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Everyday Surprises

7 Oct

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It’s strange, you can live your whole life in the same place and never really discover it before you move away. Ever since I moved from Denmark, my parents and I have tried to make an effort to go out and discover new things, both in England and when I come home. It has meant that we all look at Copenhagen differently and that we make an effort to get out more.

While I was home on holiday I was told that we were going on a secret trip to Copenhagen for a little surprise one day. I didn’t really know what kind of surprise to expect and I tried to imagine where we would be going. Would we go to a museum or a new exhibition I hadn’t heard of? Would we go to one of my favourite places, like the Botanical Gardens or a new cafe somewhere? None of my guesses were any close and I could never have imagined where we actually ended up!

I was still pretty puzzled when we went through a pretty ordinary-looking doorway on Stroget, Copenhagen’s big pedestrian high street and up an old-fashioned flight of stairs to the third floor. As we passed through the door to Maudes Paa 3. or Maude’s on 3rd, we walked into a big, old Copenhagen flat, with thick carpets on the dark wooden floors, shiny old brass lamps hanging from the ceiling, old-fashioned polished wood furniture and chintz chairs with velvet cushions. It felt like walking into your grandmother’s flat; cosy, homely and relaxing.

It turned out that my parents had taken me there to have a luxurious afternoon tea, Danish style. My parents had been waiting months to take me to this place and since none of us had been there before, we were pretty excited to see what kind of afternoon tea we would be served while we settled into the comfy sofas and soft pillows. On our traditional 3-tier cake stand we got perfect scones (crisp on the outside, soft inside) with jam and lemon curd, a gorgeous chocolate brownie with a rhubarb mousse on top, and cheese and crackers to finish it all of. My parents chose to have their afternoon tea with coffee (If you didn’t know, Danish people drink coffee like the English drink tea = all the time), while I chose an Earl Grey tea that had a soft bergamot flavour.

It felt almost surreal to sit in an old flat in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny September day in Copenhagen, while enjoying something as indulgent as afternoon tea. I have enjoyed afternoon tea at the National Gallery in London before but I really enjoyed experiencing it in a less formal and much quieter place, as if we had been invited over to a friend or family’s place.

We were all surprised that such a unique and special place existed so close to Stroget without having heard of the place before but the waiter told us it had only opened 6 months ago. I really hope the place stays, as I could definitely get used to having my afternoon tea like that and would like to come back with my parents again another time.

 

 

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Discovering Secrets at Home

13 Feb

I’m home again! It’s reading week at Uni and with a surprisingly (and unfamiliar) empty academic calendar reading week has actually meant a week of reading for fun for once! I have been able to go home and have a proper study-free holiday, the kind where I have been sitting on the sofa indulging in uninterrupted hours of reading and tea drinking, and been able to spend time with my family and friends guilt free, as I don’t have other things I really should be doing instead. But my visit at home haven’t just consisted of staying inside, cuddling up next to the cat on the sofa where its nice and warm, I have also been out and about almost every day.

Yesterday my mum and I had planned a trip to Copenhagen for some much needed mother-daughter quality time. It feels strange to think about this but I am much more familiar with the different areas and streets of London than I have ever been with Copenhagen. I have always lived in a suburb far from the city center and Copenhagen has always been a place I went to on daytrips, for shopping, cinema trips and birthday celebrations. Or a place I commuted to for work or lessons when I was taking my Spanish A-levels.

I have my favourite places of course, those cafés, parks and museums that I always come back to. But the truth is that I’m no Urban Copenhagener and many of the city’s secrets here at home are still unknown to me. This means that almost everytime I go into town I discover something new I didn’t know existed!

Last Summer I went to CPH with my mum and by pure accident we went through the cobble-stoned passage in Pistolstræde and stumbled upon Konditori Antoinette, a French Patisserie lying hidden away from the busy High Street Strøget in a quiet, intimate courtyard. On that hot, melting Summer day we sat in the shade on their wooden terrace outside the patisserie, shielded from the sun by the high walls of the buildings that sourround it and had cake and a much needed glass of cold, freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Ever since that day we have been dying to go back and try their French-style Afternoon Tea, so yesterday, after shopping our way through Strøget buying presents for others and little treats for ourselves, we went back again. After having spent the afternoon out on the cold Copenhagen streets in the chill of February Winter, it felt like such a luxurious thing to go in and sit down in all of the warmth and cosiness of the café. There aren’t many other things (cake wise) as exciting as seeing one of those 3-layer afternoon tea stands come of out the kitchen and discover what has been put on them.

It is something I share with my parents; our love for these quiet moments of ekstravagant self-indulgence in special places, drinking pots of golden Earl Grey tea and eating our way through one lusciously decorated cake after another. These moments only get better when we share them together and while it is something we have done for years, it has become an even bigger part of the way we spend our time together after I moved to London. Even if I only have a few days with them before I have to say goodbye again, we always make sure to make time for it.

I think Konditori Antoinette will become one of our new favourite places in Copenhagen, the same way that Deux Amis feels like one of our own little secrets in Bloomsbury. I love discovering those unique, quiet places both here at home and back in London, it is one of the things in the world I treasure the most and one of my favourite things about travel. After all, I always find that it is the experiences, people and especially places you had not expected to find that makes travel really special. *

 

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A Birthday

12 Mar

To me, birthdays are one of the most important events of the year along with Christmas. I absolutely LOVE birthdays, both others and my own but for the very first time in my life, I was going to be away on my own. Sure, I have had many a birthday in Sweden but they have always included family or at least my parents. This year I had to face my 23rd birthday in London, which fortunately isn’t one of the worst places to be if you want to celebrate. Another advantage of being split between two countries is the fact that I ended up celebrating my birthday about 4 times!

When I was home in Denmark a week before the actual day, I got my best friends together and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in my hometown. As always it was absolutely great seeing them again, as I do miss them an awful lot and I will take any opportunity to eat Chinese food (being it my birthday, I got to choose where to eat).

I also cheated a bit and celebrated in traditional Danish style at home a week before the actual thing, doing all the things we normally do on birthdays in my family. I woke up to a beautifully set breakfast table that includedDanish pastries (and a sneaky French croissant or two), Danish flags and of course, presents)!! Later that day my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew came over for Danish fødselsdagsboller, lagkage og varm kakao (birthday buns, layer cake and hot chocolate). It was so great being with my family with all of us there together. I do sometimes get homesick and miss Denmark but the thing I miss the most about home is my family and my friends.

The day after my-pretend-birthday I headed back to London and had to wait another week until the actual thing. On Sunday the 2nd of March me and the boyfriend woke up for presents and breakfast in bed. After a delicious breakfast which consisted of croissants, strawberrys and *gasp* whitegold jewellery, we turned to the window to see what the weather was like. Sadly but very typically for London it turned out to be a gloomy, overcast and cold day, so we had to cancel our plans of going on a boat trip on the Regent’s Canal (and also plan B: a trip in the London Eye. Really there is no point when you can’t see a thing for clouds). The boyfriend quickly came up with a plan C and so we headed for Piccadilly Street and Hatchards (the oldest bookshop in UK apparently), to spoil ourselves with some (more!) books. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed, not with the stock but the fact that it looked like any other Waterstones. I got Iréne Nemirovsky’s Le Bal, The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen and The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gasdanov. Weighed down by books we went for a warming cup of hot chocolate and lunch to warm up from the chill on the street before we headed back home.

The Monday after was the last of my birthday celebrations. I threw a party in the kitchen and invited some of my favourite people in London, to show them how a Danish birthday is celebrated. I baked fødselsdagsboller with the help of a housemate, decorated the table with Danish flags, put plenty of traditional Danish sweets on the table and threw a “shoe-lace” eating competition – basically everyone has to eat their strings of liquorice as fast as possible without using their hands. It was so much fun and a nice break from studying. And one of the girls had made me the most delicious French Chocolate Cake!

Really, I don’t think I could have asked anything more of my birthday. After all, I was being rather spoiled having 4 of them! With all of that celebration I think I won’t have any problem waiting another year for the next one. *

 

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