one part travel, one part home, one part DIY, one place to create

Archive for April, 2011

what a difference a door makes

Ever since day 1 in 1859 I haven’t been a fan of the doors. It was just something about that plain wood tone clashing with the beautiful wood floors and the fresh white trim. Oh, and that shiny brass hardware. It was a far cry from my favorite of the metal finishes, oil rubbed bronze. Since I’m also not big on the standard 6 panel door, I had my eye on some 2 paneled babies for many months. Being the decidated Lowe’s shopper I am, I waited until I had a “$25 off $250 purchase” coupon to take the plunge. [It also helped that I had been saving up some Lowe’s gift cards. Anyone who knows me knows I love a Lowe’s gift card. Forget a manicure, a new dress or a new pair of high heels – I’ll take a Lowe’s gift card please. Is it strange that I feel more comfortable in Lowe’s than most any shopping mall?]


Back in October I made one of my typical Friday evening trips to Lowe’s; I prefer to go on weekday evenings because it is halfway between work and home, so a very convenient stop during the 45 minutes commute. My shopping list was quite long since I tend to wait and buy lots of things all at once. Most importantly on the list: four 2-panel interior doors, four door knob sets, 8 hinges, and 1 door hardware installation kit. I managed to fit all four of these doors in the Civic (thank goodness for backseats that fold down) and then the doors proceeded to sit in the hallway for months. Well, at least half of them did. Right away I replaced the guest bedroom door (Candelyn was living here at the time, so it was her room for the time being).

I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do all of this on my own. Chiseling the spaces for the hinges, drilling the door knob openings, adding all of the hardware and hanging it securing so it actually closes. My first door went pretty smoothly, it only took me like 4 hours though… oh boy! But I was in love – in love with a door! This was the only door of the four that fit perfectly without sanding or trimming. I also replaced the coat closet door and had to sand the edges of it quite a bit. It was still a tight squeeze into the frame so I avoiding opening that door for about 3 months since it didn’t quite fit. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first one, obviously. Oh and it fell on me at one point, leaving my shoulder very bruised and a big dent in the door (at least it was on the inside). I came to a stand still when the bathroom and my bedroom door were going to need some serious trimming.

Fast forward to April and I decided it was finally time to finish this project. Oh, and it helped that I decided to purchase a planer – another addition to my power tool collection. It took me most of a Saturday to hang the final two doors, but I did it! A home improvement project just isn’t complete without at least one injury. This time I dropped a door on my foot and landed a nice bruise that was still there weeks later. The old doors are now sitting in the workshop with all the hardware still attached. Think I can get $5 for them from Craigslist? Haha, I’ll at least give it a try!

Now all that was left was to add 2 coats of OW-18. [My go-to white oil-based trim paint by Benjamin Moore. I think the first rule my mom taught me in home improvement is always use Benjamin Moore. I’m not sure why this was an important rule, but now I only use big Ben when it comes to painting because Mom said so.] I spent a Saturday painting the first coat on all of the doors and a week later I finally got around to painting the second and final coat. And I added some hooks to the back of the bathroom door and my bedroom door. They were finished at last! It was only 6 months in the making… didn’t I tell you I have the bad habit of starting projects and not finishing them exactly in a timely matter? Its been at least a year since I started working on my closet doors and have yet to get those finished.


Day 9 – Sunday, February 27th, 2011 – MORE AIRPORTS

It was our last morning in Copenhagen and what better way to say goodbye then one final bacon, eggs, and pancake meal with real maple syrup. We packed all of our things and somehow made room for all of our souveniors as well. We decided to take the 5A bus to the airport since it actually picked us up at the hotel and took us all the way to the airport for the same price as the metro Nia and I took on the way there which left us walking another mile.

Today was going to be a day with a lot of waiting. We waited at the bus stop for at least 45 minutes, waited in the long line to check in at the airport, waited in security (I think Nia still didn’t get it right and had to be patted down), waited at the gate until boarding time, waited in our seats on the plane until we finally took off, waited at baggage claim once arriving at Reykjavik (thankfully it showed up this time), waited in line to buy bus tickets to the hotel, waited on the nearly hour long bus ride until finally arriving at the Metropolitan Hotel. We made it to Iceland at last. And it wasn’t quite as beautiful as it was during our layover 7 days prior when I first fell in love with this country. It was rainy and snowy and windy. And we felt terrible – Nia definitely worse than me. [Unfortunately for Dave, he had quite a bit more waiting than we did. He was heading back to the US and not joining us in Iceland and his layover was in Canada. Turns out the flight he was almost late for this morning was delayed (surprise), causing him to miss his connection in Canada and ending with a night spent in Canada because the next flight to Charlotte wasn’t until the next day.]

The hotel was quite an interesting place. We booked it because it was the cheapest and still really close to downtown. I’m not sure if my favorite part was the tiny two person elevator that jumped each time you got off. Or the small bathroom where you could take a shower while sitting on the toilet – literally, the sink, toilet and shower were all just right together in a tiny little room and when you took a shower, well, the whole place got soaked. Or that everytime we went to the lobby their was a different person working the front desk. Do they have like 30 minute shifts here or something? Or the room key, which was a giant key on a giant wooden keychain; apparently you’re supposed to leave it at the front desk each time to leave. Umm yeah, probably because no one wants to tote around the world’s biggest room key all day. Or the fact that they were the most laid back people. EVER. [When we first checked in the girl said, “well, you can pay now, or later, or whenever really.” Oh is that so? Gah I feel like in the US they won’t even speak to you until you pay up.] Or when we decided to book the Golden Circle day tour and Blue Lagoon tour they just gave someone a call real quick and said OK, they will pick you up at 8:00. Really? Well I sure hope they show up because I have no idea who you could have called during your 10 second phone conversation.

We took a nap for a little bit and then decided to walk downtown and have some traditional Icelandic supper. Our restaurant of choice: Islenka Barenka – Nia picked it out after browsing google and some guide books we picked up in the lobby. Reykjavik is quite a bit smaller than Copenhagen, so it was much easier to find our way around walking. We even found some of the places shown in the episode Ali went to Iceland on the Bachelorette. Remember when the guys had to write poems in Icelandic for her and the crazy guy Casey sung to her in front of a statue? Yep that was right near the restaurant! This was an interesting meal. We ordered the “Journey Through Iceland” and split it. The menu said we’d be taken on a surprise journey through Iceland with an appetizer, main course, and dessert. And boy was it a surprise! We asked the waiter what we’d get and he said he didn’t know, just whatever the chef felt like making.

First course: extremely thin sliced pieces of lamb stretched out over the dish covered in melon and sauce and smokey flavor. I’m still not sure if this was even cooked or not. Second course: foal and catfish atop mashed potatoes. Yes foal, as in baby horse. Dessert: brownie with ice cream – this part was quite a disappointment. After cleaning our plates we walked back to the Metropolitan and headed straight to bed. A day of travel if exhausting, especially when you don’t feel very good. But tomorrow would be a better day because we’d be exploring the beauty of Iceland.

my new blue gloves

Yesterday afternoon the sun finally came out and dried up some of the rain from these monsoons we’ve been having. I was planning on finishing painting some new interior doors (more details on that to come), but I realized my yard was in much more need of my attention. And when I got home from church the neighbors were out doing yard work and then I felt obligated to do the same. A few weeks ago I bought some new blue leather work gloves since my other two pairs now had holes in all the finger tips [I guess I’m a little to rough on them?] My front and back yard each have a giant pin oak tree. While I love them for the shade they provide, they make for some miserable leaf raking and stick picking up. The heavy winds we’ve had the past few weeks have done quite a number on all my tree branches and after only picking up most of the front yard I was left with this overflowing bundle of joy:

I finally mowed for the first time this season and since my front yard is seriously lacking on the grass it didn’t look TOO bad beforehand. The backyard, well that’s a whole nother story. I put this off for entirely too long. What else did I put off for too long? Raking and bagging the remainder of the leaves in the backyard [which don’t actually stop falling in my yard until January or February] and they were now buried amongst the nearly foot tall grass. Oh what a surprise that was for the lawnmower. So surprising that it cut off at least 10 times when it hit a pile of leaves that it couldn’t quite handle.

Unfortunately my lawnmower doesn’t have a bag, which normally isn’t an issue for the clippings to just stay on the ground. But since the backyard now had a foot of grass clippings AND chopped up leaves, mmm well that didn’t quite look very good. And did I mention lots of these leaves were soaking wet? Perfect. I decided it was going to be necessary to now rake and bag all of this up since the piles of old wet leaves were killing my grass. I guess this is what I get for procrastination? I was insistent on completing all of this raking and bagging before the day was over. The sun wasn’t on my side. So I busted out my headlamp and worked outside until almost 9pm to finish the job.

I was relieved and happy when it was done. My hands, however, did not feel the same way. I’m now regretting buying those new blue gloves because I still got blisters and they left my fingers looking a little something like this:

At least it all washed off after 15 minutes of scrubbing. Yet another reason why I dislike the color blue.

Day 8 – Saturday February 26th, 2011 – SWEDEN

Today we again took advantage of free transportation with the Copenhagen Card and took the train up to Helsingor. After breakfast we took the 5A bus to central station and figured out which line we needed to get on. We had about 15 minutes before the train left the station, which was just enough time for Nia to get a postcard and mail it to her Grandma. She had been wanting to do this all week but we weren’t sure where to find a post office, but central station conveniently had one inside. She picked one out, filled it out, and we waited in line until our number was called. She was pretty excited when it only cost 12 kroner to buy the postcard and mail it back to Reedy Creek. We had to wait in line longer than expected so then we had to run to the boarding dock to catch the train just in time. This was another 45-50 minute train ride, but this time it was hugging the coastline headed north instead of heading inland.

Once we arrived in Helsingor we made our way through the station to get to the ferry station. While planning this trip in the previous months we read about going to Sweden for the day if you’re in Copenhagen – so we just knew we had to make this a part of our itenerary to add another country into our adventures. We bought 2 round trip tickets to Helsingborg, Sweden with HH Ferries and boarded the boat. Now this was a heck of a boat for a 20 minute ferry crossing. I guess they use this for other routes too because you can’t possibly eat a sit down meal, play arcade games, and go shopping all in 20 minutes? We spent our 20 minutes on the top deck for the best view and picturing taking, although quite cold and windy. Since most of the canals were frozen so was the water nearest land, but this boat just sailed right on through the ice and out into the Oresund. There was a nice view of Helsingor’s coastline as we set sail and a nice view of Kronborg Slot – Hamlet’s Castle. We met a nice man from Denmark who was heading over to Sweden for the day just to buy some books at a bookstore sale. I think I’d like to travel to another country as well next time I’m looking for some good book deals. He did give us some good info about what all to see in Helsingborg and most importantly he told us about the heated benches. He said, “if you see a bunch of old people sitting down, then you know you’ve found them.”

Once setting foot into Sweden, we grabbed a map and made our way towards Karnan, an old tower that is the only part remaining of the old fortess towering over the city when it was under Danish rule. Since it was a sunny, yet still cold, Saturday things were a bit more crowded than we were used to all week. We made our way up all the levels of stairs to get to higher ground and Karnan and of course took lots of pictures of the view overlooking the city and Oresund. I think you could even see the coast of Denmark from here since they are only about 4km apart. Now to find the heated benches. As we headed towards the harbor, Nia made me sit on every single bench to see if it was heated or not. I sat on at least 5 benches, which all looked like a normal bench, but we were convinced they could be magically heated. When we had almost given up Nia spotted something in the distance; is it what I think it is? Yes, its a lot of old people… sitting down… just as the man on the ferry said there would be. BINGO! Heated benches! We were so excited we were almost running. We sat our butts down and instantly felt warmth flooding our bodies. The benches had hot water running through the bottoms to heat them. This made for the perfect lunch spot, and we got out our “window sandwiches” and snacks and relaxed. The harbor and boats were frozen and we laughed as the birds walked on the ice slipping around.

Then it was on to something a little more modern – the culture house – Dunker’s Culture Center, to be exact. The man on the ferry told us about this and we weren’t really sure what it was, but its basically like a museum, gift shop, concert hall, community center all in one. The strangest thing about it were the emo looking rabbit statues outside, laying in a pile of rocks. I guess its supposed to be artistic, but to me it just seemed weird. And even stranger than the emo rabbits, we stumbled upon some kind of event once we went inside. There was a small room with a crowd of women waiting to get in. Then all of a sudden I guess it was time and they all flooded the room. Time for what? I don’t know. But we sure were going to find out! So we also made our way into the room, which was filled with tables and hangers of random clothes and other things and people were going crazy snatching them up. So I figured out it must be some kind of rummage sale based on the urgency all these people had to grab the perfect item. We asked a lady at the door what was going on; she told us “you can switch clothes and you have until 5:00pm.” Ummm… ok? So I change the clothes I’m wearing and I have until 5 o’clock to wear them then switch back? After more watching we figured out what she meant was that you bring items of your own and trade them for different things – so in our words – a clothing swap. Well we didn’t swap anything since we needed the clothes we were wearing.

We wanted to check out one more place so we headed towards the biggest church in the city – the Church of St. Mary’s. Like all old churches, this was ornately and beautifully decorated inside and just as cool on the outside. Now at this point in the week I was feeling pretty exhausted and developing a bad cough. Must have been all the walking outside in the cold wind. I had a feeling Nia was feeling the same way when she agreed to head back to Denmark on the ferry even though our stay in Sweden had merely been a few hours. We got to the ferry just in time as we were the last people to load up. Not feeling up to par, we opted to sit inside this go around since we experienced the viewing deck on the way over. 20 minutes later we were breaking through the ice and stepping foot back into Denmark.

On the train ride back to Copenhagen I think we both fell asleep. But I woke up in plenty of time to make sure we got off at the right stop. Back at Hovedbanegarden, we took the 5A bus to the Radisson and met up with Dave in the Player’s Lounge. Since this was the last day of the poker tournament, not many people were still there. We told Dave all about our day and then decided we should go take a nap for a little while since we had a couple hours until it was time for more “free sandwiches.” It felt so nice to nap considering I wasn’t feeling very good. But we did of course wake up in time for supper! I must say, every single meal we ate with the PokerStars was delicious and such a great surprise that we weren’t expecting on the trip.

This was our last night in Copenhagen and Nia wanted to GO OUT! Meaning, stay up later than 10:00pm and go somewhere besides playing guitar hero and foosball with the PokerStars. The night before we enjoyed ourselves at Sari Restaurant and the ICEBAR. Tonight, we wanted a more local experience by heading to “the most elusive bar” in Copenhagen. I’m still not sure what this means, but my guide book described it as – so elusive, almost impossible to find. Perfect! That’s just the kind of place we like – and it was one of Peter’s recommendations for bars to check out. It is also voted to have the best cocktail in Scandinavia. After we put on our dresses we took the bus to the stop closest to the bar and started walking to find it. We had our map in hand with the little side street that it was on circled. Remember when I talked about how we had at least 4 maps but none of them were detailed enough? That made finding this place pretty difficult since it took us a while to find the street it was on. Now I know what they meant by so elusive almost impossible to find, because if it wasn’t for the line of people waiting at the door and the fact that we knew the address number we probably would have passed on by it. No sign, except in tiny writing on a door once you were already inside the hallway – “Ruby.” We waited probably 15 or so minutes before the guy at the door told us we could go in. And when we walked through those doors I felt at home, literally! Well not MY home, but someone’s home. It felt like someone’s house/apartment decorated very homey with big couches and chairs and artwork. I guess the only thing that gave it away as a bar was the actual bar. And it sure was crowded! We walked around the whole place to check it out and then decided to put our coats on the coat rack along with everyone else. Remember when I said the Dane’s are trusting people? No coat check at this place, just simply a rack where you hang your coat as if you’re at a friend’s house.

Here we learned a few more things:

  1. We can at least pass for Europeans as everyone first spoke Danish to us before realizing we didn’t understand them. Or maybe it was because this bar is more of a local spot and people wouldn’t expect American’s to be there in the middle of winter?
  2. Bartenders take their time in making drinks. They measure out every single shot that goes into a cocktail and make sure to have a taste using the “finger over the straw to get some out trick” to make sure it is just right. None of that super fast and messy slinging of bottles like in the US. Now we knew what the guy at the door meant when he said he had to wait until the bartenders were caught up with orders before letting more people in, because they were way slower than bars here! But I’ll have to say, the bartenders were much nicer and hotter. And hey, we were having the best cocktails in Scandinavia, who cares how long it takes?
  3. Europeans sometimes wear their wedding band on their right ring finger. This becomes quite confusing to someone who is used to only looking on the left ring finger. I ended up talking at least 30 minutes with a guy that was hitting on me before realizing that he was in fact married and then I felt terrible for talking to a married man. I vote the whole world needs to pick one finger and stick with it!

We had a really fun time feeling like locals and meeting some locals! We didn’t stay too terribly late, probably there a couple hours and then headed back to the Radisson for our last night in those tiny beds. I was glad Nia made us go out to enjoy an evening of Copenhagen’s night life!

Day 7 – Friday, February 25th, 2011 – HILLEROD

Another bacon, eggs, and pancakes morning [Nia and Dave may be the only ones finding this funny as I was trying to tell a story one morning at breakfast and said “bacon eggs and pancakes” at least 30 times] and then we were off. We got a little earlier start than the previous day since we wanted to see a couple things around Copenhagen before taking the train up to Hillerod for the afternoon. To get the most out of our Copenhagen Card there were a couple more things we wanted to see around the city: Carlsberg Brewery, Stables  & Elephant Tower, Copenhagen Zoo, Frederiksberg Slot and Have (aka castle and garden).

By this time we had mastered the buses and switching buses (and Nia didn’t get cussed out by anymore angry Danes). So we took the bus to Carlsberg Brewery Visitor Center. The bus didn’t go quite to the brewery, so we still had to walk a bit. And by walk I mean wander around confused trying to find where the visitor center actually was because it was seriously lacking signs. At least we passed by the Elephant Tower on the way. Basically this is just a tower over the road that has giant elephant statues built into it. And you know I LOVE elephants!! This made for a few good photo ops and then we found the visitor’s center. We debated on paying to do the tour but opted not to since we had already walked around some of the place by ourselves and we were allowed to see the stables for free. And we figured it was a bit early in the morning for beer tasting – the same beer we already had as a part of the “free sandwiches” in the evenings in the player’s lounge. Instead we spent our money on some souvenoirs for friends/family/ourselves. We purchased a few different types of Carlsberg beer and some nice glasses with the Carlsberg logo.  But the best part about this place – THE STABLES! Remember when the people joked around with me at The Royal Reception rooms about having cardboard horses? Well no worries, the horses in this place were the real deal. Pretty much Denmark’s version of the Budweiser horses. We petted the horses while they tried to eat my scarf, we took some pictures, and watched them get suited up to drive the wagon. We followed the wagon out and under the Elephant Tower as we were making our way back to the bus stop.

We opted to skip over the Zoo (what animals would even be out and about in the middle of winter?) and Frederiksberg Slot in order to make it to FrederiksBORG Slot in Hillerod. But first we needed to stop back by the Radisson to drop off all of our new purchases from Carlsberg. This was supposed to be a quick process – just hop on the 5A bus, brief stop at the room, then back on the 5A bus to central station to catch the train. Instead, stubborn me insists that we need to walk one direction to the bus stop when Nia was certain it was the other direction. So we ended up walking all the way back to the Radisson, in silence and frustration. Once we finally made it back and I apologized for not listening when Nia was right then we were on our way on the BUS, not walking, to central station. Remember when I said we had the bus system figured out? Yeah, I guess I meant NIA had the bus system figured out. My job was just to hold onto our Copenhagen Cards since Nia almost lost hers 3 times.

Once at Hovedbanegarden (Central Station) we checked the timetables to see which track we needed to be at to get to Hillerod. My guide book told us which line we needed to ride and which bus to take to get to Frederiksborg. The train ride was about 45-50 minutes long and Hillerod was the final stop on this line. We had some snacks on the train and this was the one place they did actually send someone through to check tickets. [Taking the metro just throughout the city, no one really checks, but remember my list of things we learned about Danes: they are very honest and trusting people. Imagine this system in the US – I’m sure nearly no one would buy tickets if they knew they probably wouldn’t be checked for because unfortunately too many Americans try to take advantage of things and cheat the system. I think we should learn to be a more honest and trusting culture.] Upon arriving in Hillerod we tried to find a bus that was numbered one of the numbers my guidebook told me, but none were there. So we walked around the station trying to find maps and routes and asked a number of people how to get there. I mean this dern castle is kinda the biggest thing in this town, surely everyone knows how to get there. So some nice teens directed us which bus to get on and which stop to get off to get there. And all of a sudden… there she was! In all her beauty! NOW we sure are glad we ditched the rest of our morning plans in order to make it to this amazing place in time. I mean look at this. Now tell me where I can find something this amazing in the US? And with this much history and detail and culture? Probably nowhere.

There was a lake surrounding all sides of this place, which of course was frozen, and a small bridge crossing over the smallest part of this “mote” to get to the entrance. It was nearing the end of the afternoon, around 2:30ish and the place closed at 4pm. That left us enough time to explore this gigantic castle (self-guided tour of course) thoroughly but quickly. We wanted to see all of it so we went pretty quickly through a lot of the rooms. The best room of all though – the reception room – an enormous room with marble floors and ornate walls and ceiling just screaming for us to take all kinds of self timer pictures. And with us as the only people there = a LOT of picture taking, self timer photos, jumping pics, and experimenting with shutter speed and exposure with Nia’s camera. Still waiting to see how those turned out. We ended up spending much more time than expected taking pictures, so we really had to speed it up through the rest of the castle and somehow we got turned around and left some places out. Before we knew it, it was closing time and we were somewhere in the middle of the castle trying to find the exit. No worries, a security guard found us and escorted us out a secret stairwell and luckily we still had time to take some pictures of the outside of the place. This is when I learned that if its too cold to have flowing water in your fountain, just fill it with Christmas trees. Instant gratification! Yes, I have an unusual obsession with Christmas trees, mainly the smell of Christmas trees. I’d even like my man to smell like Christmas trees [that is, of course, when I finally have a man…]. We didn’t want to head back to Copenhagen quite yet, so we walked around the “high street” for a bit. Apparently every city has a “high street” – a shopping street with no cars, only pedestrians – and still not sure WHY its called a HIGH street?? We did have some pretty good finds here. At an antique store we got these old glass bottles for super cheap, at a chocolate shop got some amazing chocolate flavored ground coffee [which scented our bags and hotel room the entire rest of the trip – it was that strong] and I found a beautiful scarf for Sarah at the coolest travel/outdoor store. We asked more strangers how to get back to the train station and walked our way back there only to have more confusion of which train actually goes straight back to Copenhagen. After asking some strangers and the information desk [which conveniently was inside the 7/11; not only was it inside the 7/11, but the 7/11 workers were the information desk. so strange] we hopped on the train they told us to get on, still unsure if it was right because this one didn’t have the route showing all of the stops.

But sure enough, the train took us back to Copenhagen and we got on another bus in search of Peter Beier’s Chokolade. For days all Nia talked about was hot chocolate and finding PB’s Chokolade to get hot chocolate and possibly sample all the different kinds of hot chocolate. The day before when we were with Dave we did briefly stop in PB’s but sadly there was no chocolate fountain flowing in the window nor hot chocolate samples, only chocolate treats for sale. We found out that evening that there are TWO PB’s and we went to the wrong one. So today Nia and I found the right one with chocolate fountain and all. Now the hot chocolate was not free samples, but we did each get a giant cup of different flavors to share with complimenary walnuts [maybe we weren’t supposed to eat those? but they were in a bowl on the table just waiting to be tasted] and free pieces of delicious chocolate. This place was surely worth the days of anticipation and searching for the right one. We also stocked up on some more souvenirs here: chocolate, coffee stirrers made of chocolate, hot chocolate, and a coffee mug. PB’s was right near Cafe Petersborg – where we planned to eat supper that evening after returning to the Radisson to get ready and get Dave. My friend Peter recommended Cafe Petersborg and we got a discount with the Copenhagen Card. To our disappointment, Cafe Petersborg closed at 6pm and we weren’t planning to go out to eat until 7:30-8ish. We found it quite difficult to find a restaurant that was open past 6pm that was an actual restaurant and not just a bar. And boy was it much harder than we thought! We finally decided on Sari Restaurant and headed there with Dave after we changed into our “going out” clothes. We couldn’t just eat those free sandwiches all week, we had to go out at least once!

We walked to Sari Restaurant and were seated right away. Being that we were in Denmark we had to order Smorrebrod (commonly known as smorgasbord) and herring – so Nia and I each ordered one and split. I don’t know why I ordered herring, but everyone talked about it. We were not a fan of the three types of herring nor the smorrebrod. Maybe if we had different kinds somewhere else it’d be better, but we were just not satisfied with our choices. So what else could we do after dinner besides go to an ICEBAR! We read about the Icebar online and in my guide book, so it was a must. Although a total tourist trap and quite pricey (at least the price included a drink) it was so worth it. The entire thing was made of ice – the walls, the statues, the benches, the tables, the bar, the cups! And you wear these giant blue parkas with gloves to stay warm since it clearly has to be kept below freezing or else it wouldn’t be ice now would it? We met some interesting people in there, but more importantly got to have some fun in our fur-lined snuggies. Needless to say, after less than an hour in that place it was time to get back to the Radisson and get to sleep in a nice warm bed.

Day 6 – Thursday, February 24th, 2011 – COPENHAGEN

Today we had a real plan. And Dave joined our adventures again as his time sadly came to an end in the poker tournament.  After bacon, eggs, and pancakes, we bundled up again with maps in hand. Nia’s hands that is. Now the pressure was all on her for navigating. We actually had everything we wanted to see and do that day circled on the map and ordered based on location, so that way we weren’t just wandering around aimlessly [like the previous day] in hopes of happening upon what we wanted to see.

Today was cold, really cold, and windy. So we utilized that free transportation with the Copenhagen Card and took the 5A bus up to Botanisk Have (aka botanical gardens). Not much to see here in the dead of winter. Next up on the agenda: the old observatory, aka The Round Tower. The Trinitatis Church and the Round Tower are built together. History was my worst subject in school and I got around even having to take a history class in college, so I’m terrible with remembering dates and important names and all that stuff. So this place was pretty old and is the oldest observatory still standing in Copenhagen, that’s about all I can say on the history side. To get to the top of the Observatory you walk up a long spiraling ramp. And suddenly I felt like I was walking to Calculus class in Harrelson Hall. [All you NC State grads out there should get my reference here!] It made for some pretty great pictures as did the awesome view of the city from the top! As I already said, it was a windy day, so we didn’t stay at the top for long or else we’d all have been blown over the side. On the way back down we stopped at the gift shop that also doubled as a gallery for an art exhibit about food of the world. This is where we discovered that somehow North Carolina translates into North Kentucky according to the Danes. This is also where we discovered that the US, England, and Canada eat all packaged, processed, and fast foods, where as every other country eats beautiful home grown fresh fruits, veggies, and grains. Oh wait, we already knew that because America is fat. But it was crazy to see it all in picture form based on how much families eat in a week around the world. We spent a while at this exhibit. Not necessarily because we were that interested, but because it was inside and warm and had a clean bathroom.

That’s two places checked off the list and now we’ve worked up quite the appetite. Remember that lunch meat currently stored in the bag hanging outside of our window at the Radisson? Well today we all packed lunches from the “window sandwiches” as we dubbed them and the snacks that Nia and I brought along from home. We decided it would be best to find somewhere inside to eat because eating in the cold is no fun. Where else could be go besides McDonalds?! So once again we made our way in, ordered a couple varm kakaos from the coinoffer menur for 10 kroner and set up shop with our bag lunches. It was also a perk that McDonalds had free wifi. I’m sure glad they offer that since none of the airports like to.

Then we went to Amalienborg.  Nia tried to just walk right on in since we weren’t sure where the entrance was. Then a guard with his gun in hand quickly stopped her when he realized no, we were not in fact royalty. So he directed us to the proper entrance and we explored. Another place that made you pay to take pictures inside, so we left the cameras in the lockers. Strangely there was random things that didn’t belong in each historic room (aka: an iphone, a camera, a laptop, etc.) and Dave and Nia quickly caught on that we found ourselves in the middle of a game for kids – to spot things that didn’t belong. I think we had more fun with it than the kids did. Next we headed to Kastellet. I’m not really sure what this place is, but basically its a little island in the shape of a star surrounded by a mote. I thought it would be great to walk around the trail on the edge of star island. We crossed the mote bridge and were nearly blown into the mote because the wind was so intense. Basically you then have to walk around most of star island to get to another bridge to get off of it. Thanks to me, we were stuck walking in the freezing wind for a while. When we made it off star island, we were then in search of The Little Mermaid.

Our hopes weren’t too high when it came to the Little Mermaid since my book said it was in fact LITTLE. But this thing was famous in Copenhagen and a must see. We were getting pretty miserable at this point from the cold and wind and of course, having trouble finding her. We did however first find what we dubbed the BIG mermaid. I have no idea where we actually were, but we came across and giant mermaid statue that had at least a D cup. Not sure why this statue wasn’t the famous one? After we realized we walked way too far we did some back tracking and found the real little mermaid. In all her tiny glory. We forced ourselves to smile for a picture after all the trouble we went through to find her. See all that snow she is surrounded by? That is normally water, the nice canal, but February means ice.

We walked a ways afterwards trying to find a bus stop that would take us home. Never had we felt so much joy to sit down in a warm seat. With Nia in charge for the day we had a game plan and checked everything off our to-do list (except sampling some varm kakao at Peter Beier Chokolade – but we opted to leave that for the next day) and maybe fit a few too many things in one day because we were exhausted. The rest of our evening was spent with more “free sandwiches” in the Player’s Lounge, watching some youtube favorites, and catching up on the latest episodes of The Bachelor and Modern Family. I think the Bachelor was Dave’s favorite part of the day.