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Discovering Copenhagen: 6 Things To Do

Discovering Copenhagen: 6 Things To Do

Travelling as a university student can be difficult; especially with budgets, deadlines and classes. However, with relatively cheap flights from Edinburgh and reading week, we packed up our bags and decided to fly to Copenhagen for the week.  Copenhagen is a city with a rich and vast history, impressive architecture and beautiful landscapes. Clean, safe and methodical, here are six things to do that’ll make your trip worthwhile.

Cycle The City

Copenhagen is a big city, but you must keep in mind that it is relatively flat as well. Renting out a bicycle remains relatively cheap and touring the city on wheels is even more entertaining. When we travelled to Copenhagen, we stayed at The Generator, a hostel that was rather inexpensive. The hostel offered amenities such as the rent of bikes, which made it hugely convenient for us to get around the town without paying for taxis or buses. We were able to make our way from the harbour to Tivoli and that National Museum with absolutely no trouble whatsoever. Furthermore, biking allowed us the opportunity to discover areas of the city that we’d never heard of before. The experience is definitely something I’d recommend, and it makes for some good memories on the road as well.

Our little biking expedition in Copenhagen!
Our little biking expedition in Copenhagen!

Binge At Copenhagen Street Food

While the city is large, tourists must take note that the minimum wage of Copenhagen is about $20. Naturally, this means that the cost of living is high, and food becomes pricey as well. Eating at international and continental restaurants can tend to take a lot of money out of your budget. If you search hard enough, Copenhagen has a lot of great street food areas which have affordable, yet incredible food. My friends and I spent nearly two nights binging at the waterside marketplace in Copenhagen, where there were vendors from every country and foods from every cuisine. Torvehallerne is yet another food market that I would recommend. It can be easily spotted at the centre of the city and includes an open market and an indoor market with cheeses and luxury foods galore. Plus, they have fantastic desserts!

A tree of wishes outside Copenhagen Street Food Waterside Marketplace.
A tree of wishes outside Copenhagen Street Food Waterside Marketplace.

Eat Breakfast At Holm’s Bager, Copenhagen

If you’re anything like me, you love a steaming hot cup of hot chocolate and a nice pastry in the morning. Holm’s provides some of the best pastries and croissants I have ever tasted in my life, all at a very affordable price. While you might think to wait until lunch until you indulge yourself, I would suggest that you travel to this bakery and enjoy. Scattered at different locations around the city, this bakery is one to die for. My friends and I spent three mornings at this glorious cafe. The hot chocolate is warm and tastes like heaven in your mouth, while the pastries are a great way to get your day started on a good note!

Eating a filling breakfast at Holm’s Bakery, Copenhagen- cinnamon buns, chocolate croissants and hot chocolate!
Eating a filling breakfast at Holm’s Bakery, Copenhagen- cinnamon buns, chocolate croissants and hot chocolate!

Get Ice-Cream And Slushies At Nyhavn

Nyhavn is the base of Copenhagen’s most beautiful harbour front. Colourful and vibrant buildings line the harbour as boats dock there for the day. During the daytime, hot dog vendors, ice cream parlours and restaurants are open for business, and this cute harbour is a lovely spot for a late night walk as well. On our first night in Copenhagen, my friends and I visited an ice cream parlour and were immediately intrigued by their cash machines- which permitted customers to automatically slide their cash into a large blue contraption, only to have change dispensed a few seconds later. However, it wasn’t simply the advanced technology that charmed us. The ice cream was fantastic, as were their ice blue slushes. Although it was autumn, we had a fantastic time dealing with a brain freeze for the next hour or so.

A lovely walk at the harbour front in Nyhavn, right before we dig into some hot dogs!
A lovely walk at the harbour front in Nyhavn, right before we dig into some hot dogs!

Take A Copenhagen Canal Tour

Copenhagen is a water based city. As mentioned before, the harbour is beautiful, but it is not the only source of water you’ll see. Copenhagen’s canal tour takes you under bridges, through alleys and to regions of the city that you may never have thought to visit. With this, the tour guide, who fluently speaks English, Italian and Danish, also talks about the history of the town and the more recent developments. The guide also speaks of developments that are in progress at the moment, leaving most tourists awed and completely mesmerised by the city. On top of this, the tour does take you to briefly see The Little Mermaid, a statue that is a great tourist attraction for many travellers.  The tour remains one of my most memorable experiences in Copenhagen and isn’t too expensive either.

Seated on a boat at Nyhavn’s Harbour, waiting for the Copenhagen Canal Tour to begin.
Seated on a boat at Nyhavn’s Harbour, waiting for the Copenhagen Canal Tour to begin.

Climb The Church Of Our Savior

For those who are willing to climb up a large church to take a long and hard look at the entire city, the Church of Our Savior is the one for you. Just a small walk from the harbour, this tower is tall and thin. Once at the top, you can see the entirety of Copenhagen in one glance. The walk up can be taxing and tiring but is definitely worth it. Contrary to popular belief, the walk up is not boring. Paintings are plastered on the walls and there are artefacts planted around the inside of the tower. Travellers are thus permitted to take their time in visiting this lovely church. The view from the top of the tower is one that you will remember for the rest of your life. The people below look like ants from where you’re standing and the harbourfront looks even more magnificent. You can see boats gliding through alleyways and disappearing under a bridge before reappearing moments later. When I take a birds’ eye view of this magnificent city, I am able to really comprehend the wonders of this world and the jewel that is Copenhagen.

Climbing up the Church of Our Savior and further up the spiral stairs that take you to the very top of the tower.
Climbing up the Church of Our Savior and further up the spiral stairs that take you to the very top of the tower.

** This article was also published on Travelicious. 

11 Travel Hacks for Students

11 Travel Hacks for Students

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

Travel can often be expensive, inconvenient and difficult for students at university. With classes, deadlines and homework, who has the time to leave home and go to a new city for a few days? Here are ten travel hacks for those students on a tight budget and a fixed schedule.

 

  1. Save Space By Rolling

If you’re a student, you’re probably trying to save money. If you’re on a budget, EasyJet or RyanAir often have extra costs for checking in baggage. Picking up a smaller suitcase for hand-luggage is perfectly normal, but fitting clothes inside them can be a pain. Rolling your clothes usually tends to make this a lot easier, and you can even fit underwear, chargers and socks within your clothes to save some more space.

 

  1. Email Official Documents

It almost seems logical to photograph documents such as your passport, visa and flight tickets and email them to yourself. This way, if you’re stuck at security without anything to prove your journey, you can simply whip out your phone and get out of a bit of a sticky situation. Most airports do have wifi!

 

  1. Layers on Layers for the Plane

If you’re anything like me and if you’re carrying hand-luggage only, you’ll arrive on your plan wearing 3 layers and a massive winter jacket, just to save space in your suitcase. It may not necessarily be the most comfortable, but it’s definitely practical. Most flights have allowances of only one bag per passenger, so pack smart, and layer up on that plane!

Layers On Layers.

  1. ATMs for Local Currency

When students at a foreign airport, they immediately make a beeline for the money conversion desks. However, the exchange rates typically come with commission and tends to be a lot more expensive for you. ATMs are the easiest and fastest way to get your local currency, and they typically do not charge you too much money for withdrawal at the airport. If not, then local banks typically do not charge commission for withdrawal from ATMs either.

 

  1. Hostels Versus Hotels

As students who are trying desperately to save money, staying at the Hilton or JW Marriott might not be the best idea. The point of a trip abroad is to expose ourselves to a new culture, not to remain tethered up in one room. Hostels (or airbnbs) may honestly be the best solution, and you must be prepared to share rooms with other people, too. Hostels also typically offer cheaper amenities to students, that hotels might for an elevated price. Most hostels are meant for students and have an energetic, youthful vibe to them. And what’s better, it definitely contributes towards that wild travel experience!

The Generator, Copenhagen

 

  1. Don’t Plan By The Minute

Planning every minute after another can make your holiday seem drab, boring and mind-numbing. You want to have fun and explore new spots that aren’t widely publicized on Google, and spontaneity is needed for that. That said, don’t arrive at a destination with no plan whatsoever. Keep certain destinations in mind, and take it from there.

 

  1. Carry A Water Bottle!

It’s really important to be environmentally aware while you do travel. Carrying a water bottle makes life more convenient for you, and for everybody else. Personally, I prefer to use the Hydaway Water Bottle, which folds and fits compactly into my suitcase (and into my pocket). When I get to water fountains, I simply fill it up, rather than spending money on a new plastic water bottle in every restaurant I eat at. It saves time, money and the environment!

 

  1. Always Ask for Student Discounts

If you have a passion for shopping in new cities and towns like I do, keep an eye peeled for student discounts. No matter where you study, carry your Student ID and make sure you can show it to a cashier and they may offer exclusive discounts. It’s also worth checking at restaurants, as a few of them do offer student discounts as well.

 

  1. Maps Are Your Best Friend

If you don’t have data or 3G, then finding your way around a new city can prove difficult. While some students do choose to invest in data cards, buying a simple old-fashioned map can really help as well. Finding yourself lost somewhere can be fun, but using that map to get out of a tough situation can never disappoint. Maps are easy ways to take note of certain spots that you might want to see, and find an easy and quick route to get there.

 

  1. Eat Like a Local

Local foods are by far a lot cheaper than continental and international foods. It’s a great way to immerse yourself into the cultures and traditions of a new city and to save money. Finding street food is relatively easy in new cities, and locals are always willing to point you in the right direction. One thing to keep in mind, however, is to make sure that the food you eat is safe and hygienic. Always check ingredients, just to make sure.

 

  1. Walk The City

Get those shoes on and explore the old-fashioned way. Taking a taxi everywhere might prove expensive. Besides, walking is a healthy alternative to exploring and being spontaneous. For all you know, you may discover tiny alleyways that you’d never seen before but would love to take a look at. You may find a shop that you wouldn’t have seen if you’d taken that taxi to your destination. If you live in a large city or town, then the public transport is cheap as well. However, do try to walk as much as possible. It’ll feel amazing, I promise!

Luminous Seas

Luminous Seas

The famous ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour is one that takes me by surprise. It takes you from Oslo to Bergen in 12 hours. For those who don’t particularly know where Bergen is, it’s a 2-hour journey from Oslo, under normal circumstances. We, on the other hand, take two train rides, one ferry ride, and a bus ride across Norway.

The first aspect of the trip that strikes me as odd is the ungodly hour we have to wake up at; by 5:30 a.m. we are out of the house, lugging four suitcases behind us. Anybody would have thought we were gypsies; not staying in a single hotel for more than a night. Oslo’s train station is quaint; the weather is pleasantly warm, at a good 21 degrees. Coming from Singapore, this is cold.

The tour begins with a train ride that takes you through plenty of fields and grasslands. Traveling at a slow speed for the first few minutes, it stops off at beautiful stations with enchanting views. Then, you start rising and traveling through mountain tunnels, building up the trepidation and excitement as you anticipate the culmination of your efforts. Glaciers begin to come into view and the mountains start coming closer and closer. Houses become less abundant. As the snow becomes more visible, waterfalls gradually appear. Colours change, from the splendid green of the fields, to an iridescent blue of the seas. The weather gradually becomes colder, and as the train stops at a station, I take a small step outside to feel the chills in the air for myself.

Don’t go outside, my mum says. You may miss the train getting back.

I won’t, I say confidently as I disobey her and step out onto the platform, feeling the cold gust of air push the hair out of my face.

I see her looking at me through the window pane, her eyes narrowed. To prove her wrong, I venture out further, eager to feel the atmosphere of the unique Norwegian hills. The houses on the foothills break all the rules of a traditional house. They come in different colours; blue, green, pink. The shapes of these houses are so mismatched that I have to tilt my head to see what the point to creating it in such a way was. It is odd, but it is beautiful. The unique sense of these houses brings out a sense of longing in me, something that stirs, just in the back of my conscience and mind.

A distant rumbling pulls me out of my trance, and I turn around swiftly. My mother is gesturing at me wildly, trying to tell me that the train is moving. It takes me a couple of seconds to register what she is saying to me, but I move anyway, quickly taking a last glance at the beautiful ­–yet nameless– station.

I don’t have to run after the train, like most of the sidekicks in Bollywood films, but I do have to ‘walk briskly’ to pull the door open and rush inside. My mother gives me a stony glare, and then glances outside the window. Pulling out my camera, I prepare to embark on the second half of the journey

We stop at Follo, a small, picturesque ski village, where the hustle and bustle of human traffic in the station intrigues me. Even as we slow down for a second, it is inevitable that we are inclined to rush. Embarking on new adventures, scaling higher peaks, we are in constant pursuit of excellence and on a continual quest for self-gratification. This particular ski village is a 12-month ski village, where the snow never melts, and the weather stays pleasantly cool.

The train begins its ascent again, heading to Voss, a small train station on a mountain. By the time we reach Voss, lunchtime draws near and, with the lack of vegetarian food in Norway, we chew on a couple of sandwiches and cakes.

Stepping onto yet another train heading to the outskirts of Bergen, we take in the beautiful scenery. Huge waterfalls loom from the distance and as the train stops at one, a woman almost drifts on a hill. Her body sways in a graceful, yet magical manner. She turns and pivots and barely anybody notices her, until music starts playing, floating into our eager ears. She appears and disappears, beside the waterfall, making us somewhat doubt her presence. Her hair is long, and her dress is drenched, but she looks happy, satisfied.

The smile turns into a frown just as easily as a person takes a flash of her, and her face suddenly contorts into an expression of surprise. A blink, and she is gone. She vanishes, into the distance, like a supernova shedding its intense fleeting brightness on the passengers.

What we saw that day, no one knows for sure, but it was out of this world.