Discovering magic in the cold
- + 25
Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, United States15 days / October 2017
Highs & Lows
Seeing the northern lights without planning.
Getting slightly lost in Hamburg.
After endlessly planning this trip, these fifteen days were incredibly well spent and absolutely memorable. It started because of a work meeting taking place in Amsterdam, but we got to take advantage of it thanks to fall break.
We started by flying from home to Amsterdam, where we would stay at first for just one night before starting to move around. Since it would be a quick stay, we chose a hotel in the airport and took a quick train ride to the city centre. This first day after landing helped us get a little bit used to the cold weather and it was a chance to walk through the streets of this beautiful city. The next day we got to walk by the canals and even though we didn’t actually go inside any of the museums yet, just walking by them was an incredible experience; everything was amazing, from the food to the weather. The nights at Amsterdam were magical, the way the lights reflected off the water and the boats made you feel part of a movie.
The next morning, we took a train from Amsterdam to Hamburg, where we would stay the day and in the late afternoon would fly to Copenhagen. Hamburg was incredible, a beautiful city with beautiful bodies of water and amazing building. We stumbled a little bit while in the city but eventually we made it to the airport by train, from where we’d take an airplane to Denmark. We stayed 2 nights in Copenhagen, at a hotel called Cabinn City nearby Tivoli Gardens and just a couple of blocks away from City Hall Square; this hotel had bunk beds which were pretty comfortable for a few days where you planned to spend as little time as possible at the hotel. This city went beyond what I could have imagined, with beautiful architecture, history and just culture all over. From walking along Nyhavn and its great colorful buildings, and through Stroget, to visiting the famous little mermaid statue, which just enhances the love for Hans Christen Andersen that the city gives off. It’s a charming city with lots of places to see and wander at, great food and beautiful sights.
After enjoying Copenhagen, we flew over to Stockholm in Sweden. This city gave a completely different feeling from the one we had just visited, and to an extent felt like you were thrown in a story book, including a bunch of streets and alleys that will remind you of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley right away. There´s a magic to this city that cannot be explained, and we were able to experience it to the fullest. We stayed 3 nights in the city, at a hotel that was just amazing, not because of its fancy rooms or five-star ratings; it was a boat. At that time, it was called the Anedin Hostel, but since it has changed its name to MS Birger Jarl (MS Baltic Star in English), the ships original name. This hotel is incredible and filled with amazing history. It´s just beside the Fotografiska, and across the water from Gröna Lund; though it may be a further walk away from most museums and city highlights. There are so many things to do in the city, and each is very different from the others, from visiting the Nobel Prize Museum and enjoying not only the history but the beauty of the building, to visiting the more modern Abba Museum for music fans. This city is truly filled with history and museums, as well as a wonderful feeling of mystery; you won’t be bored for a second. There are streets filled with amazing shops and restaurants to find any type of food you’re into, and if you’re lucky you may be able to see a spectacle that needs no reservations. Out of mere chance we looked out of the hotel room windows in the exact time and noticed some weird lights over the city; moments later we were outside in the hotel’s deck watching the northern lights float above. This experience has been one of the most amazing I’ve experienced and moves this city to the top of any list.
Next up, we flew to Oslo in Norway, preparing ourselves for the cold and ready to spend 4 nights before returning to Amsterdam. We had been all the way to up Sweden by then and the cold was definitely getting noticed, we were used to wearing thermal underwear and a bunch of jackets by then, but as soon as we stepped outside the airport, we could feel the cold rush through us like never before. We stayed at the Thon Hotel Munch, a really comfortable hotel with breakfast included and it was just a short walk away from the Royal Palace. Oslo has a completely different atmosphere from the other cities, much more peaceful and maybe because of the cold itself it feels much lonelier. Oslo is an amazing mix between a classic and historic city and modern architecture and lifestyles; it makes you picture Vikings sailing around the fjords as well as make you want to live there in one of the modern buildings. For me, some of the most incredible places in the city were the Oslo Opera House, the Aker Brygge waterside, the city hall building and the Nobel Peace Center; and those are just a few of the incredible things you can do while in the city.
When our time in Oslo was up, we flew back to Amsterdam for the remaining days. This time, due to the business conference we stayed at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel. This was beautiful, with amazing spacious rooms that included some of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam, as well as more contemporary restaurants and social areas. While in this hotel, we were just a couple of blocks away from the Anne Frank House, the NEMO Science Museum, the Royal Palace and of course right in front of the gorgeous canals that characterize this city. On the days we were able to walk around the city, we got to visit wonderful museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s House which takes you on an incredible emotional journey, walk through the Nine Streets filled with shops and cafes and so much more. Amsterdam has an air of history mixed with a feeling of casual new life, along with the feeling of entertainment. It’s magical to just be able to rent a bike and become one more in the sea of wheels that cover this city; to stop by the cheese shops to try a bit of everything or to just walk through the streets looking at the gift shop windows that capture a part of the darker personality of Amsterdam. It was a pleasure doing business in the city just to be able to walk by the canals.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
I would prep everything with a little more time, to investigate about the cities and pinpoint what places I want to visit.
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Getting mixed up in Hamburg, but it was quickly resolved.
How was the food?
Great places of all types, cafes are great in Amsterdam and any waterside restaurant in any of the cities is a good choice.
What tips would you give a friend?
Check what places you want to visit in each city beforehand, so you don’t miss anything.
If you’re travelling during fall (October-November), make sure to pack warmly. You could use some thermal underwear, winter jackets and scarfs. It’s possible you’ll get used to the cold after a few days, so how warm you want to pack depends on how high up you’re going.
I am a fan of walking, so mainly that; besides that, since we were travelling with someone that couldn’t walk as much, tour buses were great to visit nice spots in each city.
I make most of my reservations on Expedia or directly on the hotel websites.