Copenhagen – cycling, cinnamon and crime drama!

When I think of Copenhagen in Denmark, the crime thriller Forbrydelsen (The Killing) comes to mind, with the amazing Danish actress, Sofie Grabol portraying Detective Sarah Lund, my favourite female Detective of all time. And although this program put Copenhagen and Denmark on my travel radar, during my three days in my 34th country, I discovered the city of Copenhagen is so much more than Scandi crime dramas like Borgen and The Bridge. Here are my highlights and tips during my 3 days in this relaxing and liveable city.

Nordic Noir Tours

If you’re a fan of Forbrydelsen (The Killing), Borgen or The Bridge, then a tour with Nordic Noir Tours is a must. I wasn’t able to join their open tour so I booked a private one instead with Christine. Meeting her at Vesteport station, Christine’s enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for these Scandinavian dramas was evident. Not only did I visit some of the major filming locations and scenes of these television programs, but learned about Danish culture and traditions while seeing parts of Copenhagen city. I totally recommend this tour, especially if you’re a fan of any of these television series. 

Police Headquarters

Delicious Danish Delights

As a foodie, I couldn’t wait to sample local Danish cuisine. Torvehallerne KBH food markets in Norreport is a great place to sample the traditional open sandwich Smorrebrod at Hallernes Smorrebrod. Find some local bakeries to sample Danish pastries such as kanelsnegle (cinnamon snail) and grab a bite to eat on Papiroen Island at Copenhagen Street Food,  a hanger style food market with an international cuisine. 

 A bird’s eye view of Copenhagen

The best view of Copenhagen city is from the top of Vor Frelsers Kirke, a 17th century church in the neighbourhood of Christianshavn. At a cost of 40Dkr, the climb to the top of the tower requires a good level of fitness to avoid getting out of breath. The panoramic view of Copenhagen is better, in my opinion, than the view from the top of The Tower at Christiansborg Slot. My fear of heights definitely kicked in while looking down over Christianshavn but it was so worth it. 

 That mermaid! 

So apparently when people think of Copenhagen, the iconic image of Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid comes to mind. I’ve never heard of it. But didn’t Disney also make a film about it? Anyway, after admiring the colourful houses of Nyhavn for a second time, walk past the city’s playhouse and along the waterfront, stopping to view Amalienborg Slot and Marmorkirken. Take a wander around the fortress of Kastellet before finally arriving at The Little Mermaid where the obligatory selfie is a must.  

 Cycle or trek

Copenhagen has some cycle lanes and a cycle culture that rivals Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The Danes in Copenhagen love to cycle everywhere, and the city is built for bikes with designated cycle paths separate from the main roads. And although I chose to walk around the compact city of Copenhagen, it’s definitely worth renting a bike to explore all the main neighbourhoods like Christianshavn, the parks around Norreport and the meat packing district of Vestebro. 

 My favourite sight in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a great city with a really relaxed vibe (compared to my home town of London) and some great green spaces to hike or bike around including Kongen’s Have,  Rosenborg Slot, the Botanical Garden,  and along the lakes from Vesterbro to Norrebro. But my favourite sight in Copenhagen is the canal Nyhavn, with the colourful Dutch style town houses lit up by the sunshine.  

 Final Tips and Tricks

* The Rejsekort card is equivalent to London’s Oyster card and can be bought at the airport for 80DKr and then topped up with a minimum of 100DKr at any time. I only needed it to get to and from the airport and to take the bus from central station back to airbnb place in Frederiksberg. Copenhagen is a very compact city that can be walked if you have the shoes, time and energy!

*My lonely planet Pocket Copenhagen guide book was invaluable and ensured I made the most of my short three day stay. I’m not one for guided tours and enjoy my independence as a traveller, so this pocket guide acted like my own private tour guide, informing me of what I was looking at, and all the places to visit. If you’re tight on time, get a pocket guide and read up before you go to maximise your experience. 

Eat and sleep like a Princess on African Safari – Glamping our way around Tanzania

On Sunday July 3, 2016, my friend and I arrived in Arusha to begin our 10 day safari of Tanzania including Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Our accommodation and safari were organised by Africa Resource Travel based in the U.K. and we travelled with Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club. Below are all the amazing places we stayed.

Rivertrees Country Inn, Arusha

This was the perfect place to feel like Princesses before the start of our safari. We spent the first two nights here, with one full day to rest and recover from our international flights. Set on 10 acres of riverine vegetation, our garden cottage was set amongst lush green grounds to wander around,  relax by the pool, and watch the blue monkeys in the trees.  The service was impeccable, the staff very friendly, the food delicious and our “Princess beds” totally relaxing. Let the safari begin!

Maweninga Camp, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Our first tented camp on safari, and we were blown away at just how beautiful Maweninga is. Remote, luxurious and  built on top of a massive kopje (granite rocks), our tented twin room offered superb views of the park, and Lake Burungi from the balcony.  We’re officially safari glamping!

The staff are incredibly hospitable and friendly, the view of the sun setting from the main terrace breathtaking, the food is so fresh, and the stars above at night are amazing!  We quickly got accustomed to having armed Maasai walk us to and from our rooms at night. 

Ngorongoro Farmhouse

The landscape changed considerably once we left Tarangire and we entered the Rift Valley where the land looked more like farms. With no idea what to expect, we arrived at the Farmhouse with gardens full of colourful flowers and it’s own organic coffee growing plantation. I recommend you buy their organic coffee. It’s well priced and makes some great gifts.  Our room, Mbogo, which means buffalo in Swahili was luxurious with an enormous wooden door, a shower big enough for five people, and more “Princess” beds. There was a pool to relax by with prehistoric looking birds and another four course dining affair but buffet style. But not before an audience invited session of traditional dancing.

Olduvai Camp

As our jeep carried us along a bumpy, gravel dirt road, the flat plains stretched out before us with Makarot mountain in the distance. We had no idea where a camp could possibly exist on such flat lands. But as we approached a large kopje (mound of rocks), we could make out tented lodges built around and into the rocks. This was one of the most memorable places we stayed. We spent a lot of time with the Maasai in our 2 night stay, including a sunset walk to view a stunning African sunset on the first evening, to walking  across the plains to the Maasai village with giraffes eating acacia trees, and our hike through Olduvai Gorge. I highly recommend two nights here to experience the local Maasai  culture. Stay tuned for a separate blog piece on Olduvai.

 Ronjo Camp

By this point on our safari, we decided to stop viewing our next accommodation online in order to feel more excited and in awe of wherever we ended up next. Ronjo Camp didn’t disappoint and it’s the closest we’ve come to “camping” so far. With no wifi available (a welcome relief), our tented lodge required hot water to be filled into a shower bag for showering by the staff. The camp offered relaxing views around one of two campfires, and more delicious food with hospitable staff. And at night you could hear hyenas as they wandered through and around the camp.   

Grumeti Hills

As we entered the protected Grumeti Game Reserve, our guide Mr Jackson pointed out the 16 tented lodges dotted across the southern side of the hill. Our canvas tent had four large windows that offered wonderful views of the Serengeti plains that could be enjoyed whilst sitting in bed or from our private terrace. You could stand under the shower and gaze out to stare at the trees, and from the pool you could watch the zebras and wildebeest on the plains. There are some great additional activities that you can do here including the sunrise safari walk with breakfast in the bush and a night safari, both of which I recommend. More about these events in a separate blog. 

Bashay Rift Lodge

This was the perfect place to stay to end the safari. After spending the last few nights in the parks where everything felt like it was constantly layered with dust, including our face and hands, (thank goodness for those wet wipes!), arriving at Bashay was like a congratulatory handshake, and a wine glass toast to an amazing safari experience. This place was pimp! The size of the bathroom and shower was like having our own personal spa centre, and the fire place was perfect to sit and reflect on the safari days gone by. The main house had terraces to view the sun setting over the Rift Valley with Ngorongoro Crater in the distance. There is also a pool with another fine view, and the food and service were top class.

Our safari trip has been unforgettable, especially with all the wonderful places we lodged at with superb views, beautiful decor, and amazing hospitality and food. Sometimes you just need to eat and sleep like a Princess, especially on a milestone birthday trip!