Monday, 4 October 2010

Carlsberg, Canals, and Karaoke – everything you need for a weekend in Copenhagen…


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country, on this VERY special edition of Travel with the Taylors. That’s right, folks – today Sam and Jenny hit a milestone, as this is post number 300!!!! How crazy is that?

So 2 other points right quick:
1. The Land's End Challenge continued today with a 28 KM bike ride. I needed over 50 minutes to get through it, but I was pleased and feel that at least a little of the sodium that I consumed this weekend has now been expunged.

2. There's a new WORST SONG EVER in the gym! I am assuming that the song is entitled "West Ridge Mother F@#$ER!!!!" because, well, here are the lyrics (don't blink - you'll miss 'em):
(heavy techno music followed by pathetic electronic drums)

(song repeats the above segments about SIXTEEN THOUSAND TIMES)

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? This was FULL VOLUME UNEDITED IN THE GYM. Needless to say, this is NOT your local YMCA...

But enough of that - Team Taylor is back on English soil, another country (and several REDONKULOUS stories) in the books. And so, without further ado…

Friday Night: A Traditional Danish Dinner – Hard Rock Café…

The trip over was easy, arriving at the airport about 4 and departing on time ~5:30. We landed around 8, arriving at Central Station just after 9 PM. The station was VERY cool, complete with Viking symbols throughout and the traditional Scandinavian open ceiling, highlighting the craftsmanship of all the wooden beams.

We popped out to an UBER windy night, but since the hotel was only 4 tenths of a mile away, we decided to walk it. That being said, the one fly in the serum was that we didn’t actually know WHERE the hotel was. However, as that’s never been a concern that’s stopped us before, Sammy popped into a 7-11 (yes – they are EVERYWHERE in Scandinavia – Oh, Thank Heaven…) to ask for directions. In 2 words or less – BIG MISTAKE.

Sammy walks in and a dude who is clearly NOT Danish with a buzzed head is working the hot dog counter. I walk in, and the conversation was something like this:

Sammy: “Do you know the way to the Marriott? It’s on (insert street name that I butcher here).”

Foreign Hot Dog Dude (FHDD): Never heard of that street.”

Sammy: “It’s apparently near the canal.” (Author’s note – I didn’t realize there were about 478 canals – Amsterdam style)

FHDD: “Uh, sorry, sir. I have no idea where the canal is.”

(Really? Whether there is 1 or 5 BILLION of them, YOU LIVE IN THIS CITY. How can you not know where a SINGLE canal is?)

FHDD: “Oh, wait, I know.” (Author’s note – I should have walked out then).

Sammy: “Great!”

FHDD: “Go out here, make a left, make a right, make another right, go down here….”

Seriously – I don’t know what canal the guy thought we needed, but he had us walking to SWEDEN. After about 15 minutes, we gave up, hailed a cab, and found out that we had been RIGHT BY the hotel. All the same, we got to the Marriott, dropped our gear (negotiated our rate back down to the agreed price – nice job, Pumpkin!), and headed out for dinner.

So here’s the problem – whilst bars stay open ALL NIGHT, Danes eat EARLY. 7 PM is prime dinner time (insert laughing Spaniards here). Consequently, EVERY PLACE was closed by the time we started out for dinner (it’s 10:20 at this time). However, much like in the Dam with mum and in Lisboa with OSC, there is one place you can ALWAYS count on to deliver in the clutch – HARD ROCK CAFÉ, BABY!!!!!!!! (Insert Shogun shaking his head here – but did, in my defense – we had NO CHOICE except Kebabs…come to think of it, I know which one you’d have chosen…).

Consequently the Fearsome Foursome DESTROYED some food (as well as a few Carlsbergs which, I must say, I actually thought were better in the UK – UK Carlsberg is brewed in North England, and it’s just cleaner – Hitman – it’s the water!). Jenny took down a burger that was literally the size of her head, and I crushed a FULL plate of ribs (mum – JUST LIKE the Dam, but I actually think the Dam’s rack was better). Throw in 14 billion fries and a ton of laughs, and you have a recipe for a GUUUUUUUUUUD evening. We then hopped a cab back to the hotel, where we passed out about 1 AM.

Saturday: Calories, Canals, and Karaoke – An adventure NOT for the faint of heart…

In a word – WOW. Honestly, when I think of “The 20 most action packed days in the life of Sam Taylor,” this one’s gonna be fighting for a spot in that mix. But I get ahead of myself, let’s begin with the LIFE CHANGING brekkie (yes, mum – PEPPY CHEEKIES!!!!!!).

So the Fab 4 rolled out of bed and wandered up Hans Christian Anderson Boulevard (honestly – I can’t make this stuff up), stopping first at the Town Hall and the City Hall Square. You will see it in the pictures throughout, but let me just say that Danish architecture is simply AMAZING. Honestly, I just LOVED all the spires, the gargoyles, the demons, you name it – it was all VERY cool.

Just pass the city square is Stroget, billed as the world’s longest pedestrian shopping street (NO IDEA if that’s true, but I knew that Puma would love the fact I mentioned it). And whilst the shopping was nothing life changing, what WAS life changing was the Lakenheuset Pastry Shop.

Okay, seriously – picture STACKS of fresh patries LOADED with fresh cream, fruits, and sugar. Imagine fresh bread wafting through the air, intermingling with the scent of freshly ground coffee. And lastly, picture biting into something that should only be offered to Royalty, and then ordering another one just because 11,000 calories just wasn’t enough. If you’ve got all that in your mind, you get a sense of what this place was like. I mean, just LOOK at my pastry!!!!! Oh, and I got a homemade pop tart as well that was, well, WICKED INSANE GOOD.

After that, we continued down Stroget (I can’t do the little slash thing through the “o”, but it’s there, trust me…), stopping to admire the architecture and the squares. We then hit the first activity of the day – the Round Tower. This building, Europe’s oldest observatory, is still functioning and was the old stomping ground of Tycho Brahe (Dr. Shapiro from UNC would be so proud). We popped in (after stopping at the attached church) to walk the spiral ramp to the top and catch some GREAT views of the city, including the bridge to Sweden (how crazy is THAT?). It was a nice day (windy, cold and gray, to be sure, but good visibility and NO RAIN), and the views from there were AWESOME.

After that, we rolled down to Nyhavn (New Harbor), where we embarked on a true highlight of the day – the Canal cruise. This was just FANTASTIC, as it took us by SO MANY great sights and gave us such a wonderful opportunity to see all the different buildings and areas of Copenhagen, including the Opera House, the Maersk HQ, lots of church spires, the Old Stock Exchange, Parliament, The Queen’s Palace, and a whole host of other areas.

The ONE THING that we didn’t see, however, was the Little Mermaid. So not sure how many of you know, but after ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF BEING IN THE COPENHAGEN HARBOR, the Danish government has ripped Ariel off her rock and shipped her to Shanghai for the Global Expo. That’s right – THE MOST FAMOUS LANDMARK IN COPENHAGEN IS NOW IN CHINA. Oh well, such is life. I did actually know this, but since the cruise takes you past the spot anyway, we hopped out (it was hop on-hop off) and saw the “mermaid exchange” TV, which is a live projection of the mermaid in Shanghai, where you can see those jokers checking her out. It’s funny, because we almost didn’t go to Copenhagen because of this. Upon further reflection, I am SO GLAD I didn’t skip this city…

After the cruise, we grabbed some street meat and then wandered around the city a bit more (let me tell you – that DOG was AWESOME! – 3 types of sauces, fried onion rings, etc – so guuuuuuuuuuuud) before deciding it was time for a celebratory drink to reward ourselves after all that heavy duty sight-seeing. And thanks to perfect puffin’s research, we had just the spot – the Copenhagen Brew Pub. This place, located in the basement of another building, was AWESOME!!!! We started with a sampler tray, and I can confirm that 5 of their 6 beers were TOP NOTCH (weisse was very good as well – I’m just not a wheat guy). We then settled in for Pale Ales and perhaps THE BEST amber we’ve had in a long time (pure caramel). It was Yazz and Sam’s first every sampler tray, and I basically held court explaining about the different styles and how each was brewed. It was in that moment that I realized – I’ve really spent a lot of time learning about beer. Perhaps I’ve missed my calling…

From there we hit the OTHER brew pub for a quick one (had to try their sampler platter as well, of course!) before wandering back to Nyhavn for an AMAZING meal at a place called Cap Horn. We had some DELISH cheese before settling in for the main – venison with pesto potatoes. This cat was ALLLLLL smiles.

At this point, I was ready to head back to the hotel (it was 11 PM), as it had been a perfect day and I was exhausted. However, as I was with 3 females on a Saturday night who had other ideas, 10 minutes later I was being led into “Sam’s Bar” for the unthinkable – a night of Karaoke in a foreign country. AND THAT, ladies and gentlemen, made for one of the FUNNIEST and best nights I’ve had in a LONG time.

For starters, it was just a RIOT. Half the songs were in Danish – the other half in English. Some people could rock – some were donkey trash. For my part, I started off with (that’s right, Fizzy) “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which I feel went very well. But it was at this point that Yazz ordered a round of Sambuca shots and told me that I was going to help her sing “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us” by Starship. Upon reflection, I’m not sure what was worse – the Sambuca or our performance. However, based upon the faces of the people around us as we sang, I feel pretty sure it was the later…

Jenny then asked if I was going to sing again, and I said sure. She was going to the bar anyway, so the conversation went like this:

Muffin Puffin: “What do you want to sing? I’ll sign you up.”

Husband Bear: “Sign me up for Bon Jovi. Any song but Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Muffin Puffin: “Which song do you want?”

Husband Bear: “Preferably ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,’ but I don’t care. Just not Livin’ on a Prayer – I can’t sing it after the key change (and it VA is reading this, she’ll agree…).”

Jenny smiles, kisses me, and walks to the bar. Two minutes later she returns.

Husband Bear: “Did you find anything?”

Muffin Puffin (without missing a BEAT): “Yep! Signed you up for “Livin on a Prayer.”

(straight faced – has NO IDEA why I look distressed)

Husband Bear: “Sweetheart. I can’t sing that song.”

Muffin Puffin: “Yes you can. That’s the one you wanted!”


And so I sang it, SCREAMING at the end like an extra in a Marilyn Manson video. All the same, the crowd got a kick out of it. I even tacked on Sweet Home, Alabama at the end of the night, which, in case you’re curious, was FOUR IN THE MORNING. And no joke – people were STILL streaming in, but I was EXHAUSTED. We got home at 5 AM and PASSED OUT.

Sunday: Probably the best lager in the world – a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery

So Sunday I actually woke up at 9 AM like a shot. I tried to go back to sleep, but since clearly I was acting like I was in college again, my body reacted appropriately, granting me only 4 hours of sleep. Th girls, however, didn’t move quite so fast…Three hours later, we finally checked out of the room. Details…

Stop #1 on the tour was the Carlsberg Brewery. Known for the slogan “probably the best beer in the world,” Carlsberg is the world’s 4th largest brewery. I have always loved brewery tours, and this was another really good one (still not as good as Heineken, but WAAAAAY better than Guinness). On a random note, we saw the jutland horse, the animal which used to be used for transport. HOLY MOLY – these horses are 2200 pounds and are SHEETS of muscle. WOW.

After that (and after the sampling, of course!), we rolled back into the city, stopping first at the Queen’s Palace (where we arrived just in time for the changing of the guard!) and then moving over to the nearby church (which apparently showcases the 4th largest down on earth!). The inside of the church was beautiful, sparsely furnished and decorated with the uncovered yet smoothed stone walls. It was truly impressive because the entire church was under the dome (completely devoid of chapels on either side), and the silence in that place was DEAFENING. It’s funny, at this point we’ve seen so many churches that you’d think they all start to run together. However, this marks two trips in a row where a church has taken me by surprise and wowed me (St. Stephen’s in Budapest being the other). It was simply, to be sure, but that made it all the more impressive.

After that, we walked back to Nyhavn for a final meal. Luckily lunch goes until 5 in Denmark, and so we rolled in at 4:41 and proceeded to CRUSH a traditional Danish lunch. And what, dare you ask, IS a traditional Danish lunch? Well, it went something like this:

Starter – marinated, curried, and pickled herring (Pooh – thought of Mrs. Adams, as she was the one who first introduced me to this back at the Parson’s table when I was in EIGHTH GRADE).
More herring (you can NEVER have enough)
Farmhouse cheese (so creamy it was a TRANSCENDENTAL experience)
Salad and grapes
Fried plaice (fish)
Rare roast beef
Chicken salad covered in curry
Bread with a sauce for dipping that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE…AND shorten it…

It was just INSANE good, and we ate like there was no tomorrow. We ate so much, in fact, that I am still full as I type this. That being said, it was the PERFECT ending to an AMAZING trip.

After that, we rolled to the airport, where it was smooth sailing all the way back to London. The smooth sailing ended there, however, as team Taylor arrived to find a Tube strike in progress, meaning a cab was the order of the day (insert expletive here). Oh well, it was still an EXTRA AWESOME weekend, so no complaints!!!!

Yazz and Sam – we had a blast! Thanks so much for suggesting this!

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny (aka Thor and Helga)

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