground – This totally reminds me of Neverending Story.

      

    Merrion Square Park Playground

      

    Merrion Square Park Playground

      

    Merrion Square Park

     

    After the park, we hopped on the bus to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral. From the time that Bart and I first met, whenever we find ourselves in a Catholic Church, Bart always lights a candle and says a prayer for his Grandma Dort (who sadly passed away this past Christmas). Bart isn’t Catholic, but his Grandma was a devout one. I’ve always thought the tradition was so endearing (his Dad does the same), so even though Bart wasn’t with me, Greyson and I did the honors this time. 

    The church was stunning, but aside from the stone work, stained glass, and breathtaking architecture, I was fascinated by all the flags. In all the European churches I’ve been to, I’ve never noticed old flags before – I think they were my favorite thing about the visit. The detail and craftsmanship were no less impressive than anything else in the church – I couldn’t read all the dates, but most seemed to be from the 1800s.

     

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      
      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

     
     

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

     

    After St. Patrick’s we walked up the street to Dublinia at Christ Church. It’s touted as a “Viking Museum”, so I had high hopes that Greyson would be able to run around and play a bit. It was more informative than interactive, but we still liked it. At the end of the exhibits, we were able to walk up St. Michael’s Tower to enjoy a view of the city from above. Greyson was more interested in jumping on the metal floor and listening to the echo throughout the tower though.

    Dublinia

     

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

      

    Dublinia

     
     

    Dublinia

      

    Christ Church

     

    Next we were off to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. I forgot how much I love University campuses- there was even a commencement that had just ended, which made me almost nostalgic enough to want to go back. Almost, but not quite. 

     

    Trinity College

      

    Trinity College

      

    Trinity College

     

    That was pretty much it for our agenda today, so Greyson and I slowly meandered back towards our hotel with nothing in particular that we wanted to do. I had read about a playground in St. Stephen’s Green but we didn’t see it the other day, so we popped in to see if we could find it today. Low and behold we did, and it was great…and dry!

     

    Bank of Ireland – Note that all the windows are filled in with stone. They say that once you deposit your money there, it will never see the light of day again.

      
        

    St. Stephen’s Green Playground

      

    St. Stephen’s Green Playground

      

    St. Stephen’s Green Playground

      

    St. Stephen’s Green Playground

      

    St. Stephen’s Green Playground

     

    After the playground, of which Greyson and I are quickly becoming connoisseurs, we started walking back to our hotel when I remembered that the Natural History Museum is right down the street, so we decided to squeeze in another stop for the day. Ireland’s Natural History Museum is also referred to as the “Dead Zoo”. And we get it now. The entire museum is basically a taxidermy exhibit. And by “basically”, I mean that it is. The museum has been almost entirely untouched since it opened in 1857. Greyson was actually sort of facinated by the whole thing, but I also think he thought the animals were living. The smell of formaldehyde was a bit more than I could take, so we didn’t stay too long. 

     

    Natural History Museum

      

    Natural History Museum

      

    Natural History Museum

     

    Natural History Museum – Taxidermy

    After our last stop, I desperately needed some fresh air, so we walked for another 30 minutes or so through Georgian Dublin, which is the neighborhood where our hotel, Merrion Square, and St. Stephens Green all reside. The neighborhood got its name from the Georgian architectural style – the area was once home to Dublin’s wealthiest families, including Oscar Wilde, but now mostly consists of businesses. The Georgian homes in the area are also widely known for their brightly colored doors. Some say that the vibrant colors were added for individual flair and to counteract the strict rules of the Georgian architectural style. Others say that it was so the men had better odds of picking the correct house when they would come home drunk from the pubs.

     

    Georgian Doors

      

    Former home of “The Liberator”, Danny O’Connell

      

    CocaCola’s Ireland Headquarters

     
     

    Dear Zoo…Where Were All Your Animals?

    Given that today is supposed to be the last non-rainy day of the week, Greyson and I thought it would be a good idea to visit the Dublin Zoo and Phoenix Park today. The weatherman was wrong, as it did rain a bit this morning, but not enough to put a damper on our plans. We got another late start, but 11am was an improvement over yesterday, so I’ll take it. After some breakfast and a quick errand, we hopped on the bus to the park. I swear the temperature dropped like 20 degrees on our way there, so it was a bit brisk for my liking, but Grey wasn’t phased (he was happily napping). As we drove in and partially through Phoenix Park, I was a little disappointed. I was imagining something like Central Park with wild animals and a White House thrown in the mix, but it was more like flat plains, a polo field or two, and a couple stately homes tucked behind some shrubs (the US Ambassador’s and President of Ireland’s respective residences). Admittedly, I saw a very small portion of the park though. 

     

    Greyson usually lets me know when he’s awake. Whether it’s a little cry, or lots of babbling, he wakes up ready to start the day. When I got out of the shower this morning, I found him turning on the radio…without making a peep. I guess he knows that when you’re on a covert mission to play with something Mom probably won’t like, you stay quiet.

      
     Greyson was still napping as we made our way into the Zoo, so I headed straight to the restaurant to warm up and get some much needed coffee. Grey woke up shortly after we got there, which was great because I think the Meerkat restaurant was also his favorite exhibit. There was a glass enclosure attached to the seating area where you can watch, you guessed it, meerkats. There were several meerkat-fights, which Grey found profoundly entertaining. I’m a little concerned by how much he enjoys the misfortune of others – whether that’s a trip and fall, getting slapped in the face, stubbing a toe, or being pummeled by a meerkat. Since the restaurant was sort of the Zoo highlight, you can probably guess what I thought of the rest. It was okay, but there were hardly any animals out, so I felt like I was walking through a paved forest more than anything. It was a beautiful paved forest, but still. Greyson was sort of ambivalent about the whole thing, except for the golf carts. He really loved those with a passion.

     

    Meerkat Restaurant

      

    Other than the meerkats, Greyson’s favorite attraction was the maintenance carts. Seriously.

      

    Dublin Zoo

      

    Family Zoo

      

    Sadly, you couldn’t feed or really pet the goats. I suppose you could pet them, but with no food, they weren’t interested.

      

    Biggest. Pig. Ever. We got see him eat his lunch. It was disgusting.

        

    A hare! I think it’s the first one I’ve ever seen.

     

    (L-R) Empty habitat, flamingos, lion + cub, and red pandas.

      
    As we were walking back to the bus stop, I looked across the street into a big field where our driver had mentioned that you can usually see wild deer. And there were hundreds. Many of whom were letting people walk right up to them. It’s not like I don’t see deer semi-frequently, as we get a fair amount in our neighborhood, but these were different. Boulder deer are cautious and skittish, these deer were sort of fierce and certainly confident. And they had antlers. I can’t seem to upload videos to this blog, but I posted a brief one on my Instagram account of two deer dukeing it out and getting their antlers caught on one another’s; they actually did that 3 or 4 times while we watched from maybe 50-100 feet away. I felt like I was in National Geographic.

    I let Greyson chase the deer (the grass was  so tall that he fell every three steps, so there was no chance he would actually catch one) for 45 minutes before we eventually headed back into town to get dinner. So, despite the fact that the Zoo was our ‘big adventure’ for the day, the wild deer in Phoenix Park were definitely the highlight.

       
        
        
       
      

    Back at the hotel, Greyson was just hamming it up per usual.

       
     

    A Bus, a Bar, and a Baby

    Night #1 was a little rough in that Greyson wasn’t particularly interested in sleeping…and I seemed to be suffering with a bit of insomnia. Once Grey was out (at about 12:30am), he stayed asleep until noon, so I suppose he was jet lagged too. I finally crashed around 3am and was up by 10:30am, so I was feeling a bit more human today. We headed out to grab some food (& coffee!) as soon as Greyson was up, then meandered through St. Stephen’s Green before hopping on a double decker bus tour.

    Fun Fact: Our hotel, The Merrion, and St. Stephen’s Green are located in Georgian Dublin. The area is now mostly businesses, but used to be home to Dublin’s wealthiest residents. One of the perks of living in Georgian Dublin was exclusive access (for residents only) to the local parks, including St. Stephen’s Green (made public in 1877) and Merrion Square Park (made public in the 1960s). If you’ve seen the movie Notting Hill, I imagine the private park in the movie is the same concept. 

    We’re working on the concept of only pushing one button (and the correct one), but he’s getting better by the day.

      

    St. Stephen’s Green

      

    St. Stephen’s Green

      

    St. Stephen’s Green

      

    St. Stephen’s Green

      

    St. Stephen’s Green

     

    The bus tour was great except for the fact that all of Dublin appears to be under construction right now. According to the driver, when the DART was built 12 years ago, they didn’t think to connect the two lines, so they tore the city up again to do just that. They think it will take a quick 5-6 years to get it all sorted. Grey and I sat through the whole loop, opting to get off after we’d done at least one full go-round. This also gave Grey enough time to squeeze in a good snooze before we hit the Temple Bar district. 

     

    Bus Tour

      

    We’re starting to “cheers” every time we take a sip of something. Greyson thinks it’s absolutely hilarious.

     
    Temple Bar itself wasn’t super busy, so we hung out for a bit to listen to the music both inside, and out on the street – live music is the easiest way to keep Greyson entertained. If you’ve never been, the bar is really cute and different than I expected. The are several small rooms, each with a lot of light and greenery, which totally surprised me for whatever reason. 

     

    A boy band pose seemed apropos.

      

    Temple Bar

      

    Temple Bar

      

    Outside Temple Bar

     
     

    Temple Bar

      

    Temple Bar

      

    Temple Bar Neighborhood

      

    Temple Bar

      

    Temple Bar Neighborhood

     

    Next, we walked through the Dublin Castle and over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We didn’t make it to St. Patrick’s before they closed for the night, but we’ll try again. Dublin Castle was a bit anti-climactic, but the Dubhlinn Garden inside was fascinating. There are several narrow brick paths in the grass to outline a helicopter pad. Random. 

    Fun Fact about Marsh’s Library – When it opened in 1707, it was Ireland’s first library. To keep patrons from stealing books, the librarian would lock visitors in a cage (a civilized one, I assume) until they were done with the book in question. I suppose you’d just have to hope she didn’t forget about you before she left for the day.

       
      

    Dubhlinn Garden

     

     

    Dubhlinn Garden at Dublin Castle

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

      

    Marsh’s Library at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – I think Greyson was embarrased by my picture-taking. I told him to get used to it.

      

    Marsh’s Library

      
       

    We got back to the hotel just in time to catch Bart for dinner, which was a nice and unexpected surprise. Poor guy is suffering from some serious jet lag, but still had to rally by 6am this morning…I think it was catching up with him by day’s end.

    First he discovered the mini bar, then he started hiding things in it. Note the boxers (clean) on the top shelf.

        

    Grey didn’t think anyone would notice if he replaced some booze with his tractor.

       

    Luck of the Irish

    Life has been pretty hectic since we returned from Denmark – my work has continued to be busy, but Bart really hit the ground running when we got home. So much, that I feel like I’ve barely seen him for the past 2 months – there was a fair amount of travel, but evening commitments kept Bart out late the majority of the week when he was in town too. For good or bad, several of my girlfriends in Boulder are in a similar boat, so I at least got to spend a lot of time with friends and their kiddos.

    As Bart and I were comparing calendars one night, and he saw a two week period where he’d be back in Europe, he asked if I’d be interested in tagging along with Greyson. The big caveat being that he’d still be working (a lot), but we’d at least see each other in passing, and Greyson and I could go off on adventures during the day, much like we did in Copenhagen. Since Bart was going to be super busy, I decided to actually take some time off and not work (for the most part) for this particular trip. It’s actually the first time I’ve taken time off since my maternity leave, but as one of my colleagues commented the other day, “Yeah, those 5-day weekends really catch up with you after awhile!”, so I’m not exactly getting a lot of sympathy.

    So, the trip – Bart is attending Dublin Web Summit for the first week, then we’re off to Finland for another conference in Helsinki. We have 4-5 days in between the conferences, so we’re spending some time on the western coast of Ireland to see the Cliffs of Moher and whatnot, then are flying up to Northern Finland (Lapland) to see the Northern Lights (fingers crossed!), before we finish up in Helsinki.

    We actually just arrived in Dublin earlier today after an uneventful night of travel on the red eye. Greyson was a champ, but we wouldn’t expect anything less of him at this point. We got to our hotel, The Merrion, by 11am or so and after a quick bite to eat, we all took a solid nap (3-4 hours) to fight off some of the jet lag. I’m sort of sad we slept so much of the day away, but hopefully it makes life a little easier tomorrow. Post nap, we walked over to Ballsbridge with Bart so he could register, then to meet some of his colleagues before they all headed off to their various events for the evening. Greyson and I walked around for a couple more hours (touring Grafton Street and around St. Stephen’s Green) before heading back to the hotel to attempt to call it a night. Grey fell asleep again around 7:45pm, then was wide awake by 10pm. It might be a long night.

     

    Pre-flight energy burn

      
      

    I don’t think I even clocked 5 minutes of sleep on the flight over. I’ve never been so happy to see a pot of coffee (back) in my life.

      

    Greyson was clearly very empathetic to Mom’s exhaustion.

      

    I thought I was so smart using the sugar cubes as rocks to scoop up with his tractors…until he started eating them. I didn’t think that one through very well.

     
     

    Dublin

      

    Dublin

      

    Dublin

      

    Dublin

      

    Dublin – Grafton Street

     
     

    The Merrion

      

    Baby robes are so wildly impractical, but so cute.

      

    Greyson LOVES throwing things in the bathtub. He was just admiring his work.

     

    Tomorrow’s agenda? My favorite: a double decker bus tour. They are the most touristy and obnoxious things ever, but I really do love them. I expect to be an encyclopedia of fun facts about Dublin by day’s end.

    Halloween 2015

    Halloween was never really my thing; until Parker came into my life anyway. I don’t remember really getting into the dressing up as a kid (although I’m very into the candy), and probably haven’t donned a costume since I was still in single digits. My first Halloween with Parker was also my first one in Denver with my friend Courtney, who is gifted in the whole original costume arena. Anyway, she suggested we dress up the dogs as Michael Phelps and Dara Torres since the 2008 Summer Olympics had just ended – our pups and their costumes were featured on the local news, and I’ve been on the  bandwagon ever since. The bandwagon being, dressing up others…not me.

       
     
    Last year I had three costumes for Greyson: an elephant, a monkey (with a coordinating banana costume for Parker), and Max from Where the Wild Things Are (I made a Wild Thing costume for Parker). The last was easily my favorite.

      
    Since I knew my dad would want a photo shoot when we were in Phoenix, I decided to do two costumes this year, but only had one idea: Grey was going to be the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, since it’s one of his favorite books right now.

    In steps Courtney again – she had the genius idea of having Greyson and Griffin dress up as Uber Drivers! I think they turned out ridiculously cute….even if Griffin refused to wear his.  ūüôĀ  Our craft skills were seriously on point. Needless to say, we’re already brainstorming for next year.

       
        
     

       
        
        
       

    Our Month in Copenhagen: The Recap

    We’ve been back for a few¬†weeks now (okay, maybe it’s been like 8 weeks), and both Bart and I are routinely asked, “How was Copenhagen?” “How great was it living there for a whole month?! What was your favorite part?!” We usually answer with “it was so great; better than we expected” and “it was all great”, but that doesn’t really do our experience justice. Despite me blogging about our time there a couple times each week, I think I barely scratched the surface as to what made our time in Denmark so special. I’ll attempt to do that here, along with a list of our favorites things to do, see, and eat. Be forewarned: this post is looooong. Brevity is not a strength of mine. Sorry.

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    The Trip:

    One full month (July 31st to September 1st) in Copenhagen, Denmark

    We both worked remote for the entire trip – Bart worked a full work week on local time. I worked my normal two days per week, but on Denver time, which was roughly 3pm to midnight local time.

    Bart was in charge of Greyson when I worked, and vice versa.

    We rented a 2-bedroom apartment (in Nyhavn), and had limited side trips. We went to Riga, Latvia for 2 nights (Bart has an office there), and Billund, Denmark for 1 night.

     

    Our Goals:

    1. Our initial reason for living abroad one month each year was simply to show our child(ren) the world. Travel is the best education, and we want our children to have the objectivity and open-mindedness that comes with experiencing other cultures.
    2. Sometimes life seems to get in the way of living, or at least it does for us. Bart works a ridiculous number of hours each week, and I’m almost as busy juggling work and Greyson – we thought that a month away from all of our regular distractions and obligations, and a slightly shorter workweek for Bart (something along the lines of 40-50 hours), would allow us to reconnect as a family.
    3. As our trip was quickly approaching, Bart and I started talking about what else we wanted to get out of our month away, and we found that we were both looking forward to hitting a proverbial ‚Äúreset‚ÄĚ to our everyday lives and some of the bad habits we‚Äôve¬†fallen into. Specifically bad habits that were a time suck (e.g. social media, inefficient communication, perceived obligations, etc.), or things that unnecessarily complicated our lives (perceived obligations fit in here too, but I‚Äôd also throw in all of the errands we run, and the nonsense that keeps us busy). In short, we were craving some simplification on a lot of levels.

    Report Card:

    1. Education: A. On the topic of education and wanting our child(ren) to experience the world, I’m giving it an A, despite the fact that Greyson was only 15-months old. He obviously isn’t going to remember this trip, but as my Mom loves to say, every experience builds on itself. Our next international trip with Greyson will offer more adjustments and differences from home, and Greyson will be that much more accustomed to adapting. I think the key to international travel is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s harder than it sounds, but it is such a great life lesson. Being out of your normal environment for so long encourages you to do new things and push the envelope a little – with 31 days of new experiences, I could see the changes in Greyson each and every day. From Denmark’s cultural quirks, to local cuisine, to just hearing different languages spoken, I still think Greyson is better for the experience, but a lot of the international educational elements are admittedly lost on him at this age.
    2. Reconnect as a Family: A+. Bart and I have been pretty open about our struggles to find our way in our new roles with the arrival of Greyson. Managing¬†all the hats we each wear, while still¬†feeling personally validated, accomplished, and respected has been a challenge. In hindsight, I think part of our problem was that we never paused all the noise when Greyson was born.¬†We failed to take a step back and really¬†articulate what we wanted our new life to look like, and how we were going to make it work. We just kept ‘doing’ as so many do. Spending a month away from all the noise, the obligations, and responsibilities finally allowed us to do just that. It was just the three of us for the vast majority of our month away which, at a minimum, finally allowed us to see and experience the life we both knew we wanted, but couldn’t quite articulate. Subsequently, we were able to walk away with a plan to keep it going, and are more aware of¬†our potential pitfalls moving forward. On a lighter note, we spent more time alone together as a family, than we ever have. There is a lot to be said for the quantity of time together, not just the quality. And the¬†time outside of work was full of quality too. New experiences, funny observations, and¬†the missing element of “I have other things I should probably be doing” hanging over our heads. Even our little apartment played a big role in that. Our house in Boulder isn’t huge, but at 2,200 sq. ft. and two stories, it provides plenty of nooks where you can have complete privacy. We can easily be “together” in the same house, without being together at all. Our Nyhavn apartment was maybe 800-900 sq. ft., and pretty open, so if anyone else was home you were still within earshot. It’s a bit distracting if you’re working, but totally doable for a month. This was where a lot of the quantity¬†time we spent together happened, which made a surprising amount of difference. Surprising because at least one person was usually busy working or doing something else, but just being visible to one another changed the dynamic.
    3. Simplification: A. I sort of gave a progress report on this goal a few weeks into our trip, and I don’t think much has changed, other than how we’ve taken what we learned and adapted it at home. Prior to our trip, I was feeling sort of suffocated by all of our stuff. Our garage (which isn’t used for parking vehicles) was stuffed to the brim with unused furniture, empty boxes, and other junk that we obviously didn’t need since I certainly wasn’t using any of it. My closet was overflowing and was, subsequently, in a permanent state of disarray. Actually all of our closets were stuffed with stuff – stuff we didn’t, and don’t, need. I started purging my closet, our office, and a few other storage closets before our trip to make room for my brother who would be staying at our house while we were gone. When Andrew got here, he wanted to turn our garage into a studio he could use, so he tackled the garage clean-up – it was straight out of an episode of HGTV and I couldn’t be more grateful. When we got home, I continued with the purging. I still have a ways to go, but the progress is visible. Hand in hand with that, I’ve seriously slowed down¬†the Target and Amazon runs, which¬†means I’m not having to find a place to put all of those unnecessary purchases. I don’t think I ever went overboard buying toys for Greyson, but I¬†haven’t typically exercised any self control when it comes to getting him things. I’ve been really focused on that of late too, and repurposing things around the house for him to play with vs. buying new toys. His new favorite toy is a cardboard car I made using stuff around the house – he’s been obsessed with it for 2+¬†months now.¬†Last on the simplification front, is toning down the use of my phone, social media, and television. We have a renewed focus of sharing meals together around the table with no distractions, and trying to make that happen at least a few times each week (Bart often works really late, so he misses dinner frequently). Life won’t ever be quite as simple as when you’re away from home, but I think we’re all happy with the strides we’re making in that department.

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    Trip Highlights!

    Let me preface this by saying that I can’t think of anything that I didn’t enjoy the entire month we spent in Copenhagen. We really had that great of a time. My experiences are, however, somewhat¬†colored by the fact that 1) I was largely alone with our 15-month old son during the day, and 2) we were there for such a long time, so prioritization and strategically organizing¬†a day to ‘fit it all in’ wasn’t really a factor. With that said, I’ll do my best to prioritize here – I’ve bulleted my favorite things, then listed “honorable mentions” which I would squeeze in if you have time, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over them if you can’t make it work.

    Activities – Favorites

    1. Bike Rental: Do as the locals. For reals. The people of Denmark are said to be some of the happiest in the world (although most seem to resent that particular badge of honor), so give a piece their lifestyle a try; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The day I finally rented a bike was easily one of my favorite days on our trip. It was fun, made getting around a breeze (literally), and even managed to completely change my perspective of the entire city. Since I was on my own with Greyson (our 15-month old son), I rented a bike with a child seat attached. If you have bigger kids, or can sit with your child (i.e. one parent is pedaling, and the other is riding), I would definitely rent a cargo/family bike.¬†¬†IMG_0711-0.jpg
    2. GoBoat: Picnics and being out on the water seem to be very significant parts of Danish culture, so it’s probably not a surprise that someone thought to combine these two favorite pastimes. I don’t know how much fun you’d have with little kids in tow (with all the parental worrying), but I cannot recommend this highly enough for an adults-only night, or even an outing with bigger kids (who know how to swim). GoBoats are electric picnic boats that you can rent by the hour – if you plan ahead, they’ll even have a picnic basket ready for you at the Islands Brygge dock. We packed our own charcuterie and wine for a pre-dinner outing; our only regret was not renting the boat a little longer. An hour just isn’t enough time. It’s really that much fun. ¬†¬†IMG_1236-0.jpg
    3. Tivoli Gardens: I’ve never been a huge amusement park fan, but Tivoli isn’t really your typical amusement park. I can’t decide if it was good or bad that I didn’t make it there until 75% of the way into our trip. I’m leaning towards good, because I think I would have just kept going back and missed out on a lot of other things had I experienced it sooner. Tivoli Gardens is the world’s second oldest amusement park, and let me tell you, they set the bar mighty high. We went with our friends who were in town, so we started off with a few rides specifically for Greyson (and the play area, which is super cute), then Bart and I took turns going on rides the rest of the night.¬†It was really that much fun. It’s also surprisingly affordable, which takes away the pressure to have fun. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re dropping several hundred dollars for your family to go to Disneyland, there is a fair amount of pressure to 1) get your money’s worth, and 2) put your happy face on so you don’t regret spending a small fortune to wait in line all day.¬†IMG_0819.JPG
    4. Canal Cruise and/or¬†Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour: I realize how obnoxiously touristy these things are, but I have to admit that I love them. It’s a pretty good deal to bundle the canal and bus tours, so if you have time, I would do both. The canal is more pleasant in that 1) you’re out on the water, and 2) it isn’t nearly as crowded, but you miss a lot of the city. You can see the loops we did on the bus tour here. As far as what stops to get off at and further explore, here are my thoughts:

    Mermaid Tour Stop Highlights:

      • Nyhavn – I am incredibly biased about Nyhavn since this is where we stayed for the month, but it (to me) is quintessential Copenhagen. At a minimum, the colorful row houses are what you think of when picturing Copenhagen. Hans Christian Andersen’s former home is here (well, the one he lived in when he was doing most of his writing), but mostly it’s made up of restaurants and bars. The restaurants on the canal are all sort of the same and nothing special, so I wouldn’t plan a special meal here, but it’s a nice place to have a drink or brunch. With that said, The Standard is around the corner, and Almanak was one of my favorite restaurants.

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      • The Little Mermaid (another quick walk from Amalienborg Palace) – Everyone will tell you how lame the mermaid is, and to not waste your time. However, for reasons unknown to me and everyone else, it is one of the top tourist sights in Copenhagen, so you probably want to quickly cruise by it just to say you saw it. With that said, the Little Mermaid is right next to the Kastellet (I have some pictures of it in this post), which is one of my absolute favorite places in Copenhagen, so keep walking about 5 minutes and enjoy the view from the top of the star fortress. It’s a great walk and seems to be filled with locals jogging instead of the expected tourists. I’m told that it’s the Princesses’ favorite place to run, as Amalienborg Palace is just down the street.

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      • Rosenborg Castle/King’s Garden (Kongens Have) – Rosenborg’s Castle is beautiful and the location in the city is so central. The “garden” is what makes it epic though. Garden doesn’t do any of the castle grounds justice – they’re massive and beautifully landscaped parks.

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    Christiania Tour Stop Highlights:

      • Christianshavn/Christiania – I can’t say that I was a huge fan of Christiania (my thoughts are here), but it’s worth seeing with your own eyes. I generally liked Christianshavn as a neighborhood though, as there are several little restaurants on the canals, and it has a nice, busy-hipster feel to it.

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      • Black Diamond (Royal Danish Library) – While it isn’t really suited for little kids, the library is impressive, as is Castle Island (Slotsholmen) where it’s located. A friend told me that the Danes led the movement to make libraries into pseudo-community centers, which is apparent when you see the ground level of the Black Diamond (cafe, outdoor seating on the water, etc.). There is also a random, but neat coffee shop inside a greenhouse right next to the Black Diamond.

    IMG_7998.JPG IMG_8034-0.jpg

    Carlsberg Tour Stop Highlights:

      • Frederiksberg Garden – Frederiksberg Garden was easily one of my favorite gardens in the city. If you don’t want to make a day of going to the Zoo, you can get a little peek into the elephant habitat for free from here. The habitat backs up to Frederiksberg Garden.

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      • Copenhagen Zoo – If you have kids in tow, I think it’s worth a visit. While I’m no connoisseur, I think the Zoo is really well done, and I was really impressed with the Children’s Zoo (my post about it is here). The goat petting zoo was definitely a fave.

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      • Carlsberg Brewery – I took Greyson here on a rainy day, which ended up being a great way to spend the afternoon. The brewery tour is pretty lax, as you go at your own pace through the various buildings. There are a lot of old cars/trucks, big brewery machinery (which kids typically love), and stables that you can spend as much time in as you’d like. For a couple dollars, you can even go on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the property. It didn’t go anywhere interesting, but again, kids – they love that stuff. My post about the brewery tour is here.

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    Activities¬†–¬†Honorable Mentions

    • Harbour Bath at Islands Brygge¬†(Islands Brygge) – I think the Harbour Bath is¬†super unique and easily an experience on its¬†own. The canal water is so clean in Copenhagen, that it is completely safe to swim in, so everyone does. The Harbour Bath pulls water directly from the canal, so there is even a thin layer of moss at the bottoms of the various pools. If you made time to do a GoBoat, but can’t squeeze in time for swimming, just get to the docks at Islands Brygge a little early to check out the Bath, it’s¬†right next to where you pick up your GoBoat.

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    • Round Tower/Rundetarn (City Centre): I was surprised at how much I liked this particular attraction. The tower is right on the Stroget; you spiral upwards to the top, where the viewing deck is sort of like the Empire State Building without nearly as much height, or the crowds. I had Greyson in an Ergo carrier as we went up, which I would recommend in lieu of a stroller if you’re taking super little kids – the big kids seemed to love running up and down the ramps. We got lucky on the day we went and were able to see the band coming up the street for the changing of the guards –¬†it’s a fun, cheap visit¬†either way though.

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    • Copenhagen Zoo¬†(Frederiksberg) – As I mentioned above, I really liked the Zoo and it’s worth a visit if you have time (and kids). My post about it is here.¬†IMG_8946.JPG

    Museums/Castles – Favorites

    1. Rosenborg’s Slot/Rosenborg’s Castle (City Centre): King’s Garden is arguably one of the most popular parks in town, or at least the City Center. It’s HUGE, and there is something for everyone. In the summer, the Garden is¬†host a Jazz Festival, features afternoon¬†puppet shows, and kids can enjoy the Game of Thrones-esque playground (dragon-themed) .While I didn’t make it there, a local woman told me that the garden’s restaurant,¬†Orangeriet, has the absolute best smorrebrod in town. At a minimum, the restaurant looks absolutely adorable – sadly, I just never made it in time for lunch.IMG_0769.JPG¬†IMG_0750.JPG
    2. Amalienborg Palace¬†(City Centre): As I mentioned before, the Royal Family lives here and the changing of the guards is a fun sight to see if you can make it to one.¬†From Amalienborg Palace, you can walk to The Little Mermaid, the Kastellet, and along the Harbour, where you’ll see the Opera House.
    3. National Gallery of Art/SMK (City Centre): The National Gallery is a beautiful building, and a great way to spend the afternoon. As far as art museums in the city go, I preferred SMK over the Louisiana simply because of its central location. SMK¬†is a very short walk from Rosenborg’s Palace, the Botanical Gardens, and Stroget. The museum itself is a great mix of old meets new – the front of the building is historic, where the back is very industrial/modern. There is a great children’s workshop, where the kids can actually make art, that I think¬†older kids would love (Greyson was a bit too young). My post about our day at the National Gallery of Art is here.IMG_9328.JPG
    4. Royal Library¬†(Slotsholmen): Much like SMK, the Royal Library (aka The Black Diamond) is a mix of old meets new, at least as far as the architecture and interior design go. There is a lot¬†of outdoor seating on the water if you’re looking for a quiet place to sit back and enjoy some coffee and good book. There is a neat coffee shop right next to the library that is in a Biosphere-esque domed greenhouse – it’s sort of random, but was fun to pop inside.¬†IMG_8031-0.jpg

    Museums/Castles – Honorable Mentions

    • Kronborg Castle (aka Hamlet’s Castle): Kronborg Castle is pretty amazing and makes you feel like you’re back in Shakespeare’s day to some degree, however, it’s sort of a big time commitment to get all the way out there (it’s about an hour away), see the grounds, and still have any of your day left. With that said, I dropped it to an Honorable Mention for the Castles overall, but as far as day trips go¬†(below)¬†it’s definitely high on the list.

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    • Christiansborg Palace¬†(Slotsholmen): Much like Rosenborg’s Castle, Chistiansborg Palace is centrally located and worth walking through the grounds, though I prefer Rosenborg’s. Slotsholmen is also referred to as Castle Island, as it really is on an island in the middle of the city.
    • National Museum of Denmark¬†(Slotsholmen): The National Museum was another great stop – we mostly stayed in the Children’s Museum,¬†which had so many things for kids of all ages. I had to drag Greyson out of there.

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    • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: I can’t tell you how many people recommended the Louisiana; it was great, but so many of the recommendations emphasized going there even if you’re only in Copenhagen for a few days. That’s where you lose my vote. I loved the museum – it’s really well done, the grounds are gorgeous, and it’s a nice way to spend the day, however, the city has so much to offer that I wouldn’t ever recommend leaving the city to visit a museum an hour away (which makes it an all-day affair) if you’re only in town for a few days.

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    • Carlsberg Brewery¬†(Frederiksberg): Visiting the brewery was a surprisingly nice way to spend a rainy day with our 1-year old. You can spend some time with the horses in the stables, go on a carriage ride, have a nice lunch on the picnic tables in the courtyard, and check out all the vintage Carlsberg delivery trucks. Unless you’re really into beer making though, it’s sort of like any other brewery tour, so the things I just mentioned (along with the general history of the building) are the real draw in my opinion. My blog post about Carlsberg is here.IMG_0619.JPG

    Gardens/Parks/Playgrounds – Favorites

    1. King’s Garden (Kongens Have/City Centre): My favorite. King’s Garden is probably the best of all the gardens – there are fountains, playgrounds, puppet shows, wide open spaces, weird wooden art structures for kids (and adults) to run through, an eating garden, rose garden, and so much more. Given its central location, you shouldn’t miss this one.IMG_1214.JPG
    2. Frederiksberg¬†Gardens¬†(Frederiksberg): King’s Garden has a more laid back vibe (i.e. the ‘every person’s’ garden), whereas Frederiksberg felt more stately. The river that runs through the property has boat tours, and the lawns are tiered and groomed similar to something you’d imagine from the Great Gatsby. You can also catch a glimpse of the elephant enclosure at the Zoo if you’re interested.¬†IMG_8918.JPG
    3. Kastellet/The Citadel (Churchillparken/City Centre): The Kastellet is easily one of my favorite places in the city. The park (Churchillparken) is quiet, the star fortress has great views, and you might even catch a glimpse of the Princess on her morning run.IMG_8437.JPG
    4. Skydebanens Legeplads (Playground in Vesterbro): I stumbled upon this park early in our visit. It’s for the locals, but has so much to offer. Skydebanens is an old shooting range, but you wouldn’t know it, other than the fortress-like entrance in the middle of the Vesterbro neighborhood. There are fountains for the kids to play in during the summer, but even without that, the playground was one of my absolute favorites from our trip.IMG_8075.JPG¬†IMG_8142.JPG¬†IMG_8134.JPG

    Gardens/Parks/Playgrounds – Honorable Mentions

    • Botanical Gardens: (City Centre) – With its central location near Rosenborg’s Castle, the National Gallery¬†of Art, and¬†Torvehallerne, the Botanical Gardens are definitely worth¬†a visit. There is a small cafe and coffee shop where you can grab an afternoon pick-me-up before you tour the grounds.

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    • Faelledparken¬†(Osterbro) – Playground with Towers/Garden of Senses. This is another great local park. I primarily went to see the Playground with Towers, but my Mom told me about another part of the park called the Garden of Senses, which I’m sad to have missed. It has elements to appeal to all five senses, which I think would be really neat for slightly older kids. There is a cute cafe towards the middle of the park if you’re looking for a quick spot for a snack or lunch.

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    • The Copenhagen Lakes: Copenhagen’s five man-made lakes are definitely worth checking out. Odds are you’ll pass them at some point, so you might not need to make a special trip. The middle lake has swan paddle boats, which I thought were awesome.

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    • Orstedsparken (Playground/Park, Near Torvehallerne) – This is another centrally located park that is worth a visit, and would be a great place for an afternoon picnic. Just grab some provisions¬†nearby at¬†Torvehallerne.

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    • Superkilen (Norrebro) – The background of Superkilen was fascinating to me, and the park is really unique. It’s not really meant for little kids, but was fun to quickly ride our bike through to check it out.

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    • Vestre Kirkegaard (Frederiksberg)* – I didn’t actually make it to Vestre Kirkegaard, but I’m so sad to have missed it. You’ll see a couple of links to my favorite Copenhagen Instagram accounts at the bottom of this post, and they feature this cemetery and park at least every other day. It looks absolutely stunning, and I think it is 100% worth a visit.

    Day Trips РFavorites

    1. Legoland (Billund, Denmark): The home of Lego is about 3 hours driving from Copenhagen. I’ve never been to any other Legoland, but I imagine that they’re pretty similar. I think the big difference is the lack of crowds, and the small town feel of Billund. And Lego’s headquarters are right next door. I would take this Legoland over the craziness of Southern California or Orlando parks any day of the week though.IMG_0976.JPG
    2. Kronborg’s Castle (Helsingor): Kronborg Castle (aka Hamlet’s Castle) is about an hour driving from Copenhagen. Bart LOVES Shakespeare, so visiting Kronborg Castle was high on his list of places to see. It definitely put new perspective on Hamlet, and it’s gorgeous, so it was a great stop on our way back from Billund.DSC_2977
    3. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: The Louisiana is about an hour by train (45 minutes driving) from Copenhagen. As I said before, I loved the Louisiana, but would probably only make time for it if you’re already driving somewhere, or are in Copenhagen for an extended visit like we were.IMG_0251.JPG

    Day Trips – Honorable Mentions

    • Malmo, Sweden: There is an underwater train that goes to Malmo, which sounds super interesting, but was pretty anti-climactic. For being so close, Malmo was surprisingly different from Copenhagen. We took a boat tour when we got in, because I love those things, but I have to say that it was pretty bad, so I would skip the tours. ¬†King’s Park (kungsparken) is definitely worth a visit.
    • Roskilde* – The town of Roskilde is about 30 minutes¬†west of Copenhagen. The big draws are the famous open-air Roskilde Festival, and the Viking Museum. We didn’t make it¬†here, but the Viking Museum sounds like a very worthy stop from everything I’ve read.

    Food and Beverage – Favorites

    1. Torvehallerne¬†(City Centre): The closest thing I can compare Torvehallerne to is the Ferry Building in San Francisco….but it’s actually a lot better. And I love the Ferry Building.
    2. Noma: Noma has been rated as the number one restaurant¬†in the world four times, so it’s safe to say that it’s an awesome experience. You can read about our experience here, but scroll to the bottom for a list of Noma-recommended restaurants that are all sure to be amazing.
    3. The Standard: Almanak (City Centre/Nyhavn): Mostly I love the Standard building (which is home to four restaurants, Almanak being one) and its location right on the water, but I loved Almanak the few times we went. I especially loved our lunch there РI had some of the best smorrebrod of our trip at Almanak.

    Food and Beverage –¬†by Neighborhood:¬†Dining was one category that we struggled to properly experience given that we had a 1-year old with us. Dining out is just sort of hard in general, but we found that restaurants don’t really cater to kids super well here a lot of the time. For instance, highchairs are¬†not a given. We don’t really ever give Greyson food from¬†kids’ menus, but if you do, that would likely be an issue too, as we saw maybe one or two our entire trip. With that said, we did eat out a lot, just not at all the great places that require reservations. Since our restaurant list is comprised of good options that we went to ourselves, as well as great options that I stand by despite not having personally tried, I decided to group them by neighborhood. I found that I needed recommendations¬†in this format more often that not, so I thought I’d just present it that way (e.g. I’m hungry and in Vesterbro. Where do I go?)

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    • City Centre/Nyhavn:¬†Ofelia Bar (Restaurant and Bar on the Harbour) – Bart and I went here on one of our date nights for a pre-dinner drink. I can’t speak for the food (but it looked good), but the bar and open seating right on the water (Paper Island and Noma are just across the water from Ofelia) are absolutely perfect.
    • City Centre/Nyhavn: Tony’s (Italian) – Simple, good, and reasonably priced Italian food just across from The Standard.
    • City Centre/Nyhavn: (also has a location in¬†Torvehallerne): Gorm’s Pizza (Brick Oven Pizza) – Gorm’s is very simple, and pretty plain brick oven pizza, but it’s good and has a few¬†locations. They have traditional toppings, but also feature Nordic options.
    • City Centre/Nyhavn:¬†The Standard: Almanak¬†– As I already said, Almanak was one of my favorites. The Standard has a great location right on the water, and I had some of the best smorrebrod of our trip at Almanak (for lunch).
    • City Centre/Nyhavn:¬†Kjobenhavn¬†– This restaurant was small, but exquisite. Our friend found and recommended it, and it was one of our favorite meals. The menu is limited, so the four of us literally ordered the entire menu and we loved it all. I think there were 3 options for each course.
    • City Centre/Kongens Nytorv: Brasserie¬†du Nord (Sandwiches, Pizza) – Brasserie du Nord is on the top floor of Magasin du Nord, Denmark’s first department store. It’s super casual (no table service), but my favorite thing is the “family dining room”. It is designed for parents and young children, so the kids have a place to play while the parents eat. There is also a breast feeding room within the dining room. I thought the concept was genius, so we went here several times.
    • City Centre/Kongens Nytorv:¬†Bistro Royal – Bistro Royal is on the other side of the Kongens Nytorv square from Magasin du Nord, and just one block from where the Stroget starts. If you can nab one of the tables outside, it would be a great place to sit back and people watch.
    • City Centre/Indre By: Orangeriet* (Cafe) – Orangeriet is located inside King’s Garden. A local told me that they have the absolute best smorrebrod in the city. I never made it in time for lunch, but the cafe looks absolutely adorable.
    • City Center/Indre By: Kafferiet (Coffee Shop) – I read in a blog that this is “the best coffee in the world”. I don’t have a delicate enough palate to comment myself, but the shop is kitschy and located right across from the Kastellet and Churchillparken. I can comment on their dessert selection – the cakes, unlike many other shops, is REAL cake. Like the kind dripping in chocolate. They also have a vast licorice selection which appeared to be local favorite – licorice, that is.
    • City Center/Indre By: Host* – I was so sad that we had to cancel our reservations here due to a sick baby. The menu looks great, but the restaurant has won several awards, one of which was¬†the “World’s Best-Designed Restaurant”, for the interior design, so I was dying to check it out.
    • City Center/Indre By: (Paper Island/Papiroen): Copenhagen Street Food* – Another one we didn’t make it to, but this looks like so much fun. Several locals recommended that we try it out, but we never made it there. You can see it from Ofelia Bar in Nyhavn, and it was packed every time we went by.
    • City Center/Indre By: Cafe Lilebror* (Bread and Coffee by Day, Wine and Food by Night) – Lilebror and their bigger sibling, Bror, were actually on the list of recommended restaurants that we got from Noma.¬†And given that Noma is THE BEST, I stand by their recommendations.
    • City Center/Indre By: Restaurant Bror* – Bror was recommended in so many places that I ran across, but also from locals – this is another one that I’m really sad we missed.
    • City Centre/Indre By (Just off Stroget): The Italian¬†– Casual Italian food, in a nice, crisp and clean setting.
    • City Centre/Indre By (Close to Nyhavn):Restaurant AOC* – AOC holds two Michelin Stars.
    • City Centre / Gammel Strand:¬†The Bird and The Churchkey*¬†(Bar) – The street that The Bird and The Churhkey and Duck and Cover sit on is super cute, and seems to have a lot of great stops, including the city’s best seafood at Krogs Fiskerestaurant. The two bars are on multiple Top 10 Bars in Copenhagen lists, but I had a couple friends recommend them as well.
    • City Centre / Gammel Strand:¬†Duck and Cover*¬†(Bar) –¬†The street that The Bird and The Churhkey and Duck and Cover sit on is super cute, and seems to have a lot of great stops, including the city’s best seafood at Krogs Fiskerestaurant. The two bars are on multiple Top 10 Bars in Copenhagen lists, but I had a couple friends recommend them as well.
    • City Centre / Gammel Strand:¬†Krogs Fiskerestaurant* (Seafood) – This is said to be the best seafood in town, and is located on a really cute street in Gammel Strand.
    • Vesterbro: War Pigs¬†(Brew Pup) – Super casual, with an eclectic crowd, but the beer is good.
    • Vesterbro: Mother (Brick Oven Pizza) – Locals spot with great brick oven pizza.
    • Vesterbro:¬†Kodbyens 2009 Fiskebar¬†(Seafood) – Kodbyens is in the meat packing district, so the restaurant feels nice, but casual. Outdoor seating is on picnic tables, but you might have to share with another group (which is a really common thing in Copenhagen). Normally that wouldn’t be a big issue, but everyone also seems to love to smoke, so we often were sitting right next to a lit cigarette too.
    • Vesterbro: Madklubben* – We didn’t make it here, but it is a safe bet for a really solid experience.
    • Vesterbro: Mikkeller and Friends¬† (Bar) – I’m not a beer connoisseur, but my friend is and he loves Mikkeller. Subsequently, the Mikkeller bars were high on his list to visit and none disappointed (of the two I went to, this was my favorite).
    • Vesterbrogade: Libkoeb* (Bar) – Another that we didn’t make it to, but is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the neighborhood.
    • Frederiksberg: Granola* (Breakfast/Brunch) – My friend Jeff also recommended Granola, and I read about it a few other places too. I think it would be a safe bet if you’re looking for a great brunch spot.
    • Frederiksberg:¬†Krogers Have (Traditional Danish) – We went here after our visit to the Zoo on our way to Frederiksberg Garden and really loved it. It’s mostly smorrebrod on the menu, and the courtyard is mostly picnic table seating (which means you might have to sit with others), but it felt really authentic for whatever reason. If the weather is nice and you’re in the neighborhood, I think you’d enjoy this casual lunch spot.
    • Islands Brygge: Kayak Bar¬†(Smorrebrod) – I really loved the smorrebrod, so that’s what I would order most places I went. The Kayak Bar was no exception. The bar is right on the water, and has a cool floating barge with sand that is set up like a floating beach. A great spot for lunch, day drinking, or even evening cocktails on the water.
    • Islands Brygge: Scarpetta*¬†(Italian) – We didn’t make it here either (so sad – the list of missed opportunities is long), but this is another great that is worth visiting.
    • Christianshavn /Refshale√łen: Amass* – American Matthew Orlando, the former chef at Noma, is the owner and chef at Amass. The food is still gourmet, but with¬†a more down to earth experience.
    • Christianshavn: No. 2* (Seafood) – No. 2 is the little brother to Michelin stared Restaurant AOC.
    • Coffee Collective – 3 Locations, Best in World
    • Osterbro: Restaurant Geranium* – Restaurant Geranium holds 2 Michelin stars.
    • Norrebro:¬†Rel√¶* –¬†Rel√¶ holds one Michelin star.
    • Norrebro: Bodega* – This is another missed opportunity, but comes really highly recommended.

    *We didn’t make it to these restaurants, but they are so highly recommended from many sources that I’m confident they’re a¬†good bet.

     

    Things That Didn’t Quite Make the List: Since there truly wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy, I feel a little guilty leaving these things out, so I’ll list them here. My caveat is that I probably wouldn’t normally recommend them, especially if you’re limited to a typical vacation timeframe, because they either aren’t super unique to Copenhagen, or just get edged out by better alternatives in the city.¬†When I look at this list again, it’s really just random things we did and I generally enjoyed.¬†

    • Activity:¬†Den Bla Planet / Aquarium – We liked the aquarium, but it wasn’t that different from any others we’ve been to in various cities. Given how far it is from downtown, I’m just not sure it’s worth the visit if you’re time is limited. With that said, if you’re south of the city or looking for something to do on a rainy day, it’s only a 20-30 minute trip by train.

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    • Activity:¬†Train thru Old Town – The ‘tour’ portion was really light, but Greyson loved the train ride. We picked this up at the end of the Stroget near City Hall Square – at a minimum, it was a great for a little break as it’s a pretty¬†inexpensive activity.

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    • Playground:¬†Brumleby Playground – It turns out that Brumleby is a small, neighborhood playground within a housing community, not a big, “public” playground. It was close to Faelledparken, so if you’re near there and curious, it was a fun place to visit.

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    • Skate Park:¬†Israels Plads (Fountains + Skate Park Outside¬†Torvehallerne) – This is right across the street from Torvallerne, so you can grab food and head over to the ‘park’ and fountains to enjoy.

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    • Shopping: Stroget – The Stroget is mostly comprised of shops you can find anywhere (like 4 H&Ms), but it’s nice to walk down at least once to see it. If you’ve ever been to Istanbul, it reminded me a lot of Istiklal Street.

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    • Shopping:¬†Field’s Mall + Children’s Play Center (Capella Play) – This was a super random stop about 30 minutes south of the city, but we had so much fun. If you’re looking to kill time and have kids, it might just be worth the train ride down because they’ll be exhausted when you leave.

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    • Museum: Post and Tele Museum (City Centre, Stroget) – This is a great rainy day activity if you’re near the Stroget and looking for something to do with kids. The main exhibition was a children’s museum with slides, a ball pit, a pretend mail station (where you can deliver letters), and several other things to do. It’s sort of cheesy, but the kids all seemed to love it, including mine. It’s free to enter, so if you don’t like it, no harm, no foul.¬†IMG_1326.JPG
    • Shopping: Magasin du Nord – Magasin du Nord is Copenhagen’s first department store. It ended up being a place we visited frequently for staples, a quick bite, or¬†a spin on the merry-go-round in the kids department.
    • Museum:¬†Cisternerne – Underground Art Across from Zoo* – We didn’t make it here, but I really think it would be a unique and memorable place to visit.

    Favorite Resources:

    • Visit Copenhagen: Normally I roll my eyes at city-sponsored visitor sites because they’re generally biased, influenced by advertising money, and tend to not reflect what I think represents a good time, meal, or experience. I found the Visit Copenhagen site after we were already in town and I had already ‘experienced’ a lot of the city and various restaurants. I quickly found that the recommendations, and descriptions were really on point – I would definitely use this for planning future visits. Especially when it comes to restaurants.
    • Visit Copenhagen Instagram Account: I actually only noticed that this Instagram account is part of the Visit Copenhagen site as I typed this. I found this Instagram account just before we left for Denmark; the photos are stunning and give a great glimpse into where the locals tend to go. I got a ton of ideas of where I wanted to visit, parks I wanted to take Greyson to, and places I wanted to eat because of this feed. I’m still following it because I love it that much; I suggest you do the same.
    • 1000 Things To Do In Copenhagen Instagram Account: This was another account I started following shortly before our trip and it is definitely on par with the Visit Copenhagen feed.
    • Pinterest: Let’s be honest, Pinterest is my favorite resource for just about anything. What I like about researching travel through Pinterest though, is that you can find things like¬†fun infographics with information about currency, politics, and the economy, articles like the New York Times’ 36-Hours in Copenhagen¬†series, recommended books on the local culture and things to do, and individual blogger opinions like this post. Long story short, you can collect a lot of perspectives really quickly, and it is organized so nicely when you want to refer back to ¬†your pins. You can see my Denmark board here.

    So, coming full circle and going¬†back to the super popular questions, “How was Copenhagen?, How great was it living there for a whole month?!, What was your favorite part?” – Copenhagen was perfect –¬†the city is clean, there is SO much to do, and the food is amazing. “Living” there took¬†all the vacation pressure away, and allowed us to really enjoy everything the city had to offer at a pace that is actually enjoyable. My favorite part?¬†For good or bad, it had nothing to do with Denmark. I loved spending so much time with Bart and Greyson, and getting to experience so many firsts with both of them. We feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity, and can’t recommend the experience highly enough to others.

    Last Weekend in CPH

    I managed to leave out one very big event in my last post: I finally spotted an unattended baby on the sidewalk…in the rain, no less (baby was dry)! I had dreams of a virtual parking lot of prams with sleeping babies, sans adults, but this was close enough. While the phenomenon was not as prevalent in the areas we frequented, it is still my favorite Danish quirk.

    Unattended baby

    We decided to start our final weekend in Copenhagen by leaving Copenhagen. Bart and I both agreed that we really had to visit Billund, the home of Lego, if we were going to spend an entire month in Denmark. Since we were running out of time, we decided to make it a pretty quick trip; we rented a car and literally drove across the country first thing on Friday morning. It took three whole hours. Denmark is pretty flat, with a lot of farmland as it turns out – we did travel across what had to be one of the world’s longest bridges though, so there was some water to break up the monotony.

    We got to our hotel, Refborg, around lunchtime – Bart had to get on a couple of calls, so Greyson and I walked over to Legoland to get the party started. Billund is even smaller than I imagined, with just 6,000 residents, so walking the 15 minutes to Legoland from our hotel meant walking through a sculpture garden, wooded path, and residential neighborhood. Not exactly the experience in Southern California.

       

    On our walk to Legoland

      

    On our walk to Legoland

      

    I’m so grateful that Greyson isn’t old enough to want to stay at theme hotels

        

    Legoland Tower

     

    Legoland’s Nyhavn Replica

     

    Lego Safari

     
     

    Between Tivoli and Legoland, I am really beginning to see how much Greyson loves steering wheels!

      
       

      
       
      

    Part of the walk back to our hotel

     

    Grey discovered the reading lights – it’s just like magic!

    Bart made it to Legoland about an hour or so before it closed, so we squeezed in a few rides then headed back. While I don’t have much to compare it to, I was impressed with how quickly things moved – the wait times rarely exceeded 5-10 minutes, whic is about all I can handle. While Legoland was definitely more crowded than Tivoli, it still wasn’t completely overwhelming.

    Since there was a good portion of the park that we missed on Friday, we decided to go back for a few hours Saturday morning. We just happened to be there for a one day special event with about 50+ Ferraris – we even caught the parade with all the cars driving into the exhibit. 

       
       

       
     
       
     

    After lunch we decided to hit the road. We had time for one stop on our way back, and Kronborg Castle (aka Hamlet’s Castle) was the winner. The other contenders were Roskilde (home of the Vikings and Viking Ship Museum) and Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park. Kronborg Castle and the town it resides in, Helsingor, were great – the grounds were gorgeous, and the location right on the water was perfect for a leisurely stroll (much needed after 3+ hours in the car). I’ll have to upload more photos later, as most of the pictures I took were on the Nikon. It was stunning though.

     

    Kronborg Castle

      
     

    We another big adventure planned on Sunday – we went to Sweden! It might sound more impressive than it really was though; Malm√∂, Sweden is about a 45 train ride away. The train goes underwater and I saw a photo somewhere that part of the tunnel was glass (like an aquarium), so I was disappointed to find out that 1) there were no fun visuals during the train ride, and 2) the photo I saw was photoshopped. I’m so guillible sometimes. Anyway, I was still excited to see a small part of Sweden, and increase Greyson’s “Countries Visited List” to 4. One of the first things we saw when we got out of the train station was a boat tour, and you know how I love boat tours, so we hopped on right away. I have to admit that this particular tour was sub-par, but it was better than nothing, and Greyson had an awesome nap out on the water.  

    Kongens Have

      

    Malmo, Sweden

      

    Malmo, Sweden Boat Tour

      

    This was the same type of boat we rented with Jeff and Lindsay – GoBoat

      
      

    This is the oldest ship in operation that essentially serves as an ice pick

      
        

    Malmo, Sweden

      
      
      

    We thought the sign prohibiting balloons on the metro was pretty funny by itself, but it was even funnier when we saw a balloon on the train a few minutes later


    Copenhagen seemed to want to punish us on our last day, with nothing but rain in the forecast. Subsequently, Greyson and I stayed close to home by visiting the Post and Tele Museum, which I admit was an odd choice, but it was actually pretty neat. About 50% or more of the museum is the children’s museum, which has a whole mail delivery system set up, including several play houses to deliver mail to,  4 big tube slides, a ball bit, some climbing structures, and photo props. 

    Post and Tele Museum

     
     

    Magasin du Nord – play area in restaurant

     
     

    Post and Tele Museum

     
       

     

    Kongens Nytorv

      
      

    I didn’t buy many souvenirs for Greyson, but I did get him a post box savings bank and filled it with Danish Kroners; he absolutely loves it!

     

    I can’t believe our month away is already over – I’ll elaborate more in another post, but doing this was the absolute best thing we could have done for our family. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in a position to do the same, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Week in Review: Rain

    Our days in Copenhagen are starting to feel numbered, probably because they are. We’ve been so lucky with awesome weather the entire month so far. While our luck didn’t run out, I would say it got a little dicey this week with rain every day. As expected, the weather reports are wrong most of the time, so while I would prepare for rain all day, it would mostly just rain for a couple of hours in the morning, and maybe an hour in the late afternoon. Monday was one such day, so when there was no rain as of noon, we decided to rent a bike (we were smart and did a 3-days rental this time) and ride out to Federiksberg to tour the Carlsberg Brewery. I know what you’re thinking, but I heard about the horse stables and carriage rides they give and thought Greyson would have fun. It had the added bonus of being mostly indoors, which helped with the whole rain situation. And Greyson DID love the horses; he was reluctant to pet one, but loved watching them. He even learned to answer “neigh” when I ask him what a horse says.

    In front of Hans Christian Andersen’s house (in Nyhavn)

    In order to avoid another lost shoe incident, bike rides are shoeless for Greyson

    Carlsberg Brewery

    Carlsberg Brewery

    Carlsberg Horses

      
       

    Carlsberg Carriage Ride

       

    The rain started up just as we went on our carriage ride, which, incidentally, Grey didn’t seem too impressed with. Once we got back, I popped him into the Ergo and walked around for a bit to 1) get Greyson to take a little nap, and 2) wait out the rain before biking to our next destination. As we walked through the stables, I thought it would be cute to take a selfie with a horse and Grey (in the Ergo), so as I stood in front of one of the stables getting situated, I felt a tug at my back. I tried to turn around and couldn’t move because the horse who previously had his back to me, had turned around and started eating the straps to the Ergo. I tried to walk away. Fail. So then I asked a passerby for help and a nice, but confused woman, freed me from the grips of the clearly starving horse. I looked down to Greyson to recount the 8 seconds of drama we just encountered, but he was not nearly as captivated as he had fallen asleep in the midst of it all. So then I just casually walked away, avoiding eye contact with other visitors, pretending that a horse didn’t just have me in a death grip.

      

    My attacker in action

     
       
        
     Grey slept for at least 90 minutes, so I ended up having lunch and my token complimentary beers while he napped. I needed them to come down off my near death experience after all. Incidentally, the brewery had the best burger (by far) I’ve had in Copenhagen. Not that I’ve eaten very many, but between Bart and I, we’ve probably ordered about half a dozen over the course of the month, and they’ve all been pretty bad. We can’t put our finger on why, but we generally sum it up as, “the beef just doesn’t really taste like beef”. Anyway, it was really good.

    I had big plans to go to the Vestre Kirkegard cemetery after Carlsberg, but with more rain imminent, I thought I should head home as soon as there was a break. I’m actually really sad I missed it as I don’t think I’ll make it there before we leave; it looks so beautiful in every photo I’ve seen. Maybe next time.

    ——-

    I always have high hopes of waking up before Greyson, so I can get showered and start my day before he’s mobile – things just always move faster that way, but it hasn’t really worked out the entire time we’ve been in Denmark. Subsequently, Greyson has maybe a hair too much freedom when I am showering and whatnot, so there is usually a surprise of some sort whenever I emerge. Tuesday’s ‘surprise’ was perhaps one of the more epic ones to date. I walked out of the bathroom to find Grey’s diaper on the floor in front of me, with no Greyson in sight (he had obviously taken it off himself). As I walked towards Grey, I found surprise #2.  ūüôā  Parker has been teaching him tricks.

    Bart joined us for our morning coffee date, then we walked over to King’s Garden for a stroll before Bart started his day. I’ve talked about the garden before, but it is more park than garden as we would call it anyway. There is a large wooden circular structure in the park that I’ve been curious about, so wandered over to see what it was – while I’m still not sure, it seems to be interactive art. Greyson LOVED it, as it was actually made for running in circles, and was perfect for playing peek-a-boo.  

        
        

    Rosenborgs Slot


     

    After Bart headed off to work, Greyson and I hopped on our bike and decided to go back to Tivoli Gardens for the afternoon. I love how Tivoli feels like a locals place, despite it being one of the top tourist attractions in Copenhagen. Mostly in that it isn’t busy, or remotely overwhelming. Grey needed a nap after we got there, so I found several lounge chairs (like you would find poolside) in a garden overlooking a beautiful fountain with virtually no one in sight, and rested for 90 minutes or so while Greyson napped in my arms. I sincerely don’t see that happening at Disneyland. After he was up and running again, Grey and I went to the Kiddie park and fed some ducks (a first for me – they’re intense!), then went on some rides. The favorites are still rides with steering wheels – the ferris wheel had nothing on the vintage cars. For lunch, Grey and I each had Danish pancakes for the first time – they were sort of like crepes, but wrapped like a sushi handroll if that makes sense.The fillings were similar to things you might find in a panini – I think mine was chicken, pesto, tomato, and lettuce, and it was served warm. While I loved mine, Grey never really came around to enjoy his much.

      

    Vintage Car Ride

      

    Ferris Wheel

      
       

       
     

    ——-

    Wednesday morning was super rainy, so we hung out in the apartment until almost lunchtime, which only gave Greyson and I a couple of hours before I needed to head back to start work. We rode our bike around the city a bit, and caught the changing of the guards again at Amalienborg palace; the Queen must be in town, because the marching band was playing. While Greyson doesn’t look super impressed in the photos I was able to get, he absolutely loved the band and was dancing along on my shoulders. After the ‘show’, we went to a playground just off the Stroget at Nikolaj Plads – it’s a small playground next to a former church that is now an art gallery.

      

        
        
       

    ——

    Thursday was another rainy day, so not much to report other than the fact that Greyson woke up saying animal sounds that morning. I sort of knew that he could do the “roar” for a lion, but he now has the following down:

    • Lion says “Roar”
    • Horse says “Neigh”
    • Dog says “Woof”
    • Snake says “Ssssss”
    • Cow says “Moo”

    I guess kids really are like sponges – who knew? Our babysitter, Mette, came over Thursday afternoon as both Bart and I needed to work. Since she has a season pass to Tivoli, Grey got to go again! Three times in one week. This kid is living the LIFE! Mette is the the sweetest, and has watched Greyson about six times or so over the month. We absolutely love her.

      

        

    Rasmus Klump at Tivoli – Mette said that Greyson was clapping through the entire performance

      

    Tivoli Kids Meet and Greet with Mette

      

    Tivoli Kids Meet and Greet with Mette

      

    Tivoli Aquarium with Mette

      

    Tivoli Aquarium with Mette

      

    #beardsdoCPH

    Sometimes social media comes out of nowhere to remind you why it’s great. As our trip to Copenhagen was fast-approaching, I hadn’t done anything to try to coordinate with friends, or even friends of friends while we’re in Europe. It’s not that I don’t want to see people, but I’m terrible at email (and basically all forms of communication), so the idea of coordinating with other people just feels overwhelming. ¬†As we were departing the Denver Airport back on July 31st, I posted a photo on Instagram that said we were off on a month-long European adventure and our friend Lindsay responded with an offer to come to London, her new home with Jeff (we went to Jeff and Lindsay’s wedding in Sonoma last November). When I explained our plan and offered up our spare room for a visit, Jeff and Lindsay (aka The Beards) had tickets booked within a few days. Have I mentioned before what awesome friends we have?!

    The Beards arrived late Thursday night, so our ‘weekend’ kicked off on Friday morning. Bart had to work all day, but joined us later. Before everyone else woke up, Grey and I went for our morning coffee and made a new Danish friend who we chatted with for at least and hour +, during which she pointed out an unassuming guest in the coffee shop who was chatting with friends. The Crown Prince of Denmark was there for at least 30 minutes or so, and I wouldn’t have even known it was anyone noteworthy had he not been pointed out; his security detail was in plain clothes sitting outside on a park bench, and everyone else in the shop treated him like any other patron. Subsequently, there are no photos, but I still thought the sighting was sort of fun. Even more so, because prior to me knowing who he was, Greyson did a couple quick laps around the shop and ran into him at one point. At a mere 15 months old, Greyson already had his first brush with Royalty.


    After we got back to the apartment to meet the rest of the gang, we turned around to kick off the day (which was a later start around lunchtime) at Torvehallerne, then walked around the old naval barracks (and surrounding neighborhood), King’s Garden, and the Botanical Gardens. Jeff was in Copenhagen during his epic European travels last year, but this was Lindsay’s first time. We ended up sitting at the Botanical Gardens for awhile where Greyson entertained the crowd as he would run down the hill, fall, get up, run some more, fall, get up… I even caught a few randoms taking pictures of him. I’m not really sure how to feel about that though.

     

    Grey was not phased one bit when returning to the apartment to find a seemingly random bearded man. While he has met Jeff and Lindsay before, it was several months ago

     

    We saw the changing of the guard in their cross-town march two days in a row!

     

    The Beards

      

    Our babysitter came over both Friday and Saturday night so that we could hit the town. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but picnics are a huge part of Danish culture, as is being on the water. Subsequently, there is a very popular picnic boat rental company that lets you cruise through the harbour whilst picnicking. Naturally I HAD to try it, so we rented a boat, picked up some provisions (charcuterie, wine, etc.) and hit the high seas! I can’t speak for everyone else, but I had an absolute blast. We only rented the boat for an hour before dinner, and I think that was a mistake – 2-3 hours would have been so much better.

    Noma!


    Captain Bart

     

    After boating, we went to War Pigs in Vesterbro for some Mikkeler beers, followed by dinner in the Meatpacking district at Kodbyens 2009 Fiskebar. Dinner was fantastic, but one of the things I don’t love about the restaurants in the Meatpacking district (and elsewhere, but it seems more common there) is that the the outdoor seating is generally made up of picnic tables to which they mix parties, and really pack you in. We just seem to inevitably get seated next to someone smoking 3″ from my face, which I obviously detest.

    Saturday was equally mellow; we started the day with a walk through Amalienborg Palace, then up along the water to the Kastellet. The Kastellet is easily one of my favorite parks/attractions so far. It’s yet another thing commissioned by King Christian IV, and is one of the best preserved start fortresses in Europe. What makes this one unique is the landscape; most star fortresses have “walls” made of stones or other rough and hard to climb surfaces. Copenhagen is really flat, so the “walls” of the fortress are grassy hills, surrounded by a moat. I actually loved playing tour guide, which consisted of me regurgitating all of the stuff I learned from my bus and canal tours. While cheesy, those things are the BEST.

     

    Some of the stairs up to our apartment

     

    Replica of the David

     

    St. Alban’s Church

     

    Kastellet

     

    Kastellet

     

    Kastellet

     

    Kastellet

    After our stop at the Kastellet, Jeff and Lindsay wanted to visit Christania, so Bart and I opted to sit that one out and hang out at the Kastellet a bit longer.


      
    We met up for dinner and drinks later that night – Jeff found a great place not far from the apartment, called Kjobenhavn. It was “a modern take on Danish food”; I never really know what that sort of thing means, but it was a fantastic meal. The menu is pretty small (3 starters, 3 seconds, 3 mains), so we decided to order the entire menu and just eat it family style. It was great, and there is something fun about sharing food experiences that way. I suppose that’s why I like tasting menus too; the person you’re dining with is eating the same things you are, which is a big part of the experience. Afterwards, we went to Mikropolis for some beers, then Bart and I (as the resident old people), headed home to relieve the babysitter.

    Walking through Vesterbro to Mikropolis…

     

    Sunday was sort of a lazy day for Bart and I, but we met up with the Beards later in the afternoon at Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park. The oldest, Bakken, is also located in Denmark, just 10 km north of Copenhagen. I’ve never been a huge fan of amusement parks, mostly because the crowds and lines never seem to justify the experience. Tivoli, however, is totally different – it’s like the purist’s version of an amusement park. First emphasize the word ‘park’; the gardens and walking paths are pristine and on par with any of the palace gardens we’ve seen. The park doesn’t allow florecent lights, so the lighting is comprised of actual bulbs…millions of them, I presume. The rides are all pretty classic, and there is something for everyone. Greyson had SO much fun on the handful of rides we went on with him, but he also absolutely loved watching the big roller coasters fly by up above. There weren’t really lines for anything, nor was the park uncomfortably crowded. Tivoli Gardens was easily one of the highlights of our trip so far.

     

    Tivoli Gardens

     

    Tivoli Gardens

     


    This was a Small World-type ride based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairtytales

    On the HC Andersen ride


      

    Bart won Greyson a toy truck!

    Bart and I took turns riding the rides since we had Greyson with us. This one was called Rutschebanen, built in 1914. It is one of world’s oldest wooden roller coasters that is still operating today. An operator controls the ride by braking down the hills so it won’t gain too much speed.

    These two are seriously the cutest. We’re so glad they came to visit!


    Final Note: If you haven’t seen it already, you should check out Jeff’s blog: An American Beard in London. He covers a lot of topics (and they’re all great), but is travel tips in particular are always top notch. He sent me a list of things to do, see, eat, etc. in Copenhagen which comprised the majority of the list I’ve been working off of, and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

    Rundetarn and the Old City by Train

    With Thursday being another work day for me, Grey and I decided to stay a little closer to home. After our coffee date, we climbed up Rundetarn (aka Round Tower), which turned out to be a really fun outing. The interior is a brick ramp that circles the interior tower. There is a spiral staircase at the very end, but it was a pretty easy climb altogether. Once we got to the top, it was like a very small-scale Empire State Building; not as high, and definitely not as crowded though. As luck might have it, we heard a marching band coming down Stroget and were able to watch the soldiers marching through town as part of the changing of the guards from the top of the tower. Naturally, Grey was dancing along to the music.

     

    Rundetarn

      

    Next, we walked over to City Hall Square to catch a little train that tours through Old Town. It’s a good thing I wasn’t interested in the tour portion (where you learn all the fun facts), because it was pretty non-existent. We snagged front row seats which was perfect for Greyson to greet everyone we passed. His greeting of choice, however, was “bye-bye”.


      

     

    My lunch date stealing my green beans

      
     

    After the train tour, Greyson and I had a lunch date at Bistro Royal then headed home. I’ve never really given Grey ‘kid food’ so not only has he not really had chicken strips, hamburgers, or mac and cheese, but he doesn’t really seem to like them either. He loves plain fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, etc., so my perfect menu item that we can share is usually a Cobb or Nicoise salad. With that said, I don’t usually even look at kid menus, but couldn’t help but notice that they don’t even exist here. Even the super kid-friendly places don’t usually have the token kid menu. I just find it interesting, most in what it says about the culture of raising kids here.

    Since we’re on the topic of observations, another odd one is elevator use and etiquette. I couldn’t help but notice signs everywhere I went (at the elevators) that reminded riders to save the elevators for individuals with strollers, those in wheelchairs, and the even the walking disabled. I didn’t think much of it at first until I started having to wait for 3 and 4 elevators pass me by because they were filled with perfectly able-bodied individuals. And when I do get on an elevator, I’m usually the only person on it who really needed to be there. Bart even saw a healthy and able-bodied 30-something push someone in a wheelchair out of the way to get the last spot on the elevator ahead of them. What’s even more confusing is that 1) there is a perfectly good escalator to get people upstairs without them having to do work, and 2) people will still wait for several elevators before they can fit on (this is a bigger issue at the Metro stops), so it takes significantly longer than the escalator too.

     Metro Elevator Sign 

    Culture, Ball Pits, and Babes

    Greyson and I were up for another big adventure on Tuesday, but after 6 hours of biking the day before, I was looking for something slightly less active. We settled on the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is about 45 minutes north of the city by train.

       

    People watching on the train. Grey’s expression here absolutely cracks me up

     

    I’ve heard so many good things about the Louisiana, and specifically, their children’s museum. The trek up was uneventful. Greyson slept and I took a mental nap. What’s a mental nap? It’s mostly me wanting to take a nap, but can’t because I’m a parent (in this case, a parent alone on a train with their kid). Anyway, we got there and it was, in fact, beautiful. The property makes you feel like you’re in Big Sur or somewhere similar. There are big cliffs that drop down to the water where you can hear the crashing waves. The grounds include a sculpture garden and a few big lawns with amazing views. On the other side of the museum, it is very wooded and has a walking path down to a lake. The actual museum was a house I think, or at least parts of the exterior looked that way. The Children’s Museum was amazing and completely interactive, but alas (like many things), it was geared towards kids just a bit older than Greyson. We attempted to do some drawing, which really just means that I was awkwardly sitting in a miniature chair drawing by myself as Grey ran around. And then we “played” with some Legos, but the scene was pretty similar to what I described at the drawing station. There was also an area where kids could paint on canvas, make clay sculptures, create paper m√Ęch√© 3D objects and mobiles, and a few other set ups that I’m forgetting. It really was impressive.

    Louisiana Museum – Grounds

    Greyson’s very worldly, you know, so he totally loves art museums. The exhibits at the Louisiana were really well done and some were interactive to a degree; the Africa exhibit was particularly impressive. We didn’t get to spend as much time outside as I would have liked due to some serious wind. Like, we felt like Dorothy-getting-blown-back-to-Kansas kind of wind, so Greyson could barely even stand upright. Also, it was insanely crowded and crowds aren’t my jam. Sooo, after we saw most of the museum, played in the children’s museum, and had some lunch, we hopped back on the train to head home. 

     

    Louisiana Museum – Africa Exhibit (a very small part of it)

      

    Louisiana Museum – Children’s Museum (it is 3-stories)

     

    Louisiana Museum – Children’s Museum

    It was probably only 2pm when we left the Louisiana, so Bart still had several hours of work left, which meant we had time to kill. I had read about a somewhat impressive play area in a “Skandinavia’s Largest Mall” which is about 30 minutes southwest of the city, so we extended our train ride to go there to kill some time. The mall wasn’t anything special, or even super big, but the play gym on the top level was perfect for what we needed that afternoon: a safe place for Greyson to run wild. I’ve never been to a kiddie gym, but I imagine they’re like this place. There were ball pits, tons of safe climbing structures (everything had foam padding), slides, and even air guns to shoot foam balls. Grey had the entire little kid area to himself and absolutely loved it. And the ball pit! Given that balls are pretty much his favorite thing in life, he was sort of in heaven. He’s also going through a button phase, so shooting balls out of the air guns (because he got to push a button to make it happen) could have gone on for hours if I let him. While heading to a mall in suburbia was admittedly a random stop, it was the perfect way to end our day.

       

    Bart always says that as a Dad to girls, your #1 job is to keep them off the pole. Well, it turns out that his son LOVES the pole. ūüôā

     

      

    As Wednesday rolled around, Greyson and I were up for another big outing and thought the beach would be fun. We hopped on the train to Christianhavn, then, rather than taking the bus to Halvandet beach, we started to walk the 45 minutes there. About halfway in, I noticed that one of Greyson’s shoes had disappeared. Sound familiar? This is at least the 5th time this has happened, where I then back track for a mile or so until I find the shoe tossed aside somewhere.

     

    At least I’m batting 1000 on finding Grey’s missing shoes

     
     

    Playtime detour after our shoe hunt

     

    For whatever reason I couldn’t be bothered to keep going to the beach, so I looked up the Harbour Baths to find that we were just 15 minutes away – change in plans! Fast forward to Friday night when the adults were boating down the harbour and passed Halvandet Beach, I totally made the right call. I would have been disappointed if I walked all the way there. The Harbour Baths are actually filled with water direct from the harbour, which is surprisingly clean. The city regularly tests it to make sure the water is safe, so you see people swimming in the water everywhere. Anyway, the Baths are made up of 5 pools and it’s free, despite having lifeguards and everything. Because it IS harbour water, there was a layer of moss at the bottom of the pool, which makes it a bit slippery, but it was otherwise totally fine. Grey thought it was a bit cold, but I got him to go in waist-deep for some splashing. At one point he slipped and fell so he got completely wet, which didn’t seem to phase him, but after I dried him off a little he just wanted to run around the deck and meet all the ladies, so swim time was over. He is seriously the biggest flirt ever. 

     

    Harbour Baths

        
       
      

    Biking in the City

    Monday morning was off to a good start, as Greyson decided to feed himself breakfast. I’m really killing it at this whole parenting thing.

        
    Deciding what to do for the day (as our days are quickly dwindling) has become a little more strategic, because I seem to be running out of time. How is that possible?! I didn’t even come with a particularly long list of things to see and do, but it’s grown quite a bit since we got here. I’ve just been working off a list on my phone’s notepad that’s broken down like this:

    • Attractions (e.g. Canal Tour, Tivoli Gardens, Zoo, etc.),
    • Gardens and playgrounds (e.g. King’s Garden, Botanical Garden, Brumleby Playground, etc.), 
    • Museums/historical sights (e.g. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Rosenborg’s Palace, National Gallery, etc.),
    • Neighborhoods (e.g. Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, Christiania, etc),
    • Places to Eat
    • Places to Drink (e.g. Coffee, Cocktails)
    • Shopping (e.g. Stroget, Fisketorvet, etc.)
    • Overnight and Day Trips (e.g. Malm√∂, Legolang, etc.)

    Anyway, at more than halfway into our trip and only a handful of full days left on my own for bigger outings, I was afraid there was actually a lot I wasn’t going to get to, so I decided to rent a bike on Monday to get around a little faster. There were a couple parks in particular that I wanted to get to, and they were about an hour away walking. Anyway, I so wish I had done this sooner – I’ve been getting a little annoyed pushing the stroller around (umbrella strollers just aren’t made for cobblestone), so the bike was a breath of fresh air. Literally. The air smelled different.

      

    The minute I strapped Greyson into his little seat at the front of the bike and we got moving, I was sold. This was SO. MUCH. BETTER. We ended up going to four different parks, and cruised around two different neighborhoods in six hours – I think it would have taken 3 days on foot. 

    It’s sometimes hard to tell of Greyson is enjoying something, because he often gets super quiet to take it all in – despite his outgoing personality, he’s a bit more introspective when doing something new. But you know he had a good time when you stop doing whatever you were doing (e.g. Carousel rides, train rides, bike rides) and he either starts jumping to continue (this happened at every red light we hit on the bike), or throws a mini-tantrum (when he’s pulled away). Anyway, he loved the bike – both being on it, and also inspecting it later on. The only problem was figuring out nap time. The poor guy was so tired and couldn’t seem to sleep sitting upright in the seat (he kept falling forward), but he actually slept fine hunched over. I just felt terrible about it, so I even pulled over to a random park to let him sleep at one point but he was wide awake the second I took him out of his seat. We’ll try a different chair next time.

      
    First up on the park to-do list was Faelledparken. I apparently missed part of this park (there is a neat sensory garden that I want to go back and find), but we primarily went for the Playground with Towers. There are kid-sized replicas of several of the famous towers in Copenhagen, and structures geared for several different age groups. Greyson loved this one; he enthusiastically climbed up to the top of the Round Tower, and I, not-so-enthusiastically followed. I hate that part of being a Mom – that is, awkwardly following your child through a clearly child-sized passageway or play structure. There were some 4-5 year olds behind me and one of them actually goosed me from behind to speed it up. Ugh. 

     

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

     

     

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

      

    Faelledparken

     
    Next, we hopped back on our bike to find Brumleby playground which was theoretically pretty close by. I found a photo of the playground on Pinterest, but never found exactly where it was in Google Maps, so I was skeptical it actually existed until I met a woman familiar with the Brumleby neighborhood. I showed her the photo, and she said that’s she’s never heard of a playground being there, but the homes in Brumleby are painted the same way. The neighborhood was made up of several rows of townhomes, with green space in between. As we rode past each row of open space, I saw gardens, open lawns, and outdoor dining sets ups, but no playground. Until I got to the last row. There it was, without another soul in sight.  I imagined it would be bigger, and a community favorite, given how cute the topsy-turvy buildings were, but it felt more like a forgotten play structure in an apartment complex. Either way, we had it to ourselves so we got out to play and have a picnic lunch.

    Greyson is really easy to please, so he would have been content just running in and out of the little houses all day….and playing peek-a-boo. Because what’s the point of having places to hide if you don’t play peek-a-boo?

      
        
     

    After lunch, we hit the road again to find the Superkilen park in Norrebro. Grey was getting super tired, so this is when the attempts to sleep on the bike first started failing. We got relatively lost trying to find the park, so I peeled off and found a new park at one point so I could try to get Greyson to take a little nap. He was sleeping in his chair (hunched over) when I found a nice shaded spot where we could stretch out, but when I pulled Grey off the bike, he took a quick look around and quickly decided that he didn’t want to miss out. So there was no napping, but there was more playing. 

      

    Hospital


     

       
     

    We eventually made it to Superkilen, but Greyson was sleeping (again), so I didn’t stop. It’s definitely not a little kid park, but it looked like so much fun and if you read the Wikipedia link I referenced earlier, it has a neat background too. Just seeing all of the different parks in Copenhagen is fun for me, so I’m still glad we made the trip over. Bonus, I got to cruise around Norrebro for awhile, which was fun. 

     

    Superkilen

      

    Superkilen

      

    Superkilen

      

    Superkilen

      

    Superkilen

     

    After Superkilen, we started to make our way home. Naturally, I got really lost again and it took me twice as long as it should have, but the bike so was much fun that I was totally okay with it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every day has been such a good day since we got here, but this day was definitely one of my favorites. Every morning when we leave the house for the first time, I ask Greyson, “Are you ready for an adventure today?!” Some days are more adventurous than others, but our bike day definitely was.

     

    Mirrors and babies…

      

    Greyson has 4 new teeth! That makes 12 total.

      

    Grey was so wiped that he passed out halfway through dinner