Day trip to Roskilde

Over the holidays we had a little day trip to Roskilde. It was somewhere I had wanted to visit for a while but had felt put off by what I thought would be a long train journey. It was not long and we had just got settled in our top deck (its a double decker train, much to my son’s excitement) seats when we were pulling into Roskilde.IMG_5427

It is a short walk into the town centre from the train station and you will find all the usually Danish chain shops and some small independents. We didn’t chose well for our lunch so I won’t share where we ate. After that we explored a few hidden courtyards and headed to the cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We did pay to go in and I would say it is worth doing as the interior is pretty special and there is a small museum about the construction of the cathedral. If you are on a budget the exterior is still worth spending time wandering around and looking at, both close up and from a distance.IMG_5429 IMG_5434 IMG_5441 IMG_5444 IMG_5445

We then walked down the hill through Byparken (City Park) to the fjord and the Viking Ship Museum. As I was visiting with a child I would say the museum is worth the money as there were a lot of hands on activities for children (some you had to pay extra for) but I would say that just for the elements that are aimed at both adults and children, it was quite expensive unless you are very into Viking ships. A big draw is sailing out into the fjord on a Viking ship, which runs daily until the next of September and you need to pay extra on top of your entrance ticket.

I personally would recommend travelling around the fjord to Frederikssund and visiting the Viking Boplads instead but it is another separate day trip (and one on our list for next summer as they are now closed until next year).

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There is tons more to explore in Roskilde and we will definitely be back to see more.

End of the summer at the Frilands Museum

We spent the last day of the school holidays at the Frilands Museum, one of our favourite museums, and made sure we made the most of the newly introduced entry charge. We usually go in the autumn half term and this was the first time we had been in the summer and it was well worth the visit. I thought I’d share some picture from our visit to inspire you to visit despite the new charge. They are open until the 23rd October so there is plenty of time to plan a visit. I was fascinated to hear from one of my son’s classmates’ dads that his family’s house from Jutland has been reconstructed on the site, I must make sure we find out which one before next time we visit as this a lovely connection between the past and now.IMG_5506 IMG_5508 IMG_5513 IMG_5517 IMG_5520 IMG_5522 IMG_5532

Djuus – slow juices and healthy food in Østerbro

Last week I had massive cravings for the spicy eggs here but as they were closed until 10am I decided to try a new cafe, Djuus on Blegsdamsvej, close by. I was intrigued when I went passed this place on the bus before the summer holidays and the clever play on how Danes pronounce Juice (something that amused me when I was learning Danish). It also saw it getting noticed on Instagram which is always a good thing to me as this is real people endorsing something.IMG_5588

Djuus is run by Rikki and was opened a few months ago. They offer a mix and match breakfast plate (which is becoming a refreshing antidote to the standard Danish cafe brunch offerings), decent coffee (with a selection of milks including cashew milk), slow juices (of course) which were delicious. I had the matcha bowl as part of my breakfast plate and I think I need to try it a few more times to really get my taste buds around it.IMG_5589

It is a cosy place offering a healthy breakfast (and lunch) alternatives and is something that is really needed in this area close to Rigshospital. I am sure patients would enjoy a fresh juice from this cafe brought into them by their visitors (I know I would!)

Do pop in if you are in this area and enjoy a healthy start to the day (note they are not open at the weekends). IMG_5590

Address: Blegdamsvej 78, 2100 CPH Ø

Website

New Carlsberg Station – just the tip of the iceberg

It felt like there was a lot of change around the city over the summer months. Enghave Station closed at the beginning of July and a new station opened at Carlsberg, a 200m walk away (and only served by one close bus stop which apparently hasn’t gone down well with the local elderly population). The logic is that the new Carlsberg Byen is going to need a new station to service the new residents, students and people working on the site and a direct access into the area will add to this convenience. Enghave Station, built in 1911, was intended for approximately 7,000 passengers daily, while in the future approximately 24,000 daily passengers are expected at the new Carlsberg Station.IMG_5573I have some reservations about how this whole new area is going to impact on the wider Vesterbro area in the future with that many more people coming into the area plus the creation of 4,000 parking spaces, which implies a huge number of cars on the road coming and going from the area. There will be an integrated new cycle system created but no mention of the number of cycle parking spots (do let me know if you are aware of this figure).IMG_5570 It had been touted as a new area for all when the plans were first put into place but with apartments in the new tower block, Bohrs Tårn (pictured above) starting at over 5 million krone and which in its promo material says there “something for all tastes and needs”, I do wonder. Reading around the issue I can see mention of student housing (12% of the area is designated at ‘public housing’) but nothing specific mentioned for low income or affordable housing. There is also plans for retail spaces which sound pretty upscale. I fear this area is creating a self contained bubble very close to areas of relative deprivation in Vesterbro and Sydhavn which don’t need any more fancy food markets or restaurants. This is an interesting presentation about the area which differs very much from the initial ideas floated in 2008 (which I wish I had kept copies of).IMG_5572 A bit of old Enghave. Are this car workshop (and the soul of this area)’s days numbered? What are your thoughts about this new area?

Paying for culture at the SMK and National Museum

Since June 1st 2016 the National Museum of Denmark (including the Frilands Museum) and the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) have started charging an entrance fee. The museums have been free for the last ten years but this year they have both asked the Government for permission to start charging again. This is in part due to budget cuts they face coupled with the wish to still be able to offer the same level of high services to their visitors. Some politicians were against this move to charge as it undermines the rights of people to have free access to culture.

This is what the SMK say on their website about the changes:

The SMK has provided free admission to its permanent displays since 2006. We have been very happy with this arrangement, but the museum is now facing such dire financial straits that free admission is no longer feasible. In the years to come, the SMK’s state funding will be cut by eight per cent – corresponding to some 16 million kroner (2.1 million EUR).  The SMK wishes to maintain the high level of quality visitors expect from the National Gallery of Denmark, and this will not be possible in the long term without finding new sources of revenue. Hence, we reintroduced admission fees as of 1 June 2016.

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However the museums have introduced a pricing structure that does offer savings for people especially if you are visiting with children. They are all offering free entry for children but a discounted adult entry if you are visiting with a child, thus making it more affordable for families. The year passes are also priced at a level to make them worthwhile if you plan to come more than three times in a year (it is worth noting the year pass in the SMK runs for twelve months not a calendar year). There are also discounts for under 30 year olds but none for seniors. If you check out their website (SMK) there are a number of options depending on your personal circumstances.

Likewise the National Museum of Denmark including a number of its other museums including the Frilands Museum are also charging now for the same reason and have ticket combinations worth looking at, especially the year pass for all sites (the two mentioned above and Tøjhusmuseet, Kommandørgården, Musikmuseet, Brede Værk, Frøslevlejrens Museum and Hangar 46) . For more information here.

Whilst it is a shame that national cultural institutions need to start charging they have, at least, given a lot of thought as to how to keep their core and loyal visitors coming, whilst maintaining their services.

 

Mario Testino at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND

Over the summer I took an hour or so to myself and went to see the Mario Testino exhibition at  Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in the centre of Copenhagen. I have always been an admirer of Testino’s work. How could forget the amazing images he captured of Princess Diana shortly before her death? There were many images in the exhibition I was familiar with, especially those of Kate Moss with whom he has had a long history of photographing over the years but also many new ones. I particularly love the royal shots of both the British and Danish royal families – giving them a real human face.IMG_5468IMG_5460

The selection of images in the exhibition vary from location to location and I loved the selection here. Testino had a real talent in making his subjects look beautiful in an unconventional way. The image of Sienna Miller below is a far cry from her usual boho chic look and is completely captivating.IMG_5463

As is this one of Reece Witherspoon (who must have been standing on a box under that fabulous dress!). The little girl inside me yearns for a dress like this.

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I have so many favourites from this exhibition and I would love to go again before it finishes on 18 September.

How was your summer?

Over here in Denmark technically it feels as if the summer is over. The schools went back today and since the first of August the weather has had a distinct autumnal feel to it. August is usually defined by rain and a little cooler weather as we head into the autumn.IMG_5360

Our summer holidays went both very fast and very slowly. We had an enjoyable two weeks in the US (and managed to avoid any discussions about the forthcoming Presidential elections), and then a visit from my parents. We managed a few day trips in and around Copenhagen which I shall share in the coming weeks. It was relaxing.

We were delighted to sell our apartment (pending paperwork) and are now seriously looking for our new home. We need to be out of our current place by the first of December so a move in November seems likely if we can find the right place.

I am in the final stages of production of my book – A guide to a successful relocation – which I hope will be available at the end of August. The manuscript of completed and proofread and now its time to hand it over to be formatted ready for production. I also need to decide on a cover design. It is scary that it is finally real and not just a collection of files on my computer. I will be having a low-key launch at the end of August or beginning of September and then it will be available for purchase.

On a less happy note I am looking at further surgery on my arm – sadly the saga continues. After a scan at the start of the holiday which shocked my doctors, it seems I have some free-floating fragments of bone with inflamed fluid around then, significant damage to my soft tissue and it seems that scar tissue is surrounding my nerve in my arm so they can’t tell what kind of damage the nerve has but it seems certain there is some. I have an appointment with orthopaedic trauma specialists at Rigshospitalet at the start of September and in the meantime I am managing my pain as best I can.

But for now it is business as usual here. I hope you all had (and perhaps are still having) a great summer!

 

 

What to do with preschoolers in Copenhagen {from the archives}

I was asked a few weeks ago by a reader for some recommendations of some good places to visit and things to do with a four year old in Copenhagen. I thought that this might be information that would be interesting to many people so here they are. These recommendations are based on the things we have enjoyed doing since my son was three and we still love them. This is in no way a definitive guide and I am sure other people have other recommendations so please do leave a comment below if you do.

Museumssmk

First of all a big category for us is museums. Copenhagen is very well served with amazing museums that actively welcome children and families. The Workers’ Museum and the National Museum have dedicated children’s sections, which can offer hours of entertainment and repeated visits. The rest of these museums are also welcoming to children and presented in the right way, fascinating. They both offer a varied events calendar which is worth keeping an eye on. The plus point for the National Museum is that its free. The Workers’ Museum offers a Friends scheme, which after paying an annual fee, a named adult can get in for free (children are always free).

The Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is also very welcoming to families and also free to get in. They usually have an exhibition aimed at children and at the weekend and during school holidays they have a children’s workshop, where for 45kr per child, your child can built a creation from recycled materials, paint a picture on an easel or some other creation.

The Danish Architecture Centre also offers children’s activities in some of the school holidays so this is worth keeping an eye on.

Parks and playgroundsdad in parkI love the parks here in the city and there are many with great play areas such as Kongens Have and Ørsteds Parken, which are favourites of ours. Fælledparken raises the bar with the Traffic Playground, an enclosed area of small-sized roads with real traffic lights and street signs for children to practice safe cycling and also the Towers Playground, close to Rigshospital. Frederiksberg Have has the added bonus of spotting the elephants in the zoo from a public viewing spot.

A number of playgrounds are manned during the week by kommune employees and, at these times, offer more activities and things to play with, you can get the list here or from the personnel at one of the manned ones. In the summer months check out the playground Skydebanen in Vesterbro and the water playground in Fælledparken for large water play and paddling areas (known as soppesøer) very suitable for young children (there are others on the list linked above for playgrounds).

Swimming Pools

Again many of the pools here have facilities suitable for preschoolers, our favourite, although a little on the pricey side, is DGI Byen, where they have a great children’ pool for non swimmers with varying depths of areas and warm, clean changing rooms. For a full list of swimming pools check this out.

Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)CIMG7558

This place is the perfect place to explore and get lost in. My son loves running up and down the hills in the garden with twisty turny pathways and also exploring the hot houses. Some of the smaller glasshouses are open on holidays and special days in the week and are a great way to see some unusual and enormous plants. It is also a great place to observe the changes of seasons.

The Lego Store

I am sure that every parent has visited this place on Strøget many times but did you know that from 4pm – 6pm on the first Thursday of the month they offer a free mini build at the back of the store? You need to build it there but it is free to take home on completion.

Eating out

I find that despite the fact there are very few specifically family friendly restaurants in the city most are. However our favourites are Hache Burger for lunch as they do a great lunch special and offer two sliders for the kids at a very reasonable price; The Laundromat Cafe; Sticks and Sushi, who also offer great children’s meals; and also Copenhagen Street Food (next to the Experimentarium) as there is something for everyone.

Out of townCIMG7323

Finally heading out-of-town is a great way to have a day out with kids and explore something new. We regularly go to Louisiana and have since my son was three. The children’s wing is outstanding and the activities there are truly integrated with the current exhibitions. The buffet lunch price for children is affordable but the food is perhaps a little adult for some tastes. A good tip is to buy an integrated travel and entrance ticket from DSB (at the 7-11 at the stations but be prepared for the staff to not know about it straight away) it is 200Kr for an adult as children travel and get into Louisiana for free, saves you up to 50%. You can buy it on the day of travel.

The Frilands Museum  is another amazing free day out (once you get there) and takes a short train ride from the city centre to immerse yourself in the Denmark of old and wander around a beautiful countryside area.

Saving Money

As mentioned above in some of the points, it is definitely worth exploring season passes for places you think you are likely to visit more than three times in a year as you will be saving a significant amount compared to paying each time. Also buying blocks of swimming tickets saves money.

All the bigger libraries (and some smaller) offer great free indoor play areas for children and can eat up a morning of activity for young preschools.

Also why not jump on one of the yellow harbour buses and enjoy an amazing view of the harbour for the usual price of your travel ticket or pass? It takes about an hour to go from the stop at Toldboden to Sluseholmen.


 

So they are my recommendations of places we enjoy, I am sure I have forgotten many other places. I haven’t mentioned some of the more obvious choices such as Tivoli (which we love), the Zoo and beaches such as Svanemollen and Amager. Or places we haven’t been but I hear great things about such as Byoasen (a small city farm in Nørrebro) and also the Nature Centre at Vestamager. I also love spending time in the quieter parts of Christiania.

Do add your recommendations below too!

Other resources

Top ten kid friendly restaurants in Copenhagen (Visit Copenhagen)

Top ten attractions for kids in Copenhagen

Playgrounds in Copenhagen

Børn i byen (in Danish) for events etc

Mini CPH city guide

Meet a museum family (some repetition here but still interesting, I hope)

Six reasons why it’s great to be a mum/parent in Copenhagen

 

 

Valby – the new alternative to city living {from the archives}

Increasingly people looking for rental apartments in the more central areas of Copenhagen are finding the market is getting tougher and tougher. Families are competing against groups of young people looking to share larger apartments and the number of properties of a suitable size for families are thin on the ground.Valby-StationMany people are looking at moving to areas further out of the city in a bid to find affordable but decent accommodation. Valby is certainly a district of the city that offers a great alternative to living in Frederiksberg or Vesterbro (both competitive and increasingly expensive areas). So what are the plus points of Valby?

Firstly public transport there are regular buses from the centre of Valby into Frederikberg and beyond and out towards Fields. The trains from Valby station take just 11 minutes into Nørreport and it is located in Zone 2 so no extra fares if you have a normal two zone travel pass.

Valby is well served for shopping with a number of supermarkets (Irma, Kvickly, Netto, Meny and Fakta) to choose from and the small shopping centre, Spinderiet, with all the usual suspects you would come to expect from BR, Tiger, Søstrene Grene, H&M etc. There is also a great, thriving high street with a number of individual shops including bakeries, butchers and fishmongers. Valby is not the place for hipsters or trendsetters but it certainly offers everything you need.CIMG3071There are lots of lovely little coffee shops and cafes, mainly centred on and around Valby Langgade. For entertainment there is a small cinema, Valby Kino, a number of restaurants both local and smaller chains such as Halifax Burger and Sticks and Sushi. There is a Big Bowl bowling centre close to the station.

There is a small library with a borgerservice (kommune advice centre) and for children there are a few small playgrounds. If you are English-speaking and looking for private daycare for your under six year old there are two options in the area (both possibly with waiting lists), The International Montessori Preschool and Kids r Os.

The huge park Sondermarken is an easy walk from Valby and offers a large children’s playground and lots of space to run around, exercise or just have a picnic. Through the park it is just a short walk to the Zoo and Frederiksberg Have. At the end of Valby furthest from the city is the vast Valbyparken which offers the largest nature playground in Denmark. The park also has a beautifully laid out rose garden and other themed gardens. You can easily reach this park by bus or bike from the centre of Valby.

Valby Hallen is a large multi purpose leisure complex and next to this is Valby Vandkulturhus (water culture centre). This is a swimming stadium for the whole family, which also offers a large wellness area. It is also renowned as a low-energy pool which uses 25% less energy than other similar places in the country.

Cisternerne is also located in Sondermarken and offers interesting exhibitions.  The film company Nordisk Film is located in Valby and offers guided tours of their studios. Carlsberg  Visitors Centre and TAP1 are also very close.

A downside of Valby is that is feels a little tattier and older than its trendier or posher neighbours of Vesterbro and Frederiksberg. There is more mindless graffiti here than in the neighbouring districts.  As an expat you may feel that it is a little too old school Danish for you – there is certainly a genuine mix of older Danes, working class people as well as newer immigrants and young families. It is not a slick and trendy part of town but it feels as if it has a heart. Here’s what Visit Copenhagen has to say about it.

In the next few years the area around Carlsberg will undergo massive redevelopment under the name of Carlsberg Byen. This will result in more commercial, residential and academic locations opening up and will change the face of this area. There will be a new metro station at the bottom of the hill on Frederiksberg Alle and Enghave Station is in the process of being moved closer to Carlsberg.  I believe this will impact on Valby and will perhaps bring it more to people’s minds as a destination or a place to live, perhaps it may yet become a hipster haven, in the meantime it is a great option if you are looking to rent a larger family apartment but still enjoy the benefits of the city.

Photo 1 credit plus interesting facts about Valby.

Things to do with children under three in Copenhagen {from the archives}

Living in Copenhagen with under school age children can pose a problem if you decide not to send them to daycare or if you are waiting for a place in one. I wrote about things to do with preschool age children here but I notice that there are a lot of parents with under three year olds looking of ideas to keep them entertained, especially when the weather isn’t very playground friendly. So here are my ideas of places to go (all of these are things I did with my son when he was this age).Blegdamsremisen, 681x426px

Blegdamsremisen at Trianglen, Østerbro

If you are looking for a soft play place then this is the place for you. It is housed in a huge, old tram garage and run by the Kommune. There is a large room with climbing structures suitable for babies and toddlers plus open space to run about in. Outside the main room there is a cosy area to eat snacks, warm up food and refresh yourselves (no food is provided) plus a large Lego room (which is separated so littles can’t get in), a room with a few pets such as fish and gerbils and other toys such as Brio train sets and dolls’ houses. It is open throughout the week and manned by specialist staff. Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8.30 and 12 noon it is open for only 0-3 year olds. It is always free entry. For more information visit their webpage here (in Danish).

Capella Play, Fields Shopping Centre

This is another soft play centre but this one you need to pay entry for. It is located on the top floor of the large Fields Shopping Centre and has areas for younger children. It can get busy. For more information visit their Facebook page.

Libraries

All libraries in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg offer children’s play areas, some are larger than others. The best ones are in the main Copenhagen library on Kristalgade, Frederiksberg Main Library located close to Frederiksberg Centre and the one in Ørestad Library. You can expect to find toys such as wooden forts, galleons, dolls’ houses, soft bean bags and of course access to books and other toys for loan. The libraries offer a programme for children of all ages (usually in Danish) so it’s worth looking at their websites for this and getting on mailing lists. Østerbro Main Library has a programme specifically through Copenhagen Cultural Network for English speaking children (and adults).

Music classes in churches

Many churches offer music classes for under threes where they can sing, bash instruments and socialise with other babies and toddlers. If you have a church nearby check out their notice boards for forthcoming classes. You usually need to book a place quickly and you need to commit to a block of sessions. These classes are usually relatively inexpensive and even if you don’t speak Danish they can be stimulating for babies and toddlers.

LINK playgroup

LINK ( Ladies International Network København) run a weekly English playgroup in Hellerup which is open to anyone not just LINK members and you pay for each session. It is on every Wednesday morning 9.45-11.30. They also have a Music and Movement class also open to non members every Friday 10am – 10.45am. There is no need to book, just turn up. Latest information on both these can be found here.

Rygårds Playgroup

Rygårds International School in Hellerup also run a playgroup in their canteen every Monday from 9.15 until 11.15. For more information email rygaardsplaygroup@gmail.com

Sweet Surrender, Vesterbro and Laundromat, various locations

This is probably the only cafe specifically set up to directly welcome young families. It is cosy with nice food and run by volunteers. There is a lovely little play area for babies and toddlers and the perfect place to meet up with other mums.  The Laundromat Cafe (three locations in the city) is also very gear up for younger children with a dedicated play area with big chunky toys and a child-friendly menu.

Museums

Don’t avoid museums with babies and toddlers. Many of the museums here have specific sections dedicated to small children and it is a great way to stimulate babies and toddler plus helping them get used to how to behave in different environments. You can read my thoughts on museums and kids here.

Swimming Pools

Most swimming pools have baby pools here – some you need to book slots in specific baby session and others you can just turn up. Although one of the more expensive pools in the city, DGI has a huge, shallow pool for babies and toddlers and excellent changing rooms. Here is the programme of classes to book. Full list of the city’s pools here and the one in Frederiksberg.

Cinemas

Cinemas in Copenhagen offer what is called Baby Bio where you can take your baby into the cinema with you whilst you watch a movie. The cinema is kept a little lighter and the film less loud so you can bring your baby into the theatre with you. But if your baby needs to sleep you can leave them outside in the lobby in their pram and the cinema staff will keep an eye on them and alert you if your baby starts to cry. Check your local cinema for listings.

Photo credit