We started our last day in Copenhagen on the hunt for Danish souvenirs. I had decided I (somewhat desperately) wanted a Danish, wooden butter knife (like the one we used at Host) and some Danish pottery/ceramics, like a big serving platter or serving bowl. As such, we checked out of our hotel, dropped our bags off at the train station in the storage lockers (Pro tip – this is my new favorite revelation in European travel. These storage lockers are life savers and just plain amazing. I think we used them in every city but Oslo and Helsinki), and started exploring on our way to our lunch reservation at Restaurant Schønnemann.
We wandered into many shops, but I regret I left Copenhagen without a wooden butter knife or fancy ceramic bowl or platter. Oh well. Just a reason to go back. In fact, once we were back, I found out about this place called Royal Copenhagen. Essentially, you can sign up for a class where they teach you how to paint those pretty Danish designs on porcelain/china, which you can then have shipped to your home after it has been glazed/fired. I think that would’ve been a fun experience and would’ve provided a nice/lifetime memento. Again, next time.
We arrived at Restaurant Schønnemann. Now, this restaurant needs a little bit of an introduction as well as some instruction should you find yourself eating there. First, it’s been a lunch institution since 1877 where they specialize in the Danish open faced sandwich or smørrebrød (they make 110 different ones – look at all these options – mmm) with beers and snaps (aquavit). The spot is down four steps into a celler type spot and the decor is homey/warm and old, yet impeccably new. It felt like walking into a legit institution and reminded me a little bit of Tadich Grill in San Francisco (which is seafood, but same, old-timey feel with GREAT food). Second, eat a light dinner the night before you go. Do not eat breakfast before you go. Maybe don’t eat dinner after you go. The sandwiches are so delicious (and huge plates) you need to be hungry.
Unfortunately, no one told us to go hungry, so we arrived and ordered what we later found out was the tourist plate, dubbed on the special menu as an authentic taste of traditional Danish smørrebrød. It included three dishes: (1) pickled herring, (2) fried fish, and (3) roast beef with horseradish. There was also the option to pair your dish with the snaps/acquavit. We ordered both. Jim’s favorite was the pickled herring (which I think surprised him a little) and mine was the fried fish (which surprised me a lot). But, what surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed the snaps/aquavit. I’m not much on the light liquors aside from gin, but I wanted to try them because…when in Copenhagen. They brought out three different kinds: dill (for the herring), a second kind I can’t remember (for the fish), and anise/licorice (for the roast beef). I do not normally like licorice (at all), but that one was my favorite, with the dill close behind. It was amazing to me how well they paired with each sandwich. If you go here, definitely add the pairing. It’s fun, tasty, and will get you some points with the wait staff.
Speaking of the wait staff. I found out we had a tourist plate as I eavesdropped on a Danish conversation our waitress had with the Danish women at the table next to us, who asked what we were having. At first I was a little taken aback that we’d gotten a plate that wasn’t offered to standard Danes, but when the waitress told the woman what was included she decided to order it herself! Then I was sure we’d made a legit and good choice (aside from the fact that it was delicious). While we were eating our three (smaller) sandwiches, I noticed all the tables around us had received 2-3 plates/person. I even saw one plate with the fish (my favorite) going to a table that was three pieces of fish (to my two), which is how I realized our plates were the small ones. As I was observing, our waitress came and asked us if we’d like her to bring the menus back out to order more. We explained we were stuffed (we were), but that it was delicious. Then I asked her, “How many plates does a typical patron eat.” This, my friends, is where things got interesting. She let out a hearty laugh and said, “Well, at this location, the most I’ve ever seen someone eat was seven plates plus a cheese and dessert. But, most people tend to eat 3-4 plates.” My jaw hit the table at this moment. “Seven?!?!!” then, “3-4?!” I gushed in awe. Again, she laughed, “Yes, most regulars really prepare before they come and eat light as they know they’re going to eat a lot.” Wow. We explained how much we enjoyed ours along with the snaps to which she said, “Thank you for being brave and trying the snaps – we’re so glad you enjoyed it – it really does complete the Danish experience.” Honestly, this woman knows what kinda carrot I need. Apparently, tourists do not normally order the snaps (which is a mistake, trust me, they were great). All in all, go hungry and enjoy it as much as we did. This was easily our 4th favorite meal of the trip (maybe even in some ways tied for 3rd).
After lunch we continued to wander around, exploring some neighborhoods we hadn’t seen yet and meandered back toward the train station to make our way up toward the DFDS ferry terminal for our overnight ride to Oslo.
We decided we’d take the metro, which looked like a short walk after the station to the ferry. I’d wager the walk is close to a half mile or so from the metro station. If you have a lot of luggage or children, it might be better to take a cab from downtown to the ferry itself. But, the metro was cheap and pretty easy.
We went “big” for the ride and stayed in a Commodore de luxe Cabin, which meant we had a large bed, bathroom, TV, and large window (at the hull of the ship), and access to all the “first class” amenities. Really, I only booked it this way because it was either that or bunk beds by the time I booked. I will say, though, it was very nice and worth it, plus the views of sunset and sunrise were amazing (no need to go outside or jockey for a breakfast table/dinner table with a view). Oh, another great thing about the Commodore option is you can also get breakfast in bed instead of waiting in line with the rest of the ship (fancy).
When I booked, I also didn’t realize this thing was like a mini cruise ship or like taking a cruise for a night. Neither Jim nor I have ever been on a cruise, so we didn’t know what to expect. Pretty much all of my thoughts surrounding cruise ships can be related directly back to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Well, this place had a little bit of everything including lounges, shopping (it was like Pokemon Go in the mini-mart place with SOOO much booze being purchased), restaurants galore, an arcade, etc. We mostly stayed in our room, relaxed, and enjoyed the view. We had a nice steak dinner around sunset, which was perfect.
The views, however, were really pretty. As we slowly (it felt slow) floated along, you could almost always see land, as Sweden was on the right and Norway on the left as we traveled up. We arrived in Olso close to 9am (I think), freshly showered and fed.
If you’re planning on traveling to Copenhagen and Oslo, we’d recommend this trip. It’s more fun than flying and a bit of an experience in and of itself (now we can say we’ve taken an overnight ferry). You can, also, take the ferry from Copenhagen or Oslo and just explore that area for a day then get back aboard and cruise back to your starting city.
Next up, Oslo…