Exploring Copenhagen on foot, on bike, and by kayak

The requisite and immediately recognizable view of Copenhagen

We flew to and from Greenland via Copenhagen, and so took advantage of the journey by spending a few days there to explore the city, and let’s be honest, check another new country off our list. Haha.

Crazy high standards of living aside, we love this city, and how green and ecological the Danes are. They rely extensively on wind and solar energy, and burn their trash to generate heat. The city has a goal to become carbon neutral by 2025.

It’s also compact, and easy enough for us to explore over our 4.5 days there. We kept our schedules light, and luxuriated in long sleeps in cosy beds after camping for a week. Still, we managed to cover most of the city, on foot, on a bike tour with Mike, a gregarious old man with his personal bike tour and who came highly recommended by our Greenland mate Ally. We also wandered around it from the water, with Kirstin, with whom we spent many happy and boisterous hours playing kayak netball with back in Sydney a couple of years ago when she guided for Laura’s Sydney by Kayak.

We biked past the super tiny Little Mermaid sculpture, one of the must-see sights on many tourists’ itinerary in Copenhagen. It’s not that remarkable, really, but the walk to the fortress along the waterfront is a lovely one
Mike giving us a history lesson. We had signed up for his group tours, but because of the forecasted rains, we ended up getting a private tour. Score! Lol, a little thunderstorm can’t stop us from having fun.
Kirstin took us on a happy two hour paddle down the super clean canals of Copenhagen, so clean, we could see all the way to the bottom, and the locals pretty much jump in wherever for a dip in the summer.

Physical activities aside, our focus was to hit up the the famed food scene of Copenhagen. We didn’t manage to get reservations to Noma – not that we tried really hard, seeing that the cost for the degustation menu started at $700 a person! But we did eat at Palægade, Iluka, 108 (the sister restaurant to Noma) and Høst, the latter being our favorite and highlight. The food at these restaurants all featured fresh vegetables, and seafood, quite a change from our usual meat heavy fare. Really delicious, though hard on the wallet.

I bumped into Bel, an excoworker from Sydney who had moved to Copenhagen with her Danish partner three years ago. It’s a small world!!!

Our last day in the city, we wondered around the Christianhavn neighborhood before making our way to the Copenhagen Royal Opera House, where we were absolutely delighted to see the chorus master leading the public in a masterclass singalong of the Opera Carmen. We went in to take a look, and were thrust the scores so we could follow along and join in if we wanted. Well I can’t read scores, but we spent the next hour and a half listening in. So much fun, and it was a most lovely way to end our trip (that, and a delicious lunch of pork snitchzel washed down with homemade snaps at Restaurant Barr!

Happy coincidence – joining a Carmen singalong led by the Copenhagen Royal Opera chorus master Steven Moore. It was so fun!

Whirlwind Three Days in Hong Kong

We had the good fortune recently to spend three short but full days in Hong Kong. Landed at 430am on Sunday, and we promptly headed over to Mongkok in search of some nibbles. In terms of food – and 24 hour accessibility, Sydney has nothing on Hong Kong.

Our game plan: order from places that had a decent sized crowd (even at 6am on a Sunday, places were reasonably busy!), and share one dish at each place so we could sample our way as we walked south to Hong Kong Island. In that way, by 930, we had already sampled curried fish balls, decadent fluffy french toast at a Hong Kong cafe, seafood congee and prawn rice rolls, and sesame rice rolls.

The streets of Kowloon at 630am

Chanced upon the 1-km Cross Harbour Swim Race to Tsim Sha Tsui. First held in 1906, the race was cancelled for 33 years between 1978 – 2010 because of pollution fears.

By noon in Wan Chai, we’d scarfed down a lip-smacking bowl of springy wonton noodles, a plate of BBQ pork and rice, and a heaping of crispy roast goose skin and dripping juicy meat. We were pretty much done eating for the rest of the day. Or so we thought, until we rallied and ordered up another feast at dinner.

I had Monday free to myself to explore, so I tried to walk off the feasting from the day prior. We were staying in south-western Hong Kong Island, in Cyberport, and I walked through the Aberdeen estate to climb the back side of The Peak. The weather was really nice actually – low 20s, low humidity. Pity about the thick smog. 😦 For half of the walk at least, I was in shade, winding my way up the quiet and leafy trail to the summit. I had a good scare a couple times though, when I nearly stepped on two snakes, first a brown then a black one. Gah. Wouldn’t that have been ironical, given that we live in Australia, the land of plentiful and deadly snakes?

The luxurious Bel Air residences

I found the Aberdeen estate completely fascinating. In a way, the designs of the flats brought me back to Singapore in the 80s. These were souped up flats though – super tall, set against a steep but lush hillside and facing killer views of the ocean and surrounding islands.

My trek up and across The Peak to the front side of Hong Kong Island in Central was a healthy 18km, enough to justify an evening feast with an old high school friend. 🙂 Yay to the conveniences of modern technology that makes staying in touch across the years and distance that much easier!

Dinner at the utterly delightful Dim Sum Library with Sam. Great conversation, and delicious aubergine, lobster ravioli, and crispy skin roast chicken stuffed with truffles

Departure day was Tuesday. But we had enough time to leisurely make our way back to the Kowloon side, where there were comparably fewer Teslas in a city otherwise chockfull of Teslas, in search of more culinary delights. Cue Cuisine Cuisine, for their whimsical takes on dim sum: Taro balls stuffed with foie gras, mushroom dumplings with truffles, bird nest siu mai with quail egg. Mmm.


Final stop before the airport: a Chinese gastropub in the rooftop gardens of Elements where we boarded the Airport Express. Excellent cocktails, washed down with a bowl of fried salted egg yolk fish skins that Jeff had randomly wandered about aloud and the bartender heard and complied (it wasn’t on the menu).