How many layers do you think I wore today? Think about it. Bear in mind that I am from Southern California where there is no such thing as seasons. Take a wild guess. Answer: five. Five layers of clothes. And I'm not talkin' just tank tops, I'm talking thermal layers, people. I don't know if you know this, but it's cold in Scandinavia in the dead of winter. And by cold, I mean I am struggling to type this as I sit nursing a cup of coffee in my hostel after my free walking tour bc my hands have not fully defrosted yet. They may fall off, in which case my posts will become exponentially more interesting since I'll have to use talk-to-text in order to write anything, but I guess we can cross that bridge when we get to it.
I have come to the conclusion that traveling alone is one of my favorite things to do. If you know me, you probably wouldn't expect something like that to come out of my mouth considering I never stop talking (like literally ever) and I am potentially the most sociable person I know. So why do I love it? Because when you travel alone, you never actually end up alone.
My time in Copenhagen is a perfect example of why solo travel is so incredible. It all started with cabbage salad. Maybe not the intro you expected, but when I returned to the hostel after my two hour jaunt exploring the inner city, I brought with me a small chicken/cabbage salad whose flavor was *lacking*, to say the least. My pathetic excuse for a meal delighted Federico and Leonardo, the two best friends from Italy in the bunks next to me, and the sass was real with these two. All it took was a joke at my expense and a smile from Fede before we were chatting about everything from my gluten intolerance (I had to explain the cabbage situation) to our plans for the night. I told them I intended to sleep considering I'd just traveled for 15 hours and my body was making that very clear, but they were having none of it. They invited me and another one of our dorm-mates, Josh, to have drinks at the hostel bar downstairs before heading to meet some friends of theirs who are living in the city and working as street performers. I'd like to say it took some convincing, but all it really took was Fede promising to sing a song upon our arrival (the gathering was kind of like an open-mic night for the street performers of Copenhagen) and I was in. A few drinks at the bar and we were on our way! Funnily enough, the second we walked in the door of the pub, someone shouted at Fede to sing a song, and seeing as he is the most incredibly uninhibited person I know, he took no time saying yes. He sang a beautiful Italian song that I didn't have to understand in order to enjoy, and soon found his way over to where we sat to listen to the rest of the performers. Honestly, it was an amazing night. It was one of those situations where you're not sure how you got so lucky to be where you are but you're going to enjoy the serendipitous series of events that got you there for as long as you can. It was a very intimate setting but at no stage did I feel anything but welcome, despite not really knowing anyone in the room. We drank and talked and listened and enjoyed and sang along until the early hours of the morning before making our way back to the hostel for the night.
The next morning, Fede and Leo invited me to join them for the day. Considering I had no real plan, and knowing how much I enjoyed their company, I didn't hesitate to say yes. We went down for the all you can eat breakfast our hostel was serving as soon as I was finished getting ready - mind you I only took about 4 minutes more than the boys but they had no problem complaining in the most sarcastic way possible that I was the slowest person they had ever met. We made a plan for the day over breakfast, and by plan I mean we looked at the map and decided to wander with a purpose. The boys and I agreed that when you have nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there, it's best to just appreciate wherever your feet take you. We visited everything from beautiful parks to Christmas markets to neighborhoods without laws as we laughed and sang our way through the city. I say sang bc the boys would hear any given phrase and think of a song it reminded them of which resulted in them immediately bursting out into song (**what they say about Italians is true, by the way - they're loud as hell and I love it). Fede and Leo were the perfect reminder that the only opinions you should care about are those of the people that matter to you, something they demonstrated by their unhindered confidence and willingness to make me feel as comfortable around them as they felt around each other. We headed back to the hostel for a nap and a hot shower to fend off the frostbite before grabbing dinner. On our walk back, we rapidly realized that this was not a city for partying. In fact, Copenhagen more or less shut down after 10pm, and it was actually pretty wonderful. We meandered through the streets in awe of the peaceful silence that settled upon the city at night, appreciating the novelty of such a large city being so quiet. By then I had forgotten what it meant to be shy and I walked down the street singing just as loudly as they did while we wandered the adorably decorated streets on our way back to the hostel. We weren't quite ready to go to bed so we decided to play a game whose name is either nonexistent in general or just unknown to me, but the premise is as follows: two people say a word and then both try to think of a word related to both words that were just spoken and so on until both people end up on the same word, but the trick is to think of the next word as quickly as possible. It sounds strange, but it was actually so much fun, and it was really neat to enjoy something so pure and relaxed with such incredible people.
The next morning it was assumed that I would be joining the boys again for the day - they didn't even ask, they just told me to hurry the hell up and get ready - something that made me feel very welcome and happy (despite the astonishingly high levels of sass). We enjoyed another all you can eat breakfast at the hostel where Leo drank all the orange juice they had in store and Fede turned his yogurt and granola into a glue-like substance with all the granola he added. It was another day of wandering, this time to new and beautiful places like botanical gardens and food markets and burger joints with every kind of Christmas music you can imagine (the good and the bad). We did our best to stick to exclusively free/cheap attractions and eateries bc Copenhagen is expensive as all hell and none of us are living in the lap of luxury so there's no need to spend $30 on a plate of freakin' food. The boys spent the day proving repeatedly that they had absolutely no filter, nor did they want one. They also didn't hesitate to teach me all the important Italian phrases that no respectable lady would ever say.. so it's lucky I'm not a lady. Next time I'm in Italy I have all the right vernacular to offend any Italian in the vicinity - yay cultural sensitivity - but for now they settled for sending their friends videos and recordings of me shouting obscenities at them in their native language. Yes, we are children. No, we do not care. 17 kilometers of walking, 10 almost-falls from Fede who is so focused on the world around him that he doesn't pay attention to the ground he's walking on, several blisters, and more repeititions of "porco dio" than I even thought possible, we made it back to the hostel. Leo headed upstairs to call his girlfriend (with whom he is madly in love in the most precious way possible) while Fede and I enjoyed chats over drinks. Eventually we had to call it a night bc the boys had to be up at 7am for a train to Stockholm, so this morning I woke up to see them off and wish them safe travels. If we're lucky maybe I'll make it out to visit them in Milan before I head to Southeast Asia, I'll keep you updated.
My day today was much less exciting without my newfound travel companions, but I made do by waking up early and repacking my overflowing bags before heading down to breakfast and joining the three hour free walking tour of Copenhagen offered through the hostel. On the way, I met a few girls from Germany, Israel and Michigan who were all traveling solo as well, so we spent the rest of our afternoon touring the city and chatting back at the hostel until it was time for me to make my way to the airport - which I got to without any help, by the way. My time in Copenhagen was short and sweet, but I can tell you with the utmost certainty that there is a reason it was voted one of the happiest and most livable places in the world. I began this eight month adventure just a few days ago, but I truly couldn't imagine a better way to start.
As for right now, only a few more hours stand between me and my best friend being reunited, and this time we're finally in Europe at the same time! It only took us 10 years... but we made it happen. For now, however, I think I'll take a nap - the boys kept me too busy for rest and if I don't catch up on my sleep I'm not sure I'll make it off the plane.
So until next time, lovelies!
P.S. I owe you an explanation on the title of this post considering it looks like I got drunk and made up my own word. Over the course of this trip I learned that the Danes use the word "hyggeli" to mean the ultimate level of coziness or comfort or happiness, and honestly I can't think of a more fitting word to describe my time in Copenhagen with the incredible company I had. I think I'll be incorporating this word into my vocabulary (if I can manage to pronounce it correctly) because first off it'll make me seem all cultured and worldly or whatever and secondly, what an awesome word, right?
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)