This one is a recommendation for anyone looking for good value eating out in Aarhus. Hard to find in Denmark, but if you know the right places to go there are sneaky buffet’s everywhere with cheap prices. They often hook you be requiring an expensive drink purchase though.
Down a cheeky alleyway (actually it is on Frederiksgade) is an amazingly delicious all-you-can-eat Italian buffet for only 50kr – Den Bla Paraply (The Blue Umbrella) if I remember rightly. I expected it to be pretty poor quality for that price, but the food there was amazing, from the delicious breads, pasta and other dishes to the salad bar. The pizza was a definite highlight. A must-do, especially if you have had a sizeable night out the night before…
One of the benefits of using a Eurail pass is that there are often associated discounts, for example, ferry and bus rides where trains don’t go. After I decided on a whim to extend my Stockholm trip and head to Helsinki, I quickly discovered it would take days to take the train from Sweden to Finland, and the stretch across the border would require a bus ride as well. Plan B was to check out my ferry options on the Eurail website. There were two, and one of them (the Viking Line, no less) had an option that was overnight, and cheaper than a hostel (with the Eurail discount). Sounded like a good money saver to me!
Maybe it was because I booked in a bit of a rush, (I’m unsure why I completely missed all of the warning bells), but when the “ferry” had options for cabins, I should have realised it wasn’t your average passenger ferry. It wasn’t until I was hopping on and was greeted by dancing girls in tiny, sequinned, vegas style bikinis, with Cuban music blasting that I realised it was actually a cruise!
I went straight to the information desk to find out where I could set up camp and was handed a program of events for Cuban Night onboard, with dancers, DJs and drink deals in the multiplebars. My first stop was the cafe to find some space and take advantage of the free wifi.
Cuban night in full swing
And what a sight it was! I was at least 60 years younger than most people there, and there was some kind of bingo/quiz thing going on. It was all in Swedish or Finnish, I’m not too sure. But when the old crooner came out to sing classics, sinatra style, the hilarity escalated exponentially. His rendition of the Pussy Cat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” was a particular highlight of the evening.
Later on I decided to check out the “nightclub” scene. I wasn’t expecting too much, so I was pleasantly surprised to walk in and find a full Cuban dance spectacle unfolding before my very eyes! Most entertaining. The costumes seemed more like they were from Rio, but that was fine. All adding to the novelty. From that moment I decided I needed to take up cuban dancing. From the look of the dancers it is a very good exercise program! Not too sure if I’d be found in those costumes though. I can tell you on very good authority that they are every bit as unsecure as they look.
I figured the best way to get festive and embrace the mood was to have a gin and tonic – clearly the most cruise appropriate drink. So clear, in fact, that it was the “cocktail” on special.
Unfortunately when the dancers were gone, some truly grotesque (as in, toothless grotesque) drunk Russian sailors quickly realised I was the only female in the bar (it was a very quite Tuesday night) and it seemed they didn’t understand English when it came to the words “F*ck” and “off” or any other variations implying they should get out of my face ASAP. So my Cuban night adventure was over as quickly as it started and I went back to the seating area to set up camp.
The reason the ferry was so cheap (45 euro return), aside from the Eurail discount, was that I hadn’t paid for a cabin, but instead just the passenger fare, which meant a small room with aeroplane style seating. There were a few people who had pushed chairs together in the cafe to make beds, and when I retired to my lodgings I found the better option was to use my jacket, a couple of jersey’s and my pack to make myself a little bed. Worked pretty well! There was one other person asleep down the back so it was nice and quiet. Unfortunately, when the bar closed it turned out the creepy sailors were also stingy like me, and came stumbling in to the little wee room. With one other person out cold down the back, and no-one else anywhere nearby, suffice to say I didn’t feel like I would be having a relaxing and quiet night’s sleep in that room. Even if I was worrying unncessarily about any sketchy behaviour, it was a prime moment to recall some helpful travel advice from my mother along the lines of ‘if in doubt, get out.’ So I packed up my bed and found a nice patch of carpet near the couple sleeping in the cafe and felt far better about the situation!
I was woken up fairly early in the morning, not so much from the sun rising, but from an almighty crunching noise coming from below. As it turned out, it was the sound of the ship forging its way through icy seas. Another fascinating experience to add to the list! As the sun rose, I went to the restaurant on one of the upper decks where they had a Nordic Breakfast Buffet for 9 euro as I watched the sun rise and the shores of Finland get closer. It was a bargain, mostly because I managed to sneak a packed lunch of sandwiches, cake and boiled eggs out of it. Win.
All in all a pretty hilarious way to travel! The entertainment was a laugh, I’ll sleep on the floor for a bargain any day (so long as there are no creeps near me) and the cafe’s and bars weren’t too bad a deal either. Sadly on the way back it was Cuban night again which made me feel a little cheated. Had my cruise been later on in the week and in peak season, or even just with some travel companions, I reckon it would have been a pretty awesome “night out” whilst also getting from A to B.
No shortage of scenic views of Stockholm and Finland along the way
Cafe Fatoljen in Sodermalm was another excellent food recommendation, where we learned of another Swedish culinary delight – baked potatoes filled with a delicious shrimp-y, mayonnaise-y concoction. Really getting amongst the Swedish food! I accidentally ordered a salad thinking I was getting a sandwich, but it was amazing, and some welcome relief from all of the sometimes foods we had been eating!
Immediately behind the counter you can see the chefs whipping up amazing cakes, and the staff (or at least the one waitress we interracted with) were lovely. The waitress pointed out menu items, educated us on the very swedish baked potato dish, and prescribed a tea by the (appropriate) name of “Really Good Tea” for a member of the team who was feeling under the weather.
The décor was nice too, a wee touch of Andy Warhol, and Jimmy Hendrix watching over us as we enjoyed the lunch deal: anything on the menu plus a coffee or tea for 90Kr. It was places like that which really made me wonder how good the expensive places in Stockholm must be!
Stockholm, it appears, is a place of great quality, everywhere you go. Even the cheapest restaurant we could find was amazing! We headed to Vapiano, an international chain of Italian restaurants that started in Germany. It had an amazing selection of pastas pizzas and salads, not to mention a fantastic set of hilarious food-related quotes all over the world.
I really enjoyed Vapiano, although some Swedes I met scoffed, and told me it was “The Subway of Italian Food.” I can see exactly why – there is no table service, but instead you are given a card that is scanned when you order food or drinks, and when you order the food, you pick a meal base but can customise it with different ingredients added, and you stand and watch the chefs make your meal before you take your meal and sit down. Unlike subway, however, you can enjoy a delicious glass of French Syrah while you watch the talented chefs cook amazing meals with very high quality ingredients. The setting was also really cosy – candle lit tables, each also covered with fresh basil and rosemary plants.
It seemed to be the perfect blend of delicious Italian food, German efficiency and Scandinavian design! Like McDonald’s, I refuse to eat at Subway while there are so many amazing and unique culinary experiences available to me in Europe and in no way at all did I get the Subway vibe. Must be some high Stockholm standards at play with that comment!
The Danes are a healthy breed. Wholegrain alternatives occupy a huge amount of shelfspace at supermarkets, white bread comes second to rye bread, and McDonald’s barely has a presence in comparison to other countries.
When it comes to takeaways, the selection is pretty limited. The majority of ‘fast food’ places are sandwich bars, and good sandwich bars at that! (I have seen one Subway here, and have no desire to go there when there are so many better options around). Despite their love of seafood, don’t expect to find a fish n chip shop in Denmark! I am unsure if the economic incentive toward healthiness that is the fat tax is the cause of these purchasing habits, or if Danish society is simply that much healthier.
…post town pizza…
Aside from the obvious proliferation of hotdog carts in Scandinavia, there is quite a large Eastern European population here in denmark, so the other main takeaway option is to get a kebab. Pizza, however, is the most economically viable, and the best way to finally eat decent cheese in this country.
In Copenhagen we ate pizza for just about every meal due to the drastic reduction in price compared to most other types of food available in the city centre. A large pizza set us bak 45-50Kr, which is about $8-10 and a single
slice (which in some cases was bigger than my face) about 20-25kr, or $4-$5. The best pizza I have had, however, was a delicious margherita pizza from a cute Italian place in Malmo, Sweden. If the ingredients are good quality, all you need are tomatoes, basil and delicious cheese!
I also found an amazing Italian deli in the latin quarter of Aarhus that sells proper gourment pizza (think fresh mozzarella and basil leaves) and paninis with true italian foccacia bread. Also amazingly priced. I am close to swearing off pizza that isn’t made by an Italian and never again subjecting myself to the overpriced crap on a pile of dough they serve in NZ, but unfortunately I know I will live to regret that!
…and the winner of the weekend, lunch pizza in Malmo
I highly recommend seeking out a cheap pizza place if you don’t want to break the bank but can’t make it to a supermarket, or if you have dreams of running gloriously through the Fonterra factory in search of decent dairy products.
I am fairly sure I am at high risk of eating so much pizza that I will turn in to one, and I haven’t even made it to Italy yet! When I get there I will definitely be re-enacting that godawful film ‘Eat, Pray Love,’ except just the eating part. Win.
As you may have guessed, fri = free. After the Icebar our wallets were feeling a little light, so we went in search of the mystical, magical party-animal mecca. It was a club called ‘Penthouse‘ that supposedly had an open bar, in return for a 100DKK cover charge (about $20), or 150DKK after midnight.
Being from New Zealand, which is incredibly politically correct when it comes to encouraging excessive drinking, I was firmly in the ‘I’ll believe that when I see it’ camp. We rounded the corner of the street and saw a huge line. At that stage I started to think maybe it wasn’t just a rumour. My suspicions were finally confirmed after seeing a poster outside – it was true!
The club has multpile levels and DJs, and at various stages throughout the night there were costumed dancers on a little stage on the main floor. It had a very cool prohibition era theme too, so I suspect drink deals like this aren’t the norm.
Not quite as good as a drag show at Fluffy, but the dancers were pretty good!
As expected, there were a few catches to the deal. There was an extra charge for coat check, which unfortunately is necessary with the amount of layers need outdoors in a Danish winter. The real catches came in with the open bar, however. Unsurprisingly, the free drink choice was limited to beer and shots. The surprise came in when there was a charge for a shot glass. The obvious solution? Having the shots poured directly in to your mouth.
Shotglasses? Who needs those!
A certain someone got way too excited about the free beer
After arriving in my flat with only the things I could get on the plane, It quickly became evident I would need a lot more than I thought. I was one of the lucky ones – a lot of exchange students slept in their jackets on the first night and froze. The spare blankets in the lounge were great, but I still felt a little but icky not having sheets. How very precious of me.
What I didn’t anticipate was needing to get kitchen utensils and crockery. The first time I went to go make myself something to eat, one of my Danish flatmates was in the kitchen. When I found the cutlery draw he was incredibly quick to point at that actually it was his cutlery but I could borrow it this time. He pointed out the cupboard of things that everyone shared, which had a manky plastic spoon, a cheese grater and a lemon squeezer. Excellent, more money to spend.
We have had a number of lecturers talk to us about the Danes and their mannerisms/characteristics and all of them have pointed out very clearly that the Danes seem very brusk and unfriendly at first, but once you have broken the ice they are your best friends. This has been true with a number of people I have met. In fact, once you get them talking it is really hard to shut them up! Particularly when there is a drink in hand.
When I was at one of the flats, it was almost quiet and awkward as we first arrived, but once the Danish guys we were drinking with had cracked open a beer and were on to a topic of conversation they knew about, they were the chattiest boys I had ever come across. In fact, when it was time to leave and catch our bus to Uni for the International party we were late for, we struggled to find a pause in conversation to actually get out the door!
Unfortunately I don’t seem to have broken the ice yet with my flatmates. Probably largely due to the fact we never seem to be home at the same time. I have met/seen 4 of the potential 12, but it is exam time for some and holidays for others so everyone is either away or keeping to themselves. The flat has all the hints of a social place – table tennis table, bar, fairy lights, loads of photos on the walls – but the lounge is all but empty.
Upon talking to other students, it does, however, appear to be well against the norm that everyone has their own cutlery and cooking utensils stashed away in their own locked cupboards. Nonetheless if that’s the way the flat functions, I really didn’t want to be the girl who waltzes in and uses all their stuff, pissing them off before we have even got to know each other.
So high on my agenda was getting the ever-growing list of household items I would need. The thought of spending money on things I would need to throw out in 5 months pained me a little bit, but hey it had to be done.
I didn’t know when I would get a chance to shop, as our Orientation/Introduction programme was pretty packed in the first few days, but within a few minutes of meeting most people the lack of sheets and blankets was a hot topic of conversation. Next thing I know I have organised a group outing for at least 12 others that afternoon to Ikea. Bit of a turnaround from feeling all lonely the day before!
Whenever I am somewhere new, I like to make sure I know exactly where I need to go – that I have checked the map and I’m not wandering off in to the unknown with no plan. It seems that that attitude isn’t universal as a lot of people were willingly following me on my quest for the giant blue holy grail! But after a long bus ride and a bit of a hike we made it.
I was absolutely astounded by just how cheap the place is. I had been to Ikea in Australia, but it was a whole new level in Denmark. Probably due to with the fact we are so close to Sweden, but that’s just a guess. The most bizarre thing though, is that there are a million and one variations of the same thing that only differ very slightly, and yet can have vastly different prices. A blue towel of the same size and thickness was 10 times the price of a white one, for example.
It took a good bit of searching to find all of the vastly cheaper items (they were hidden on bottom shelves and in bargain bins in funny locations), but in the end I had a duvet, pillow, full set of sheets (we all bought the one ugly pattern that wasn’t selling), towel, tea towel, coathangers, hand towel, mug, plate, cups, cutlery, knives, set of three pots, can opener and some plastic containers that can double as bowls for about NZ$70. After that I didn’t feel so bad about having to buy so many things. The most expensive item was the pot set, at about $15! There were also a tonne of amazing and novel items, but I tried my best to restrain myself to those few (mostly) essential things. It was also incredibly fortunate that IKEA prefers to communicate its products with pictures as there were no english descriptions whatsoever.
Presentation wasn’t the highest priority, but they were ah-mazing
You can guess how excited I was when I stepped off the plane to walk straight in to a dim sum food stall selling dumplings. It was literally the first thing I saw after going through security! I instantly forgot my flight had been delayed by four hours, instead of the 40 minute stopover I was meant to have, because I was so excited I would get a chance to eat dumplings in Asia. And they were RM$5.50 which was about NZ$2.30. The rest of the shops in the Airport were pretty exciting (translation: so many bargains) apart from the bar, but every airport has one retailer with the monopoly on alcohol. This one also had the monopoly on power plugs, so after some deliciously prawny dumplings and a 60c bottle of water I settled down with a glass of what I can only assume was chardonnay. At NZ$9.50 a glass you’d think they could tell you a bit more than ‘white.’ Also featured on the shelves:
Skin whitening cream at the pharmacy. Just a bit sickening that that even exists
Landing in Malaysia provided some quite interesting views. The vast majority of trees were all in perfect rows (on the flight path at least), and there were beachside resorts right next to big industrial plants and quarrys, with views obscured by oil rigs ( that’s what they looked like anyway – I’m no expert on these matters).
In order to beat the luggage limits, I was wearing all of my heaviest clothes: boots, jeans, 2 tops, cardigan, a wool jersey in my backpack and carrying my heavy wool coat. I’ve felt worse in shorts and a tshirt in Brisbane, but I definitely felt like I was in training for the Scandinavian Sauna Championships landing in 25 degree heat.