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Copenhagen

  • Copenhagen Half Marathon

    October 3, 2015

     

    Following a week of passport drama, Ed and I made it to Copenhagen by the skin of our teeth. We left our passports on the plane on the way back from Reykjavik the week before and instead of being allowed back on the plane to get them, we had to declare them lost and go through the rigmarole of applying for new ones, which meant multiple trips to the passport office, a lot of tears, a week of stress and "will we make it to Copenhagen", and crazy high costs. We got our new passports the day before we flew to Copenhagen. Then, I very nearly missed my flight due to cancelled trains to the airport, and Ed did miss the flight as he had to work and would fly out the following morning.

    The moral of the story is DON'T leave your passport on a plane. It was only when we were both—finally— in Copenhagen together, in the queue at Coffee Collective, that we could relax and think "we made it". Missing out on our holiday, hotel and flights would have been bad enough but the half marathon was the main reason of trip, and it would have been so upsetting to miss out on that too. Anyway, we made it—rejoice—and Copenhagen was awesome. It's such a great city to walk around as all the neighbourhoods are different, scattered with cool bars, trendy restaurants, and great Scandi boutiques.
    We stayed at Hotel Kong Arthur, a boutique hotel just on the edge of Nørrebro—the city's now hipster neighbourhood (Copenhagen's Hackney Wick, if you will). The hotel was gorgeous. We had a huge room on the top floor, all white-washed walls and minimalist black and white, with sloping ceilings, a giant bed, and a nice, large wet room. The hotel feels sophisticated; there's a really beautiful spa that's open to the public too (which annoyingly means guests are only permitted one visit per stay), a small but good gym, a loungey-bar area and a big airy breakfast room, where we enjoyed a million types of cheese, delicious scrambled eggs, yoghurt and granola—you name it. I would definitely check it out if you're going to Copenhagen; it's modern and clean, and in a great part of town too.

    One of our first discoveries in the city was Torvehallerne, which we went back to a handful of times, and was probably my favourite spot in the city. It's an undercover food and drink market, which has wine bars, charcuterie stands, florists, salad bars, a pizza place, great coffee, and our favourite, a smørrebrød stall, which always had a queue. We both got smørrebrød the first time we visited, and learnt it was so, so, so good. It's a Scandinavian delicacy which is ultimately an open sandwich, with all sorts piled high on a piece of rye bread. They often use pickled or raw fish, but really it can be anything, from fried herring to sliced egg, or beef. I got the most amazing one, with tuna, capers and avocado. It was incredible! Ed got a beef one, which he also really raved about.

    The second time we went (the day before the run) I tried a salad bar, which was also great! I filled it to the brim with all sorts of delicious goodness.  Every time we went, we got a coffee from Coffee Collective, because they were too good not to, plus I loved the graphic prints on the cups!
    Nyhaven is probably Copenhagen's most photographed district, and the shot you instantly recognise. It is as good in reality as it looks on Instagram(!) and definitely worth a wander. On our first day in the city, we met Ed's friend Ali, and we all took the boat over to Copenhagen Street Food. It's basically Copenhagen's version of Street Feast. The difference is you get there on a boat, there are a lot more (giant) seagulls but the shipping containers and street food concept is much the same. I got a delicious tofu curry, Ali got the spiciest pad thai, and Ed went for falafel and mezze.
    From here, we wandered around Christianshavn, Copenhagen's "free" neighbourhood, which has similar 'open-minded' rules like Amsterdam. We were expecting to see all sorts of craziness and to be overwhelmed by the smell of weed but I don't think we saw it right because we really didn't see much of that at all! My sister says it was totally wacky when she went last year, so I think we might have missed the centre! If you're into all that though, make a pilgrimage!
    Though Copenhagen, like the rest of Scandinavia, is expensive, loads of its bars do great, long happy hours. The Bird & Churchkey deserves a mention; it's a great little gin bar between Nyhavn and Køvenhavn, that offers a daily happy hour. A gin happy hour is my kind of happy hour, and the three of us got through at least 6 G&Ts. Great half marathon prep...
    Kødbyen, Copenhagen's Meatpacking District, is another awesome neighbourhood for foodies. We went a couple of times — once to a cool Mexican bar I can't remember the name of, and another time for local beer flights at WarPigs. There are so many great eateries down here (I didn't get chance to try Mother pizza but I've heard great things!!), so it's a good shout for dinner if you're on the hunt!
    Tivoli Gardens is another of Copenhagen's quintessential sights. When I first saw pictures of it, I thought it was just crazy architecture in a wacky part of town, I hadn't realised it was a theme park! That makes a lot more sense. It's not just any theme park but in fact the second oldest in the world! Don't let that put you off the rides. After a few drinks (probably a mistake!) we went on Vertigo—the fastest, wildest ride in the whole of Tivoli Gardens. It was mad! I think I screamed from the moment my feet left the floor to the moment they were back on it, but it was so much fun! Go at night as it's all lit up so beautifully!
    The next morning, after breakfast we wandered to Fælledparken to pick up our race packs and bibs. There were some cool shops we stopped as as we wandered from the hotel through Nørrebro, and then I genuinely thought Ed and Ali were going to cry when they saw the skatepark and didn't have their boards.  I have it on good authority that this is one of the the best skateparks in Europe, so if your partner is a skateboarder like mine, either don't let them see it(!) or make sure they've got their board!! Luckily, Ed was back in this element when we found the Norse Projects flagship back in København!! There are some great shops around here so it's worth setting aside some time.
    Sunday was race day. The Half Marathon was so much fun! I got a PB of 2:03, and knocked 9 minutes off my previous time. The weather was terrible! Our shoes and socks were soaked through before we'd even got to the start line and I thought the run was going to be a total washout. Luckily the weather cleared up a little whilst we were running, and it was on and off throughout the course. At least it kept us cool! The route took us all around the city which was fantastic seeing all the sights and going through the neighbourhoods, and it was pretty much all flat most of the way. I only really felt myself struggle around the 16/17km mark— when you know the end is near but it's still so far! Ed and I both used those squeezy energy gels for the first time on this race, and we both commented on how they did seem to work. The first one at least; I took one at 10km and I really felt the difference, but I think I'd overestimated the power of the second one which I took at 16km and expected it to zoom me effortlessly to the end!!
    After the race, we walked back to our hotel and jumped straight in the spa. I can't even begin to explain how nice it felt sitting in that jacuzzi after running 21km with wet feet, but it's definitely what's missing from the end of other races. We zoned out in the sauna, before heading to our favourite spot, Torvenhallerne, for a glass of celebratory champagne. We spent the rest of the day drinking beer in København, and got the most gigantic burgers and fries at The Bronx Burger Bar. It was just what we need to replenish our energy levels, but also great value and such good sweet potato fries!
    We reluctantly caught our flight home on Sunday night (keeping our passports in a firm grip the whole way!) after an amazing weekend. Copenhagen is an amazing city that's definitely worth visiting if you haven't already been.
    I've got this thing with running now whereby I won't change up my music throughout my training, and will listen to that same mix for the race itself. By the time I'm doing the race, I can literally recite everything, including the spoken intro and convos in the mix! It's not cool but it's kind of become my routine now! For Copenhagen Half and the training, it was this mix below...I'm still kind of obsessed with it.