After the cooking retreat in northern Spain and an island getaway to Menorca, I wanted to branch out from Spain and visit an area of Europe that would have a completely different vibe. Since I had never been to any Nordic countries, I found a cheap flight and decided on Denmark and Sweden (more on Sweden later).
After quickly weaving my way through the touristy parts and the KFC's and Burger King's, I made it off the beaten path and started to feel the charm of Copenhagen. The locals I encountered were friendly and helpful...so long as you made sure to stay out of the way when it comes to their bikes. Danish people love to bike everywhere and I definitely had a few close calls, but managed to avoid being run over by them.
One touristy area that I actually did want to visit was Nyhavn, once a busy commercial port full of sailors and "ladies of pleasure," but now lined with beautiful old renovated houses and restaurants along the waterfront. Its also a popular spot where the locals hang out by the water enjoying a beer and the laid-back atmosphere in Copenhagen.
I knew I wanted to try pickled herring, a staple in Northern Europe since Medieval times, and managed to find a restaurant that was relatively uncrowded and offered a fish platter that had a bit of everything. Smoked salmon, shrimp, plaice (a type of fish I had never heard of), and herring. It was delicious and I'm glad I gave it a try and would definitely recommend having the herring if you're in Copenhagen.
After lunch, I debated taking a cruise along the canal, seeing the famous Little Mermaid statue and visiting the alternative community of Christiania, but ultimately my intense love of amusement parks won out and I decided to spend the rest of the day being a kid again at Tivoli Gardens.
Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest amusement park in the world. It oozes adorableness and I couldn't stop taking pictures in between riding the attractions.
I spent hours wandering through the park riding roller coasters, the ferris wheel, and the terrifying star flyer called the Himmelskibet, which is one of the world's tallest swing rides.
After conquering the rides and enjoying a few musical performances throughout the park, I stumbled on a ballet performance as I was on my way out. It was a perfect ending to my first day in Copenhagen.