The Painting Fiasco: Getting Our House to a Normal State

August 29, 2013

The last week has seen our house turned upside-down. It was a bit chaotic – and it happened to be a time we were hosting our beautiful friend Cynthia. 🙂

You see, when we did the walk-through, the landlord said that the walls needed to be repainted. Only problem is, we moved in the next day. Then the painter guy was on vacation. So long story short, he was just now able to paint our place. You know, nearly a month later.

Now, what I thought would be a day affair was not so. He came in, inspected the rooms, then said he could NOT paint the colored walls that we had agreed earlier would be painted. Well, fine, so I could paint them how I wanted. See example A below.

Yellow spongy walls!

Then he proceeded to spend an hour taping up two rooms, leaving for an hour to get supplies, and taking another hour to paint one room. Then he took a three hour lunch break. Wow. If we could all work so hard.

He only came back for another couple hours in the afternoon to paint two more rooms. Then he said he was done for the day and he would come back next week. Umm…really? We didn’t exactly sign up for a multi-day thing here. Dejectedly, we spent the entire time Cynthia was here with our furniture moved into the middle of rooms and the house a mess.

It so happens, he came back on Tuesday to paint the rest of the house. Or so we thought. The day started with him finding a giant crack in the ceiling that made it look like the floor above us was going to cave in. Why we hadn’t noticed this in a month of living here I have no idea. Anyway, after talking with the landlord, he wacked all the plaster away to inspect it, we found that it was nothing to worry about, and then he had to get plastering supplies to re-plaster the ceiling.

While this was happening, I was then able to paint our living/dining room wall light green!

Finally, around 4pm he said he was done for the day. Then he came back this morning to finish the two bathrooms. Meanwhile, this morning we also had visitors from some guys who wanted to do something with our windows. Just what, I have no idea, but it involved sanding down the outside of them. Note to self – learn German better to read the notice they put on the front door of our building.

The rest of our living room — almost back to normal

Hopefully this is the last of it. I just want everything to be back in place and for our home to, you know, actually start feeling like a home. I mean, it’s been over 4 months. I’m getting really antsy to have a comfortable home of my own about now.

My Glamorous Swiss Life

August 11, 2013

I did not know what direction this post would take when I started writing it earlier this week, but it has evolved into more of a reflective post about how living life as an expat isn’t always as glamorous it seems. Therefore, I have created a new “Reflections/Personal” category to file this under and wanted to put out a disclaimer that this post is directed more towards friends and family — and also to fellow expats.

I was going to post about my recently acquired GA pass which allows me to travel the country. It’s a beautiful thing and I made use of it by traveling to Konstanz on Monday, finding a nice cafe on the Rhein with free wifi and working on my grad school applications.

Sojourn to Konstanz

However, I decided that the post praising the wonders of the GA can wait.

You see, I’ve been in a reflective mood this week. Maybe it has something to do with me trying to wrap my mind around writing a personal statement for grad school and thinking about what I want my future to be. In thinking about this, I’ve been reflecting on my time here and how things are so much different than I imagined them to be.

Before I came here, I had imagined a lot of things about how my life would be. I told people that I would have so much time on my hands to do all sorts of personal projects, like finally put together the wedding video (yeah, still not happening), learn how to play the piano and guitar, and have plenty of time for Coursera classes. I’d learn German. I’d learn how to cook and always have a warm meal for my husband. I joked with Aunt Shana and Uncle Dave that I’d be making a trip to the market every day. And most of all, I knew that I would spend most of my time traveling and exploring.

Well, now that I’ve been here 4 months (today!), I’m noticing that my visions of life in Switzerland are not all as planned. Come on fellow expats, back me up: when you are finally living the dream in a foreign country, you find that priorities you thought you would have become shifted and new ones quickly take their place. It can be disconcerting, feeling like you aren’t accomplishing what you told everyone back home you would be doing. And yet it can also be greatly rewarding — finding things to focus your energy on that you would have never imagined when you were dreaming about this glamorous lifestyle way back when.

So, for me… Learning German? Ok, yes, I’m now in level 3 – so this mostly remained a priority, though I feel I never have time to practice or utilize it because A) I surround myself with expats on a daily basis and B) In the land of Swiss-German, it’s not as easy as one might think to practice high-German. Cooking for Mr. Goat? Haha, oh please. I’m actually rather surprised at just how unenthused I am about cooking in general these days. Personal projects? Don’t know if I’ll ever have time! And traveling? Well, this is another area that I’ve seen missing in my life here (besides the few weekend trips Mr. Goat and I have made).

It feels strange. To not have time for all these things that I decided were priorities merely months ago. And thus, I’ve been re-evaluating my goals this week. What is really important?

Well, here is the list I’ve compiled about what I consider (now) my top priorities:

1. Grad School application and studying for the GRE

2. Musical Rehearsal

3. Red Cross volunteering

4. Travel (yes, it’s moved down to #4!!)

5. Learning German

The problem with this is my other various engagements constantly threaten to take over my time — including various social groups and activities I have found myself a part of, trying to make this house a home, planning for friends and family who are visiting, etc. It’s amazing to me  just how easily my time can be used up and just how many distractions I have bombarding me on a daily basis. The previous though was: hey, I won’t be working, I’ll have time for everything.

The thought now is: how did I become this jumbled and when will I ever get anything done?? Interesting to realize that when I was employed, I had it easier. It was so much simpler to draw the line with activities I had time for vs. those I didn’t. To feel like I could get things done. Now, I cannot seem to accurately gauge just how much of a time-suck all my activities are.

I recently have tried many time-management techniques to make myself more productive. So far, nothing has really worked. Don’t get me wrong, I love being this busy and to have discovered so many productive ways to spend my unemployed time. But in a lot of ways, I feel so much more scattered these day. I feel like I need to get more grounded. To fall into more of a routine. And to stop taking on so many new activities! Apparently, much to my dismay, I can’t do it all.

Cannons and Bonfires: Swiss National Day

August 2, 2013

So, I woke up yesterday bright and early at 7am (I know some of you who work earlier than that are snickering at me right now). The cause of why I woke so suddenly was what sounded like people setting off fireworks at very precise spacing apart from each other. I wrote it off as excitement because it was Swiss National Day (much like the predictable occurrence of hooligans setting off fireworks bright and early on the 4th of July to the extreme delight of their neighbors). It went on for, I want to say, a solid half hour, in unison with groans from Mr. Goat.

It wasn’t until later when I was looking up the festivities for the day that I realized exactly what it was. And it wasn’t fireworks. Please click here for pictures and a better explanation than I can provide (although you will need to translate this page with Google Translate or read in Chrome with translator on, as I couldn’t find it in English). I am so going to this next year! Cannons and a 38-shot gun salute? Count me in.

Leading up to the day, I didn’t know exactly how Zürich celebrated August 1st. All the blogs I was reading were telling me to spend the day swimming on the lake, at concerts, or at some party a bar was hosting. Thanks to the Canton of Zürich for posting an official program of the celebratory activities — in English! You can find the Bundesfeier 2013 program here.

So after learning that I missed the awesome wake-up call, I decided I wasn’t going to miss the rest of the day! I went down to see the procession near Bürkliplatz around 10:30 and then the following program at 11. Aaaaand now I know why fellow bloggers weren’t recommending the official program. It was a yawn fest. Note to self: don’t need to see all that next year.

Here are some photos of the day:

Procession through town to Bürkliplatz

And what day celebrated by the Swiss would be complete without the obligatory Alphorn performance?

As night drew nearer, we were looking for ways to celebrate, since much to Mr. Goat’s disappointment, we weren’t able to get fireworks to light off ourselves. At 8pm, sitting outside eating dinner, I began hearing more bells than I have ever heard before in our new home. These bells continued echoing on from all directions for at least 15 minutes. It was quite magical, really. Then, as night fell, we made our way out to Altstetten’s neighborhood bonfire. It’s pretty awesome that neighborhoods put on bonfires for National Day. Next year we are totally bringing s’mores supplies.

And then we came home to this. Poor Marius was cowering in the smallest area he could find in response to all the fireworks.

Wine Tasting Out of Turin

July 30, 2013

This past weekend, Mr. Goat and I traveled to Turin, Italy, which is about a 5 1/2 hour train ride from Zürich — or, that is, should have been. So when we were booking the trip, I noticed there was a direct train to Milan and then a connection to Turin. Sounded like a good plan to me. Mr. Goat, however, decides that he wants to shave 25 minutes off the trip by adding in 2 more connections. Therefore, we ended up with the plan of Zurich –> Bern –> Brig –> Milan –> Turin.

Well, needless to say, we got as far as Bern before that whole plan went out the window. You will find this hard to believe, but we were actually on a Swiss train that was late. Yep, we got into Bern a grand total of seven minutes late. Which, apparently, was enough to make us miss our connection. Cue eye roll and “I told you so.”

Now what would have been arrival in Turin around 11pm Friday turned into arrival closer to 1:30am. Luckily, we made those later connections and sure enough arrived at our AirBnB apartment shortly after 1:30. Exhausted and hoping to get sleep before our next busy day, we went straight to bed.

Saturday, to our great relief, was just one of those idyllic days that you look back upon and long to recreate.

Let me begin by saying that this was a very last minute trip for us. As in, we just decided on Thursday that we were going away for the weekend. We chose Turin because it was close enough to Zurich to use the trains, which made it cheaper than most other destinations we were looking at. And because it was near a famous wine region in Italy: Piedmont. Which meant we damn well better be able to make it out wine tasting if we went to Turin. Thus, on Thursday, I spent the morning searching for wine tours. I emailed about three tour guides and one of them not only had one of those speedy replies that makes you renew your faith in the ability of humankind to integrate with technology, but said they were available! I spent some time doing what I could to evaluate them — which was actually quite easy, seeing as they were the most visible and had the most reviews out of all our options. So I booked it!

And, as I alluded to earlier, they did not disappoint. We had one of those perfect days. Where you don’t have to worry about a thing and you can completely relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and delicious food and wine. Which is exactly what you want when exploring wine country, right? If you are curious to hear more details about the tour, see my Trip Advisor review.

But really, I cannot recommend Travel Langhe enough. If you decide you need to explore a wine region in Italy, you would do well to pick them and the Piedmont region. In fact, we’re already talking about when we’ll be back! 🙂 One weekend and one day of that in wine country was not nearly enough time.

And now for the picture section of the post:

Romantic tasting in the middle of the Pasquale Pelissero vineyards in front of ciabot Bricco San Giuliano

Favorite photo of the trip

The BEST specialty store we have been in. Lots of samples to try (which meant we bought just about all the food they were sampling), and being surrounded by laughing, happy people. This Enoteca in Neive was like a dream.

Wine country view

Turin

View of Turin from the top of the Mole Antonelliana

Me walking the magnificent streets of Turin

My second favorite photo of the trip. Taken in Parco del Valentino

It Came, I Saw, They Conquered

July 14, 2013

They being the crowds, that is. And the fireworks committee. Lighting fireworks off of a helicopter and  streaming out of the back of an airplane?? Hello. How awesome is Zürich!?

What is all of this I am referring to? Why Züri Fäscht of course; the three-day-long party that happens only once every three years. And oh what a party it was.

Watching an air show by the lake in the sunset — can life get much better?

So much music and food and drinking. And the program wasn’t half bad: airplane shows, parachuters, high-divers, tightrope walking, classic-styled cars driving in the water (designed as car-boats), and oh, so much more. It was just amazing walking around the lake and checking out all the booths.

Really cool metal-crafting booth

I realize now why some friends did not choose to explore the festival all three days like crazy Mr. Goat and me. The massive amounts of people crammed together can get a little overwhelming. One of the most ridiculous moments of crowd chaos came when we were trying to cross the Münsterbrücke right as the tightrope walker was finishing his walk between the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster.

Tightrope walker starting at the Grossmünster

It took 30 minutes just to cross this bridge!! Largest crowd I’ve seen since Disneyland.

What I learned from Züri Fäscht:

There was a program they were selling at all major tram stops a week leading up to the festival as well as a detailed guide online (both in German only), but I think it’s unnecessary to really study these through and through. It’s fine to locate a few things you don’t want to miss out on (especially if you’re interested in attending a concert), but the majority of the program was repeated each day, sometimes multiple times (like the tightrope walker), and if you found yourself around Bellevueplatz or the Münsterbrücke, you would see it all easily. I learned to avoid exploring the festival at all costs on Saturday afternoon, as this was by far the peak time when everyone and their mom was out and you literally cannot move in the crowd. However, I learned that by the time Sunday rolls around, most people are done (or recovering) and you feel like you have the streets all to yourself! But then you have to put up with Zürich as you’ve never seen it before. Dirty!

Seriously, I didn’t think I was in Zürich anymore.

What a party! Can’t wait until the next one three years from now.

Top 5 Things to do in Prague

June 26, 2013

Hello world!  Yeah, like many other bloggers I am following, it seems that the start of summer has slowed down the posting. 😉

I’m still here in Zurich; exploring parks with my dog, continuing the intensive German classes, beginning rehearsal for a musical (!!), attending Red Cross volunteer meetings, attending picnics, and just trying to enjoy summer while it’s here!

So with that quick catch up, here’s a post on my top 5 things to do in Prague — because we just spent a long weekend there.

1. The Pivo

The typical glass you will find your pivo served in

Ok, so not really a sight to see or something to explore. Not even any certain kind of pivo (beer), just the pivo in general. But in case you are looking for a few recommendations, the following places had pretty great pivo: U Sadu (very unique interior decor), U Zlateho Tygra (just one on tap, but amazing), U Flecku (also just one on tap and very touristy). We likely didn’t even make it out to all the best spots. Really, just get some beer here anywhere you go and you should be set.

2. Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) and St. Vitus Cathedral

This photo hardly does the Cathedral justice

Of course this makes it on my list. There’s so much history here that for that alone, it should be in everyone’s top 5. Plus, this Cathedral is absolutely my new favorite Cathedral in the world. I recommend taking the “short visit,” (as opposed to the more expensive “long visit” ticket with more things to see), but then again, I guess I don’t know what I missed. I just know that the short visit to Prague Castle, the Cathedral, and the Golden Lane took us about 3 hours and was quite enough to see. Mr. Goat particularly enjoyed the impressive collection of armor and weaponry dating back from the middle ages (and if I recall, even some much earlier items).

3. Malá Strana (St. Nicholas Church)

In this church, there are many opportunities to take fancy pictures like this

I’ve never seen so much gold in one place in my life. Now this is what I called getting carried away with your decor. As a bonus, nearby is the glorious Bakeshop where Mr. Goat and I got breakfast to go every morning. Really wish Zurich had something like this.

4. The Love Locks

If you look closely, every one of these locks has basically the same sort of thing inscribed on them:
A + R = (love symbol)

Ok, so I know it’s cheesy and apparently Prague is not the only city that has this, but it was my first experience seeing this, so I thought I’d at least tell you where you can find it in Prague. Apparently, there are many different theories as to why this tradition began, but the symbolism, I think, is quite romantic — adding your lock to the collection and then throwing away the key; therefore becoming bound with your partner forever in time (well, or at least until the city decides to clean it all up).

5. Trdelnik

They make these sugary, crunchy bread treats reminiscent of caramel corn right in front of you. Bonus — check out the awesome Chess lady buying one!

Trdelniks, the specialty of Prague — or at least it sure seemed that way, because they were sold on the street everywhere. And they are delicious. Definitely makes my top 5 list.

So there you have it! From our weekend in Prague, I have determined that these are my top recommendations for friends.

Now to go back in the sun while it lasts!

How Did This Starbucks Appear in My Hands?

June 3, 2013

Yes, I hail from Seattle: Starbucks center of the world.

What the world imagines a typical Seattlite to look like

No, I was not a huge fan of Starbucks back home. There is much more interesting and artisanal coffee to be found. And dare I say, many Seattlites would agree with me. Come on Seattlites reading this blog, back me up. Starbucks is the root of all evil, yes?

So then tell me: WHY did I end up with a Starbucks in my hand?? Not just one time, either, but I’m ashamed to admit that on average I’ve been getting a grande latte once or twice weekly since I’ve been here. Yes, I know. A grande. I was never more than a tall type of girl.  But fear not, I haven’t yet degraded to fancy-shmancy coffee orders which would really single me out as an arrogant Seattle coffee snob.

Taken at my most recent Starbucks visit. And yes, the prices are outrageous.

Well, besides the fact that I think I had been subconsciously seeking out anything that might remind me of home, it’s because I *desperately* need coffee in order to get in any state of mind for my morning German classes. And, much to my surprise, it has been nearly impossible to find coffee around Bellevueplatz. I have spent countless mornings walking around for nearly a half an hour all the way up into the Niederdorf. I have found a few decent looking cafes — which were not open before 9. -.-  There are a couple restaurants open that early which I have not checked out yet, but who knows, may sell decent coffee to go.

Anyway, point is, unless I’m clearly missing some amazing place (and please point it out to me in the comments), I cannot seem to find coffee around Bellevueplatz. Except for Starbucks, that is.

And then one day in German class, when I come in with my grande latte, I strike up a conversation with the only other American in my class (who I have consequently seen with Starbucks in hand). I vent to him about the difficulty in finding other coffee options nearby and he says “well, did you try the coffee shop at Bellevueplatz?” My head spins — what coffee shop?? I’ve searched this whole area nearly every morning. I don’t understand.

It takes him about 5 minutes to explain this to me (and that’s in English), but apparently I’ve been blind to a coffee shop right in Bellevueplatz. Like where my tram drops me off. Very confused, I decided to check it out the next time I’m having serious issues waking up in the morning.

Coffee shop right IN Bellevueplatz (in the background – see the glass doors). How did I miss this?

Indeed, he was right. There is a coffee shop RIGHT there in Bellevueplatz that I have walked by every morning and ignored. Well, wouldn’t you too? I mean, come on, you can’t see into the coffee shop. It’s just this small round thing in the middle of all these tram stops. I had written it off as a ticket station or something.

Coffee verdict: I got a latte, which had waaay too much milk in the milk to coffee ratio, but when I *could* taste the coffee, it was worlds better than the Starbucks I had subjected myself to for the last month. Next time I think I’ll just go for drip.

So tell me Zurichers: where is the good coffee??

Note to Self: Always Take Weather Forecasts Seriously

May 28, 2013

You are not in Seattle anymore.

P.S. Get yourself an umbrella.

Zurich rain is some serious stuff. None of that sissy Seattle “oh I think I’ll take a sprinkle today. For the entire day.” I mean, that Seattle has over Zurich for sure. That is, the amount of day taken up by raining (drizzling). But many in Seattle really see umbrellas as unnecessary. Or even as “a quick way to spot someone not from Seattle.”

Seattlites: “You’re joking, right? My sprinkler produces more water than this.”

Seattle’s got nothing on Zurich. I’ve found that Zurich is the type of city where when it rains, it pours. And unlike in Seattle, where you really never know what the weather will be like regardless of what the weatherman says, Zurich, I have come to realize, actually has relatively reliable forecasts. And if it was sunny and warm with a bright happy blue sky at 5pm and you go in for an hour and a half yoga class without a coat, umbrella, or a care in the world, thinking: “there’s no way that silly rain prediction will come true,” then you’ve got another thing coming.

FML

I found out the hard way.

Yes, I specifically took the long way home with two trams just to minimize the time spent in that downpour. Yes, my already slightly see-through shirt was soaked even still.

Just imagine if you will, a poor bewildered — and very chilled — girl clutching her yoga mat fiercely to her chest as if to ward off the bucket-loads of water carelessly thrown her way.

See her shivering, the water streaming down her hair in constant rhythm as if reflective of her state of being and regret upon deciding earlier to not pack a jacket. See the wise ones shaking their heads, safely under their umbrellas, as they watch this pathetic creature desperately waiting for the warmth and dryness of the tram to take her home; defenseless and without even a fricken tram shelter to stand under (I mean, come on Switzerland! In Paradeplatz, no less).

You see that? No shelter on the left side! Yes, yes, I know, 1st world problems.

Watch as she frantically leaps into the arriving tram, hardly waiting for the doors to fully open. See her seek sanctuary in the nearest seat and then abruptly make a concerted effort to appear as though everything is normal. After all, everything is fine now. She is dry. For the moment.

Look how she rides the short distance home, all the while dreading the torrent that awaits her merely minutes later.

Her stop arrives. The time has come. Back into the storm.

She sees the doors part and cautiously sets a foot on the ground.

Wait. What is this? Can it be??

It has stopped raining.

Never thought I’d say this, but I love (this kind of) rain!!  Really, I don’t care how hard it rains, as long as it passes quickly. No more 40 days and 40 nights of miserable weather for me, please.

Though my next purchase is most certainly an umbrella. That I will always carry when the forecast has rain in it.

Myths About Apartments Debunked

May 17, 2013

In Zurich, it can be tough to find an apartment, no doubt.  There are several pieces of advice I have heard from others regarding the rental search process as once you have gone through it yourself, you understand just how much of a pain it can be.

However, there are some things — let’s refer to them as “myths” — that I have heard and some that I likely just imagined myself; several of which I have shared with many of you in conversation and now I would like to take the opportunity to clear it up.

Myth #1.

Apartments in Switzerland do NOT come with any appliances!! You must buy your own fridge, stove, oven, etc.

This fridge cost me more than the apartment itself

Fact

ALL Apartments we looked at in Zurich came with a fridge, stove and oven. Many even came with a dishwasher. Only a handful offered to sell the washing machine in-unit.

Myth #2.

If you do not search for an apartment during the two “moving months” (March and September), then you are out of luck because the market will be severely limited.

Why can’t I find a single listing!!??

Fact

While it may be true that there are not as many places listed, we certainly were not lacking for apartments on the market. We signed up for homegate’s daily mailer with our search criteria and received an average of 5-8 new listings per day. We considered close to 100 apartments before finding “the one.”

Myth #3.

That is your price range? Yeah, you might want to consider expanding that…  (I.e. Apartments are very expensive here)

I’m worth *much* more than I look

Fact

Sure, if you want to live in the heart of the Niederdorf, you’re going to pay for it. However, there are quite affordable options in and around Zurich city. Several apartments we considered were well below our anticipated price point. When you look in Oerlikon, Horgen, Schwamendingen and Albisrieden you can find particularly good rates. And all are within a 20-25 minute tram/train ride to downtown.

Myth #4.

World’s smallest kitchen.

Enough space for bananas in the windowsill

Fact:

Yeah, this was pretty much proven true. Kitchens in Europe are tiny.

Ok, so in addition to myth busting, there were a few new things I learned about apartments here.

Interesting Fact 1.

Nearly all apartments here come with storm shutters!

Safe for the winter. Or to sleep in until 5. PM.

Interesting Fact 2.

Previous tenants will sometimes offer to sell you things they would like to leave behind in the apartment. For us, this means we will get an extremely discounted washing machine! Several others we saw offered to sell such things as wardrobes (which most apartments do NOT have built in), lighting fixtures (also not guaranteed to come with your place), tables, coat hangers, shelves or curtain hangers they installed.

How else would you inherit funky ceiling lights?

How else would you inherit funky ceiling lights?

Interesting Fact 3.

Nearly all apartments we saw had balconies. It seems a standard of living here is that you are expected to have a large balcony.

You get a free balcony. And you. AND you! You ALL get free balconies!!

You get a free balcony. And you. AND you! You ALL get free balconies!!

Interesting Fact 4.

Bomb shelter!

Yep, you heard right. Apartments in Switzerland are required to have a basement storage unit that serves as your fallout shelter. You are expected to keep food and water rations there. (In addition to your bikes, ski equipment, furniture and other goodies that won’t fit in your apt.)

Enough space for all your boxes of miscellaneous stuff. And you of course.

Apartment searching is always stressful. We suffered through just over a month of stress and then – hooray!! – we found the place. The good news is it has nearly everything we were looking for and we are very happy with it. The bad news is we will not move in until the last week of July. Thus begins the search for a temporary sublet.

Spring Seekers: Copenhagen at a Glance

May 9, 2013

Mr. Goat and I have had the great fortune to not only enjoy the budding leaves and flowers of Seattle in late March and early April, but also Spring V2 in Zurich for the remainder of April and now Spring V3 in Copenhagen this past week. I guess that’s what happens when it doesn’t get remotely warm/sunny until May.

Cherry blossoms blooming in May!? Who would have guessed.

Cherry blossoms in May!? Who would have guessed.

Initial impressions of Copenhagen:

1. Flattest city I’ve ever seen (elevation varies from 3ft to 299ft – on the one hill of the city).

2. Bikes everywhere!

3. Such diversity in architecture.

4. All buses should play classical music.

We stayed in what Mr. Goat dubbed a “bro-tel” (AirBnB apartment rental by a couple of dudes who totally had a bachelor pad). One of my favorite features was the bathroom, which had a toilet, sink, and then this odd looking device.

HelloShower

Thanks for taking this photo, Peter!

Yeah, that’s right. The shower was just hanging there (looking more like a phone), out in the open with the rest of the bathroom. First time I’ve had to squeegee the floor around the toilet after taking a shower. No socks allowed!

We spent a few days exploring the city, enjoying good food and beer and counted ourselves very lucky with the sunny weather. Copenhagen is definitely rated in my top favorite cities in the world now. I really fell in love with the town.

Here are my top 15 things to do in Copenhagen:

15. Christiania – no visit to Copenhagen is complete without visiting this alternative-lifestyle (read: hippies), “green-light-district” part of town.

14. Amalienborg Palace – four royal palaces flanking a square. The winter residence of the Danish royal family. Not really recommended to see the changing of the guards at noon. More like a 20-minute long staring contest of the guards.

13. Kastellet – fortification with a church, prison, windmill, Commandant’s quarters and other houses. If you walk farther along the greenery towards the water you will eventually hit the Little Mermaid sculpture, if you’re into that sort of thing.

12. St. Alban’s Anglican Church. Near Kastellet, beautiful church and fountain.

11. Climb the Church of Our Saviour spire and get the best view of the city.

10. The Royal Library – aka “The Black Diamond.” What a marvel.

9. Christiansborg Slot – This palace struck me as more grand and impressive than the more famous one mentioned at 14.

8. Støget – longest pedestrian shopping street in the world – gorgeous cobblestoned road. Pass by some lovely churches, fountains, and squares.

7. University Botanical Gardens – huge peaceful and picturesque park. Also, there is a 19th century greenhouse that felt like a sauna (in a good way) due to it being somewhere around 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than outside.

6. Mother – Italian pizza restaurant we visited twice during our visit, we enjoyed it so much. Recommended: the Prosciutto or Affumicata pizzas. Opt for wine over beer.

5. SMK (National Gallery) – Free entrance. Very interesting merging of new and old artwork right down to the very buildings they are housed in.

4. Ny Carlsberg Glypotek – primarily a sculpture museum housed in a gorgeous building (the architecture and decoration inside the building is worth visiting alone). Free entrance Sundays.

3. Schønnemann – Traditional Danish lunch. Absolutely delicious. Order a beer to drink throughout – their house brew was great. Start with a herring dish and pair it with a “snap” (schnapps), afterwards move to a fish dish. Then, if you have room, order a meat dish (we did not). We did, however end our meal with some amazing cheese. Wish I could go back. Every day.

2. National Museum – Free entrance. The museum covers 14,000 years of Danish history as well as collection of objects from the ancient cultures of Greece and Italy, the Near East and Egypt. My favorite exhibit was “Stories of Denmark,” where most rooms you walk through are representations of how a room in a Danish home would look at that period of time (from 1660-2000).

1. Mikkeller. Or their new bar Mikkeller and Friends (which I went to nearly every night of our stay). Best beer selection in Copenhagen (not to mention, much of Europe). Anything you get should be amazing, but I tended to lean towards the sours (spontan). If you ever see the fig or lychee beers – go for them!

When we were at the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek, there was a group of “Bird Women” performing. They sang for most of our visit and it certainly added to the artistic experience; to find ourselves walking through rooms of larger-than-life sculptures of Greek heroes and historic figures with the bird chorus in the background.

Here’s a snippet of what we heard: