a danish birthday party
The night before Matt and I met two friends of Stefan's that were having a Danish birthday brunch the next day. We were invited to come eat a traditional Danish meal consisting of scones, butter, apple jam, scrambled eggs and homemade Danish bread. We rode our bikes from the AirBnB in Virum, took the train to the city center and then rode our bikes across the bridge to get to the Dr. Byen neighborhood. We met up with the two girls and their friends at the college dorms. We all sat down for brunch and talked about the crazy night before in Norreport.
Danish scones with butter and strawberry/apple jam
After brunch, we all headed to the beach. I had no idea Copenhagen had such a beautiful beach 10 minutes from the city center. The white sand was slipped right through my toes like any other nice beach. Supposedly, Germans come to Denmark for the beaches in the summertime. I had no idea! The things I learn while travelling.
A few people went swimming. I was one of the few who stayed on the beach and had a nice nap. The day turned out to be a beautiful one.
After the beach, Matt and I departed from the group and rode our bikes back into town. We met up with Stefan for a bite to eat. I hadn't tried the Denmark hot dog until that day. And, wow, what a hot dog! It consisted of raw onions, honey mustard, pickles, fried onions, a thin wheat bun and a thin bratwurst. It was packed with flavor!
Once we all ate, the three of us took off on our bikes to see more the city. One of the most popular things to do in Copenhagen as a tourist is to ride the canal boats. So, of course, we had to be tourists for the day and check out what the boat had to offer. With such gorgeous weather going for us, the boat ride was a marvelous way to end the day before leaving for Berlin that night.
The Queen of Denmark's boat idling in the water
Copenhagen's historic 1695 AD Church of Our Saviour. Notice the spiral effect of the building.
Once the tour was done, the three of us headed back to the bike shop to drop off the rented bikes Matt and I had. We then grabbed some beers from a local grocery store. Then, we headed to a famous park where locals like to drink. As the sun set, the buildings in the background had a charming glow to them.
Panorama of the park
Another one with Stefan and Matt in it
Once the beers were gone, it was time to part ways from Copenhagen. Berlin was calling our name. The bus left at 11pm. We got into Berlin at 6:30am.
Breakfast with friends
It was time to leave Dublin, Ireland for Copenhagen, Denmark. We went to lunch with Olwyn and her boyfriend. I ordered a giant baked potato drenched in melted Irish Mild Cheddar cheese and carne asada chili. So delicious. The previous night we said our goodbyes to Caitriona. I hope to see the girls again with Waleed before my Euro trip is up. They were both amazing hosts for the two of us.
Matt and I took off to the airport to catch out flight to Copenhagen. We got in at 10:30pm and caught the train to Virum, a small town outside of Copenhagen. I had to book an AirBnB due to the Fashion Show taking up all the hostels and hotels in the Copenhagen area. The two of us shared a really nice apartment with a kitchen and balcony overlooking the Virum area.
After getting settled in, we headed to the main area of Copenhagen called Norreport. The night ended with bar hopping in the area.
Meeting our friend stefan
To start the day, we met up with our friend Stefan at the main station. Matt and I hadn't seen him in 3 years. It had been way too long. As we caught up while walking around New Harbour and the Queen's Jewels or Royal Jewels, Stefan suggested we both rent bikes for the two full days we would be in Copenhagen. All three of us biked our way to lunch at a Thai restaurant. It turns out the restaurant, Cafe Loppen, was extremely delicious and one of the more popular places to get SE Asian food in the city. I had beef mince with basil, veggies and rice. I was blown away by the spices and texture. It was so good...
Guards protecting the entrance to the Royal Jewels of Denmark
Early morning sightseeing. We are in front of the Parliament building in downtown Copenhagen.
Walking down the main harbor in Copenhagen
Matt with his Danish hot dog before lunch and Stefan photo bombing the photo
Denmark is the second largest biking country in the world. The first is The Netherlands.
Our next stop on the tour by Stefan was Christania or Freetown Christiania. Freetown Christiania is a green and emissions free neighborhood in Copenhagen. It is widely known for its different way of life. It was created in 1971 by a group of "hippies" who occupied the abandoned military base on the land in that area. There, the group set up their own rules and regulation. It is completely independent from the Copenhagen government. Christiania only existed under special conditions that has lasted for 40 years but not without constant conflicts and clashes between the locals and the Danish government. After many years of tiresome uncertainty and troubles between the two parties, an agreement was created in 2011. On July 1st, 2012, the Foundation Freetown Christiania was founded. The foundation now owns the land that Christiania is on. All the buildings, homes and structures are owned by the private foundation to maintain the culture of the society.
Christiania consists of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, cheap and organic eateries, and beautiful nature. If an individual wanted to buy a house in Christiania it would be impossible. They'd have to apply for it, and if successful, it'd given to that individual. The area is open to the public with guided to tours by locals. Any one can roam around the area.
Christiania is known for its hippie vibe, which includes hash and marijuana sales and consumption. Marijuana is illegal in Denmark. I still don't know how Christiania is allowed to sell and consume with the rest of Copenhagen having it banned. The whole area was a crazy experience.
Below are photos of the whole area.
The entrance to Christiania
Some art work in Christiania
A random skatepark
Houses, locals and marijuana in Christiania
The clouds rolling over at dusk in Christiania
Panorama of the lake
Matt, Stefan and I sitting next to the lake in Christiania
The photo is a little blurry, but as we left the sign read "You are now entering the EU." Christiania doesn't consider itself art of the European Union like Denmark and other countries.
After the craziness yet soothing aspects of Christiania, the three of us split up for the next few hours. Matt and I checked out some cool artwork that was being painted on walls surrounding construction sites. Stefan headed back home. He'd meet up with us later in the night to bar hop.
A girl in the process of creating her masterpiece as Matt looks on
I learned how to play the REAL billiards at a bar in central Copenhagen
To end the night, the three of us met up with some of Stefan's friends. We played billiards and drank beer all night long. It was a great way to end the night.
This is how the ingredients are blended with fresh spring water
I had no knowledge on the different types of whiskey and how they tasted. I finally had the chance to experience the different tastes by trying three of the more famous whiskeys in the world.
Johnnie Walker Red Label (left), Jameson Irish Whiskey (middle) and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey (right)
What makes Jameson Irish whiskey different than the two others I tried? The first thing would be spelling. There are a few rumors about why there are two spellings for "whiskey." The tour guide who took us throughout the Jameson Distillery explained that it had to do with marketing rather than language differences. He said around the end of the 19th century it became standard that the Irish and Americans make "whiskey" and Scots and Canadians make "whisky."
There are more differences than the added "e" when it comes to Jameson Whiskey. Jameson Whiskey is made with a blend of malted and unmalted barley in the pot still phase (the big pot with the claw in the photo above). Unlike Irish whiskey, Scotch uses only malted barley, grain that has been soaked so that it begins to sprout. Also, the malted barley in Scotch is dried over peat smoke, which gives the Scotch a distinctive flavor. Irish whiskey is made from kiln-dried barley, which brings out more of the grain itself.
Finally, Irish whiskey is usually triple distilled unlike the Scotch whisky, which is distilled twice. This results in a smoother, higher alcohol ABV percentage.
Our next stop after the famous Jameson Distillery was Dublin Castle. Here we walked around the greens while enjoying the beautiful day.
Dublin Castle is situated in the center of historic Dublin. For more than 700 years, from 1200 until the formation of the Irish Republic in 1921, it was the center of the English colonial administration in Ireland.
book of kells
"The Book of Kells contains the four Gospels in Latin based on the Vulgate text which St. Jerome completed in 384AD, intermixed with readings from the earlier Old Latin translation." Click here for more.
After the Jameson Distillery, the three of us headed to Trinity College to see the "Book of Kells." Above is a little info on what the significance is.
Olwyn, Caitriona, Matt and I at a bar in Dublin.
Later that night, the three of us went out to have a few drinks. Every day ends with a few drinks in Europe.
busing to wexford
Caitriona, Matt and I headed to Wexford around 8:30am. Today's plan consisted of the Hook Lighthouse, a haunted house called Loftus Hall, freshly caught seafood at Kilmore Quay and checking out the beach town of Wexford.
Our first stop was Wexford. Caitriona's mother picked us up at the bus station. We all headed to brunch at a place called D'Lush Cafe. I, again, had a full Irish breakfast. What another great meal to start my day off.
The town from the bay
All four of us then headed to the Hook Lighthouse. Here's a little bit more about the lighthouse. Hook Lighthouse near Wexford, is voted the #1 lighthouse in the world by Lonely Planet. The 13th century lighthouse sits on the Waterford Harbor where the entrance has been used for over 2,000 years. The lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world, with the main structure dating back 800 years ago to the Medieval era. Monks were the first to build the lighthouse. Three-hundred years later, monks were still operating the lighthouse by coal. It wasn't until the mid-19th century, the lighthouse switched to lanterns to light the way for boats in the area.
While exploring the area, Matt and I found a hidden cave with still water and light seeping through the cracks.
After the lighthouse, all of us went to the haunted Loftus Hall. With limited time and other things to see, we didn't go inside the house. The tour was limited to begin with. I did, however, take photos of the outside.
Loftus Hall is a large mansion on the Hook peninsula near Wexford. It is said to have been haunted by the devil and by the ghost of a young woman.
The Redmond family built the original house in 1350 during the time of the Black Death. A side note here, the Black Death was one of the most devastating situations in human history. It resulted in an estimated death toll of 75 to 200 million. The peak years were 1346-1356 in Europe.
It replaced their original castle a few years back. The Hall became the property of the Loftus family in the 1650s. The building that exists today was heavily renovated between 1870 and 1879. In 1917, Loftus Hall was bought by the Sisters of Providence. It was then turned into a convent and a school for young girls interested in joining the order. In 1983, the building was turned into a hotel, which closed in the mid-1990s.
To read more about the ghost story, click here.
After seeing Loftus Hall, the four of us headed to Kilmore Quay to have freshly caught Haddock fish and chips. The sites driving up were beautiful even in the miserable weather.
The fish and chips weren't half bad. I could almost say they were the best I'd ever had.
The fish looks small in the photos. Don't be fooled. They were some of the biggest filets of fried fish I'd ever seen.
After fish and chips, we headed to a small town to walk around the countryside. I had always wanted to see the Irish countryside with sheep roaming around.
An old mill on a farm we walked around
Time-lapse of the countryside in Ireland source here
On top of a hill overlooking the valley
Caitriona, Matt and I on the way back to Dublin from Wexford
Olwyn, Matt and I met Olwyn's boyfriend in the city center to start off our day. The three of us then went to get a traditional Irish breakfast. It's pretty similar to a English breakfast.
Bacon, tomatoes, sausage, poached eggs, white and black pudding (blood pudding), baked beans and milk tea
I had never tried white or black pudding. It was quite nice. The two patties are made of blood from pigs with a bit of barley mixed in. I was pleasantly surprised.
Our next stop was the original Guinness Brewery.
The Guinness Brewery inside and out
The Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, which has been home to the Ruby Red beer since 1759. The seven story building, a former Guinness fermentation plant and brewing spot, has been remodelled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness.
The view from the 360 degrees pub on top of the Guinness Brewery
After the brewery, all three of us met up with our other friend Caitriona. She had been performing on a small scale broadway in San Diego prior to meeting up with us. For the next three hours, the four of us walked around the city and grabbed coffee. The plan for that night was for Matt and I to make dinner for the girls. The two girls were really going out of their way to show us around the city.
I made the meal while Matt did the Sous Chef role. The meal consisted of chicken cordon bleu, spring veggie pasta and roasted garlic cheese bread. It was an impressive meal for the four of us.
our bus ride from scotland to belfast, Northern Ireland
Matt and I left Glasgow, Scotland on the 8:30am bus. There was some confusion on when we were going to meet up that morning. It ended up with me taking all of his stuff to the bus station and him running all the way from downtown to catch the bus at the last second. The trip to Ireland didn't start out as smooth as I thought. But hey, that's the beauty of travelling. There's no right way to do it.
We headed to the coast of Scotland to catch a cruise liner to Belfast, Northern Ireland. There, we would grab another bus to Dublin. The trip was a long one with three connecting parts to our journey. It took us eight total hours to get to Dublin.
Matt passing the time on our three hour boat ride
The view from the train window
We got off the boat and took another bus to the city center of Belfast. The next bus was leaving in 30 minutes, so Matt and I only had a short time to check out Belfast.
An old church in Belfast next to a Subway we ate at
Another three hour bus ride to Dublin and we were there. Our first stop off the bus was to find an old timers pub and grab a real Guinness beer. The pub was exactly what I expected. Everyone was at least 50-years-old with a beer in hand, watching the news. Outsiders are not common for this bar. Matt and I sat down while joining the group as we watched Irish news.
With all our luggage, Matt and I walked around the city center waiting to meet up with our friend Olwyn and one of her roommates. We all met up at The Spire, the center point of the city.
The Spire in the city center of Dublin
All of us went back to Olwyn's house to drop off our gear. The plan that night was to see an amateur comedy show, eat dinner and then go out to a Irish club to end the night.
The comedy show all four of us went to
All of us then grabbed a quick bite to eat before we all went out to Copper's Pub. Our first night was a success. We all had a great time.
Being the typical tourist in London
Today Matt and I walked around London sightseeing like a typical tourist. Some times being tourists is inevitable.
Big Ben and the London Eye
The London Tube
The westminster Abbey church
Westminster Abbey, formally known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, is a large Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London. It is located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of a king and queen's appointment to the church as well as a burial site for English. Between 1540 and 1556 the abbey had the status of a cathedral. However, since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral. It is now a "Royal Peculiar" – a church responsible directly to the Sovereign. The building is still original from the 11th century.
Pictures weren't allowed inside. Here's a few stock photos to show the beautiful church.
Original photos of mine of the Westminster Abbey