It was pitch dark and the city was yet not up from its beauty sleep. Totally unplanned backpacking from Germany, I reached at the central station of COPENHAGEN in small hours around 5.00 am. As a travel photographer by vocation, I adore my mornings. I couldn’t resist myself from exploring the beautiful uninterrupted Good morning hours of Copenhagen.
When I mentioned uninterrupted, I also meant hands off my luggage strollers and backpack. I quickly took to the manned desk and luggage boxes at the station to store my belongings. With just my camera bag on my back and wallet, I took off to explore Copenhagen.
My first morning stop was right down the station hall at this Danish pastry shop Lagkagehuset. Even before you step in, the aroma of spices and freshly baked bread just gets into you. I couldn’t resist just peeking but quickly grabbed a morning coffee, luscious lip smacking Danish pastries and cinnamon roll. After my sinful satisfying and drool leaking breakfast, I was all set to sight the first impression of the city and its people.
Copenhagen has this cozy, intimate feel to its character. Walking by the cobblestone streets witnessing the rich architectural design and heritage is captivatingly subtle. One such iconic beauty was the Little Mermaid sculpture down on the Langeline promenade. The morning here was breathtakingly beautiful as she sits calm by the sea. This 101 years old ballerina sculpture was created by the Danish-Icelandic sculpture Edward Erikson and is inspired by the famous fairytale of a mermaid looking for love. As I Watched the morning sun by the shore with her longing to meet her prince just like the city of Copenhagen.
The Botanical Gardens
Amidst the usual bustling city, The Botanical Gardens is a beautiful green oasis in the heart of Copenhagen. Also, the history of this garden goes way back to 1600 when the first garden was opened at the University of Copenhagen. The botanical garden is dedicated to the study of plant life and fungi that are home to 9000 different species of plants from around the world. The entry was free and the morning was definitely the best time to wander around the luscious greenhouses and grass paths. It was a morning walk for the eco-friendly green eyed ‘me’ in the city.
The next best I witnessed or couldn’t miss is the prolific bike culture of Copenhagen. Nearly every soul in Copenhagen loves to ride a bike. Be it school children, men &women going to work, grannies and housewives running errands or politicians riding their way to parliaments. Bike riding is a huge part of Danish culture in Copenhagen. I decided to be one of them ( locals) and showed them that I can ride. With well-planned crossways and friendly bridges, biking in Copenhagen makes crisscrossing the city a jiff.
Amager Beach Park
Riding all around in the city, I was exhausted by now. I decided to take a break at Amager Beach Park. The beach park constitutes a 2 Km long artificial island forming a lagoon on one side and sandy beach with dunes on the other. I saw the active peeps of Copenhagen running, skating and surfing their way on the beach. I took a bench to enjoy the splendid view of a windmill across. It was quite a serene escape from the bustling city.
They say Copenhagen is home to the happiest people on earth. With so much to do & little time in hand, I’ll have to wind up my last morning stop at Nyhavn Harbour. Of all the pictures of places one see of Copenhagen, is that of Nyhavn. The old, beautiful colourful houses are childishly attractive. Originally a place for many ships to dock from different countries is now a place to do some candid photography for people like me. With plenty of pictures to click and plenty of cafes to ease my hunger pangs, Nyhavn is undoubtedly a perfect place to be. I couldn’t have asked for more from the beautiful Copenhagen.
In Denmark, you want nothing less of a Viking, and the most delightful way of going about is sailing into the world of Viking ship Museum. Viking ships were a marine vessel of unique design, built by the Vikings. They were designed to sail the rivers, fjords and coastal waters. Viking ship museum is the only place in the world where you would find the ruins of 1000 years old Viking ships and the five Skuldelev ships. Skuldelev ships are a term used for five original Viking ships recovered from the waters of Skuldelev. In the 60’s the remains of the submerged ships were excavated in the short course of four months at Roskilde. Roskilde was once the epicenter for a growing Viking kingdom later known as Denmark. The recovered pieces comprise five types of Viking ships that have been dated to the 11th century. All the ships were numbered 1 to 5 Skuldelev. These Skuldelev ships were allegedly blockshiped from the sea. (A blockship is a ship deliberately sunk to prevent a river, channel, from being used by a navy defending the waterway to prevent the ingress of attacking enemy forces).
So Viking ship museum in Roskilde officially became the place of origin for the reconstruction of the five Skuldelev ships. And since then museum is not only a place for ships on display but a marine historical centre with its own ships yard and harbour hosting many kinds of ships.
Keeping up the curiosity tacked let me now take you on a trip to the world of Vikings.
Plan your Journey
The Viking Ship Museum is open all year round.
Summer opening hours: 10:00AM – 17:00PM
Winter Opening Hours: 10:00AM – 16:00PM
(Entrance fees vary according to the time of year and level of activity.)
Cars: There’s parking facility just by the museum, a large free park for the private cars.
Trains: Most of the regional and inter- city trains stop at Roskilde station.(my Personal Choice)
Bus: Direct buses from the Roskilde train stations to the Museums
The Viking Ship -The Museum
The Museum Island contains the Harbour, the Boatyard and Tunet.
Harbour and the Hall: The Viking Ship Hall, is designed by Professor Erik Christian Sorensen, and is beautifully located on to Roskilde Fjord. This is where you witness the Viking ships found in Roskilde Fjord. The Museum Harbour stands tall and magnificent with the collection of traditional Nordic wooden boats and the reconstructed Viking ships, and 5 Skuldelev which were used by the locals for war, trading and fishing. It’s an overwhelming sight witnessing of how the original ships looked 1,000 years ago.
The Hall is beautifully placed on Roskilde Harbour, with a huge window and sweeping views over the fjord that are connecting the ships to the water. Interesting Part: The East Room at the Viking Ship Hall is a two -floor models of cargo and war ships. Best place for kids and parents to amuse themselves by wearing various costumes, hold a sword like a Viking and posing for pictures. Let your imagination set your limit. The experience is undisturbed and gives room for immersion and fantasy.
BoatYard: The Boatyard exhibits the craftsmanship and boat-building culture of the Viking Age. One can step into an active boatyard and follow the boat-builders up close. The permanent display constitutes the five Skuldelev ships and tells the history of the ships as well as the history of the Nordic maritime adventure during the Viking Age.
Tunet: The Tunet forms the basis for the summer activities and workshops. I went ahead and interacted with the craftsmen in open workshops. I tried my hand at the rope walk, carved my name in the runes, hit the nail on the head and made my own basket of willow. The workshops are suitable for adults and children from 8 years and older.
Lunch Break At The Viking Ship Museum
At the Viking Ship Museum, you can enjoy the amazing weather on the Museum Island and the views of the Roskilde Fjord both at a restaurant and in the open by the island.Take a grab of the freshly made sandwiches and salads, homemade cakes, ice cream, tea, coffee and organic soft drinks and beer at Café Knarr (opening 10:00- 16:00) or at the popular restaurant named Snekken(Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 )over Roskilde Fjord. The open kitchen shows a glimpse of the chefs at work and it serves fresh seasonal mains, weekend brunch, and an exclusive exhibition-inspired menu.
But I’m the ones who love being outdoors, soaking up the sun bring my own food and use the picnic tables on the Museum island and laze around, eating in the park opposite the Viking Ship Hall.
Viking Museum Shop
The museum shop has a wide range of books, jewellery and souvenirs for both adults and children.
The book section carries literature about the Viking Age and the ships. The books are available both in Danish and in English. The museum shop also has a range of replicating jewellery inspired by the style and materials of Scandinavia and the Viking era. While For the souvenir collectors and friends back home there are a huge collection of decorations inspired by the Viking Age, such as Frankish drinking glasses, Viking games, ceramics, bronze and plaster casts of Nordic gods and heroes.
Viking Guided tours and Rides
The Viking Ship Museum offers daily, free guided tours during the summer season and selected holidays. The guided tours are conducted by history and archaeology students. With an advance booking in hand enjoy the Viking ship rides with a guide will take you into the history of Viking Age.
Feel the presence of history when you stand before the original Viking ships that bear witness to war, trade and sea voyage to distant places.Denmark is home to many enriching attractions and culture and is one of Viking’s most desirable.
Image Credits: Visit Denmark
The Northern lights or Aurora Borealis has always held a fascination for me. But as you will have known by now, I am one of those who needs to be pushed to travel. The dance of the beautiful lights in the night sky was something that I truly wanted to experience. So, Snigdha pushed me this winter season to get my ass over to Norway and check out this phenomenon. Now, the problems are many fold. I am a true middle class Bengali and cold hits me like a paralysing virus. The essential timings of the Northern Lights are found during the winters. The best time to catch them is also during the night making it one cold adventure.
Snigdha decided on the picturesque Lofoten Islands for our stay. Lofoten Islands is an old fishing station that used to attract fishermen from all over the medieval world. Even today, the Winter Cod catching competition pays tribute to the fishing skills of yore. The Lofoten Islands have some beautiful fishing cabins where we boarded up lodgings.
How to get there?
Now, travelling here is a bit of headache but I got my girlfriend for that. We took a flight from our base in Oslo to Bodo and travelled by bus to the islands. Although the journey is a little bit cumbersome, but it is well worth it. You can book the plane tickets on their national carrier SAS.
Where we stayed in Lofoten?
What better way to stay than in an authentic fishing cabin(rorbeur). Snigdha booked our stay at Svinoya Rorbeur. This beautiful series of cabins are located near the Solvaer harbour. These cabins are the perfect blend of modern amenities with the architecture of yore. The authenticity of the the wooden cabins are beautifully offset by hot running water that was absolutely essential for my survival.
Let’s get on with our mission
The best way to enjoy the Northern Lights is in a rib boat. There are numerous companies which run boats from the Solvaer harbour and take you around the water. But you can always experience the same just standing in the balcony of your Rorbeur. The magical dancing of lights of varied colours transport you to a dreamy world. It’s virtually as if the sky is moving and nature is trying to talk to you. The lights usually stay on through out the night and can be checked out whenever you feel like doing so. These lights are basically due to the electrons and protons colliding against the atmospheric particles.
What else to do in Lofoten?
Although we spent two nights enjoying the Northern Lights, but we definitely needed something to capture our imagination when the sun was up. The area being a fishing paradise, that is exactly what we did. We took a day tour on the M/S Ylajali which put us through the paces of winter cod fishing. The chilly winds buffeted by the lurchy seas is not something for everyone as you can get sick, specially Indian unaccustomed to being on the sea. But the experience is heavenly. We also tried out some cod soup.
We spent the rest of our time wandering around the harbour city, getting lost and trying out a bite of Norwegian Food. Do share with us your experience of the Northern Lights. You can plan your trip at Northern Norway.
All images are credited to Visit Norway.
I fell in love with the Nordic country of Norway the moment I heard of Roros. The beautiful copper mining town still frozen in time drew me in to this beautiful country. But local food is something that truly defines travel for me. If I haven’t had the local food of the country, my trip is not complete. Norway is a country of abundances. Being so close to the sea means that seafood is one of their strong points. Their meat gets to graze in the luscious valleys while paucity of either pollution or population means that their produce is top rate. So, Sudipto and Snigdha tell you the favorites of Norwegian food.
Pork Belly is something that both of us are in love with. The beautiful sweet flavours are something that hits the nail on our head. But we had mostly tried out the South-East Asian version which combines spicy and sour. But the Nordic flavours are more umami. Combined with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, meat balls and gravy.
Salted, dried, smoked lamb ribs. These are usually smoked over Birch tree wood giving it a characteristic unforgettable taste. It is a typical Christmas eve specialty.
Fish has been preserved in various parts of the world since times immemorial. With seafood getting spoiled fast, this stockfish is preserved in water and lye. With the fish having a very mild taste potatoes, bacon, mashed peas and mustard gives the dish it’s characteristic flavours.
If you haven’t tasted the sweetness of the Norwegian cod, you are missing something in your life. Although there is no comparison of the fish that has been caught fresh, but preserved versions also work pretty well. The Skrei(Arctic Cod) migrates from the Barents Sea to the Northern coast of Norway during winter and this is when it is caught.
Unlike other parts of the world, Norway has a thriving game meat industry. It means that you can try out exotic meats like Deer, Reindeer, Moose or Grouse. These will give you such a plethora of flavours on your palate that you won’t easily forget.
The brown caramelized whey cheese is filled with full bodied flavours. It usually goes well with bread and waffles. It can be easily found in the majority of cabins along the ski trails.
All meals are accompanied by this potato based alcohol. It is flavoured with a plethora of spices and herbs like caraway seeds, fennel, dill, anise and even coriander. A herbal alcoholic drink which acts as a perfect digestive to end your meals.
A lot has been written about England as the huge Indian diaspora has always held it in high regard. But we get you on a fast track on the things to do in London before we cover it in detail. This is for people who are short of time and would like to breeze through the capital before settling on other areas. With the new exchange rates coming into being, right now is the best time to travel to London with British Airways as we discovered the best of prices.
One of the most iconic places, the Trafalgar Square is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown. The square contains a large central area with the Nelson’s column flanked with fountains. The National Gallery is in walking distance from the square. The beauty of this place lies in beautiful architecture and sculpture work all over the place. Trafalgar Square is also a major shopping attraction of London. With the GBP losing ground from INR 100 to INR 82, it is perfect for your Christmas and New Year shopping. British Airways customers get special offers for shopping this festive season.
The seat of one of the strongest monarchical powers that ruled large swathes of the world. Some of the older rooms of the Palace are done in bright colours and gilt. A plethora of functions are held over the palace including the large gardens for the Queen’s tea parties. The forecourt is used for the impressive Change of Guard which takes places every day during the three summer months and on alternate days in the other months.
The Elizabeth Tower or the Big Ben is one of the most recognizable locations of London. Every movie or feature shows the camera panning out to the famous clock tower. Located right next to the House of Commons or the lower house of the English Parliament, this iconic tower has been built in a neo-Gothic Style. The interiors of the tower aren’t usually open to the public although it does have a stairs of more than 300 limestone steps.
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames. Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, it offers a perfect view of the whole city of London. With slowly rotating chambers where you can stroll around or sit, the view over the Thames river and the metropolis of London is a sight to behold.
Another common depiction from the movies, the Tower Bridge is best seen from the Thames river cruise. One of the most interesting parts of this bridge is that it is a bascule bridge and a suspension bridge. The Bascule bridge is the central part of the bridge flanked by two towers which can be raised for river traffic to pass through. Although the bridge is raised enough for the ships to pass through, but the Bascules are raised to their full height when a monarch is on the vessel. But the best way to enjoy the London skyline is during the Christmas and New Year fireworks on river Thames.
We are heading to London this festive season with British Airways. How about you?