A Fjord ing Scandinavia

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While most people are avoiding cold destinations in the dead of winter, Patrick and I decided Scandinavia in February was a great idea. For one, we usually do stay away from what other people do. We’re not exactly trendsetters, more-so bargain hunters. With Pat potentially coming to the US in March, we needed a destination to meet in the "middle" – somewhere between NYC and London.

After finding a bargain deal on a flight, Copenhagen became the destination. While known to be more expensive than most European spots, we planned to use the advantage of a cheap flight along with eating in and staying cozy in Airbnbs throughout the trip. Still, it was not cheap.

Scandinavian's prized herring

Scandinavian's prized herring

This should not take away from how gorgeous both Denmark and Norway are, however. We were there in the off-season for tourists, making it feel a bit more secluded and definitely less hectic. It added to our lazy holiday vibe, which we enjoyed. Most days were spent waking up late, grabbing unexpectedly great coffee at a local café, wandering around, stumbling upon a good bar or lunch spot, and even having an occasional nap. True vacations are restful after all, right?

On certain days we did plan outings. For instance on our last full day in Copenhagen, we took the train less than an hour away to a city recommended by our Airbnb host. The city was Helsingor, a quaint little port town with a castle, cobblestone streets, and again, delicious coffee. From Helsingor we went about 20 minutes by train to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, named after the original property owner who had wed three separate women all named Louise. The museum is situated in an old house, right on the edge of the sea. It was styled in the typical Danish Modern architecture, and housed some interesting exhibits, including a current one on the ceramics of Picasso. I would definitely recommend the day trip if you have the time while venturing through Denmark.

"When Louisiana opened its doors in 1958, ...it was Knud W. Jensen's vision to create a museum with soul, where the public could encounter artwork – not as something pretentious, but rather something that spoke directly to the viewer...From the start, Louisiana's exhibition practices followed the tradition at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which in the first half of the twentieth century had become famous – and notorious – for expanding the range of modern art to include architecture, design, photography, film and other genres". 

The food in Copenhagen was unbelievably good. It is so rare to find bad food that it will live on in my heart as one of the most foodie cities I’ve ever visited.

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Our best meal had to have been at Host, a restaurant I’d found out about simply by doing extensive research weeks before. Meaning, yes, I curated our days around when we could eat at certain places. Started by a former Noma chef, the venue is made up of dimly lit, minimalist, white-washed walls, retro Edison bulb lamps, potted plants and twiggy vases, rustic wooden tables, as many Danish restaurants seemed to be decorated.

Høst is the Danish word for harvest. As the name reveals, great Nordic ingredients and seasonal greens sets the agenda at Høst—served with a sense of both the rustic and the elegant, and always with big flavors.

Høst has won several International design awards, among them Worlds’ Best Designed Restaurant at Restaurant & Bar Design Awards and World’s Most Beautiful Restaurant in American travel magazine Travel + Leisure.

Copenhagen, Denmark: Top 3 Places to Eat

1.      Kroyers

2.      Warpigs

3.      Host

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Coffee

Coffee Collective (in Torvehallerne Market)

Casual

Torvehallerne Market – fish section with salads, bakery, coffee

I Love Fisk- Fried fish cake

Hija de Sanchez- super casual, small tacos by former Noma chef

Ma’ad Ethiopian – the only “cheap eats” we really found (delicious, too!)

Kroyers – tartines and AWESOME coffee

Christianshavns Faergecafe – herring and smorrebord

La Tigella- Italian, cozy, romantic

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Fancy

Host- Noma-style dishes, local ingredients, impeccable plating, unbelievably good

Ralae – recommended, didn’t visit

Noma

Attractions

Day Trip to Helsingor

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Bars

Warpigs – American BBQ and craft brews

Soernes Ol – craft beers, cave atmosphere

Barking Dog – quirky cocktail bar

Olsnedkeren – craft beers and games

La Fontaine – jazz club (Sunday jam sesh)

Not Your Mothers – low key wine bar owned by American (tastings, cheap, buzzy)

 

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An Austinsibly Texan City

Barton Springs vibes

Barton Springs vibes

Last weekend four of us finally made it to the ever-trending Austin. It was my first time in Texas, and way too short, but I LOVED IT!! As 90% of our Uber drivers reminded us, however, Austin is very different from the rest of Texas. But still, I had the best time eating all the barbecue and meeting the friendliest people.

Speaking of Ubers, every driver we had (and we had many as it's not a walkable city), was eager to speak with us, hear about our adventures in the city, and happy to provide more than enough recommendations for our short trip there. Two of us were coming from DC, while the other two were coming from New York City. To say the least, we were not used to this geniality from strangers.

While we've been keen to visit Austin, what really made us finally pull the trigger and book it all was a J Cole concert. He was playing in NYC and DC, but on Mondays and Tuesdays- just not ideal for us hard-working young professionals (lol). So when we found out he was playing in Austin on a Saturday, it just made sense. It also didn't hurt that we found Southwest flights from LGA for under 20k miles. (FYI that's the equivalent of only half the bonus miles you'd receive from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Meaning just on the bonus miles alone, you've got more than 1 roundtrip flight under your belt). DONE!

Long Weekend in Austin

1. Eat the barbecue, obviously

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Before arriving, everyone told us about Franklin's, but they also warned us about the 8am get-in-line-to-wait-until-it-opens-at-10am deal. Since we only had 3 full days in the city, we thought this might be wasting our exploring time. So we asked our Uber, which became a trend, and he recommended Terry Black's. It was the best brisket I've ever had. They also have this magical system where the sides are served buffet style in containers from a flimsy little paper plate to pint-size styrofoam cups, whichever you choose.

2. Eat the tacos

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Another successful recommendation was for breakfast tacos (or normal) at Torchey's. Beware they are not the normal-sized tacos you are thinking. "Everything is bigger in Texas"

3. If you are TRULY here for the experience, disregard your waistline and get the queso at Kerbey's

Somehow I didn't take a pic of the queso - RARE - so here are the REAL mimosas

Somehow I didn't take a pic of the queso - RARE - so here are the REAL mimosas

It is guacamole topped with queso. Yes, what dreams are indeed made of. Equally as important, they have $2 mimosas. I had to interrogate the poor waiter to truly understand that these were real, prosecco-infused orange juice drinks. They were, and the $2 glasses soon turned into $12 pitchers. WHATALIFE!

4. Rainey Street

The Rainey Street Historic District is a strip of historic homes in downtown Austin that have been converted into bars and restaurants. Go here. Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

5. Airbnb over Hotels, as usual

We had one of the best Airbnb hosts I've had to date! Alexis had dozens of little amenities, from snacks and bagels, to shampoo and conditioner, to a few courteous check-ins to see if all was alright or if we needed any additional reccs. We were in the university campus section of the city, which seemed to be 10 minutes away from everything. I would 100% stay there again!

6. Barton Springs

It was nearly 100 degrees while we were there so this natural springs pool was a blessing. $8 for non-residents, and they do have credit card machines in case you don't have ca$h money.

7. HOPE Outdoor Gallery

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We attempted to endure the deathly heat for a bit to check out the HOPE Outdoor Gallery in downtown Austin. The graffiti park is actually an educational projected managed by a non-profit group (HOPE Events) and started back in 2011. It was "developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging". I recommend checking it out, just don't be like Sameea and sit down on anything because spray paint sticks to everything. Including your bum. 

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8. Live music

I WENT TO A HONKY TONK! And I've never seen a banjo played so fast in my life. However, do not be like me and request the song Honky Tonk Badonkadonk by Trace Adkins while at The White Horse. No matter how many Texas Mules you've consumed. (Hilarious song, though)

There is live music everywhere in Austin - not just honky tonks - and an overall cool, funky vibe throughout the city.

10. Purple 'Ritas

Photo courtesy Baby A's insta. 0 points redeemed 

Photo courtesy Baby A's insta. 0 points redeemed 

Next door to the Picnic Food Truck Park, is Baby Acapulco, the Mexican restaurant home to the Purple 'Rita. At least that's what the sign said, so we took a gamble. Apparently, these margaritas are so strong you're only allowed to be served 2. The bartender happily explained to us his point system: Normal drinks are worth 1 point each, but the purple 'ritas are worth 3. Your maximum point expenditure is 6. And yes, for the record, they are STRONG. We each had 1 and split 2 more and were giggling our way to the J Cole Concert...

Overall Austin was a city I could vibe with, and I definitely recommend a visit. I know I'll be back, for longer next time, very soon!

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