Sunday 21 April 2019

Copenhagen December 2018

Copenhagen has always been on my bucket list and so I was really pleased to be able to visit at the end of last year, here's a write up of that trip.

4th December

We arrived at the airport at 8pm and  found our way to the station to get the train into the city. It was a short journey and we were amazed by the station itself which was wooden, very beautiful. Our Hotel the Copenhagen Star, was literally 200 yards from the station couldn't be handier! Our room was basic but clean and had all we needed.

We went out and had a meal at a restaurant called Cafe du Nord which was opposite our hotel. The meal was good but pricey, but only to be expected in Scandinavia. Whilst there we noticed that, although the area was not particularly seedy, it was a red light area as there were girls hanging around on street corners.

5th December

Little Mermaid
After breakfast at the hotel and went to the tourist information and bought a combi for the hop on hop off bus, boat tour and entry to the Tivoli Gardens. The bus tour was good, we saw the Little Mermaid (which was really little,) the colourful houses of Nyhavn, palaces, interesting modern buildings and much more.

The boat trip went to some of the same places but you saw them from a different viewpoint. The weather was cold, but bright and sunny.

After getting off the boat we visited a Christmas market which was lovely. Older areas of the city were interesting but I preferred Stockholm for that. Copenhagen is very flat and bikes are everywhere and you have to look out for them.

Tivoli Gardens
That evening we went to the famous Tivoli Gardens. It is said that the inspiration for Walt Disney's theme parks was inspired by a visit to he took to Tivoli and you can see how it could have influenced him. The Gardens were on the other side of the station
Tivoli Gardens
from our hotel so they were very handy for us. They first opened in 1843 and have been going strong ever since. We were stunned when we went in as it was magical, due to the time of year the Christmas theme was evident (the gardens have different themes depending on the time of year.) Lights everywhere, huge Christmas trees, decorations, fairground rides, shops, cafes, restaurants, concert hall, theatre. Lots of fun and laughter, I've never been anywhere like it. Some of the rides were very old, for example the roller coaster is the original 1914 one, that added to the charm of the place.

After a couple of hours we were beginning to feel a bit cold so we had a meal in a restaurant in the gardens called Paaflugen. It was cosy and warm inside and the food was good.

We both loved the Tivoli Gardens, it was such a unique experience especially special at Christmas time. The photos here don't do the place justice.

6th December

We visited the National Museum of Denmark today. Outside it had an old facade but it was very modern inside. The ground floor was dedicated to Viking culture and had some fabulous exhibits. Lots of beautiful, intricately worked gold artifacts. There was also a floor dedicated to classical culture and I was especially interested in the Ancient Egyptian section. There were some amazing exhibits and the good thing was that you could actually touch some of them and throughout the museum you could also take photos which is really good.

Later, in the evening Marian and I went on the Food Trail tour. Our guide was Bryony from Wales who was studying in Copenhagen.
Best Hot Dog Ever!
and loved the city. Our first stop was a hot dog van in the main square. I don't like the hot dogs we have in the UK they taste like nothing, but I had heard how good Scandinavian hot dogs were. And boy it was good! The sausage was tasty and it had ketchup, remoulade, mustard, onions, sweet pickle on it with some crispy onions on top. Absolutely delicious and really warming on this cold night.
Then we went to a pub called the Taphouse and sampled two small glasses of beer, in all they have 61 types to choose from! Very good they were too.

We then walked to a food market and there tried Fiskedellen which was fish and potato mixed together, fried and served with bread and remoulade. Again it was really tasty.

The final destination was was another pub called Skaal. Here we sampled traditional smorgasbord, open sandwiches. There were two types, pickled fish and potato. I didn't like the fish, I've never been keen on raw fish. The potato one was nice and the rye bread they were on was really good.  To finish off we had a Danish pastry and that was the end of the tour. It was great to sample real Danish food like this and we were certainly full at the end of the tour!

We had no idea where we were but with the aid of my mobile we found our way back to the hotel.

And that was the end of our trip to Copenhagen, a lovely city well worth visiting - and if you do, get a hot dog!

Sunday 14 April 2019

U2 Experience and Innocence Tour - Dublin November 2018

3rd November 2018

Debbi and I flew in to Dublin airport from different UK airports (I go via the cheapest/best times place, this time it was Glasgow.) We met up at the airport and got the Air Coach into the city as there was a stop very close to our apartment.  We had no problems finding it and it was really nice. We got the shopping in from a nearby Spar, then ordered a Chinese takeaway and had that with wine. It felt good to be back in Dublin, our second home!

4th November

We had been due to go to our friends Ken and Elizabeth's for a meal that evening but Ken had been taken into hospital. But Elizabeth suggested meeting her at an Italian place called Bianconi's on Merrion Road near the hospital instead. It was good to see her again and we had a good chat and the food was delicious too.

Afterwards we got more shopping in at a nearby Tesco's before heading home. Later Debbi went out to meet her friend Paddy, I opted out as I was tired and just wanted to chill.

5th November

First gig today, we arrived at the 3Arena in the late afternoon. We intended having a meal at the nearby Gibson Hotel like we did last time the band played the arena, but they were not letting non-residents in. We ended up having a meal at a place called Ruby's just behind the arena which was cheap and really good.

We went into the 3Arena and our seats were really good, we could see the main stage, b-stage, walkway and hanging screen. Because the arena is so small the walkway was much shorter. The show was good, the Zoo part and the new songs, which fit so well into this show, are my favourite parts. I prefer this tour to the Innocence one as it all gels together perfectly.

The only downer was the crowd. I'd say most stayed sitting down, many more interested in talking or their phones than the show. Very disappointing, especially for a home crowd.

The Beautiful Samuel Beckett Bridge
Afterwards we met up with our friends Declan (who was suffering from man flu,) Jane and Sharon and had a chat for a while, everyone had enjoyed the show. Missed  my friend Dianne who had to cancel coming to Dublin just days earlier. Afterwards we walked up the quay, across the Liffey and back home.

Paddy came round to our flat at 2am! Good job we stay up late after shows. He recently turned 50 and we had set up a little party and gifts for him which he seemed to really appreciate. We had lots to eat and drink and there was lots of laughs and conversation putting the world to rights. Paddy left at 5am and we crashed out afterwards.

6th November

We'd had a very late night so we took it easy today. For this show Debbi had a GA ticket but I had chosen to have a seat as the crowd in Dublin can be a bit "lively." It was another really good seat even though it wasn't a top price one.

What a difference a day can make, the crowd around me were great, up dancing and singing along from the word go. The crowd was loud and the energy between them and the band bounced back and forth. You could tell Bono was really emotional at times, after Get Out of Your Own Way the fans kept singing long after the band has finished and he just stood smiling. It must be especially great for an artist when the audience is singing one of the new songs like that.

I loved the whole show but highlights for me included the great Zoo segment, and MacPhisto's speech where he really let rip about Donald Trump.  This part was also a bit more personal than it had been as Bono said that he saw his dad in him when he looked in the mirror that day and hoped that he would be proud his sons.

It's amazing how different shows can feel. For me this was one of those special ones where the magic happens, where you're on an emotional rollercoaster. And it's after shows like this I know why I have been a fan of this band for 35+ years.

I met up with Debbi outside the arena and she felt the same as me about the gig and loved it. We walked back home and had something to eat, wine and chilled. Our apartment is lovely but there were a couple of strange things there. One, a leprechaun hat (which explains the photo) and the other being a bottle of absinthe that was between two glass panels beside one of the doors!

November 7th

Today was our designated lazy day where we just mooch around where ever we are and have a few bevvies. We had been due to meet up with Jane and Sharon at lunchtime but they had to cancel. We were also due to meet up with Declan that evening but he cancelled as his man flu was even worse. This was the trip of cancellations!

We first went to Sam's Bar but didn't stay long as it was quiet and there was no atmosphere. Next stop was Kehoe's which was great, it's one of our favourites. Our final port of call was  O'Neill's another favourite, where we had their delicious chips and the best onion rings in the world!

November 8th

We took the DART to Dalkey today and had lunch in Finnegan's and then coffee in nearby Queen's. It was raining so we didn't go on to Killiney as we'd planned.

That evening we went all touristy (we've been coming here so long that we don't normally do things like that) and went of the Irish Food Trail. We met our guide, Grainne, at Dublin Castle and were joined by people from Canada, America, England and Iceland who were all really nice.

Our first stop was the Boxty House where we had potatoes three ways. My favourite were the boxty chips, different from normal chips and delicious.

Next stop was Gallagher's where we had the choice of three mains. I chose fish and chips which were wonderful.

Dakota's on the Irish Food Trail
Final place was Dakota's where we had dessert which was a Bailey's cheesecake and very good it was! We also had a bit of fun and made our own Irish coffee, mine didn't really work out lol!

All in all the tour was excellent and good value for money We learned new things about the city and its history and also sampled good food in places we'd never been to before. Grainne was a knowledgeable and friendly guide and I would definitely recommend the tour.

9th November

Nasty weather today, howling wind and torrential rain so we didn't do much during the day. Later we went to a bar near the 3Arena for a meal, which was cheap and filling but not great.

We met Paddy, who had our tickets, outside the arena and went in. For the third time I was able to go in without my bag being searched which I don't think is good in this day and age. Our seats were really good. I got chatting to a lovely woman beside me whose birthday it was. She had been a fan of the band since 1987.

The show was good but spoiled to a degree by security making people sit down! They kind of gave up in the end as people wanted to stand. The woman beside me kept saying about Bono, "Isn't he good?" which he is! When he talked about Brexit and the hard/soft/no border she turned to me and said, "There is no them, there's only us" quoting the song Invisible which I thought was so nice. We got Dirty Day for the first time today which was a bonus.

I felt a bit emotional during One as I wondered if I'd ever see the band live again. Bono looked tired and I think illness and his accidents have taken their toll on him. Plus he's said a few times that they are going away. And of course I'm not getting any younger either, I was very tired by the end of the week.

We met with Declan briefly after the show, he was still suffering from man flu and chatted with him and Paddy before getting a taxi and heading home.

It was the end of our week in Dublin and the tour for us. We had fun as usual, I love the touring life! We were sad it was over and can only hope there will be another tour to enjoy in the not too distant future.