I’ve been quiet on the blog lately, I know. My summer has been a bit of a roller coaster, with many abrupt and long bumps, leaving me with little (read no) energy whatsoever. On top of that, it’s been two years since I haven’t taken more than 3 days off in a row. So yeah, I’m exhausted. Actually, I should say ‘I was exhausted’.
I’m using the past tense, because I just came back from a two-week trip in Scandinavia. Guys, can you believe it? I took a vacation. Say whaaaat?!?
I was really looking for an introspective experience, so I went all by myself. And that’s exactly how it turned out: an inner experience. The only words that came out of my mouth for 14 days were: “Can I get an americano, please?” and “Sorry, I don’t speak [insert Scandinavian language here]”.
On another note, it is true what they say — there really is a northern way of life. What I found to be the most obvious was the perfect balance between city and nature. Both are clearly incredibly important, meaning you’ll find daring contemporary art museums in the middle of the woods and restaurant terrasses with piles of blankets so people can wrap up themselves and enjoy their glass of wine outdoor, even during the cold autumn months.
If either you’re planning on going or if you need an(other) excuse to visit ScandiLand or if you’re simply curious of my Scandinavian adventures (especially the one when I swam naked in the Baltic Sea, but that’s for a another post ;) well you’re at the right place! Let’s start off where I landed: Copenhagen and everything amazing about it (other than the crazy good looking Danes who all kinda look like they could be Alexander Skarsgård or Alicia Vikander’s cousins).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock forever, you probably know that Danes are pretty much the inventors of minimalism. Roughly, that makes about 80% of the population (warning: non reliable stats) effortlessly sleek and elegant. Women also have a really interesting way of playing with volumes and layers, mostly with neutral hues, creating looks that don’t conform to what is socially perceived as ‘feminine’, not in North American culture at least. It felt so liberating!
However, the general aesthetic felt a bit homogenous at times. Like, where’s that girl with rainbow hair cascading over her faux fur pastel coat? Don’t get me wrong, their timeless vision of fashion is incredibly inspiring in a world dominated by fads, but it makes you wonder if some people mute their style in order to fit in. Still, I’ve been back in Montreal for a week and all I’ve been wearing is black, beige and white. #WannabeScandinavian
Shopping wise, I’ll be honest with you, it’s not so much my thing when I travel. I like going into stores to see beautiful spaces and discover local brands more than to actually buy stuff. But still, I have to give a high five to the all red Acne store and the niche designer treasures found at WOOD WOOD.
Eat & Drink & Eat Some More
It’s easy breezy to make your tastebuds happy in Copenhagen… if “on a budget” is not part of your vocabulary or if you’re from a country where the minimum wage is 21 CAN$. (Yes, Scandinavian countries, my finger is pointing right at you.)
In other words: I didn’t go to Noma. But I tried many other cool and yummy places.
I rented an Airbnb in Nørrebrø, which is apparently one of the hipstiest neighborhoods in the hipster world. Needless to say, food was abundant. I had an amazing chia seeds and other-good-stuff-for-your-body breakfast pudding at cute Grød. An equally tasty avocado and egg smørrebrød — the Danish version of a tartine — waited for me at the vintagey Vi Modtes Gennem Ruden.
In a completely different part of town, I truly madly deeply (I think it’s the second time I quote a Savage Garden song on this blog) fell in love with Papirøen, or “Paper Island” in English. The huge building, in which you can now find dozens of street food vendors (good luck picking one!), was once a paper storage for Danish newspapers, thus the name. Once my hands were full with juicy cheese & bacon burger and a pilsner, I went to sit at the edge of the dock with my feet dangling above the water and watched the sunset. It was the most romantic date I’ve had with myself in a long time.
Speaking of which. When you travel alone, especially when you’re a girl, going for a drink can be a bit intimidating. You know you’re going to be that girl, sitting by herself at the bar, making a guy – probably a creep, let’s be honest – believe you’re looking for someone to talk to, when all you really want is to read Just Kids. Well Mikkeller & Friends turned out to be perfect place for a loner like myself. I drank my craft beer and spent some quality time with my BFFs Patti and Robert in the cutest mint and pale wood decor. If that’s not happiness, then WHAT IS?!? (And you can now follow me on Instagram @VeryGrandmaJojo.)
I ♥ Art
Is there anything more peaceful than a museum? Yes, a museum by the water. A concept that Scandinavians seem to looove.
My absolute highlight was the Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as ‘my new favorite place in the world’. It’s a 40 minute train journey outside of the city worth every second of it. Both in the woods and by the sea, I wandered through their exhibitions in what looked like a huge mid-century house. And when my feet started to feel like I was an 8-month pregnant woman, I sat outside with a shrimp smørrebrød on my lap while staring at Sweden across the Baltic Sea. Think of something amazing, that was 10 times better.
The second gallery definitely worth a visit is Contemporary Copenhagen, which is right next to the food vendors on Papirøen. The space is gigantic which makes it perfect for huge installations. The moment when I entered a big empty and dark room, with a huge screen showing The National performing Sorrow at the MoMA over and over again (the whole video lasts 6 hours) was quite magical and moving. Bottom line: go late at night so you have the space to yourself. (Wow, this post makes me sound so antisocial. But I’m not, I LOVE people!)
Have you heard of Christiania? It’s an autonomous community in the middle of Copenhagen that feels and looks like a completely different country. Imagine Neverland, but run by hippies.
Christiania was born in the 70s during an economic crisis, when some people occupied an abandoned military base. The green and car-free micro society eventually grew larger and developed its own set of rules, most famously the legalization of weed and hash.
The vibe was a bit funky, both positively and negatively. I didn’t feel like chilling there for more than 20 minutes (I stood out all little too much with my cream Aritzia palazzo pants, my white sneakers and my freshly chopped bob), but I still think it’s a must-see!
Ever fantasized about swimming in a river in the middle of a city? Well I’m here to tell you that Copenhagen has made your dream a reality. With docks and designated swimming areas a bit everywhere, diving into cold waters on a windy autumn day has never been so tempting. Obviously, it’s a lot more popular during summertime, but I still witnessed a couple of courageous souls with their bathing suits on.
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What did you like the most? Let me know in the comments!