Week 194: Eurovision then The Hague

We made Eurovision and then head to The Netherlands for a house sit for a few days.

Week 194: Eurovision then The Hague
We made it to Eurovision!

Sunday morning we headed to the local bakery and instead of our usual pancakes, bought a selection of danishes. There's a word in Denmark (and other Nordic countries) fika, which means to enjoy a pastry and coffee. We've been doing a LOT of fika the last week and with Ella and Inge arriving, we wanted to have some ready to go.

It was quite the spread and we were delighted to see them again (last time was about 4 months ago in Athens at Christmas). Once we had fika'd up, we headed into the city to do some walking and tour around. We started with the Design Museum Denmark, which was a little bit of a disappointment – the main section we wanted to visit on modern furniture was closed, and it was more random displays of modern art. Okay, but not worth the entrance fee.

From there we wandered to Nyhavn, the "new port" where there are colorful buildings, lots of tourists and Danish hotdogs to enjoy. We kept walking further through the city and ended up at the Christiansborg Palace, which is home to the King and Queen (Queen Mary from Australia, of course!) and the Danish Parliament.

The palace was a real highlight, and we loved touring the reception rooms, which were very grand and ornate with lots of over-the-top decoration. Denmark is a very law-abiding country—we wandered all through the palace, and unlike other places we've been, where there would be a guard in every room, there was virtually none. At best, there was a small plaque saying, "Don't touch," and no one did!

You notice it walking around the city, too. Danes wait for the traffic lights to change. They stick to the speed limit. There's no graffiti. Everything is clean and, at times, almost a bit sterile!

After the palace, we headed back home, enough walking for one day. We enjoyed a platter of meats, fruit, bread and cheese for dinner and chilled out in the apartment.

On Monday, after a small sleep-in, we visited the neighbourhood of Nørrebro, which is a trendy, up-and-coming location. Ella remarked that Karina and I take our fika a bit too seriously and that our visiting cities seem to consist of me wandering around and searching for the next best coffee shop to visit. Which is true! In Nørrebro, we found a nice Mexican-themed restaurant that was doing San Francisco Mission-style Mexican food, and we found some great dishes to enjoy – some of the better Mexican we've had since leaving SF.

We caught the metro from Nørrebro to the Kastellet where we walked around the fort, saw lots of native birds and stopped off to see the Little Mermaid statue (why not, we had some time to kill). From there, we walked back to the city centre, enjoyed more fika and then caught a boat tour that cruised around the canals for Copenhagen.

A small boat tour of Copenhagen Harbour

The boat left from the public dock, and both Karina and I felt a bit sad when we saw the boats visiting the port – we'd love to have brought Matilda up here one day, but unfortunately, that's not going to happen now. After the boat tour, it was home again, a pizza for dinner and relaxation in front of the TV, off to bed, ready for Malmo and Eurovision on Tuesday.

From our apartment, it was only a ten-minute walk to the train station, which ran to the airport, and from there, the train went over the bridge directly to Malmo. We headed into the city centre and walked around, exploring as we went. We found a good spot for fika, we admired some old buildings, and we walked through some gardens and by the old windmill. Eventually, we headed to the Eurovision village and walked through that, but it was very quiet and really set up for parties in the evening.

Ella and Inge had secured us tickets for the semi-final one rehearsal. Eurovision is a live broadcast show, so there are a few rehearsals to make sure everything runs smoothly (and that fans can see it even if they can't get tickets to the main event). The rehearsal runs exactly as the main show and we were amazed and impressed at the speed with which they rearranged the sets between acts.

Being the rehearsal, there's no live voting, but even that is simulated. The one main difference between the rehearsal and the live show is that the votes are faked, and the post-vote interviews and footage of the winners are filled in with floor crew who were hamming it up and having a great time.

Our semi-final was apparently the weaker one, but we still saw what I'm fairly confident will be one of the winners (Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, and Ukraine). It was a fun event, and we all enjoyed it—a bit of a dream, something we've been planning to do together for about three years now. Finally, we were able to get the tickets!

Wednesday morning, we waved goodbye to Ella and Inge and flew south to The Netherlands for a house sit in The Hague. We're currently enjoying ourselves pet-sitting a delightful cat named Stipie and exploring this city.

Karina is particularly delighted to be here. All her childhood treats from her grandparents are available in the supermarkets. The wash basin is at the right height (Dutch people are generally quite tall), and she loves walking down the street and not being the tallest woman in sight.

Thursday we just relaxed a bit, Friday I did a lot of writing while Karina explored the city and today we spent time in the center of The Hague together.

It's been a busy but fun week, and this week will be equally packed. We're going to relocate to an Airbnb south of Rotterdam. Hopefully, we'll catch up with a couple of friends, and we'll also drive to Ypres in Belgium to visit a barge.

Until next time,

Tim & Karina.