Since Mr Goh was on forced leave from Christmas to the New Year, we decided to travel over this period. Let’s start with somewhere nearby, we said. So we took out the map, and decided on Copenhagen. Not too far away, and yet it’s out of Germany. It’s about 6 hours by train from Bremen to Copenhagen, with a change of trains in Hamburg. Cost of train tickets were 195 Euros for 2.
I was quite excited about taking the train (instead of the plane) to CPH since I heard that the train boards a ferry to cross the sea and then later continues its way into CPH. A train on a ferry?? I’ve only seen cars onboard ferries but not a freaking TRAIN!
We had bought the Copenhagen card when we arrived, so it allowed us to quite a number of tourist attractions (74 places in total! SEVENTY-FOUR! Wow) for free, and also free public transport by bus, train and Metro. There are 4 different options for the card, depending on your budget, number of places you want to visit, and how long you will be in CPH. We planned our trip around the CPH card and got the 120-hour option. It’s seriously a great option to help save money in such an expensive city like CPH. We broke even on our 3rd day, I believe.
Tip #1: Remember to check operating hours of places you want to visit. Some attractions are closed on Mondays, some have different operating hours for different seasons.
Another chunk of our travel expense went to accommodation. Naturally, I checked out Airbnb, our favorite lodging website, but unfortunately nothing within our budget was available. We preferred to have a small apartment to ourselves since we tend to be back early and cook, but most of those available were only private room rentals. I ended up booking Generator Hostel after I saw that it was recommended on the VisitCopenhagen website, it was also available on Hotels.com and I had 2 discount codes for Hotels.com.
Truth be told, we didn’t really enjoy Generator that much for a couple of reasons.
1) They were more like a hotel, less of a backpackers hostel, so that means they don’t have a common kitchen for you to cook your own meals. Instead they have a cafe near the reception, and you cannot bring your own food in to eat there. You can’t eat in the rooms either. That’s not very budget friendly for backpackers, especially since food is expensive in CPH.
2) The cafe area transforms into a bar/club at night, and when the music is playing, it can get quite loud at night. We were on the 5th floor and could still hear the beats thumping away at 12 midnight.
3) The private rooms faced the main street. Generally I don’t have an issue with noise, but the windows were not soundproof enough so noise from the traffic and rowdy, drunk people kept us up at night (about 2.30am). And there was construction going on opposite the hostel – they started work at 7am. It might also be a bad time that we visited CPH since the holidays meant that people didn’t need to work the next day and could be out till late.
Tip #2: surf around different websites to compare prices and read reviews. Oh, and plan at least 3 months ahead for best prices since December is a high travel period in Europe.
We didn’t want to spend too much money on this trip, especially when Mr Goh’s annoying company did not send us our monthly allowance for December until the 23rd (the money was supposed to come in on the 1st!), so money was tight in December and we told ourselves to stick to a budget of 500 Euros. This amount was to cover food, transport and the cost of the CPH card. It IS doable. (We have already paid for accommodation when we did the booking in October.) We ended up having 1000DKK balance when we ended our trip.
I had brought along a small “kettle” so we could have warm/hot water in the room, but I didn’t anticipate the amount of calcium in the Danish tap water. I’d definitely buy bottled water if we were to visit CPH again.
Breakfasts were usually cakes or bread bought from the supermarket (around 10DKK, and the amount could feed 4 people). Pastries from the bakery is about 15DKK each.
We did picnic-style lunches by buying packs of TUC crackers, tubs of tuna/chicken/shrimp salad, pre-washed salad leaves, cucumbers, tomatoes from the supermarket nearby. I had packed tupperwares, cutlery and a small paring knife, so such lunches were possible. Average cost of such a lunch would be 20-25DKK for 2.
Dinners were either pasta or sandwiches or pastries. A Danish hotdog averages for 30DKK, a shawarma sandwich is about 50DKK. The cheapest pasta from the restaurant round the corner from us is 60DKK.
Though on a budget, I’m not saying that we didn’t try any Danish food, but being on holiday doesn’t mean that we have to break the bank. We bought smorrebrod from Fotex Food and thought it was quite similar to the sandwiches we’ve been making for lunch. Haha.