Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A long weekend in Copenhagen

Copenhagen was voted the world's most liveable city in 2014 and once you're there it's easy to see why. Even the most 'conservative' of voters in our travelling party came away from the trip thinking a 55% tax rate could be worth it if your city was as beautiful, clean and just downright liveable as Copenhagen is.

We spent 3 nights, four days over Easter in this beautiful city with almost 20 pals from London spread amongst 4 AirBnB apartments. Below are a few highlights I have compiled for anyone jetting off there soon.

  • We stayed in an AirBnB apartment opposite Frederiksberg metro. 
  • The apartment was amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It sleeps 7 and looks like it is straight of a pinterest board. No idea how a family with two children can live in such a cool & immaculately decorated house, but we felt equally as cool staying there. Check it out here
  • In terms of location, anywhere near a metro is great. 

  • Copenhagen is very cycle friendly with cycle lanes throughout and very flat. Hiring a bike is a great way to get around.
  • Before you go google some bike hire places near your accommodation to make hiring easy & check opening hours.
  • I can't recall to the £ how much we paid for bikes, but I think around £12 - £15 for a day. If I went back I would hire one for the entire duration of my stay though.

  • We bought a 72 hour pass for transport (train & bus) which we definitely got our use out of. If the weather is good and you're hiring a bike for the duration this may not be a good value option though.


Overall the food in Copenhagen was amazing, get excited.
  • Torvehallerne Market is a must visit (if not multiple visit) for everyone. There is a big selection of food on offer including mouth watering smorrebrod, bahn mi, tacos, wood-fired pizza, a delicious cheese shop (get the creamy blue - I voted this one better than Kikorangi Blue from NZ which is a big call for any blue cheese lover). There's heaps of outdoor seating and a couple of bars so it's great for a lunchtime pitstop.
  • We had brunch at a cafe called Granola one morning which was authentically Danish. We ordered the granola and would only recommend doing so if you're ordering an additional dish as the portion was child size.
  • Copenhagen Street Food Market - the food wasn't as good as Torvehallerne, but there was a bar & good music and it's right on the water. Great spot in the sunshine also.
  • Coffee - We had some fantastic coffee from both: The Coffee Collective & another cafe in Torvehallerne market. It's expensive at around 400KN but well worth it.
  • Our apartment was opposite a bagel shop and there seemed to be a lot dotted around the city. We had some delicious filled ones from the shop near our house.

Other recommended places we didn't get to but heard great things about:
  • Istid - ice cream parlour where you select your flavour & they make the ice cream in front of you using dry ice. 
  • Mother - Pizza restaurant in the meatpacking district
  • Gorilla - also in the meatpacking district
  • Mirabelle Cafe - in Norrebro, the sticky cardamon bun was recommended 
  • Madklubben & Gran Torino
  • Grod - Porridge Cafe 

Writing these out has made me seriously want to go back!

Smorrebrod at Torvehallerne


  • Although touristy, a beer in the sun in Nyhavn is just delightful.
  • Mikkeller & Friends - microbrewery
  • Jolene - a fairly grimy bar in Vesterbro - the meat packing district, industrial feel - we had a fun night out here. There are a few bars & restaurants in the area it is in so definitely worth checking out.

  • There are so many design and homeware stores to explore and fall in love with. Although we didn't get to visit it, the Hay design store in the centre of Copenhagen is apparently fantastic.
  • There was a huge mall opposite our apartment in Fredriksberg but it was closed all Easter weekend. To be honest I don't think there were any shops we don't have in London in there so I would focus on the small boutiques dotted around.
  • The Acne Outlet store had some great bargains & is definitely worth a visit. Address is: Elmegade 21, 2200 København N, Denmark

Day trip to Louisiana Gallery

  • One of the highlights of our visit was a day trip we took out to Louisiana.
  • You'll need a different train ticket than your metro pass as this is 30min out of town. We bought our tickets & departed from Norreport station which is near Torvehallerne Market.
  • The exhibitions were amazing, and the gallery sits on a cliff overlooking a beach so a stunning outlook.
  • Smorrebrod from the cafe were delicious & the gift shop has a lot of great posters for sale.
  • We also got free posters at one of the exhibitions we visited there so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Trip Advisor page here

Canal Tour

  • It was a great way to see the city from a different perspective. 
  • The Netto tour is half the price of the standard boats.
  • You can catch this one in Nyhavn and the jetty is only 50m or so away from the nicely branded, expensive boat tour place. 
  • Make sure you get a seat on the edge of the boat (window seat) for better viewing!
  • The Little Mermaid statue is one of the tour drive-bys - definitely underwhelming, it's tiny! I could barely see it!

  • This is a hippy / free-town within central Copenhagen.
  • We went on a sunny afternoon and had beers from Nemoland on a bank overlooking a lake - just delightful.
  • Weed is available to purchase via masked men in the area. Although this is still technically illegal, the police turn a blind eye to this area.
  • Some people told us not to go to this area at night as it was dangerous. There were a few odd people about but overall a friendly, chilled vibe.
  • We didn't explore the whole of Christiania - but the apartment we stayed in had a book which included photographs of some of the amazing houses there. If I went back a walk into the depths of the area would definitely be on the cards. 
  • You can do walking tours of the area, but it pays to plan and book ahead.

  • A walk through Assistens Kirkegarden is nice on a sunny day 
  • Dome of Visions - a glass / glass like dome building on the water front which we stopped off at on our bikes one day. Inside there was a bondage ritual going on as part of an art performance. Definitely worth stopping and and investigating.
  • This guide has some great suggestions too - click here

Enjoy & feel free to add any additional recommendations in the comments.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Glastonbury Packing List

With the best weekend of your life fast approaching, I have put together a wee packing list to help you all with your organisation of the big event.

Please note this is not an exhaustive list where I have indicated the number of t-shirts required, rather a few items you may have otherwise forgotten.

Feel free to add any other items I may have forgotten in the comments.

Which bag to take?
  • One you can put on your back. The ground might not be muddy on your way in but it most definitely will be on your way out.

  • If you’re taking a tent it’s best to go for a small one to fit into gaps rather than trying to fit an 8 person tent somewhere.
  • Read the reviews before you purchase to ensure it's 100% waterproof.
  • When choosing a tent location, it is very important to consider:
  • Being on a hill (high) so that in case of flooding / mud you are relatively safe.
  • The paths that are mapped out expand over the weekend and turn into giant mud slides. One festival goer grabbed our tent at one point whilst screaming as she slid down the hill. Be as far into the non path area as possible. Example below.
  • Ensure you have a wee opening which is sheltered and you can leave your gumboots etc. in and take them off before getting into the tent.

  • Self-inflatable airbed (in-built pump)
  • Sleeping bag, it gets quite chilly at night
  • Sleeping bag liner if you have one
  • Travel pillow or small pillow you can fit into your bag

  • Rubbish sacks for putting dirty clothes and shoes/gumboots in
  • Some cash – there are ATMs on site but from memory there was big queues and a charge for withdrawals.
  • Phones – there was barely reception in 2014, but EE ran a service where you could buy a battery pack (about £20) and then swap it for a fully charged one whenever you ran out.
  • Snaplock bag for phone in case of heavy rain
  • Torch / Head torch for rummaging through your tent in the dark 
  • You'll receive a lanyard with a programme and lineup in it when you arrive.
  • Glastonbury has so many shops selling everything so if you do end up forgetting something, chances are you can buy it there.
  • Flags are a great way to find your friends. Meeting front left speaker is no longer possible when you have over 100,000 people to navigate through. These can also be bought on site.

  • Waterproof raincoat – like a really waterproof one.
  • Gumboots
  • Jandals
  • Knee high socks to stop gumboots rubbing on legs, you can also buy these on site.
  • Thin merino jumper is a good call to tie around waist and pop on when cold.
  • Sunglasses & sunglasses case
  • Earplugs & eye mask
  • PJs for being clean in your sleeping bag at night.

  • Face wipes
  • Baby wipes – if you’re in the general camping area a shower is a highly unlikely event. Your legs will be covered in mud and a pack of these is essential.
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper or even better mini packs of tissues to carry in pocket for use in the portaloos. There is no toilet paper in them, they're open-air.
  • Panadol & Nurofen
  • Berrocca
  • Compact mirror
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Plasters
  • Tooth brush & toothpaste

Food & Alcohol
  • You’re allowed to bring in alcohol but it must be in plastic bottles.
  • We didn’t find any ice in 2014 so be prepared for some warm drinks.
  • Plastic cups, utensil for mixing.
  • My favourite warm alcoholic beverage was Vodka & Cranberry. The Pims cocktail didn’t go down well at its 25 degree temperature. Something to consider when choosing spirits for the weekend.
  • There are bars throughout the festival selling cold beverages too.
  • Snacks are great to have on hand – nuts, lollies & chocolate.
  • Last year I made the mistake of taking Belvita breakfast biscuits. I can assure you there's nothing you want less than a dry biscuit when you wake up there. Nor any day to be fair.
  • Couple of bottles of coconut water.
  • The food stalls at Glastonbury were absolutely amazing last year and made every meal choice quite an ordeal.
  • Top pick in 2014 went to Buddha Bowls – vegetarian massaman curry with brown rice, halloumi on top and steamed greens. Just what you need after a night that ended at 7am.
  • Water taps are widely available throughout for water bottle top ups.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We arrived in freezing Reykjavik at 7am after a sleepless night on the plane from NYC and headed to the AirBnB room we'd booked downtown. Our host, Daniel greeted us with his two adorable Chihuahuas who became excellent companions. After some tea and coffee we had bundled up into the car, along with the dogs who sat on my lap, and were off to the nearest 'beach' so that the boys could experience sea swimming.

Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach was created in the city using imported sand, and uses geothermal heat from underground to heat the inlet - making swimming there more bearable than the rest of the channel. I tested this 'warmer' water with my hand, and can report that it was bloody cold and definitely not acceptable for swimming in. 

Daniel (our host) is quite the sea swimming enthusiast, as are a lot of Icelandic men. Him and his friends swim in this channel even in the winter - when the average sea temperature is approximately 3 degrees! He had one friend who made some sort of silly proclamation that he would swim once a day for an entire year, and reportedly used an axe to break up the ice in front of him during the middle of winter - absolutely crazy!

Once the obligatory lap of the lagoon was complete the boys made the usual progression up the beach, into warmer and warmer pools until reaching the natural jacuzzi at the top where I decided to join them. After a flight this was such a refreshing way to start the day, and this facility is open every day to the public - all free. Alex said he had never experienced the feeling of being that cold before, but almost considered going swimming again the next day too - loco!

The Icelandic people are a hardy lot. Daniel told us that whenever he thinks his life is getting tough he thinks back to his Grandmother who gave birth to triplets in Iceland's coldest winter on record, in a remote village that was often frequented by Polar Bears. During the birth in the freezing hut/igloo/house (can't remember!) the Grandfather stood guard with an axe in case one came looking. That winter they had 26 Polar Bears enter the village. 

Freezing cold + giving birth to triplets + polar bear threat = YOUR LIFE IS NOT HARD!

Bright red and freezing their asses off!

The duvet in our room at Daniel's house was one of the best duvets we have both ever experienced - heavy whilst being fluffy, scrunchy - but not too loud, and large enough to wrap around yourself without too many disagreements over who had more than the other. We managed to sleep for most of our first day in Reykjavik, luckily this is not too much of a concern when you're on holiday in Iceland in summer though - because it is daylight 24hrs a day. 

We spent the evening exploring downtown Reykjavik where I purchased an Icelandic beanie as I was unable to bear the cold, and watched a football game in one of the pubs. Whilst we came prepared with a big jacket each, I was unable to stop myself from browsing through the countless Icelandic Wool shops selling everything to get you through an Icelandic Winter comfortably. For a wool jumper, nice but not outstanding - you can expect to pay NZD$300 and up. I have no idea how the locals afford to clothe themselves, we didn't see any one item of clothing for under NZD $100 while we were there. A mango in Reykjavik was a whopping NZD $11, and strawberries $9 a punnet!

Iceland has their own version of yoghurt called 'Skyr'. It's super thick like a greek yoghurt, but very high in protein with virtually no fat. Quite delicious and we sampled quite a few different flavours during our time there. No idea why this healthy version of yoghurt hasn't reached distant shores as yet!

1.30am in Reykjavik

Day two of our stay coincided with the annual Viking Festival in a nearby town so we caught the bus there the next day to check it out. I would say approximately 75% of attendees were dressed in traditional viking attire (how do they all have this gear!?!) - and if you needed to suit up for the occasion there were a plethora of authentic Viking retailers showing the wares.

The 'Battlefield' hosted professional battles of about 30 or so adult vikings at a time, acting of course - but all real swords and weapons. And as soon as the adults were done the children would sprint out to begin their own battle. Their weapons were thankfully made on site at the workshop using only light MDF, but the children took these fights very seriously all the same. It is like fighting in a historically accurate way is a core part of the Icelandic upbringing, these kids had the moves - and when one 'died' they collapsed to the ground in a dramatic fall and lay motionless for about 5 seconds before rising and entering the battle once again.

Start them when they start walking
Excellent death

Viking Band in action

Enjoying his delicious Viking Wrap

Interesting: There are a lot of beautiful women in Iceland (they have won the Miss World competition 3 times), and according to a local magazine I read, this is potentially due to viking men stealing the world's most beautiful women taking them back to Iceland. 

The town hosting the Viking Festival is also home to a famous park where Elves and 'Hidden People' reside. As a lot of you will have noted from my Facebook post, over 50% of Icelanders believe in elves. We were lucky enough to stumble upon the resident elf expert when we arrived at the park and tried to eavesdrop on her guided tour. What we heard come out of her mouth was beyond bizarre. She said that the below photograph was the entrance to the elf church, and it is guarded by a dragon and his pet dog who is a friend to the elves. Of course she knows this because she met the dragon one day. Further lurking revealed that on other encounters with the elves, they had asked her to become their spokesperson - hence her guiding the tours of the park in a 'respectful' manner and printing books available in her elf shop with such titles as 'How to find an Elf'.

Sacred Elf Church entrance

Where are they?!

Appropriate tagging at the Elf Cafe

We hired a car for the next two days to explore the famous 'Golden Circle' - so trekked out to the rental office, aptly named 'Sad Cars' to pick up our beaten up Toyota Vitz and start exploring. Of course being on a budget meant that I wasn't allowed to add the GPS system to our package, and I was lumbered with a gigantic road map and many map-related disagreements ensued over those two days.

The weather really didn't put it on for us, it was pretty misty and cold during these two days unfortunately, but hiring a car was a great way to do it. The bus tours seem exorbitantly expensive (as is a lot of things in Iceland), and this way we could stop off wherever we wanted and take some of the less-travelled roads.

Stopped here as heaps of other cars had too, just some weird rock formations...

After being told off for driving down a walking only road feeling smug towards everyone who was walking in the rain
Very Game of Thrones like I thought

Standing in thick smelly sulfur mist

Geysir - 10 m or so high and blows every 10-15 minutes. The word Geysir (Geyser) is Icelandic did you know!? NZ got a mention on the info board here for having a wee geysir in Rotorua.

This is a picture of a photograph which captures þingvellir National Park (crack right through middle of the land). This is where the first two photographs were taken. The park lies between the tectonic plates of Europe and America, hence the huge rift.

Gullfoss - huge waterfall. Suprisingly Gullfoss means Golden Waterfall - think this may be an accurate name on a nice day, but it was a big Greyfoss the day we visited.

One of the stops on the official 'Golden Circle' tour is to a town that is home to a huge amount of greenhouses, where the majority of Iceland's fruit & vegetables are grown. These indoor methods are really the only way the country can produce fruit & veges throughout winter when there is scarcely any light. This may explain the exorbitant prices for all delicious fruit... 

The greenhouses are heated and lit with Iceland's geothermal energy, which is responsible for producing the heating and hot water requirements for approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. The hot shower does smell a little sulfur like, but their houses are super warm - and according to Daniel, the hot water/heat bills very small.

We're now in London and accidentally went into a Supermarket called 'Iceland' here (the Sainsbury's was right next door and we got the door wrong), and ironically here it is a brand renowned for it's super cheap prices on absolutely everything. Fittingly though there is a vast range of frozen goods on offer.

We spent our last day in Iceland at The Blue Lagoon - Iceland's most iconic tourist destination. Entry was 35 euros per person, so definitely on the pricey side of pool entry fees but after seeing so many amazing photographs of this place online I managed to convince Alex that it was well worth a visit from us.

Beautifying my face with the silica mud mask
Copy off Blue Lagoon Website: The Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. In the years that followed, people began bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Those with psoriasis noticed an incredible improvement in their condition. Over the years, Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing this gift of nature to develop different spa services and products. Today, Blue Lagoon is recognised as one of the wonders of the world.

We finished our driving tour off with some gravel road detours around the coast, beautiful black sand beaches and rugged coastlines.

We were off to London at 7am the next morning, and enjoyed a delicious free ice cream on board Iceland Air for breakfast to celebrate their 70th Birthday of Independence from Denmark.