My hotel room at the Scandic Front in Copenhagen is small by American standards, but probably just right by European ones. I have a twin-sized bed with a sleek ebony-colored head and sideboard. The desk is about a foot away from the bed in the same dark wood and there is an equally sleek black chair next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street. The walls are painted a mauve color and the carpet is a complimentary plum. It is very minimalist and perfect for someone who doesn’t plan to spend much time in her hotel room. The best feature is the warmed stone floor in the bathroom.
I’ve arrived in Copenhagen around dinner time, so food is on my mind. The other great thing about my hotel is that it couldn’t be more centrally located. It is a block from Nyhavn the famous little canal filled with boats and lined with colorful townhouses. Hans Christian Anderson lives in several of the homes here. Instead of heading there for dinner, I decide to go in the other direction towards the harbor and dine at theRoyal Danish Playhouse at it’s restaurant Ofelia. The playhouse is simple and spare, letting the view from its floor-to-ceiling glass windows do the talking. Ofelia’s takes up a corner of the theater’s main floor along with some outdoor seating. From my seat, I can see tourists and Danes out for an evening stroll along the pier and any kind of boat you can imagine, canal boats, sail boats, motor boats, even jet skis. The only color in Ofelia is from the red woven stacking chairs, which Denmark is apparently known for.
I ask my waitress for help with the Danish menu and decide to order a pasta dish with cod. It turns out to be an excellent choice. It looks as simple as the place where I am dining–two square-shaped pieces of cod sit atop a bed of egg noodles in a light cream sauce–but it tastes way more complex. The sauce is herbaceous, seasoned with basil and leeks along with the surprising sweet and sour flavor of pickled tomatoes. The dish was small but also surprisingly filling. Along with a glass of pinot blanc, this was a great culinary introduction to the city.
After dinner, I stroll along Nyhavn and snap photos of the yellow, pink, rust and orange buildings in the fading sunlight. I notice that a lot of the people dining along the strip appear to be Danish. I would have imagined the place to be teaming with tourists and maybe it is during the day. I get beyond Nyhaven and enter a small square with park benches, and painted elephants on display like the pandas in DC or the bulls in New York. Beyond the park is a narrow street for high-end shopping. I have no idea where I am or have any sense of the significance of the streets, I am just wandering to orient myself to the neighborhood. I spot a cool looking restaurant called Geist that I’ll try to check out during my stay. I turn back towards the hotel, taking the same route back and I pick up a sweet smell in the air and spot people holding sugar cones with ice cream. I can’t resist. I haven’t had dessert, so I stop at a place that must translate to the Waffle Shop in English because they are churning out waffles and hand rolling them to be filled to the ice cream of your choice. I decide to have a Belgian waffle with soft serve ice cream on top. I may regret this later, but I am living in the moment. It’s very unfortunate that this place is a block from my hotel. Among the other perks of my new living space is that it has a lot of lounge space with fun colorful chairs, a foosball table and a chalk wall as its guest list. There isn’t much room to leave a mark, but I find there is just enough room to leave my new mantra.