2015 Favourites

With awards season coming to a close with last night's Oscars, we thought we would do a roundup of some of our favourite films, tv, and books from the past year. There's still some winter left here in Copenhagen, so go grab a blanket and hunker down. 

TOP FIVE FILMS

1. The Revenant - Yes, the one that got Leo his long-awaited Oscar. Well deserved, in our opinion. Carrying a movie of that length without full range of your vocal cords while also being in freezing temperatures (and, you know, sleeping in horse guts) could not have been easy. Alongside the harrowing situations shown, the landscapes and cinematography are just as breathtaking. Also nice to see First Nations actors finally getting some screen time and acknowledgement too. 

2. It Follows - Even if you aren't usually a horror film fan (and we're not), give this one a try for the awesome John Carpenter nods, like the long panning sequences and the creepy, slow building synth score. Instead of relying on gore, the anticipation is what drives this film. It's a nice little parable on what it means to grow up, and the ambiguous time setting with hints of nostalgia thrown in helped make it more universal (and aesthetically pleasing). 

3. What We Do in the Shadows - This one made me (Nicola sadly isn't into vampires) laugh more than any other movie this year. I've been a fan of Jemaine Clement since the days of Flight of the Concords, and love a good mokumentary, so it's not surprising. Plus, it's about time that someone poked (get it? as in staked? soooorry) some fun at what is essentially a very ridiculous genre - that of vampires in popular culture. And, swearwolves. I mean, what more could you want?

4. Room - Oh man, all the feels with this one. I loved that this movie was introspective and took it's time with progressing the storyline. It also felt right being told from the child's perspective (Jacob Trembley is amazing and adorable, and is also from Vancouver - holla!). The other thing that was so mind-blowing to me is that this happens in real life. Not only has happened once either, but several times, and continues to. So nuts. This world is a strange and beautiful place, and that was really conveyed in this film. 

5. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter - This one is bittersweet, and that combination of darkly funny and touching that I always fall for. The story is about a Japanese girl (and her pet rabbit Bunzo) who attempts to find the buried treasure from the film Fargo, in order to escape her monotonous life back home - despite barely speaking any English. The culture clash and language barriers make for some interesting encounters and it is also beautifully filmed. 

TOP FIVE TV SHOWS

1. Olive Kitteridge - This is the perfect four part mini-series to binge watch on a rainy Sunday. Frances McDormand is incredible, as always, and the way the show moves through her life and marriage is moving in a quiet and powerful way. I especially loved part one, and would have been happy to watch a feature length film of it. 

2. Togetherness - I am a huge fan of the Duplass brothers (Transparent is another fav), and feel like pretty much anything they touch is gold lately. This show always hits home for me, and seems so realistic and specific yet also seems to speak for a whole generation at the same time. I just love how they portray adult friendships and marriage in all their messy and wonderful ways. 

3. Fargo - I thought season one started strong, but it fizzled out for me and I ended up giving up on it. This season, with it being set in the 70's, worked so much better for me. It's another great example of how good tv is right now - every episode had the level of quality of a really good film. And I'll never get over that accent. Looking forward to see what they do with next season!

4. Master of None - This was another surprise for me! Only having seen Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford on Parks & Recreation, it was so nice to see him play a much more multi-dimension character (and with much better taste/less swag). It was also so refreshing to see issues of ethnicity and feminism be some of the main focal points, while still being really, really funny. I binged a few of his stand-up shows after this, and also recommend them!

5. The Jinx & Making a Murderer - I know, cheating a bit here. But if you like one, you'll like the other. I feel like everyone and their dog has seen these by now, but if you've been living under a rock (or you are my husband), maybe you haven't. I don't want to spoil anything in that case, because I think both are best when you know little to nothing about the specific cases involved. You can go down that Reddit rabbit hole later. Just don't watch watch All Good Things - the movie based on the case that The Jinx explores, and done by the same director. Even Ryan Gosling couldn't save it, which should give an idea of how not good it is. But the ending of The Jinx makes up for it all!

TOP FIVE BOOKS

1. When Breath Becomes AirGet ready to cry a little bit (or, in my case, a lot) with this one. Written by a neurosurgeon after a terminal cancer diagnosis, this book explores what makes a life meaningful and worth living. Not only was this guy beyond inspiring, the insights about death and dying were fascinating, and it's a subject so many shy away from. If you like this one, I'd also recommend Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It's not the cheeriest of subject matter, but in both cases, they are far from depressing. 

2. PurityI hesitated a little bit putting this one on here, because this is probably my least favourite of Jonanthan Franzen's oeuvre and I probably had too high expectations for it. It did sound a little too much, as one review that I read put it, like it was written by "a White Guy". I did like the epic, far reach of this one though, and the journey you were taken on with the characters - despite how unlikable most of them were. 

3. Big MagicEven with how overblown and cliche the whole 'Eat, Pray, Love' thing got, I like Elizabeth Gilbert and I think she has a lot of really interesting things to say about creativity. If you aren't convinced, go watch her her TED talk. Creativity is so integral to what so many of us do, yet it is often shrouded in this cloak of mystery or fear, so I loved this more down-to-earth and positive take on it.

4. The Girl on the TrainThis is just a purely for fun one that both of us ripped through in a day. A proper can't-put-it-down read, that would be perfect for a vacation. A little bit like Gone Girl, it's a crime/psychological thriller where you are guessing until the end. It's not going to win any literary prizes anytime soon, but we are far from book snobs over here. 

5. A Little Life - I found this one a bit hard to get into at first, but once you get to know the four characters this book revolves around, and their intertwined friendships, it's impossible not to get engrossed. This isn't a light book by any means, and you'll probably need that pack of tissues again. But it's one of those books that stays with you. 

 

 

 

 

Our Guide to Copenhagen

We often get asked for suggestions of places to go and things to do here in our new home. So we've finally sat down and compiled all our favourite spots, broken down by neighbourhoods. And we always also recommend renting a bike and just exploring - you can't go too wrong around here!

Amager

Our lovely neighbourhood! Amager has long been populated, and well used, thanks to its rich soil and proximity to Copenhagen. In 1521, Christian II, invited some Dutch farmers to move to Amager and grow vegetables to supply the Danish Court and Copenhagen. It was only in the late 19th century that Copenhagen began to expand onto the island, and in 1902 these built-up areas were incorporated into Copenhagen. Now, with the reconstruction of Amager Strandpark, and with it’s close proximity to the city centre, Amager is becoming a popular place to live.

Islands Brygge – Technically it’s own neighbourhood, this is where you can swim in the popular harbour baths on a hot day, or barbeque dinner on the public grills.

Amager Strandpark – Beautiful beach with water warm enough to swim in! You can easily spend an entire day here, walking the promenade, playing mini golf, and eating ice cream in between swimming.  Also nice for a picnic dinner in the evening.

Holmbladsgade – A historic street just behind our apartment where there are tons of cafes and shops. Get a iced coffee at Ricco’s Kaffebar and stroll around before picking up some food for dinner at the Fiskehus (fish shop open since 1902), some produce at the Turkish or Vietnamese shops, or a beer at Amager Ølhus.

Amager Nature Center – Take the metro to Vestamager, or cycle along the bike path to this large nature reserve where there are walking paths, as well as sheep and cows freely roaming. It is just outside the newly developed Ørestad region which features interesting architectural designs like BIG’s Figure 8 building.

Christianshavn

Founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally, it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from Dutch cities but it was soon incorporated into Copenhagen proper. Dominated by canals, it is the part of Copenhagen with the most nautical atmosphere. For much of the 20th century a working-class neighbourhood, Christianshavn developed a bohemian reputation in the 1970s and it is now a fashionable, diverse and lively part of the city with its own distinctive personality, with residents tending to see themselves first as Christianshavners and then as Copenhageners. Businessmen, students, artists, hippies and traditional families with children live side-by-side. Go get a coffee and pastry at Lagkagehuset and walk around the canals and moats.

 Danish Architecture Center – This center often has interesting exhibitions, and also has a café with great views along the harbour.

 Church of Our Saviour – This church is famous for is spiral spire, which you can walk up for a great view of the city. If you are afraid of heights, it might not be for you! It can also be a bit scary on a windy day. The baroque interior of the church is also lovely and worth a peek in as well.

Christiania – Also known as “Freetown Christiania” is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood, that was once an old military area that was originally taken over by squatters in the 70’s.  It is now a bit of a hippie oasis, with open marijuana trade on “Pusher Street”,  which is safe and friendly, but don’t take pictures here. It is worth a walk around the large moat to see all the self-built homes and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere.

 Papirøen – A part of the industrial harbour newly opened to the public, this tiny island houses artist studios and galleries along with the Experimentarium (a great place to go with kids) and the large Street Food Market, with stall and stalls of great food in old shipping containers. A great place to go on a sunny day.

Copenhagen K

Is what we call downtown Copenhagen. This is where you’ll find the longest pedestrian street of the world “Strøget” with a lot of small shops, big department stores and a lot of tourists. However, you should definitely explore the smaller, parallel streets where you’ll find the real Copenhagen.

Nyhavn – One of the most visited places in Copenhagen. The canal was dug by hand in the 1870’s and is definitely a place you should spend an afternoon in the sun with all the other tourists and natives. Enjoy a beer at one of the many sidewalk restaurants looking at the more than 300 year old buildings, in some of which the famous writer H.C. Andersen lived for more than 20 years. Nyhavn is also the place where you find the canal boats that take you around Copenhagen. If it is nice weather you should really spend an hour on the water, but take the one called Netto-bådene as these are a lot cheaper but just as good as “DFDS canal tours”.

Skuespillehuset – Another impressive architectural gem, the new theater along the harbour, next to Nyhavn. Go here for a drink at night, where the large glass windows make you feel like you are sitting out on the water. The patio is also a nice place to eat an ice cream on a sunny day and to enjoy the views of the harbour.

 Amalienborg – The palace and property of the royal Danish family, counting 4 mansions. One has recently been renovated for the Crown Prince and Princess, Frederik & Mary. Visit to see the  view with the Marble Church at one side and the new Opera at the other.

Danish Museum of Art & Design – Showcases all the greats of Danish design. They also have interesting temporary exhibitions, on things like textile design or record designs, and also have an impressive of German and Chinese design in their permanent collection. There is a nice café and courtyard too.

The Little Mermaid –To be honest, there is not much to see, but if you really want to see her, the best way is from the canal tours, see “Nyhavn”. Otherwise it’s not really worth a special trip, unless you really want a photo with her.

Kongens Have and Botanisk Have – Take a break from all the shopping and other tourists, if the weather is good, then take a break with many of the Copenhageners that often meets in The King’s Garden. After the break, you should find your way to the Botanic Garden, take a stroll between all the amazing flowers from all over the world and smell the exotic flowers in the giant greenhouse.

 Illums Bolighus – An interior design mecca – one big department store where you’ll find everything you need for a designer home. Here you can explore everything from Georg Jensen to Arne Jacobsen, in other words, all the jewels of Scandinavian design. All of it are new originals, so remember your wallet, nothing comes cheap here.

Hay House – Has only existed for a few years, but is already popular internationally. In the shop you can find a lot of furniture but there is also something for you if you are looking for small, special things for your home – from designer pillows and towels to wall clocks and vases.

Stilleben – A small shop which has specialized in ceramics, glassware and décor from both Danish and foreign artists. Another great example why you should not only stay on the main shopping street, Strøget, but walk in the small parallel streets.

Royal Copenhagen + The Royal Café – The flagship store of the world famous Royal Copenhagen porcelain. If you are lucky, you might catch a demo of how the hand painted designs are done. Attached is The Royal Café where they serve “smushi” (small sized open faced sandwiches) and great pastries on their collection of porcelain. Also has lovely, quiet courtyard seating where you can escape from the crowds on the walking streets.

The National Museum – Free, and with it’s huge collection of Viking artifacts, is more than worth a visit. Would be a good place to go with kids, or is also a good place to spend a rainy afternoon.

Te a la Menthe – A brightly decorated Moroccan café serving delicious food and fresh mint tea. A nice antidote to all the clean, neutral Scandinavian design. There are two locations just around the corner from each other, so if there isn’t room in one, try the other.

Ruby’s – End your day with the best cocktails in town. If you don't find what you like on the menu, just talk to talented bartenders who will come up with a special drink with ingredients you like. Go check out the library like room in the bottom floor.

Cocks and Cows – There isn’t a ton of great places to eat right downtown, but this place is fast and good, and serves traditional American diner food like burgers, milkshakes and onion rings. Also has an extensive cocktail list, hence the name.

 Café Retro – Closed for most of the summer, but very cozy in the colder months thanks to the large fireplace, this non-profit café is run by volunteers and sells goods made by the artisans they support in Sierra Leone.

Ny Carlsberg Glypotek – French and Danish art and sculptures in amazing surroundings. Look at the amazing ceilings and eat your lunch and nice cakes in the café in the big winter garden.

Tivoli – A big and very historic amusement park that is great for all ages. Enjoy strolling around the gardens, go on some rides and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the park’s restaurants.

Studiestræde – A small, slightly hipster street that you could easily spend an entire afternoon exploring. Record shops, lots of second hand shops and cafes. Some favourites are the Twin Peaks themed Log Lady Café (open later in the afternoon and into the evening),  and The Donut Shop serving the best donuts in Copenhagen. Also some nice wine bars around here.

La Glace – An old fashioned, traditional cake and sweet shop. They make and serve the best and biggest layered cakes, and macarons. 

Barburrito – Small, with a bar-like atmosphere, this place serves tasty Mexican street food along with margaritas and 90’s pop hits. You might want to make a reservation, otherwise you can end up waiting a while, unless you want to sit at the bar.

Torvehallerne – This is a must-do while in Copenhagen. Two covered food halls encapsulate all the best to eat and drink in the city. This is a good place to try the best beer (Mikkeller) along with a famous open faced sandwich (smørrebrød). Also a nice place to pick up fresh, local and seasonal produce to make a meal at home.

Nørrebro

Nørrebro is the most diverse part of town; here you will find everything. This is where you can get the best kebabs and falafels . Walk around Elmegade and Ravnsborggade to find vintage clothing stores and secondhand design shops. Sit in the sun at Skt. Hans Torv and sample beer from Nørrebro Bryghus.

Dronning Louises Bro – In the summer months, this bridge from the city center to Nørrebro is packed with people drinking beers and listening to music. You can walk around the lakes, or better yet, rent a swan boat and pedal around on the water.

Blågårdsgade – A pedestrian only street with tons of great cafes and shops. Cafe N serves amazing vegetarian food and juices and Værkstedet features goods made by local artists and designers.

Assistens Cemetery – Hard to miss this place from the famous yellow walls surrounding it. Although it’s a cemetery, it functions more like a park, and is always packed with people and families going for a stroll. You can also spot the resting places of famous Danes like Hans Christian Andersen, and Søren Kirkegaard.

Jægersborggade – Further into Nørrebro is another small street packed with great restaurants, cafes and shops. Relæ is a favourite New Nordic style restaurant, started by chefs that worked at Noma (the world’s best restaurant). There is also Grød, a place that only serves different kinds of porridge, and Coffee Collective, which serves what is arguably the best coffee in the city.

Superkilen – Again even farther into Nørrebro to the border of Nordvest, this large urban park is designed in collaboration with a group of artists and architects to celebrate diversity. It’s very unique and definitely worth a visit.

Kind of Blue + Gilt – Great places for a drink at the end of a day of exploring. Kind of Blue often has live jazz or poetry readings, and Gilt has a cozy, cabin type feel.

 Vesterbro

In Vesterbro you will find the meatpacking district of Copenhagen, which within the last few years has been renovated into a the trendy place to be at night, with some of the city's best clubs and restaurants. Take a walk down the old red light district, Istedgade, to visit the designer and second hand shops and end your day with drinks or dinner at one of the many places near Halmtorvet.

Designer Zoo – If you want something unique you should visit Designer Zoo. This is a shop and workspace for different designers, who produce furniture, glassware, ceramics, etc.

Bang & Jensen – A Vesterbro institution serving brunch and coffee, and turns into a popular bar at night.

Halmtorvet – Plenty of great places to eat around here. Some favourites are: Pate Pate (wine bar), Mother (pizza), Fiskebaren (seafood), Foderbrættet (gourmet hot dogs) and WarPigs (bbq & brew pub).  Everyone usually ends of at either Jolene or Bakken at the end of the night to dance.

Værnedamsvej – A small street in the part of Vesterbro that borders on Frederiksberg, is known as the ”French street”, with tons of little speciality shops for wine, cheese, flowers, and home decor. There is also a great cafe called Granola on the corner which and serves good brunch and lunch.

Østerbro

This is where you find a lot of somewhat posh, young families.  Østerbro is also the home of many embassies. It is generally quieter and more residential. Grab a coffee and start your day with a walk around the city lakes or in the big park “Faelledparken”, then head to Nordre Frihavnsgade to check out some of the nice clothing stores  

Frederiksberg

This part of town is not actually a part of Copenhagen, but is surrounded by it – a small city in the city. It is definitely a part of the city that many don't get out to, but you should spend a day here checking out the zoo and the beautiful Frederiksberg park if you have the time.

Outside of Copenhagen

 Lousiana – One of our favourite day trips. This modern art museum is located about 45 mins up the coast, and has great views across the ocean to Sweden. There are always interesting exhibitions, and the building itself is impressive in the way it blends art, architecture and landscape. Great café and gift shop too.

 Dyrehaven – A large forest park north of the city noted for it’s ancient oak trees and large population of deer. It is close to the beach, and there is also an amusement park (actually the world’s oldest), making it a good outing for kids as well as adults.

 Arken – Contemporary art museum south of Copenhagen, housed in a large modern building resembling a ship. The collection features many Scandinavian artists. The marshlands surrounding it are a nice place to go for a walk as well.