10 October 2011


I have been to Copenhagen twice before.  Both times were visits by cruise ships.  We arrived for an evening and leave by lunch the next day.  I have done excursions in and around Copenhagen, but never really walked around and explored on my own.  This trip gave me a chance to do that, even though the whole trip centered on my restaurant reservation at noma.

Because it was cheaper, I took the night flight out on the day before I would normally leave for a holiday weekend trip overseas.  As such, the equipment was the older 777.  However, since I bought a discounted business class ticket, I could put in for an upgrade with miles and money.  Even though the cabin had only three seats taken, my upgrade had not cleared when I arrived at the airport.  I spoke with the counter agent and said I was surprised that it had not cleared yet, given the emptiness  I also whined a little about wanting to sit out the wait in the First Class Lounge.  She called up the seats, checked around a bit and then cleared my upgrade.  Well, not only did I want to sit in the FC Lounge, but I also wanted a real flat-bed seat.  I CAN sleep in the old business class seats, but since this was a night flight, I really wanted to get some quality sleep time (which I did).  I was surprised that the entire First cabin was filled by the time we departed from the gate.

I chose to stay at the Copenhagen Airport Hilton because that's the only one there and there was 24-hour Metro service.  Also, my return flight was going to leave at 5:45 am, so it would allow me a little less stress about getting to the airport at the appropriate time (so much easier when you can just walk there).

The Copenhagen Airport is nice looking, with wood floors and smart-looking shops.  The baggage signs were informative as it told us how long we would have to wait for the luggage delivery (about 10 minutes).  this gave me time to look for the nearest ATMs.

There were signs to the hotel right outside baggage claim, and it was an easy walk, totally protected form the weather.  I also passed the Metro station, so I knew where to go when I started my treks to the center of town (about 14 minutes).

The rooms at this very modern Hilton are nice, as is the Executive Lounge.  I think they gave me a slightly larger room because I'm a Diamond (it looks bigger on the fire escape floor plan).  Nice view of the Malmo bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden.

The Metro offers a 24-hour and 72-hour Zone 1-4 pass (airport is in Zone 4).  As I was going to have three full days in Copenhagen, the 72-hour [ass was perfect.  It took me a little while to figure out that there were only ticket machines (no attendant booths), and that they would only accept coins or cards for payment.

The Metro is totally automated (no drivers) and looks like a slightly larger air-train system.  The trains are about three cars long and are open all the way through on the inside.  They run about every six minutes to and from the airport most of the time.

My lunch at noma was not until Saturday, so I had most of Friday to sightsee.  I went to the top of this church spire where the last part is a spiral staircase outside of the structure.  I looked back at my old Copenhagen pictures, and I had taken a picture of it before as the tour bus was driving by.

I also went to the Rosenborg Castle (a small one), where they also house the Danish Treasury.

Just before leaving the U.S., I heard about a small restaurant started by an alumnus of noma.  The menu looked interesting and they had online reservations, so I managed to book a spot for Friday night.  It's called Relae.  There are two menus, one of which is a vegetable menu, so that makes it easy.  I could have had the regular menu, except I did not want to eat the raw beef and oysters starter.

Saturday was pretty much all about noma.  Lunch was scheduled for 12:30, I got there at about 12:20, and I left at 4:10, after experiencing the "long" menu.  The regular seven-course menu would have been fine, but the long menu offers more of a sampling of noma favorites that present traditional Nordic ingredients.  It was an amazing experience (which I have written up elsewhere).  There was a flurry of amuse bouches even before we started talking about the menu.  They are also very accommodating to sensitivity to ingredients.  I could have even given them my dislikes, but I decided that I wanted to see exactly what they wanted to offer.  I have no food allergies, but they did present some things that I normally would not eat (raw beef, a live shrimp, lots of mushrooms).  They also were the first place that I've been to that offers a juice menu in addition to wine pairings.

I was extremely full at the end.  I managed to stroll back to the Metro and ride back to my hotel, where I just laid down for a couple of hours.  After that, I felt good enough to move, although I would not have to eat for the rest of the day.  I went back on the subway and checked out the Copenhagen Casino for a few hours.  Even though there was an entrance fee and the minimum slot machine was 1 kroner (about 20 cents), it was still interesting and fun.

noma experience.  I went to the Christianborg area and Amalienborg area (both palace areas with museums).

Leaving the Copenhagen Airport was interesting. SAS handles all the Star Alliance ground staffing.  The entire check-in is automated -- you have to use a kiosk to get your boarding pass.  You then can go to a counter to check your bag (they open at 4:35am).  The process did work.  I was issued a single boarding pass for both my Lufthansa flight and United flight and could tell it that I wanted to check my bag all the way to SFO. 

Security was fast at that time of the morning.  Most of the stores were still closed, but Duty Free is always open.  There are no Star Alliance Lounges in Copenhagen, but through my American Express Priority Pass, I was able to access a lounge for a quick bite before boarding.

Small aside:  I never got a 3G signal in Copenhagen.  I did get 2G most of the time, but that also could be spotty.

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