It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our little cottage. The candles are lit, the decorations are hung, Christmas music is playing and my little lady’s risengrød is almost ready for the Nisse.
Risengrød is Danish for “rice pudding”. Eating rice pudding as part of your Christmas meal and making a bowl as a gift for your Nisse is a Danish tradition. My friend R.’s sister lives in Denmark and around this time of year we would always talk about leaving out our little bowls of risengrød for the Nisse. I think R. might have been a pixie himself, there was always a twinkle in his eyes.
You want to keep your Nisse happy you see, especially at this time of year, or they’ll play all kinds of little jokes on you. Nisse love to tease! Our Nisse is usually very well behaved, but I know he’s been up to some kind of magic in the cottage lately. I heard laughing the other morning and came down to find that he had been feasting on a bowl of Christmas candy I had set out. A pile of foil wrappers littered the floor and a little trail of chocolate crumbs was leading away from it.
I’ve been very lucky this year because my little lady is making us a big patch of risengrød to put up in the attic for him. I prefer keeping him happy as I don’t want him to get up to too much mischief! ♥
We were lucky enough on a cold afternoon to find a cozy spot by the window at The American Pie Co. In a warmly lit space, by the glow of candlelight, we feasted in delight. We were slowly defrosted by mugs of hot chocolate and coffee. Mr. Michie got a slice of the deep dish cinnamon bread pie, glazed in a shimmering sweet drizzle and I got the pink peppermint pie. It was decadent and chocolatey and refreshing all in one bite.
We ventured out to Roskilde during this trip to see the Viking Museum and the Cathedral (which was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site). The town itself, is just charming. It was a Viking stronghold and became the capitol and center of Danish life during the Middle Ages.
We strolled from the train station down through town. There were lots of stops for window shopping and I just had to go in to one store in particular. It was a gorgeous place with a tea and cake shop on one side and beautiful gifts and antiques on the other. I was very good and just looked, but I could have bought out half the shop!
This was written on a plaque next to the Spring: St. John’s Spring was a holy spring, named after St. John the Baptist. The outflow as it appears today dates from 1834. In 1835 the 11m deep well was excavated. Numerous potsherds and two almost intact earthenware jugs were found, dating from the time when sick persons came to the spring to be healed.
We walked down to the Viking Museum first. As we neared a field just past the church, we could hear the sound of splashing water. We both looked around and discovered a spring. Not just any spring, but the Skt. Hans Kilde ( St. John’s Spring). This was one of three sacred springs within Roskilde. It was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, because many of the sick, thought they would be healed by drinking the water.
As we approached the museum, the smell of the sea filled our nostrils. The front of the museum acts as a storage shipyard. Boats were covered for the winter and lined up along the path with descriptions written next to them. I fell in love with one boat from 1944, Brudpiga. It was a church boat that carried people from scattered villages and farms along the Siljan lake in Sweden to church on Sundays. It could hold up to 60 people. It had 20 oars and a crew of 22 men. My imagination was running wild after reading that sign. I am sure I was romanticising it within my head, but I had cozy visions of traveling in that boat by candlelight along the shores, gathering people and meeting friends, who you might not see again until the following week.
The architecture of the building housing the five ships was thoughtfully devised. You felt as if the boats and the sea blended into one. The outside and the inside working together in harmony. The Viking Museum was truly fascinating! It’s incredible that this discovery was even made and then the time it took to excavate and preserve it, is even more astounding. I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to watch them working on boats in the shipyard and if we’re really lucky to ride on one of the ships they take out into the fjord.
I couldn’t help but snap this picture of a picture, of one of the conservationist working on preserving the wood of the ships. Those glasses just rock!
A view over the bridge to the working shipyard and outbuildings.
We stopped for a snack in the cafe. I had hot chocolate and we split a piece of apple cake. The cafe’s menu is inspired by the Vikings. They use the same ingredients that were available during the Viking Age as well as those that were brought home from the Viking’s voyages. They strive to bring to life the five Skuldelev ships through food. I liked that. Food is important on so many different levels and to intertwine the past and the present was a lovely way of bringing the Vikings to life.
I loved this terracotta pink house with it’s green trim. It looked cozy inside.
Next stop was the Cathedral. We only had a short time in the Cathedral and we definitely needed longer. The sun was setting and the shadows that were created were both breathtaking and also eerie. The history within the church, it’s connection to the monarchy and to the artists who worked there piqued my interest.
Frescos c.1460, in the Chapel of the Magi
Tomb of the Scandinavian Queen Margrethe I.
Tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise.
In the Christian IX chapel the three female figures that flank the double tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise were designed by Edvard Eriksen. He was the creator of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits in the harbour in Copenhagen. His wife was the model for these statues and you can particularly see that in the posing of the Little Mermaid and the central female figure at the tombs. We stayed until the bells chimed to signal the doors were closing for the night.
We walked back through town in the dark. The twinkle of Christmas lights glowing all around us. I couldn’t resist peeking through the gates of the convent to see their lights, a welcoming beacon on a frosty night. This city is on our list to keep exploring, there was just too much to see in a day! But, I’m not going to complain about that, it’s a good excuse to go back!
I have always loved flowers and I adore the flower shops in Denmark. Simple, yet elegantly arranged, candles lit in the windows and on stands outside. The flowers aren’t just contained within the stores, they spill out over the thresholds and into the street.
Without fail, I spot something unusual, like wreaths that have bulbs, ready to burst open, wired directly to the the frame. Or, hydrangea petals glued around a star shaped stake; placed in a pot amongst moss, bulbs and miniature candles. It’s invariably an array of colour and smells. A feast for the senses and a true delight!
This is not the first time we have visited Tivoli at Christmas. It is always on our list of “To-Do’s”, when we go to Denmark.
Already a magical wonderland to begin with, Tivoli transforms into an enchanting fairytale world during Christmas. The smell of hot apple cider and Æbleskiver, permeate the air. Stalls selling hot dogs and Christmas roast pork sandwiches are dotted along the paths as well as cabins selling Christmas goodies.
This year we visited the Honningkageslottet (Honey Cake Castle). Here you could not only “watch” the elves make the honey cakes, which is made using the honey harvested from Tivoli’s bees, but you could also buy a honey cake to decorate yourself. We bought one to eat and one to decorate. The smell of honey, spices and chocolate infusing the air was intoxicating.
Whatever season we visit this fairytale land in, I am always amazed at the gardens and hanging baskets. I know they work tirelessly to keep it looking so magical. The planning that goes into the design layout is months and months of work. It is a feast for the eyes.
Tivoli will pick over a thousand trees for Christmas. All of them will be adorned with lights in the forest, before they are cut down; so they are ready to be placed amongst the gardens upon their arrival. The smell of all that fresh greenery walking around that Christmas tree farm, well it would just be Heaven!
A trip to Denmark, never feels complete unless we get to walk through the breathtaking halls of the Louisiana Museum. It holds a special place in my heart. Strolling through the sculpture gardens; staring at Sweden across the sea; absorbing all the light from the floor to ceiling windows; taking in the architecture and the lighting, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
This was a special trip for me, as we were going to see the Louise Bourgeois Exhibition. I have long been an admirer of her work and to see her Cell series put together like this was hair-raising. It featured all 25 cells and was the first exhibition to do so. To be able to touch and see what she had touched, seen and created, made the experience a deeply moving and intimate one. I noticed on a few of the cells, her hand writing scrawled across the upper part of the doors, labelling them as the “top”. There was a realness to these nooks, they existed within their own worlds. Worlds that we were, at once, a part of and an intruder. I was overjoyed that we had the chance to see this particular exhibition.
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I
Louise Bourgeois, Cell I (a peak inside)
Louise Bourgeois, Cell VI
Louise Bourgeois, Spider
Louise Bourgeois, Spider (detail)
Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVI
Other highlights on this visit were the Daniel Richter paintings and work by the Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. Of course we made a pit stop to step inside Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights of the Souls. It is always worth the wait to go in to that magical little room.
Juan Muñoz, Half Circle
Daniel Richter, Tarifa
Daniel Richter, Alles Ohne Nichts
Daniel Richter, Amsterdam
Daniel Richter, Winter Journey 4
As always it is a treat to stop and eat lunch at the Louisiana. The fire was lit, and there was a beautiful view from the windows of the ocean rocking and rolling at a steady pace just beyond. The air was damp and clean. We feasted on sparkling apple juice and Christmas sausages with the most divine orange sauce; bowls of Jerusalem artichoke soup; and a variety of salads and fresh bread. It is simple, yet elegant.
Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Powerless Structures, fig. 11
I adore hot chocolate and it tends to be my breakfast drink of choice while in Copenhagen. These were just a few snaps I took at some of my favourite places to have this comforting concoction of velvety chocolatey happiness. Very hygge!
We had dinner tonight at one of our favourite places, Neighbourhood Pizza. I had a Christmas Bellini and the Basil Shrimp pizza. While, Mr. Michie opted for one of my personal favourites, the Nordic Apples. Happiness is…