I finally took my first much deserved vacation from my stressful job of sitting at home all day waiting for the kids to get back from school. So I took advantage of just how small this country is and went East to Copenhagen! The Francophile in me has been seriously challenged because I am so in love with this city. The urban population hovers around 1.2 million and the greater metropolitan area, which also extends to Sweden, is just under 2 million. This makes it the perfect size. There’s still a lot of exciting things to do and a fun night life, but you are never overwhelmed by crowds. The city is almost quiet because of the lack of cars, and you can always find a cozy café on a side street that epitomizes the Danish term hygge, which is a word to describe everything you can think of that is nice and welcoming such as the warmth of a fire and glow of candles, or being surrounded by good friends and having a nice, cold beer on a hot day.
My host-father’s parents live in an apartment in Christianshavn next door to the (in)famous Christiania, a small area that is governed by its own rules. They were nice enough to let me stay in their apartment for the week while they were away on holiday, so I had the real Copenhagen experience which included doing exciting things like walking to the grocery store to buy something to cook for dinner, and obviously a bottle of wine too!
I’m always having to live on a budget so I picked something out that I thought would be a good value. I’ve been lacking in red wine since coming to Denmark, so I decided on a 2011 Toscana called Contrada by San Felice, what seems to be one of the larger wine producers in Tuscany. The Contrada was made to be a table wine that goes well with the cuisine of the area and I would say that they were spot on.
I found the aroma to be of strawberry jam with a hint of raspberry. The taste was immediately spicy, which was a surprise, but with a fresh quickness to compliment the shocking acidity that left a taste in my mouth that was reminiscent of soda water. It was not complex, but the notes were fluid and well balanced with moderately high acidity. I could taste cranberries, cherries, and crisp, youthful strawberries along with a subtle note of bell pepper. The tannins were very subdued, proving to be a wine that should be enjoyed in its youth. It perfectly complimented the sweetness of the sundried tomatoes in the pesto and was fruity enough to be delicious, but not so overwhelming as to fight with the food. Its a wine to be enjoyed, not pondered, and it made me feel more at home in my temporary residence in the most beautiful city on earth.
Not only was the wine I picked out great, but the bars too! Being a tourist in a city where you know absolutely no one is a life changing experience in itself. I got to see all of the famous sights including Nyhavn, Rosenborg Palace, Amalienborg Palace, the National Gallery of Art, and many others, but sometimes it was a little lonely, especially when the sun began to set and I realized I hadn’t talked to anyone the entire day except for the occasional Jeg kan ikke tale Dansk - I can’t speak Danish. So I bit the bullet and went out to explore the night life on my own and found that Danish people are in fact some of the friendliest most welcoming people in the world. Within only a few minutes of sitting down at a bar, I had people strike up conversations with me, asking if I was alone. I was invited to have a drink with students, professionals, expats, policemen, you name it, and I met incredible people as a result.
My most memorable night was my last, which I spent in what I decided to be my favorite part of Copenhagen, Nørrebro. I found a bar called Bankeråt, which translates in English to “Bankrupt.” When I asked how they chose that name, the bartenders told me that the owner couldn’t think of what to call it and joked that it wouldn’t matter because it would likely go bankrupt anyway. Well the name stuck, but it’s been over 20 years and it has actually become an extremely popular place within both the local and international community.
The service was incredible, with a friendly bar staff and a chef from Miami who gave me a heaping plate of what he said were the only real nachos in Copenhagen. It reminded me of being in Knoxville where the bartenders are happy to give you recommendations and samples of the local beers and I was also insisted upon trying the Cuban rum since us Americans can’t get that back home! I left the bar well after close feeling like a new regular, and I know I’ll be going back when my best friend comes to visit in March.