For the month of February, each writer’s post will begin with the same line, which we’ve borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

All this happened, more or less.

I went to Denmark. For my first trip to Scandinavia. In January.

And actually, it was entirely lovely. The days were short, yes, but the sun still shined, the sea kept the air from being unbearably cold, and seriously just about every single place we went was warmed by candles or a crackling fireplace. Should any of you be aspiring to a similar trip, here is a brief summary of what we (myself and my husband/travel companion) took on.

Day 0: We left New York at night with sleeping masks and good intentions. I don’t believe either of us slept, and then we simply lost six hours because of how time works. Also got to spend an hour in the airport in Iceland, which is where I began to realize/recall how far superior European public restrooms are to American (I used to feel fine when there was toilet paper and the absence of hypodermic needles. Now I feel let down when I don’t have my own sink in the stall, or at least a real door and walls that go down to the ground).

Day 1: We arrived in Copenhagen in late morning and upon making it to a reasonable lunch hour (after eleven), promptly ate a hot dog and chocolate milk, perhaps the two most ubiquitous foods in Denmark. We rode a shockingly clean train and checked into our hotel for the week, which happened to be bigger and better outfitted than the apartment that serves as our permanent residence. We wandered around a bit, made dinner in our hotel-room kitchen, and tried valiantly to stay awake while watching Danish TV, but actually I took cell-phone videos of my husband falling asleep sitting up.

Day 2: Our first full day was a Sunday, so obviously we found a Church of England church to attend, and learned the priest there was a student of my professor when said professor was teaching in Ireland. It turns out Dutch Bingo isn’t just for Dutch people. Also saw the Little Mermaid statue, which was pretty boring, and Parliament, which actually was not.

Day 3: The “Copenhagen Card” is sort of like the US CityPASS, but actually good—in addition to covering all of our Copenhagen-area transit, it also included admission to the vast majority of attractions we wanted to see. This included, today, visits to the zoo (where a polar bear tried to eat me and also we found a vending machine selling “Camel Balls,” beige gumballs with a red, liquid center…) and aquarium, and seeing the city from a boat on the canals. Copenhagen reminded me of Amsterdam far more than I expected it to.

Day 4: Today we took the clean, quiet train to Kronborg Castle in Helsingør (aka “Elsinore,” aka I got to live inside Hamlet for a few hours. We climbed a tower and looked across the water to Sweden, and descended into the casemates—gloomy, winding tunnels underground, lit only by oil lamps and devoid of any security staff, leaving us to wander where we pleased, then went to lunch, which was essentially a plate full of bacon (Denmark is a top pork producer). Finished the day by going to see an Italian opera about French people with Danish supertitles from third-balcony loge seats with a drop to orchestra that made me acutely aware of my own mortality.

Day 5: The Viking Ship Museum was one of my favorite parts of our trip, because the ship remains were really neat and also because I got to dress up like a Viking and walk around on a longboat deck. We also finally made it to the Carlsberg brewery tour, where I got to pet horses and, when I couldn’t finish my beer sample before closing time, was asked if I wanted a to-go-cup for it.

Day 6: Opting for a rest day after several busier days, we took our time getting ready, had a magnificent brunch with some of the best cocoa I’ve ever had, and wandered the city on foot.

Day 7: We decided to go to Sweden, on account of how it is next door. Opted for the IKEA museum, home of the very first IKEA. Then went to the IKEA store, which is very similar to an American IKEA store, and so I quite enjoyed it. Ate Swedish meatballs in Sweden.

Day 8: Managed to fit everything we brought with us plus a small troll doll, six candlesticks, a framed picture, two books about hygge, and some candy (possibly including an illegal stash of kinder eggs) into our luggage, got home, and got up and went to work the next day, where I learned that “fake it till you make it” does not apply when one has lost one’s voice.

So there you have it: a week in and around Copenhagen. If, after reading this, Denmark has not become your next travel destination…well, you’re wrong and you should probably change your mind.

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