I didn't set an alarm because I'm on vacation and I don't have anywhere to be in the morning. Despite being up well after midnight, I awoke at 7 something in the morning. I had met 2 of my roommates last night, and 2 came in shortly after we went to bed. One showed up well after I awoke and had clearly just done the walk of shame. I didn't think 7am was that early, but based on him, I'm guessing that I'm just old. After a shower, I changed back into basically the same clothes as yesterday. I was smart enough to bring shorts in my bag, so I didn't have to sleep in jeans, and I had spare socks, so my feet were good. Also, I had the t-shirt they gave me in the kit. However, I wanted to get some other clothes. After a quick call to the airline to inform them of the hotel change, I headed out to shop. For breakfast, I stopped at a little bagel place across the main road from the hostel. The sun-dried tomato bagel with pesto cream cheese was excellent. I'll probably get breakfast from there tomorrow as well. The hot chocolate could have used some sugar, though. Most of the shopping area (Strotget) was completely dead. It was nice to see the stores without all of the crowds, however, I really just needed one open place. I wandered around a lot. When it started raining a bit, I ducked for cover, apparently into a palace. There were a whole bunch of other folks who had ducked in there for cover as well. The little entrance we were in wasn't much, but it was cool to see. The rain only lasted a couple of minutes, and then I went back to my store-hunt. Fortunately, I caught one souvenir shop that was just opening. Double-fortunately, they had souvenir Denmark women's underwear and socks. While finding the glittery batman women's undies at Target comes close, I have to admit that I've never been so excited about buying underwear in my life. I headed back to the hostel firstly to change into my new purchase, but also because there is a free walking tour that leaves from the hostel daily. Actually, it leaves from Town Hall at a later time than when it leaves from the hostel, and the guide basically just walks you from the hostel to there. However, if you didn't know where town hall was, this got you there.
Town Hall is basically at the other end of where I walked in the morning, so I really didn't get to see anything new on the walk there. The Town Hall itself is neat, though. You can go inside and see the architecture and a few displays, which I did while we were waiting for other people to join the tour. I have no idea why they were there, but at one point, some people dressed in Chilean-flag garb and carrying a flag started singing and banging on drums. It was an odd display, but very cute and very unique. When everybody was gathered, the tour took off. My guide was a Brit who had been living in Copenhagen for a few years. She was very knowledgeable, although some of her stories fell flat at the end. I recommend the tour, even if they start charging and don't keep it free. The tour started at the home of the founder of Carlsberg (the beer company). We heard the story of how he had a fight with his son, so the company split into two, but when he died, since his son inherited the father's half, the company reunited. We saw a bunch of buildings that had been rebuilt several times as apparently Copenhagen has been historically plagued by fires. Considering how close the houses are, I'm surprised that a fire in one would only burn down some buildings and not the whole town. We heard about the warrior bishop who is celebrated in statues all over town. He was a childhood friend of the king's, so he got promoted when the prince became king. He ended up invading the lands to the north and chopping down the statues of their idols. When their gods didn't seek retribution on him, the people of those lands decided that his god was more powerful than theirs, surrendered, and converted. We heard a lot about Hans Christian Anderson. It's a little weird to think of a famous children's writer as a young boy trying to make it in theater or as a man who enjoyed living in the red light district, but it gives him some dimension. At one point in the tour, we took a break, which I thought was odd, but I'm guessing that they're getting a commission from the cafe they take you to. I was hungry and wanted a snack, but I wasn't really impressed with any of the cafe food. The tour continued over in the red light district. This street is the iconic canal street on many post cards. It's more interesting than just fun-colored buildings and a shady past though. Apparently, in an effort to become less shady and draw people in, they lifted a bridge and got a whole bunch of wooden boats to come into the canal for display. At the end of the scheduled display, the bridge wouldn't move. Eventually, they liked the ships so much, they convinced the owners to leave the ships there. Now, there are wooden ships to come look at. Also, this is not the red light district any more. The streets are lined with trendy restaurants instead. The tour headed north some more so that we could look across the water and see the opera house and the island Christiania is on. At this point, it was after 1pm. I had been told the tour was about 2 hours, and hadn't planned on still being on the tour at this point. Also, it had been raining on and off, but it was more "on" at the moment. When the guide said that there were a few more stops, I just had to leave because I didn't want to be later for the tour I paid for. Also, I was starving. While I know it's not a good idea to stuff yourself before a food tour, I really needed something substantial to eat. I ended up grabbing some take out from Thai Asien Take Away, which is just off of the colorful canal street. I was in the restaurant when it poured, but the rain let up so I took off. A short while later, it started coming down strong again, so I ducked into a covered archway and scarfed my food while I waited for the rain to let up.
When the rain let up, I headed towards the Town Hall Square, which is where my tour started. Except it didn't. I had printed the "ticket" from the confirmation. At the address on the ticket, there is a bakery, which happens to be one of the best bakeries in town. In my mind, that's a reasonable place to start a food tour. However, when I asked the guy at the bakery, he confirmed that this was the right address, but he said he had never heard of the tour before. I waited outside until about 5 minutes before the tour was supposed to start and realized that there's no way that even the guide isn't there. I obviously was in the wrong place. One of the employees of one of the other businesses at that address was also confused, but she lent me her cell phone to call the number on the ticket. The lady at the other end was so nice and described where I needed to be, which was at a metro station across town from where I was. The phone owner said that it's so far and I should take a bus, but I didn't have time. Plus, Copenhagen is so small that nothing is far away. I was booking it, but it was less than a 10 minute walk, even with my feet dead cold and wet from the morning's tour. Of course, when I got to the metro station, I then couldn't find the tour either. Again I borrowed a phone from a local and connected with the operator. She came out and found me. That's good service! Props to Copenhagen Food Tours. As it turns out, there's a subtle difference in the spelling of the street that nobody picked up on. At the beginning of the tour, I met the other person on the tour. She was a Rick Steves tour guide who was spending her off-time sightseeing. I tried to keep the idol-worship to a minimum, but I just had to ask about him and working for him and her job and her life. For those who don't know, that's like being a huge Usher fan and meeting one of his backup singers, or being a huge Bryan Voltaggio fan and meeting one of the chefs who work at his restaurant. It was very cool. Anyway, the tour started in the "meat" building of KBH, an interesting local market. The market itself consists of two buildings that are basically year-round farmer's markets. The stands all sell locally-made items ranging from chocolates to beer and everything in between. I did also see an Asian-style grocery stand, but I think that was the one exception. The buildings are in theory separated into "meat" and "veggies" as you might not want the smell of raw fish when you're sampling veggies. However, I didn't find any of the odors overpowering. Of course, the "meat" building also had cheeses, vegetables, breads, and other foods. One of the stands that we sampled had items all from a Danish island that had better food because the weather is better and the soil is different than the rest of Denmark. One stand had flour that is ground in so small of a business that they hand-write on the bags. One stand had award-winning licorice. All of the stands and samples were excellent. The two that stood out, though, were the Havgus cheese and the rhubarb juice (the sweeter of the two that I sampled). There is a good chance that I will stop back at the market on my way home and pick some up. Next, the tour went by the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were pretty, but the buildings were closed, which showed a bit of poor planning. Also, I'm not sure how they were relevant to a food tour. The only thing we sampled there was some wine, but it didn't relate to the gardens as far as I know. At this point, the rain was picking back up, and all of the streets were wet. My feet were sloshing and aching, but I was too excited for the tour to complain. We continued walking to other stops. One was a candy store where they hand-make the candy. Again, there was a bit of poor planning as they weren't actually making it when we were there. It would have been so cool to see, but at least we saw the equipment they used. Ultimately, we ended at the "vegetable" building next to the one we started in. Again, we had some fabulous samples. The most memorable one was the chocolates at the end. Overall, the tour was fun, despite the rain and sore feet. The customer service was excellent. However, this is clearly still a young company with a few kinks to work out. Also, I really would have liked some more history of traditional Danish foods and other general food knowledge. (To be fair, I've heard that the only "traditional" Danish food is their pastry, and I'm not sure that's enough to talk about.) Of the questions we asked the guide about the foods and restaurants she was talking about, there were two that she didn't know and couldn't find on google, one of which was the name of a restaurant she brought up. Overall conclusion: if you're a foodie, this is worth it. If you're not, wait until they get everything worked out or add some behind-the-scenes stops where you can see some food-making in action. At this point, my feet were dead. The cobblestone streets really killed me. I barely made it back to the hostel and collapsed in bed for a nap. After my nap, the rain had let up, but the streets were still a bit wet. Worse, my shoes were drenched. So, I ventured out into the city in my flip-flops. It wasn't even 7 yet, and all the stores were closed. To me, this indicates that they are all just for tourists. There's no way that locals could shop there if they get off of work at 5 or 6 as they couldn't even make it to the stores before they closed. Fortunately, I had checked earlier in the day and I knew that the department store, Magasin, was open until 8. I hate shopping, but I can't remember the last time I've had such a pleasant experience. I walked in, walked right up to a clerk, and told her what I was looking for and what my US size was. She immediately sent me to the right section and knew my correct size right off the top of her head. When I got to that section, I asked the clerk for that section for the cheapest one, she pointed them out, I made sure they fit, and bought. Done. In and out in just a few minutes, exactly how I want it. Also, she informed me that if I didn't live in Denmark, Of course, I struggled with pants as while some of the sport pants came in longs, the store didn't carry them. I got capris, but at least I had all new clothes for tomorrow and I would not only be wearing clean clothes, but not all of them would say Denmark on them. Afterwards, I went in search of dinner. I didn't want take out since I couldn't bring it back to the hostel, but most of the sit-down places were pretty expensive. I settled on Cafe Dan Turrell and got a veggie burger with wedges. I'm glad I did. Their veggie burger didn't even pretend to be meat or a meat substitute like most veggie burgers do. It was bright red and looked like it was made of mashed up veggies, had the texture of mashed of veggies, it tasted like mashed up veggies and was pretty friggin awesome. The last veggie burger I had like this was at a friend's bar mitzvah when I was 14, and it was one of the foods that inspired me to learn to cook and ultimately led to me becoming a foodie. By the end of the meal, I was debating whether to drag my parents here and get the same thing again. However, the service afterwards kind of sucked. I asked for another water and the bill and sat for a long time without more water (but that's ok since they charge for tap water) and without a bill before a different waiter came and told me that I had to pay up front. From there, I headed back to the hostel and just chilled. I was still upset that I was luggage-less, my feet were killing me, and I wasn't really in the mood to socialize with anybody other than my roommates.
Lego Yoda in shopping area
Inside Town Hall
Colorful Canal Street
Cheeses in Market