Lovely trip to Copenhagen

In July, I went on a five day long city break to the gorgeous Copenhagen in Denmark flying with Norwegian. It’s a beautiful city with so much to see and do whether you like looking round Royal palaces, relaxing by the canals over a delicious meal, visiting art galleries, enjoying trendy street food, indulging in a spot of shopping, checking out Tivoli – the traditional amusement park – or eating your umpteenth Danish pastry!

Friday was spent walking around the different districts of Copenhagen and getting a feel of the place, from trendy Nørrebro to the city centre and waterfront and a walk round to look at the exteriors of the many Royal palaces. I went to visit the Little Mermaid (isn’t she beautiful!) as well as the grave of Hans Christian Andersen. It was just a shame it was raining!

Saturday was a journey up to Helsingør on the train (plus a couple of rail replacement buses)! This was so I could visit what turned out to be my favourite castle of the trip, Krongborg Slot. And luckily the sun came out for the day. Kronborg was built in the 1500s and was where Hamlet was set. I even got to see scenes from Hamlet played out in the King’s chamber and the Ballroom – exciting! As I was delayed on the bus back I didn’t get to see the other castle I wanted to that day and by the time I got back to Copenhagen, all the other palaces and museums were shut! So I only had time to visit The Round Tower (which was open late) and then take a nice stroll around the palaces again in the sunshine. The Round Tower was very interesting as it had a helical equestrian corridor up to the top which means that horses could be ridden up to the top!

Kronborg Castle

 

Rundetaarn – The Round Tower

On Sunday I had a very busy day looking round Rosenborg Castle, one of the palaces at the Amalienborg Palace complex, the Changing of the Guard there and Christiansborg Palace including the Royal Reception Rooms, Royal Kitchen,  Royal Stables and the ruins of former palaces/castles underneath. Phew! I then had a late lunch and the went to my favourit museum, Glyptotek – the art and sculpture gallery. It was a good job I spent most of Sunday inside as it was tipping down with rain again – what changeable weather!

 

Rosenborg Castle

 

Amalienborg Palace

 

Christiansborg Palace

On Monday I went on a lovely canal boat tour in the sun and then on to a four hour food tour around the city trying different Danish delights including smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches on rye bread), local cheese, Danish pastries, fermented vegetables, a delicious cauliflower dish, pea barley risotto, caramels, coffee soft ice and an incredible sour beer! What an experience.

On my last day I had planned to pop to Malmö in Sweden as it’s only half an hour journey on the train across the Øresund Bridge and underwater tunnel! However, I didn’t think I had enough time before my flight and I had been informed by other travellers that there’s wasn’t that much to do in Malmö so I instead decided to visit Frederiksborg Castle which was the castle I missed out on seeing earlier in my trip. It didn’t disappoint!

It was a brilliant trip and I would definitely return to Copenhagen in the future, although I may relax a bit more next time as seeing all those sights in 5 days was a bit much for an old bear like me!

Rosie x

Iceland Trek with Action Challenge 28th June to 2nd July

Trekking in Iceland – Action Challenge Break –

Day 1 (28th June) – Gatwick to Keflavik and on to Landmannalauger

An early start this morning to catch the 2.55am National Express coach to Gatwick South, which arrived on schedule dropping me off in time for a cup of tea before meeting the rest of the team and collecting our tickets from leader Mike and doctor Ben.  We were now a group of, I think, 22.  We just needed to check in and go through the usual security checks before congregating in the departure lounge ready for our Wow Air flight to Keflavik.

Taxiing on arrival we could see the airport was in full bloom with purple lupins, which apparently grows like a weed but certainly looked pretty.

We were collected by a rather loud boneshaker of a vehicle for our four hour transfer, taking us along the flat countryside by the sea to the unmade road that took us in to the Southern Highlands with a pitstop half way along.  As we came in to the valley at Landmannalauger we could see a large flat area already littered with tents along with some buildings, one of which was the toilet/shower block.  There was also a river that ran with warm water, which some managed to enjoy before we left the next morning.

Tonight was about learning our routine for the next three nights – pick a groundsheet, tent and Thermarest self-inflating mat, which we put up after a demonstration.  Isabel and I were very lucky to get a tent to ourselves, most were two-person tents plus there was one for three.  While we all tackled the tents, our camp chef Edwin was cooking up a storm – fresh salmon with potatoes and veg or veggie burgers, followed by skyr with jam (I may muddle up some of meals/days but at least you get the gist).  Always on the go was the hot water boiler with proper tea bags and coffee that was welcome at all hours.  It was also useful to put hot water in to the metal water bottles – hey presto a hot water bottle wrapped up to stop it burning.  Boy it was cold that first night plus at this time of year it doesn’t get dark.  That’s just weird when you want to sleep, I should have taken a book to read in the night.  I had to put my woolly hat on and pull it over my eyes.  Not that I slept much, I’m not used to camping!

Day 2 (29th June) – Landmannalauger to Alftavatn – 8-10 Hours Trekking

This morning it was up at 6.30 to get dressed and pack, then a warming breakfast of porridge, or muesli, plus the necessary cup of tea or coffee before packing the tents away for later, making our sandwiches for lunch and filling up our water bottles, etc for the arduous day ahead.   At first part of the hike we climbed through the rhyolite and crossed the lava and snow fields.

Boy did they go on and on! Snow is so hard to walk through because you can’t get a rhythm.  My poles were really useful for maintaining my balance.

At the highest point we passed Storihver, a large hot spring before walking through fields of glistening black opsidium rock.  Half way through the snow we stopped at a building for lunch, at least we had a toilet and tap.  Some toilet stops have to be behind a convenient rock – that’s a new experience!

In the afternoon there was a very steep winding descent over scree.

At one point Isabel ended up on her bottom!  On the way to our evening stop we had a river crossing, which involved taking off our boots and socks and pulling up our trousers, under layers, etc.

 

 

That was very welcome for our hot and tired feet.  We put our boots back on then trudged the last few kilometres to our campsite at Alftavatn, a huge volcanic lake.

Then came the new ritual of putting up our tents and waiting for our next delicious offering from Edwin – spaghetti bolognaise and cake plus plentiful tea and coffee.  This was a very pretty campsite but I think we were all aching from a very long day.  Did you know that you have to watch which way you put your mat and sleeping bag?  If you have your head on a very slight downward slope you can wake with a headache!

Day 3 (30th June) – Alftavatn to Emstrur – 7 Hours Trekking

The winds was strong this morning as we attempted to put the tents back neatly in their bags. Today we leave the rhyolite and enter a glacial area with fast running streams and deep gorges.  We had several streams to cross, one involving stripping down to our underwear as we didn’t want to walk with wet trousers for the rest of the day.  We had to go over in threes to help everyone keep stable as it was quite wide and fast flowing.

 

The wind was quite strong as we walked through the very flat lava fields strewn with rocks and we donned our waterproofs as rain looked imminent.

 

We got a true feel for Iceland as we climbed down to Hvanngil and trek across desert-like passes and hills to the Emstrur, a delightful valley with babbling stream where we pitched our tents for the night.

 

This was the nicest campsite although we did have rain but that was OK when you were snuggly in your sleeping bag inside the tent.  The meal that night was delicious – two lamb cutlets cooked on the barbecue with potatoes and peas followed by pears and hot chocolate sauce.  Mmmmm.

Day 4 (1st July) – Emstrur to the Finishing Point -7 Hours Trekking

After packing up in the morning we made our way out of the valley crossing the river using ropes on a footbridge to climb down.

We climbed out of the valley across a shallow river, before descending down a long steep path to the main valley of Thorsmork.  The final part of this trek was quite delightful, very much like a wooded walk back home with wild geraniums and wild flowers among the trees plus the sound of birds calling and bees humming.  A complete contrast to the stark landscape and silence of the parts of Iceland we had been trekking through.

A quick photo opportunity at the final signpost then we boarded the two coaches to take us to our bed and breakfast accommodation for the night – a bed and duvet, a real treat!

We had a short time to use the shared showers and wash our hair before walking to the Reykjavik Restaurant for our celebratory buffet meal and drink.

This trek had been a great achievement for all of us, taking part for so many different reasons.  Many deserving charities also benefitted from our hard work.  Most of us are tired and achy, some limping with trekkers knee and other injuries but it was well worth it.

Day 5 (2nd July) – Reykjavik Shopping/Blue Lagoon to Keflafvik Airport.

After a buffet breakfast, this morning we packed for a final time.  Some were due to spend the morning in the capital and some, including Isabel and I, went to the Blue Lagoon to enjoy the warm mineral rich geo thermal waters, which felt heavenly with a glass of prosecco!

 

One last coach trip took us to the airport to catch our Wow Air flight home to Gatwick South, where we arrived slightly delayed by the idiot with the drone as Gatwick was shut for a time but at least we didn’t have to be diverted like some.

We said our goodbyes to a fantastic bunch of people (I won’t name everyone in case I miss someone out) and had a quick coffee with Stacey while waiting for the National Express coach, arriving home in Poole at 1.05am.