Århus Housing Launch event

As some readers may know I offer a joint package with Copenhagen Housing and they are expanding their home search services to Århus this year. As part of that I will be offering the same package with them but for Århus. This is very exciting especially as Århus has been named as the European Capital of Culture this year.arhus

To launch the new Århus department of Copenhagen Housing, a very special event will be held at Highlanders Bar on 2nd March. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet follow expats, have fun and put yourself in with a chance of finding your new home in Århus, free of charge!

The program of the evening will consist of a reading by me from my book “My Guide to a Successful Relocation”, an opportunity to learn more about Aarhus Housing and how they can help you with your housing search, and ……… a fun quiz!

The lucky winner will get a free housing search in Århus worth 4500 kroner.

Refreshments will be provided.

Sign up for the event by mailing your details to charlotte@copenhagenhousing.dk, please write “Aarhushousing launch” as the subject.

I really hope to see some of you there.

Getting hold of ‘food from home’ in Copenhagen

It is important to accept that food in a new country will be different to your own and that adaptation is essential to really settle in however it would be silly to deny that we all sometimes miss food from our home countries. When I was pregnant I suddenly really wanted certain British food that were impossible to get here so my lovely husband slaved away in the kitchen and produce things such as Cornish Pasties for me. You may also have loads of cook books which require ingredients that are impossible to find easily, for example self-raising flour. I can tell you that the version here produced by Amo is really not up to much!

As time goes on you miss things less but in the early days the comfort of finding your favourite food can really help in adjustment. I thought today I would pull together a list of places where you can find ‘food from home’.english foodFor the Brits and Americans it is a little easier. Meny has a reasonable selection of produce although some of the choices they make baffle me but I guess they know their customers. There is also online places such as Abigails (which used to have a bricks and mortar shop but is now online) and The British Corner Shop (which I personally use).

If you happen to be heading over the Bridge, The English Shop in Malmo stocks English, Australian and South African food and they also offer mail order.

If you are looking for Kosher food then Copenhagen Kosher in Østerbro is the place for you.polish foodPolish food can be found in a couple of places I know of. Den Polske Købmand in Christianshavn and Delikatesy Polskie at  Aboulevarden 32. For online shopping there is also Polski Koszyk which I think delivers here. Eurodeli  also has food from Bulgaria. Russia, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland.

Indian groceries can be found in a few places but I hear the best are Golden Foods (also known as Double Diamond) in Valby (although from their website it is a little confusing as to the location) and Spice Mart on Vesterbrogade.

Asian fresh food can be found in the small selection of grocers behind the main station, mainly on Colbjørnsensgade, as well as in other shops on Istedgade. There is a small Asian supermarket in Østerbro called Asien Supermarket.italianFor Italian food then the huge supermarket, Supermarco is the place to go. And for French food with a price tag then Ma Poule in Torvehallerne is a great place to go.

I think I have covered all the place I know but do leave a comment if you can recommend another international grocers you would like me to add.

Copenhagen Main Library

I was in the city centre and as I needed to find somewhere warm to wait for the Round Tower to open, I decided to have a little wander around the Main Library on Krystalgade. I used to spend a fair bit of time here when my son was a toddler and I thought it was great then. It is even better now. img_7600

In the main area on the ground floor, I was delighted to see some tables with handpicked books on them, just like a bookshop. The choice of books in both libraries and bookshops can sometime be overwhelming so these tables are perfect to guide you to a decent read.img_7601 As you come to expect in Denmark, the design of the library has been taken very much into consideration from the lounge chairs dotted around to the casual and cosy seating at the front of the library – this is really a place that makes you want to stay. There are also tons of study or work tables around the place too.img_7602

The English language section of books for children is also amazing with a number of early reader books available. Although you can order any book from the library’s vast catalogue, it is wonderful to be able to browse, especially with your children. I have many happy memories choosing library books with my mum and this can’t be replaced with a search bar.img_7603

The children’s section is different from when I spent time here five years ago but is still excellent with a wooden castle, toys and also a puppet theatre. I was sad to see that the filthy naked doll my son was obsessed all those years ago with has gone to the big doll’s house in the sky.img_7604 img_7605 img_7608

I wrote previously about libraries here in Copenhagen but I do feel this place deserves a post of its own.

Snow day from the Round Tower

We had proper snow in Copenhagen last week for the first time in years. I decided to enjoy the view from the top of the Round Tower and was lucky enough to have it myself for a while. I was also delighted that the Observatory was open too.img_7616 img_7617 img_7621 img_7623 img_7624 img_7627 img_7629 img_7634

It’s the winter break so I’ll be back next week – enjoy the week if you are off work and school.

Amazing design show at the Round Tower (but be quick)

There is an amazing exhibition on at the Round Tower until Saturday 11 February showing the final work of design students from Tekstilformidlere. Such beautiful and thought-provoking design. As its only on for the next few days you will need to be quick or simply enjoy the photos below.img_7654 img_7649 img_7650 img_7652 img_7646 img_7648 img_7640 img_7643 img_7644 img_7645 img_7639

Moroccan hygge at South Harbour Cafe in Sydhavn

For some months we have been walking past a potential new cafe in Sydhavn, close to the station (come out of the station and walk towards the big crossroads). The type of place it was going to be was shrouded in window covers with not even a little gap for nosey people like me to peer into. One day I saw a man unlocking the door and although I picked up the pace to see what was inside the door was already closed by the time I got there. So on Monday morning as we walked out of the station in the early morning dark, there it was open with a man handing out delicious samples of tiny croissants. At last!img_7565

After dropping my son at school, I headed back to try out South Harbour Cafe. I have been saying for the last year and a half that we need a coffee shop here but I had no idea my wishes would be answered by something so amazing.

The cafe is owned by a local woman, Jamila, whose family are originally from Morocco, so much of the food and drink in here is inspired by that. They serve the most amazing fresh mint Moroccan tea, there is a soup of the day (only 39dkk), traditional pancakes (savoury and sweet), couscous salad and some outstanding savoury pastries called pastilla (I think) filled with meat flavoured with delicate spices. Of course there is the usual coffee menu, juices and bread rolls with cheese. All very affordable.img_7564

But what about the hygge factor? Well it is there in spades with a couple of hyggekrog, candles, and board games (my son and I sat for about an hour with our tea and a chess board, with two twenty-something girls next to us playing backgammon and then crocheting).img_7556

It is also the attention to detail I love. Jamila’s husband fitted the place out and it is just lovely. On a practical point of view they made sure there were plenty of plug sockets for laptop users and hooks under the high tables for coats and bags. The local history society helped them out with old photos of the place when it was a bakery and other wonderful shots of trams on the streets nearby. You must check out the table tops near the front door and the inspiration quotes in the bathroom.img_7582

I have been in here every day since it opened and I can see it become a regular place for me to work, read or hang out with my son. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and it has been busy with a real mix of local people so far. If you are in this area you must pop in, in fact I recommend you make a trip here regardless and enjoy some Moroccan hygge!img_7580 img_7587

Follow them on Facebook and visit at Hørdumsgade 1, 2450 Copenhagen.

Experimentarium reopens in Hellerup

The Danish hand-on science museum known as Experimentarium reopened at its old site in Hellerup (close to the Waterfront Shopping) at the end of January. Since it opened we have been four times, it’s that good. We bought a season pass and now have visited enough times to make the remainder of the year free.img_7489-1

I wrote about the place with a lot of detail here on The Local.

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But I thought I’d share some of our highlights and advice from visiting. So highlights – the new ball run that allows you to choose different ways to send cargo and it great fun. A bit hard to describe but believe me its is great. The ship area with room where you can experience wind up to almost hurricane strength. The newly expanded water area is fun too. On the second floor there is the construction zone and bubble area, perfect for younger visitors. img_7500

If you are familiar with Experimentarium at this site from three years ago, many of the old favourites are here, some with expanded experiences. There are also new exhibitions which will keep everyone interested for hours.

Now for the advice. It gets very hot in the building so make sure your children can strip down to a t-shirt or even a vest. This is also valuable when playing in the water areas so their sleeves don’t get soaked.

The season pass is well worth considering as it is very good value and it means that you can pop in to the place for a short time without feeling you have to justify the ticket price.img_7496

There is a late night on a Thursday until 8pm and we enjoyed this as it was relatively empty and we could go from one thing to another without waiting. Weekends get very busy however with a season pass to can get in an hour early on weekend days.

The food is expensive and decidedly average plus on Saturday lunch time there was an hour wait for hot food. There is a section of the cafe that it dedicated to packed lunches so this is definitely worth considering. There are also a number of places to eat just next door in Waterfront Shopping and I believe you can get your hand stamped so you can come back in. Make sure you do this or at least check your ticket allows you to come back in afterwards.

I think this place is the perfect location for a great day out for children of all ages.

Visit their website for up to date information

Want to play rugby here in Copenhagen?

Gentofte Rugby Club was formed a year ago by some expat rugby enthusiasts who missed the chance to play their favourite game. It is gaining popularity but as Denmark isn’t really a rugby nation they are hoping to introduce the game to more players. screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-20-55-40

Gentofte Rugby Klub (GRK) was set up because they LOVE rugby. The Gentofte Kommune had no pre existing rugby club for children. With the support of the local kommune and the Danish Rugby Union (DRU) they founded the newest rugby club in Denmark.

The club offers rugby to all ages from 6 and is looking for more players and also coaches, particularly in the older kids sections and adults.

If you are looking to get back into rugby or wanted to get your kids involved, check out their website for more details.

Daily Bread

One thing that many expats get exasperated about is the lack of decent sliced pre packed bread here (and in France too where the option is very sweet American style bread). One of the reasons is that Danes enjoy fresh bread from the bakery, whether it is a loaf, rugbrød or rolls (rundstykke). You can get your rundstykke spread with butter there and then in the bakery.img_7457

When I was growing up we referred to bakery bread as ‘nice bread’ and as we didn’t have a village bakery and the few loaves delivered to the grocers soon went, it was something we had as a treat. I still do call it ‘nice bread’ and I noticed my friend did the same when I was visiting her a few weeks ago. Why is it we Brits are prepared to put up with the opposite of ‘nice bread’ (so nasty bread?) as our regular carb fix?

I love the European culture of local bakeries – independent and chains – that sell a selection of freshly baked goods everyday. The stereotype of a Frenchman walking with a baguette and nibbling the top isn’t there for nothing. These breads don’t last more than one day in terms of freshness but then again there isn’t normally a lot left.

Danes use sliced bread for toasted sandwiches and that is about it. We buy the best of the selection called Roast n’ Toast, but I have only seen it in a few Føtex supermarkets, but if you want to make a decent bacon sarnie this is the bread for you, especially if you can get hold of English style back bacon.

So where do I think you can get the best ‘nice bread’ in Copenhagen? I am a fan of Andersens (especially their Tiger rolls which I usually pick up for my lunch if I am at home) and also Lagkagehuset but any place you happen to walk past will certainly offer something better than the cardboard sliced bread in the supermarket.

NB for readers in the UK you can try the delicious breads and pastries from Lagkagehuset yourselves if you happen to be close to Piccadilly Circus in London as they have opened their first bakery outside Denmark there but branded as Ole & Steen. Check out their Facebook page

Feeling unsettled in temporary housing

I was reminded of the chapter in my book about living in temporary accommodation as I realised that I had not followed all my own advice. We have been living in a temporary apartment since the beginning of December and will probably be here until March. It is a lovely apartment and we are very lucky to be able to stay here whilst the owners are in Asia backpacking. However it takes time to find your groove in someone else’s home. Simple routine things such as where you leave your handbag and keys when you come in, without your usual spot, means that brain power is needed to remember in the morning as you rush out the door. Usually routine activities don’t use a lot of brain power but living in a strange place they do.img_7418We also have to use the communal tumble dryer, which has been a great way to meet people, but also adds an element of extra planning to the day especially as the washing machine in the apartment uses the shower water taps so needs to be put on by the last person out and if forgotten adds even more rush to the day.

Also finding that you didn’t bring all the things you actually needed. We tried not to bring too much stuff here but there were little things we forgot as we didn’t really think too far ahead. I travelled to the UK last weekend and we have another trip planned in the school break but I forgot to pack our adapter plugs. I hate to use the world’s resources to buy things I already own so I was lucky that a Facebook appeal to the parents in my son’s class meant I had some to borrow. I also didn’t think that I would need any smart ‘work’ clothes in the few months we are here and a work trip plus a variety of meetings coming up means that was a mistake and a trip to H&M and wearing the same smart outfit – perhaps it will become my signature look.

But we do have most of my crafting supplies, Christmas decorations, winter boots (but no smart shoes), a ton of Lego and my one cup cafetière and milk frother. All useful but not essentials things.

Whilst my husband is more situational, both my son and I are ready to resume normal life as neither of us enjoys too much change, and by that we mean one with all the Lego, more than three cookbooks, a wider selection than just a very basic wardrobe, pretty books like this and this and cheese knives! I am certainly not a minimalist!

On a serious note, whilst all these things seem a little trivial and we are in a familiar place so there is a lot less stress living in a temporary place in a new city, it is obvious to see how living in a transitional home whilst house hunting in a new city can be stressful. Yes, you have all the things you need but not your own.

There was a great piece of advice in my book from another Brit who moved here last year and spent some months in an AirBNB whilst they searched for permanent home.

Make sure you take a few small boxes of things that make you feel like this new home is your home. Not just the clothes and the essentials, but a couple of items which connect your present to your past, and make you feel like you’re not standing still in somebody else’s house. My husband and I packed our adored bed linen, a few choice books, and the hearty casserole dish we use every Sunday which was a wedding present. When everything is overwhelming, foreign and confusing, it can make a world of difference to slip into your own sheets at the end of the day.

Scientists often talk about two types of thinking. There is the type in which we very actively think and this uses up a ton of energy and then there is the automatic thinking we do, which is about 90 percent of all our thinking, and take very little energy. Usually activities such as food shopping, driving and repetitious everyday activities fall into the latter category. But when we move to a new place, everyday things can start to fall into active thinking and drain our energy reserves. Which explains how stressful life can become when you move to a new place full of the unknown.