A city of canals: Amsterdam.

Amsterdam – a city with over a thousand bridges – 1,281 to be exact – over 165 canals. A city famous for its coffeeshops and the Red Light District. A city known for its cultural institutions like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. Easy-going, open mindedness, diversity, Canal Pride. A city known for its I Amsterdam letters.

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I’ve always been interested in this place but never got around to actually going there. It feels as if all of my friends have already been there (and probably everyone else as well), but I am always rather late with going to the ‘trendy’ places. However, the time had come for me to take a trip to the city and check it out for myself and see whether it would be as beautiful as most are rapturing about or if I’d be not impressed at all.

The city

Amsterdam is the Netherland’s largest city, but with a population of over 850,000 people it is only the 27th largest city in Europe, and around one million people smaller than Vienna. The country’s government is in The Hague, but Amsterdam is still the nominal capital and gets the most visitors per year: 15 million day-visitors, and 3.5 million of them are foreigners. Fore more facts and figures, check this website.

I read online that the number of bicycles who land in the city’s canals every year is 25,000! That’s no surprise to me, as there are so many canals and so many fietsers (cyclists) in Amsterdam – over 600,000!

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Apart from all the canals and many cyclists that dominate the urban image of Amsterdam, there are of course other beautiful sides of the city. The colourful buildings lining the canals with the charming gabled facades, often very luxurious, is a perfect example for the architectural treasures of the city. The Munttoren (Mint Tower) is a tower standing on the Muntplein square near the flower market and was originally part of the city wall and built in 1480. This tower is not only great to look at, but there is also a carillon consisting of 38 bells on top of the tower which are chiming every quarter of an hour.

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The Dam Square, a town square that was created in the 13th century, is also well-known for its architecture and various events that are held there. The square is lined with food stalls, restaurants and shops such as the Bijenkorf or Magna Plaza, a Madam Tussauds, an old Stock Exchange building and the hotel Krasnapolsky. The National Memorial statue is also on the Dam Square – a memory of Dutch soldiers who died during WWII. The most prominent building on the square though is the grand 17th century Royal Palace – the Koninklijk Palace. It is, however, no longer home to the Dutch Royal family (who are located in The Hague), but the palace is still used for official receptions.

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Another prominent square of the city is definitely the Museumplein, which is the cultural beating heart of Amsterdam (in terms of museums). The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art are located there. Oh – and an I Amsterdam letter with hundreds of people in front, behind, on top of it etc is there as well.

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The local food

Despite some people arguing that there is no typical dutch cuisine, the dutch do like to fry things, the local cuisine is high in carbohydrates and fat and very heavy on the meat side.. So I did not really get around to trying Bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs), Raw Herring, Kibbeling (battered and deep fried morsels of white fish) or Stamppot (‘mash pot’ – mashed potatoes with veggies and sausages).

However, I had Stroopwafels – two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup. And I had the thick Dutch fries. Twice. Once I got them from a small shop in the typical piping hot paper cone slathered with ketchup, and the second time I had them in a vegan stew with jackfruit and vegan mayo at the Noorderlicht in NDSM. Very delicious I must say, but two times thick fries within 24 hours was more than enough for me. :D

I also tried pannenkoek, a Dutch pancake that is usually larger and thinner than an American pancake, but thicker than a Crêpe. It reminded me a lot of our Austrian Palatschinken or the Russian Bliny, but the Dutch pannenkoek is usually not rolled, and can be savoury or sweet. I had a savoury one with goat cheese, spinach, pine nuts and garlic oil. It was definitely too heavy on the oil for my taste, and way too big of a portion, but I’m glad I tried it :D

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A place that my friend and I actually only stumbled upon but turned out to be really interesting and cozy was Ivy & bros. They do serve various sorts of savoury and sweet dishes, and have good coffee as well. The interior is quite peculiar with odd bits and pieces here and there, and the staff is really nice and friendly. However, one has to get used to the fact that the café/shop is located right next to window brothels as it is situated in De Wallen – the red light district.

The markets

In Amsterdam one can find various types of markets such as flea markets or regular farmer’s markets, some of which have been open since the early 20th century. One of the old ones is Albert Cuyp Market which has been in existence since 1904. With over 300 stalls lining both sides of the Albert Cuyp market in the neighbourhood of De Pijp the market is probably the biggest one in Amsterdam. One can find fruits, veggies, cheese, fish, spices, clothes, cosmetics etc. there. Basically everything at a relatively cheap price. This is also the market where I had a giant freshly made Stroopwafel at the “Goudse Stroopwafel” stall for just 1.50 EUR. The Albert Cuyp market is open Mon – Sat from 9:30 – 17:00.

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The Netherlands are known for their flowers, so a visit to the city’s flower market is a must. Actually, we only happened to stumble upon it when walking around without no clear direction. Apparently the Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world as the stalls are actually standing on houseboats.  This market began trading in 1862 and is a truly colourful part of the city. One can find all sorts of flowers there, especially tulips, in bouquets, single flowers or bulbs. And loads of cacti! This flower market is located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein, and is open Mon-Sat 9:00 – 17.30 and Sun 11:30 – 17:30.

NDSM

One of the really trendy areas of Amsterdam is definitely NDSM. It used to be a shipyard until 1979 which transformed into a thriving cultural hotspot that bustles with artists’ works. A creative hub, an edgy art community, making it appealing for the new generation of creatives and entrepreneurs

One can reach this area by a ferry (free of charge!) from the main train station of the city. Upon arrival one first spots the old Russian submarine and a crane that is a boutique hotel now. The area definitely has a rustic feeling to it, especially the hangars and containers. Street art is present almost on every corner though, so there is quite a lot to explore there.

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NDSM – Nederlandse Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company) – is home to festivals throughout the year and a monthly flea market in the IJ-hallen. There are various cafés and restaurants where one can get delicious food and drinks but also enjoy the waterfront and the view of the city. One of those café/restaurant is the Noorderlicht where I had a really delicious and affordable vegan stew.

The bottom line

I would never wanna live in the city center, especially around the Red Light District with all the window brothels and the coffeeshops as I’d just not be comfortable around this area, and the main reason for this is definitely the tourist hordes. From time to time it was really annoying trying to get through the crowds, especially during the evening. I assume, though, that the average citizen does not often go to the city center (as it’s the case with most bigger cities) so it might be less annoying. And fair enough, my friend Carina and I did choose a weekend at the end of summer, and the weather was really good, so we already expected loads of tourists being there at the same time as we would be.

However, my short weekend trip to Amsterdam clearly reminded me of how much I like a city with canals! Copenhagen is full of them as well, but not to the extent of Amsterdam. It might be true that after a while every bridge, every canal, ever building along a canal might look the same (or at least similar) and that after a while you can’t even notice the difference anymore. However, I immediately fell in love with the town, and especially the parts off the beaten tourist paths are especially charming. Another nice add-on to the fact that I liked the city was the little Moscow reunion with my friend Katharina who was so kind enough to show us around town and answer (almost) all our questions we had about Amsterdam.

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Food Festival Vienna.

This week when I was having lunch at Banh Mi in Vienna, I stumbled across a flyer for a food festival that was about to take place in Vienna. The decision was made immediately: I had to go there ;)

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On Saturday my boyfriend, Julia (which you may remember from this blogpost) and I met there at lunchtime. The rush of visitors was okayish, the weather was quite nice as well – perfect day for a food festival that was held in the courtyard of one of the most noblest buildings in Vienna: the Town Hall.

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I think I’ve never been inside the town hall before, so this was the perfect opportunity to go and ‘explore’ it from the inside. Technically – just the courtyard and one small hall, but who cares… ;) It was still amazing to look at the picturesque facade and the small ‘park’ inside while enjoying the sun and delicious food!

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We also had a quick peek inside before the boy and I met up with my friend :D

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Food

Die Burgermacher
First, while waiting for Jules to arrive, the boy and I shared a goat-cheese burger from Die Burgermacher. I’ve heard of them before, but haven’t gotten around yet to go and visit the burger place at their restaurant in the 7th district, Burggasse 12.

Our opinion: very delicious, even though one of the ingredients of the sauce was olives, which I absolutely dislike.

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Wrapstars
Our next stop was Wrapstars, a food truck that specialises in…. wraps that are #realfood and #nobullshit ! :D Their base is organic couscous, organic black beans and kale. You can decide to have organic beef, organic pork or a veggie option. This is rounded up by different ‘flavours’.

Our opinion: we were very curious how couscous would taste like in a wrap. The combination of kale, couscous, black beans and their signature flavour of ‘Tasty by Nature’ made it a perfect wrap. I can wholeheartedly recommend it!

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Market Hall

There was also a market hall in the ‘Volkshalle’ of the town hall, where different market stalls provided visitors with information on various food-related subjects or you could also try a few things such as hip new drinks (e.g. Helga – made from algae) or Verjus (verjuice – a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes).

One of the things we tried (but also had to pay for of course) was one of the famous Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese egg tart pastry, from Nata Lisboa. It was the first time that I had one of those delicious treats, so I was super excited to try it.

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The Adamah BioHof also had a market stall there and we got to try a two organic juices and their concept of the ‘Biokistl’ was explained to us. Every week they deliver a box full of local, fresh, organic vegetables and/or fruits to your door. Very interesting concept and definitely something to think about when living in Vienna.

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However, there weren’t only stalls about food in the market hall. You could also see local upcycling design from ‘gabarage‘ – they had some of their “long-ton” designs, where they upcycled garbage cans into furniture. Again, very interesting concept and I’d love to see this furniture again somewhere.

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Our resume:
The food we tried was delicious yet a tiny bit expensive. But that’s just a given for food markets. Plus you get to try amazing food at a beautiful venue, so the prices were fine in my opinion.

Visitors in Copenhagen: Friends edition.

Last week I had my third visitors (and the last ones of the semester) in Copenhagen – my friends Julia & Mel. My landlady/flatmate was so nice and vacated the apartment for the weekends so we could have the whole flat to ourselves. As the semester is already finishing up I had lots of time for them – so there was a lot of sightseeing, food and shopping involved :)

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On the first day I took them straight to one of my favourite places for brunch/lunch – Paludan Bogcafe. I have mentioned it so many times already on my blog so I’m not gonna talk much about it – just that it was delicious as usual ;)

The Lakes

The Copenhagen Lakes (Søerne) are three rectangular lakes, located a bit to the west of the city centre (Indre by) of Copenhagen. The paths along the lakes are so beautiful and perfect for strolling around or just sitting there and enjoying the sunshine in May. It’s even possible to rent boats that look like huge swans. You can see them in the back of some pictures ;)

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Lakes

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Little Mermaid

Of course we also had to go and visit Copenhagen’s most famous monument – Den lille Havfrue. A bronze statuedisplaying a mermaid that was erected in 1913, in remembrance of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tale of the little mermaid.

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It was a sunny and hot day in May, so naturally many tourists came to see the girl. So we only briefly looked at her, got some pictures and sat on a bench instead to watch all the funny tourists. So many Germans there! :D

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You may have noticed my liking of cherry blossoms (and blossoms in general) in my previous blogpost so I was really happy to spot some still blooming trees near the little mermaid.

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Kastellet

I already went to the Kastellet (a fortress) when my family was in town so I actually didn’t want to go there again as the fortress itself is a bit… unimpressive. But my friends spotted the windmill and wanted to go, so I had no other choice… And I really like windmills, so why not ;)

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St. Alban’s Anglican Church near the kastellet

Nyhavn & shopping spree

We also could not not go to Nyhavn, could we?! :D But again: a sunny & warm day = too many people. So we only briefly went there, had a look at the beautiful house facades and the canal and took some pictures. Strøget is just around the corner, so we decided to go shopping :)

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My (Neighbour)Hood – Christianshavn

I also showed them my beautiful neighbourhood. Twice we walked to Papirøen (Street Food Market) – too many people on the first day and we didn’t want to wait forever to get food and left. But on our second visit we got the food within 10 minutes and sat next to the canal and enjoyed the sun and the view.

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Børsen (stock exchange) and Christiansborg Slot (parliament) are technically not in my neighbourhood, but just on the neighbouring island ;)

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At the moment there is the art installation “Unbearable” in front of the parliament that should make people aware of the danger of climate change and its effect on our earth. In my opinion, it is very thought provoking, eye-catching and beautifully done. Also, due to the fact that the installation is placed in front of a very touristy place many people have a look at it and will hopefully read the information.

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Neighbourhood

Amager Strandpark

After having pancakes and visiting Christiania on the last day there was only one place left that we haven’t been to and that was perfect for a sunny afternoon before my friends had to get on a plane and leave me: Amager Strandpark. My first (and last) visit there was in February when we still had snow :D So this time I could fully enjoy the beach, the sea and the spring weather. I even went into the sea :O but just with my feet. haha

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After spending some time there we headed to Dallevalle and had delicious sandwiches!

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Unfortunately, it was already time for my friends to say goodbye. I had such a lovely time with them (even though I had to play tour guide again) :)

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Enjoying the last week of October.

The past week was very relaxed. My boyfriend was visiting me and as I still had to finish my exam on Tesla Motors (yay) we did nothing much exciting during the first couple of days. After handing in my assignment and due to the fact that I only had two classes during the week we had a lot of free time.

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Hi there.

First, we went to Christiansborg Slot as I haven’t been there yet. Christiansborg Slot is a palace on the small island Slotsholmen in the centre of Copenhagen. It is the seat of the Danish parliament and also used by the Danish monarch. It was a very beautiful day, the sun was out and it was not cold at all.

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Guy with an owl.

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Christiansborg Slot

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Selfie in front of the castle

Then we went to an exhibition about Tolkien (mentioned here in a previous blogpost). As we were headed to the Royal Arsenal Museum, which is also on Slotsholmen, we also came across a small beautiful garden.

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A pond in the garden

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Shameless selfie again.


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The Tolkien’s Universe exhibition was about Tolkien and more or less based on the movies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, it was not as exciting as we’d imagined, but we had fun nevertheless and it was free admission, so yeah. And it took us a long time to figure out where the exhibition was located. :D

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After the museum we went to a tower where we’d have a beautiful view over Copenhagen. The tower was also located on Slotsholmen and the entrance was free. Funnily enough, we had to go through a security check just like on an airport in order to go up to the platform. The four or five people working there seemed very happy that someone showed up as there were not many people around to go up the tower.

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After spending a couple of hours on Slotsholmen, we had dinner at a Burger place near Kongens Nytorv – Cocks & Cows, which was recommended to us by a friend of mine (thanks again, Linda (: ) and which was packed the last time my boyfriend was here. The place is really nice, though a bit expensive. However, it was probably the best vegetarian burger that I have ever had!

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A beautiful day in CPH

As I was about to move places, my bike had to be moved as well. We took the chance and explored my new neighbourhood and found a few nice spots. One of it was the Kalvebod Bølge (Kalvebod Waves), a promenade that was opened in 2013 and its purpose is to reconnect the city with the water. It’s worth a visit!

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Beautiful to walk on

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playground?!

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Nice spot

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booh.

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My new neighbourhood, very posh ;)

Later on, as we were already in Christianshavn, we decided to go to the Street Food Market on Papirøen and enjoy Colombian/Thai Food and cakes.

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Very cute boat

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Halloween spirit everywhere

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Bull’s head

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Enjoying cakes

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Underneath a bird.

We also spent quite some time in a Lego store…

On Saturday (the last day that my boyfriend was in town) we had lunch at the Street Food market again – there’s just too much delicious food there! Besides, it was the very first time that I tried a Korean dish and of course I’ve already forgotten the name of it. haha. We also treated ourselves to some delicious Apple Crumble Pancakes. YUM!

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Street food market

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Pancakes!!

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Bird!

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And birds again!

We had a lovely week together that included a lot of food :)

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Last selfie of the post.

Street food markets seem to be popular.

In a previous blog post I mentioned that I have already had a look at a food market here in Copenhagen. As Facebook is/was flooded with Food Market events in Copenhagen, I wanted to go to another one and another one and another one and so on.

Carina and I were pretty excited to go to one in or around the meatpacking district as it sounded so delicious. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed due to the lack of vegetarian options. However, I have already come around to the fact that there’s bacon in almost every meal and my choices are therefore limited.

I paid 30 kroner for a teeny-tiny Taco, which was the only veggie option for me (well there was also veggie pasta but I’ve had too many pasta dishes lately…). It was very good though but it made me hungrier than I had been before. However, the market was very cute – with the colourful trucks and tables – very trendy and hip :D


University was pretty much the same as during the first couple of weeks. Early classes = lots of coffee & lots of time to make travelling plans. The only two really interesting things were Society Day and the beginning of my Danish class.

There was one day at CBS where all the societies and clubs were introduced which meant there was lots of free stuff to get :) I stocked up my pen supply, got a free bag, free coffee and even free blue soft ice cream, which was surprisingly good. The variety of societies that one can join is very limited compared to the University of Sheffield (where I went on exchange during my bachelor’s) but large compared to the Vienna University of Business & Economics (where I did my bachelor’s). The annoying aspect at CBS is that you have to properly apply to become a real member of the society – with CV, motivational letter and sometimes even an assessment center. On the other hand, if you only want to take part in the fun events and don’t want to look behind the curtain (which would of course look good on a CV…) you can easily take part by just showing up or buying the tickets online. I haven’t decided yet whether I really want to join a society or just go to the events that interest me the most.

So I had my first Danish class last week. Danish classes are offered for Danish students and staff for free (actually, only if you have a permanent address and are registered properly which we haven’t, but who cares) and you even get the course books without having to pay for them.

If you have a look at the linguistic classification, Danish with around 5.5 million native speakers is part of the sub-group North Germanic, which is one of the three subdivisions of the Germanic branch. There are a some similarities to German: god = gut (good) , hund = hund (dog) and agurk = Gurke (cucumber). (Those are the ones that came to my mind and that I knew before :D ).

My first Danish class was very interesting, fun and different as expected. The most surprising thing to me was that you don’t pronunciate Danish the way you write it. WHICH WILL MAKE IT SO HARD TO LEARN. Grammar is supposed to be easy though. We will see! ;D

We had to laugh a lot in our first class due to the fact that some words just sound so ridiculous (no offense to any Danish speakers!!). Jeg hedder Christina, jeg taler tysk og kommer fra Østrig ;) I’m looking forward to the next weeks but I’m not sure yet how thoroughly I will study it.


Last Friday Carina, Sarah (from the US) and I went to another street food market which is open every weekend all year round (at least I think so?!). It is located in Christianshavn on Papirøen (Paper Island). The sun was out – with a few clouds and a bit of wind though. On Papirøen you have the possibility to either sit outside and enjoy the food overlooking the waterfront or enjoy your meal indoors in the open hall.

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Pancakes!

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Disco Cow hanging above our heads

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Every dish is nicely presented

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Smoørrebrød

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There were many different types of food, you could find trucks with food from all around the globe. They even had a few vegetarian options as well and some dedicated solely to sweet dishes. YAY! :) Every food truck had a sample dish somewhere so you could make a decision based on the sample which made it a lot easier to choose.

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Vegetarian Colombian Food. YUM

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So many cheesecakes!

I had a delicious Paisan dish – red bean stew with mango salad, plantain chips, rice and a fried egg. Later on we indulged ourselves to coffee and a slice of cheesecake. Sarah wanted to have a pancake but everytime we had a look at the pancake food truck, the guy had a sign that he “WENT FISHING” although he was just sitting around somewhere. So no pancakes for us. Due to the wind we stayed inside and had a nice walk around Christianshavn later.

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ART

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A bridge that hasn’t been finished yet and probably never will.

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Fancy houseboat on the right

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