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Sadly, this weekend is the last of my planned mileage runs to Copenhagen and back. It's been fun to get to mileage run to a place I honestly love spending time. I should also mention that this deal is still available on some dates through the end of the year, and into next year. Prices have gone up, but they’re still technically a 'good deal.’ I tried for awhile to keep my back to back runs going by getting another ticket for my return this weekend, going back to Copenhagen or Oslo... or any of the Nordics in the early months of next year, but for my exact dates the availability just didn't turn out.
Even though there was a fair amount of premium economy and actual economy on these trips, I've definitely enjoyed them. They earn well, are efficient with time, and I've gotten to spend some nights in one of my favorite cities. As far as airports go, there's been many trips to the Qantas and Flagship lounges at LAX, the mixed bag that is Heathrow (good lounges, bad rest of life), and the Copenhagen airport is cute and low-stress with a cheap and easy metro line that goes right to the center of town.
One drawback to this city is that Copenhagen's hotel situation is a tough one if you're a follower of the major US brands. Starwood/Marriott is limited to the "Sky Bella" near the airport, or the Downtown Marriott. The former is out of the center of town, and the latter tends to be pricey. If by some chance you're with Club Carlson, you're the best off of the US chains as there's a couple Radisson Blu options that are well placed. Pricey still, however.
This, and my love of the city and culture, led me to take a 180 and start booking a range of Airbnb options for these runs. It's been.... an experience, but by all accounts successful. Traveling alone, I've a couple times booked a private room, instead of an entire place which saved me significantly. Think $60 instead of $260 for a hotel for the same night. It has some upside, as well as the price, if you're in the mood- depending on the host, you can learn a lot about the neighborhood, restaurants, parks, and pretty much anything else. However, if you're not feeling social, this can be a drawback as well. What's also fun is to get to experience staying in parts of town outside of hotel districts, and in architecturally interesting spaces. Think a Christianshavn canal street, or the well kept streets and parks of Frederiksberg.
While I'm on the topic, a note about Danish interiors- What I've found now having stayed in several places, both alone and with family, is that many Americans are simply not prepared for some small(ish) differences. Because many buildings in Copenhagen pre-date modern city life, there's a fair amount of ad-hoc layouts and floor plans depending on the place. Don't be surprised if, say, a bedroom adjoins a kitchen, rooms don't have windows, and especially if the shower just pours out onto the slightly slanted bathroom floor. Just enjoy the charm.
On these trips I've spent a fair amount of time visiting old favorites, but I've also stumbled on a few new ones. I like to try out some local places, and to me mileage runs aren't the time to go all out on the exclusive and expensive. It's all about last minute impulses that make memories.
Nordic Noodle (Norrebro + other locations) I was wandering around on my May trip from Frederiksbrg to Centrum trying to find a rentable Donkey Republic bike, and stopped in for lunch. It’s a fun build-your-own noodle place, with all kinds of fresh ingredients and different styles. Reasonably priced too!
Torvelhallerne (Norreport) Right by the Norreport train station, this is a great stop for shopping, eating, and taking in the city. Part open-concept food court, part farmers’ market. A perfect place to stand in a (reasonable length) line for traditional smorrebrod - open-faced sandwiches that can be piled up to 4-5 inches high with all kids of ingredients that somehow work together. You have to have it at least once per visit.
No Stress Bar (Centrum/Indre By) As with just about everything new on these trips, I stopped in here on impulse, just because I liked the name. I was expecting (I don’t know why) more of a restaurant/bar, but what I found was a truly fantastic cocktail bar with great service and high-end mixology. The ownership is Norwegian, and the staff genuinely love their craft. Let them suggest a new favorite for you.
Fredericksberg Gardens (Frederiksberg) Easily accessible by bike from pretty well anywhere in the city, this large park is a great place to go on a nice day. There’s much more space and nature than in the central ‘Kings Garden,’ but a warm afternoon will fill it up with locals relaxing on the greens, and taking boat rides around the lakes and canals. Grab a cider and enjoy!
Christiansborg Palace & Parliament Buildings (Centrum) If you’re roaming around Copenhagen even for a day, you’re likely to pass by or through Christiansborg. The complex houses the major branches of government, as well as many historic sites and exhibits from Denmark’s history. Just walking around is worth a few minutes, but you can also pay to tour various buildings, or if parliament is in session, sign up to view their process. So far, I haven’t managed to get my timing right for this, but maybe someday.
What I did manage to tour on my March trip, was the royal stables. The Danes are famous for their horses worldwide, and there’s a long history of breeding and training in the country’s history. The stables is located right on the Christiansborg grounds, and house the impressive matched white horses still used for many royal and other public displays and events. There is also a truly impressive display of harness and carriages, some of which are still used. It doesn’t take long, but only runs US $5, or is free with a Copenhagen card pass.
What do I want to see this weekend? Who knows... I'm trying out staying in an Airbnb in Vesterbro. I've been through this area on other trips, and had dinner at Madklubben in the neighborhood in March. It's well located near the lakes, central station, and downtown, and has a younger, hipster vibe. I'm sure I'll come across a few new places.
I only have one night, and about 1.5 days this time around though. A few weeks ago, while obsessing over my non-upgradable economy fare for the return, I ran my dates against available awards and was shocked to see a business class award via Doha on Qatar in the British Airways system!! It would have been more Avios than I wanted to spend, but I managed some workarounds and booked part in economy down to Doha, and then the ultra longhaul with AA miles allllll the way back to LAX.
This means 16 hours in some of the best business class Oneworld has to offer. Yes, please, and thank you. Sounds like an excellent way to end these trips!
I hope they keep running these fare sales. They're not only a great deal, and earn a good haul of miles, but now that I've been to Copenhagen 5 times, in every season, I still want to see more of this part of the world. Maybe I’ll be able to find my way back here, or maybe Oslo, or back to Stockholm. I'll go where the fares take me!
Come on, let's go...