When we made our plans to take our year off, part of the process was Chris handing over his clients to new consultants, with the thought that by March he would be twiddling his thumbs waiting for our departure at the end of the month. Surprisingly (?) this didn’t happen and March was a very frantic month for him finishing projects and providing hand-over support. As a result, our savings were boosted and we made the decision that this bonus would go towards something special on our trip – maybe a cruise – so when we found a stunning price deal on a 9 day Baltic cruise, we jumped in.
We flew from Madrid to Copenhagen early one morning in mid-September, planning a couple of sightseeing days there before embarking on our cruise ship. We found it easy to reach our mid-town hotel (Andersen Boutique hotel) via the train connection from the airport and were able to leave our bags while we wandered the streets acclimatizing to the cooler weather, and gasping at the “hot” prices of everything. A stop for coffee set us back around NZ$16 for the two average cups set before us. We were thankful that our hotel provided a convivial happy hour with free glasses of wine/beer each evening, as it meant that at dinner we didn’t feel any need to buy more. Mind you, at one eating establishment, a 1-litre carafe of “sparkling” water (and we think they used their own carbonating machine) cost us NZ$12! Gasp…! We met a Canadian couple over the wine time at our hotel, got chatting, and ended up joining with them for dinner both nights where we all commented at the high cost of everything in Copenhagen.
On our day touring the town, we took a guided cycle tour of the city highly rated on review sites. “Bike with Mike” was certainly popular and our group of 20+ from all over the world, including another Kiwi couple and some Australians, were well-informed about the locales of the town, some history of the monarchy and democracy, and the social and economic benefits of paying very high taxes. We found some parts not fantastic especially when some of the group were held up, by stopping for red lights, and missed on the commentary and, towards the end, we became somewhat turned off by Danish Mike’s forceful use of (English) profanity. We saw lots of the city and were pleasantly surprised at the lack of cars due to the high use of bicycles for commuting. Copenhagen has some innovative ideas on recycling and promoting sustainable living that many countries should try to put in place.
After our cycle tour ended, we walked, returning to places recommended (including the so-called best street food in Europe Taco stall – which left us seriously wondering about all the other street food the judges tried – we got 3 tiny tacos, no more than 15cm, half filled for NZ$23!!! leaving us broke and still hungry for lunch!) Nyhavn was buzzing and the colourful buildings matched the expectation. The Little Mermaid was crowded with tourists trying to get their own faces in the picture, selfie sticks intruding on others’ shots – the ultimate photobom tool! We visited the Church of our Saviour, climbing over 400 steps, inside and out, to reach the top of the spire with magnificent views over the inner city.
The next morning, we caught a local bus to our cruise ship – the public transport system was cheap and easy to use, taking us within 50 metres of the embarkation point for our ship, the Norwegian Breakaway.
Part two – the cruise and the Baltic states coming soon…