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July 25, 2015

Suman and I had travel karma today. We arrived at the airport to find no one at the counter, once we got over our initial nervousness that something might be wrong, we decided to wait at the counter in case Iceland Air didn’t open the flight until two hours prior to departure. Within about five minutes, the agents arrived and we were first in line as a flood of people scurried in behind us. Security was uneventful which provided us plenty of time to grab dinner at Root Down located in a different terminal from which we were departing.

Iceland air is a food for purchase airline, so we brought snacks on board and snagged a bottle of water that they were providing at the entrance. At first I wondered if the plane was ever going to cool off, but once they closed the doors, not only was I not freezing like usual, I got to make the international journey with extra space. The middle seat next to me was empty! A few movies and a little reading later, we landed in Reykjavik to easily make our two-hour connection.

Another uneventful flight later, we were at the busy Copenhagen airport purchasing our train ticket into the central station known as Kobenhavn H. Though slightly challenged, we did figure out to buy a zone 3 ticket for 36 kronor and to go to track 2. Three short stops and 15 minutes later, we were walking along the wet sidewalk to our hotel. It had just finished raining. Surprisingly, we walked right by Brian and Erin who arrived on a separate flight just before us.

Only about four blocks from the train station, we found our hotel, Hotel Alexandra. Hotel Alexandra welcomes its guests to the 60’s. Each room is decorated differently by a handful of designers representing the year 1960, 1965, or 1969 since so much happened and changed in this decade. Even the staff’s (who couldn’t be friendlier) uniform has a 60’s vibe. I’m not sure which year our room represented. It was dormitory style with a twin bed on each side of the room. In typical European fashion, the room was small with no A/C, however, the window opened and a fan was provided.

As expected, the bathroom was tiny, and the room itself had a few idiosyncracies that we were able to overcome. The first, required that the lights be turned on in order for the wall outlet to operate for charging. Generally adjusting all the light switches either on the wall or the plug itself can accommodate for this, but not in this room. The overhead light remained on! Fortunately, we were not using our phones much and juiced them when we got ready for breakfast and dinner. The other unique challenge was the bathroom sink. The shelf located a foot or so over the sink as well as the sink were the same width. This made it quite difficult to spit in the sink!

Another feature that I have only found at this hotel in all my traveling was if we declined the cleaning of our tiny room, we were given a 100 kronor voucher (about $15) that could be used in their Asian restaurant, Lele. The voucher couldn’t be used for breakfast, so we didn’t use it, but it is a nice option for those on a budget.

Upon check in, the hotel provided a useful city map, so we set off to see the sites of Copenhagen.  The Little Mermaid, a statue for which Copenhagen is famous, was our ultimate destination. On the way, we made several stops, first at Puk for lunch. I had fried camembert. It was a small amount of cheese, but tasty.

Fried Cheese at Puk

Fried Cheese at Puk

Our walk took us by Radhus, Copenhagen’s romantic style town hall which is famous for its Jens Olsen’s World clock. The clock displays local time, solar time, sunrises, sunset and more. We continued along the pedestrian streets through Stroget which was lined with countless cafés and high-end shopping. Eventually we turned right and strolled along the main canal until we reached Nyhaavn, quite a colorful neighborhood full of cafés along a canal inlet. It was certainly a tourist trap as the boats and colors were so attractive.

Still on our mission, we continued past Amalienborg, the home of the queen. The flag was down, so she was away. Soon we reached Kastellet, a park and army barracks in shape of a star. At its southeast tip, we admired the Alban Church and Gefionspringvandet, a fountain. The Little Mermaid was just to the northeast of the park at the port. At first we couldn’t see the statue, but then we found the hoards of people. It was small compared to the others around the town, and it was perched in the water. The Little Mermaid, one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous characters, was commissioned by Carlsberg Brewery in 1913. The statue was vandalized several times and replaced by a new one in 2006.

The jet lag set in by the time we found the Little Mermaid, and had we known the schedule of the mini tourist train and how to take it, we probably would have. Instead we took a short breather on a bench before we journeyed back to the hotel. Our return was much faster as we didn’t stop to look at every attraction and street art around construction areas. It was around 7 pm when we were debating if we should eat at any of the numerous cafés we passed. Just as soon as we settled on Cafe Norden with a nice patio on the plaza, it began to sprinkle. Though covered, we decided a table inside might be the way to go. Upon receiving my goat cheese salad, the skies unleashed! Rain blew sideways, forcing patrons to move inside for standing room only. The busy plaza vacated. A few brave souls tried holding their umbrellas sideways, though they were rendered useless by the gusting wind. Fortunately, the storm didn’t last long. I finished my salad while Suman enjoyed her tart, the rain stopped, and we strolled back to the hotel! What a good first day. ETB

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