Our third day in Copenhagen was spent at the National Aquarium of Denmark (Den Blå Planet) where we caught up with some ex-pat Aussie friends, followed by a very Danish lunch and an evening trip to Tivoli in the rain (this time with rides).
Our luck had run out with the kids sleeping. Both were up between 4.30 and 5am and flatly refused to go back to sleep despite being exhausted. Of course this was the first morning we were planning a late departure from the house, and they had the option of a lovely sleep in. Instead we had a long morning in the dark with over-tired and over-excited children. The fact that it’s dark until 8.30am and it was a very frosty morning of minus 2 degrees, meant we opted to stay inside and watch endless Peppa Pig and Mister Maker episodes on the tablet, while the adults tried to drink enough coffee to get us through the day.
Luckily we had planned a fairly easy day. A trip out to Kastrup (not far from Copenhagen airport) to the National Aquarium to catch up with some friends. Then hopefully try to view the Oresund bridge (the bridge between Sweden and Denmark). The afternoon we hoped to return to Tivoli to have another look around and go on some rides, when the park was on the quieter side.
We headed out from the house around 9.15am and wandered to the train station. This was the first day that there was a significant frost and everything looked icy. The temperature has varied between about 1 and 4 degrees day and night since our arrival. This morning was minus 2 and felt even colder! Astrid was undeterred and skipped most of the way to the train station shouting about how she loved ice.
National Aquarium (Den Blå Planet)
We headed via 2 trains to Kastrup, which is one stop from the airport and gives a good view of planes coming and going. The plan was to meet up with my friend, Rose, and her 2 kids, at 10am. Rose and her family moved to Sweden earlier in the year and are living about 25 minutes drive from the aquarium, but in a whole other country. We had bought a bunch of stuff over from Australia with us for Rose. Including 16 packets of Tim Tam biscuits and several jars of golden syrup. Apparently the things you miss when you leave Australia! As we are also coming back through the area in a few days (after our visit to Stockholm and Gotland) we had arranged to leave a suitcase with Rose so we had one less bag to drag through airports and on weight restricted flights. Of course this meant Anto was carrying a large suitcase on our morning trains. Danish people are generally so friendly, and on this occasion 3 separate people told us that the stop we were getting off at was not the airport, as they clearly thought we must be headed that way with a suitcase! No we were just dragging it to the aquarium (as you do!). If they knew it was half full of biscuits they would probably think we were crazier.
Rose had messaged me to say they were running a little late due to needing to find their passports (which is not a concern back at home where you have a 20 min drive planned). So we wandered around the outside of the aquarium and down by the docks. Despite it being a grey day the area is very pretty, and the aquarium building is quite beautiful surrounded by big pools of water – that seemingly every child had to put their hands in!
Once Rose had arrived with her two kids (Annabelle and Evie) we handed over the bounty (aka Tim Tams) and headed into the aquarium. It actually took her less time to get there driving from another country than it took us on the train from a few kilometres away. Astrid and Soren had been excited all morning about having kids to play with but were a bit shy for the first 10 minutes. Rose had some snowsuits (aka Winter overalls) that she wasn’t using so we tried them on the kids and found they had one each that fitted. Hooray for warmer kids (and probably looking like locals!).
We headed into the aquarium and let the kids loose. The girls all had fun looking at the different fish and corals and Soren loves fish so was like Peppa Pig in muddy puddles. It was quite a decent aquarium. Lots of big tanks with a great selection of fish and corals. There was also exhibits with sharks and rays which was fun for the kids. There were some sections with reptiles and freshwater aquatic animals.
There was also a tropical rainforest area (or paradise as Annabelle called it) which was lovely and warm. Not that the main aquarium wasn’t well heated anyway. One of the favourite areas for the kids was the touch pool. My kids always love getting wet and touching slimy things. It seems they aren’t alone!
Entry to the aquarium is included on the Copenhagen card. It was a pretty decent aquarium, if not huge. It still kept the kids amused for a couple of hours and the rest of us enjoyed the exhibits too. If you have kids definitely consider paying it a visit. It’s a pleasant hour or two in the warm on a not so nice day!
Our bridge viewing was not overly successful. It was a pretty cloudy day and while we could see the bridge not too far away there weren’t great views to be had. We are trying to see if we can view it from the Sweden side on the way back!
After a couple of hours of wandering around the kids were getting hungry (despite tucking into at least one of the packets of Tim Tams for morning tea). The aquarium has a picnic area as well as a cafe. The food didn’t look all that appealing for the usual not cheap Danish prices. While waiting for Rose we had spied a cafe (Cafe Kystens Perle) across the road. We had hoped to have a coffee there while waiting but it typically wasn’t open until 11am. It was now well and truly lunch time so we headed across the road for some warm food.
We ended up in a room with no one else in it (the cafe has a series on inter-connecting rooms). It was a good spot for lunch, lots of space for little kids, no one to disturb and a bucket of toys. The kids were pretty happy. Astrid and Soren’s mean parents had packed them sandwiches for lunch (since we like to have food handy for when they get ravenous) but the other kids got a ‘kids snack or kids burger’ which was enough for a couple of adults with chips, fruit, chicken legs, sausages or big burger. Astrid and Soren sampled a few bits and pieces and didn’t complain. The boys all decided on the Danish specialty which was steamed fish + fried fish, caviar, shrimp and asparagus on rye bread with seafood sauce. It also wasn’t small! It was accompanied by a beer, so they were happy lads. Sadly, as the resident vegetarian, I was forced (forced I tell you) to order the Danish pancakes.
After a nice lunch and a good chat it was time to farewell the kids (with plans to catch up again next week on our brief return in transit to Berlin) and head back to our accommodation in Stockholm. Our plans for the afternoon had changed a few times. It was looking a bit late to get Soren home for a nap and he was getting pretty tired. We though maybe we should head into the city and do a few palaces or museums and leave Tivoli for another day. We knew most were closed on a Monday but thought there was enough open to warrant a visit. Of course once we did get into Copenhagen we realised that nothing was actually open. The upside to the extra train trip was that on one of the trains Astrid got to sit up the front next to the window. The train is driverless so we all got a fantastic view. Astrid was a happy girl.
So we reverted to our original plan. Back to the accommodation for a rest. Soren had napped for 10 minutes on me while on the train but it was hardly sufficient for 2 kids who had been up since 4.30am. Astrid was already complaining about being tired! Once back (at around 3pm) Astrid took herself off for a nap. Soren was much harder work and finally gave in to sleeping at around 5pm after much annoyance. It had already been dark for a couple of hours and the concept of going out again into the cold didn’t seem appealing. Once both kids were asleep for late afternoon naps we were somewhat committed to the going out as they were going to be up late.
Everyone managed a sleep except Mikl and I. We thought the others had the better plan but it was too late by the time we realised the error of our ways. At 5.30pm we started getting the kids organised and decided to brave the cold for some more Tivoli fun. Astrid did not want to wake up. Soren was so tired we managed to change his nappy and get him into his snowsuit without him waking up!
With very weary kids (but still excited to go to Tivoli) we headed out in the dark and cold to brave another busy night at Tivoli. It only took us about 20 minutes to get in there, from leaving the house, and once we popped out of central station we were relieved to see no lines out the front entrance. We were hoping for a quieter night, and quieter it was. We could actually move around inside the park and see rides and lights that were just a blur of people on the previous visit. With the 5 day Copenhagen card you get up to 5 entries to each exhibit (only one per venue per day though). This meant could get admission to Tivoli every day for 5 days. Rides are not covered on the card and need to be purchased separately.
The kids were toasty warm in their snowsuits and seemed keen for a couple of rides. We didn’t think that we would get good value out of the ride passes given how tired the kids were. We instead decided to buy some individual ride tickets and see how we went. If you are planning on doing lots of rides, the ride passes are much better value. Rides cost between 1 and 3 tokens and each token is 25DKK (currently around 5 AUD). Some rides have height restrictions and/or don’t allow children. Some allow children but require an adult to be on the ride (which you also have to pay for). If you want to buy a wrist band for unlimited rides they need to be purchased for all children above 1 year of age. Our original plan was to buy the wrist bands but given the late hour and tiredness we thought the individual rides was better value (even if the kids didn’t agree).
Soren had been eyeing off all manner of rides that went upside down and at great speed. Luckily for us, he is well under the height restriction so we negotiated some more little kid friendly rides. As it was quieter tonight we did a bit of a lap of Tivoli and the kids wanted to go on everything, especially the scary looking ones!. Astrid eventually decided on the double decker merrry go round. Anto was the lucky one to go on with them. They sat on the top level (hopeless for photos from me way down on the ground). Astrid loved the horse and Soren spent most of his ride next to Anto shouting ‘more’. At this point it started raining and getting much colder so was much less fun for those of us standing around watching.
As the rain was only light we headed to the free kids area (which you couldn’t get near on the Saturday night). There was quite a good playground and the kids were excited to check it out. It was now raining a lot more heavily and it was getting a bit squishy underfoot. Mikl and Anto took the kids through some climbing areas and over some forts and bridges while Alan and I tried to stay dry sheltering under some eves. It was the one time we all went out without umbrellas and our waterproof gear on! The rain lightened a little but we were getting a bit cold and hungry. We suggested another ride and some food to eat. After much debate the ‘fast’ kids ferris wheel was the winner. Of course it was a 2 token per person ride so we had to go purchase a few extra tokens. Anto and I both mentally calculated how much that one ride was costing us and decided it was better not to think about it and let them have fun. It was pretty impossible to take photos from the ground, in the pouring rain in the pitch dark….. but the kids were up there on that ferris wheel with the star on it. Anto said they had a ball and it did indeed go fast!
We were now all a bit hungry and cold (the kids were definitely not cold in their suits, but they were complaining about being hungry). As appealing as the lovely warm cafes were, we decided on a quick dinner and to head home as we were tired and cold. Earlier in the day Rose had mentioned the hot dog vendor outside Tivoli was famous, and the boys thought hotdogs sounded like a good idea. We managed to drag the kids away from Tivoli with the promise of hotdogs. A selection of different types were purchased – the Christmas special, a plain hotdog (for the kids), a hotdog with the lot, and a spicy hot dog. They disappeared pretty fast.
I decided to head home and have some left over salad for dinner since the kids needed to go to bed and there didn’t appear to be any vegetarian hotdogs! For the first time ever we had a wait for a train to take us back to our stop. A whole 17 minutes (it’s normally under 5). Seventeen minutes when it’s late at night and you are tired, wet and cold isn’t fun. Once on the train we made it home quickly and the kids were in bed by 9.30pm, tired but happy.
We had another big day of activities planned for the following day. A visit to Frederiksberg gardens, the zoo and then back to the city for some palaces, horses and lots of stairs!
Stats for the 14th of December: Temperature -2 to 4 degrees with a mean of 2 degrees. Total walking of 11km (our easiest day yet!). Sausage products, fish and beer were again consumed by the non-vegetarians and Nic kept up the pancake consumption. Kid tiredness level has hit maximum!
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