Friday, 20 November 2015

Table for One? Travelling Solo to Copenhagen

If you follow me on instagram (which you totally should be), you'll know that I revisited one of my favourite cities in the past week, Copenhagen. What made this trip a bit different was that I was travelling totally alone. I'm twenty...something and this is something I've never done. Now, that's not to say that I've only ever been away with family, quite the contrary. All of my trips on planes have been with friends or school bar my first trip to Copenhagen two months ago with my Dad. Both visits to the city were because of conferences (I'm a PhD student in case you didn't know) and this time around, I decided to put my big girl trousers  on and do it all by myself.

Anyone who's watched Taken or any of those grim travelling horror films can understand why a very young looking woman was a bit nervous to be travelling by herself but since travelling is part and parcel of the whole PhD experience and I've not got a significant other to drag around these places, its about high time I tried to go out into the world by myself and here is what I thought...

I'm one of those people who doesn't like to eat alone, or go to the cinema alone. I like spending time by myself, no doubt about it (I probably spend too much time in solitude) but I like to experience, well, experiences with other people, be it film, food, music or indeed travel so the idea of not having someone to experience travelling with was a bit alien.

But you know what? Travelling alone is a bit underrated. Now, I know I travelled to one of the safest cities in Europe so I wasn't in as much danger as I could have been in other cities but the freedom of being by yourself and not having to think about what another person wants to do is quite liberating. I could go off on a walking tour if I wanted. I could climb the Round Tower if I wanted. I could spend hours shopping in Strøget if I wanted. I could do whatever I felt like doing, which was great.

Saying that, I still love travelling with other people. I love sharing food, experiences and views with others. You can feed off of each other's enthusiasm but experiencing solo travel has made me realise that perhaps I can venture off on my own for a few hours if I'm with someone else and then we can reconvene and discuss what we have done over a delicious burger or pizza.

A great thing about being alone in the city is the anonymity. I felt more comfortable dining alone in Copenhagen than I ever would at home. The risk of bumping into someone who might judge me was a minuscule part of one percent. It made me think about how I think so much about what other people think of me. I'm hoping this experience will help me become less dependant on other people to accompany me to the cinema or to get food. Maybe now I'll go see the latest release alone if no one wants to go or they have already seen it. There's no need for me to miss out just because no one else fancies it. That's the biggest thing I learnt from travelling alone. I don't need to rely on others to have a good time, I'm pretty dead on myself (but always have a book or kindle to read when waiting for food, your phone can only do so much!)

Now, let me actually talk about Copenhagen! Since I was there for a conference, my time was limited but I made sure to fit in as much as possible because what's the point in being in such a great city if I'm going to waste my time lying in bed. This will be a quick guide to Copenhagen, my favourite spots and must-sees!

You'd be silly to leave Copenhagen without experiencing Tivoli Gardens. One of the oldest theme parks in the world, not only does Tivoli have some cool rides but the surroundings are stunning. I was lucky enough to be in the city when they had their opening night for their Christmas season and my God was the place decked out. Market stalls with traditional Christmas fayre, glugg aplenty and a waffle or two, Tivoli at Christmas combines your traditional Christmas market with a theme park. Even outside of the Christmas season, Tivoli is a must see. I'd recommend going during the night so you can see everything lit up gorgeously.

Now, food is always a priority of mine and so before I went to Copenhagen the first time, I researched affordable restaurants that would cater for my non-meat eating ways. I found this place called Greasy Diner on Studiestraede and even if you are a meat-eater, I'd recommend the veggie burger but be warned, she's a messy one so its a knife and fork situation. You'll notice that food and drink in Denmark is particularly expensive (especially soft drinks in my experience) but the bill for my veggie burger, chips and drink came to about 140DKK (about £14) which isn't too bad.

Another recommendation would be MAD or Modern American Diner. It's situated on Vesterbrogade, literally doors away from Tivoli's main entrance, and I had a delicious Portabello Mushroom and Halloumi burger. Now, this place is a bit more expensive that Greasy Diner but the portions were slightly bigger. Be careful when getting a drink though because I was easily upsold and ended up paying 50DKK for a medium glass of Coke Light.

If you just want to grab something quick to eat and get back to your hotel, the many fast food outlets along Strøget are great. You'll see queues out the door for Shawarma, Chinese, pizza, Indian, you name it. I got a medium box from one of the Chinese outlets for 50DKK and I had so many noodles and vegetable rolls that I couldn't finish it, definite value for money. That would be the best option if you're on a tight budget and of course, there are plenty of McDonalds, KFCs and the like about. Another cheap option would be the gazillion 7 Elevens around the city. Their food selection is pretty decent, I got a lovely pasta salad with feta for just over £3.

If you're looking for a good view of Copenhagen, check out the Round Tower or the tower at Christiansborg Castle. I tackled the Round Tower on the Sunday morning and it was a task I'll tell you that but the views were definitely worth it.

To see more of the city, I'd definitely recommend a canal tour. You'll get to see the new Opera House, Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid and local sites like Amelienborg and Paper Island. The great thing about seeing The Little Mermaid from the water is that you'll not have to deal with the crowds but be warned, she's tiny!

I hope you've enjoyed this post. It's obviously a little different from my usual fodder but I felt like this was something I'd like to chat about. This trip made me realise that I can be an actual functioning adult when I want to be and that if I fancy a jaunt to Dublin or even just to cinema, if no one else wants to go, I can cope with going by myself, it's not the end of the world!

If you have any questions about Copenhagen, please ask me below, I know I've left loads out LOL but until next time :-)

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