It's hard to put into words how wonderful my trip to Copenhagen was, but I'll try. I went over there with little notice and did very little research about the city or what would be happening while I was there, apart from asking a couple of local friends for recommendations via Facebook messenger. I was open to anything.
It was the first time I went on a trip for a concert without my husband driving me to the airport - he had a work thing he couldn't get out of - and my neighbor dropped me off. This may sound strange, but because of this I started off feeling 100% excited instead of carrying a lingering feeling of guilt for going on an adventure and leaving family behind. It helped that the trip was paid for from a bonus I worked hard to earn, and not our normal family budget.
It was also the first time I went on a concert trip with only a backpack - I usually over-pack for even short trips, so this was a pretty big accomplishment ;-) Having only the essentials helped make the trip overall so stress-free, I wish all trips could be like this one was. On the first day, I arrived at the hotel around 2pm, and had a good Italian meal in the lobby restaurant while waiting for my room to be ready. It was sweltering in Europe at the time, and most (if not all?) buildings don't have air conditioning, so it was a little uncomfortable in that regard, but I was lucky enough to score the hotel's last fan for our room. After a quick shower and e-mail check, I went out into the city to meet Heidi, the friend who took me sightseeing during my visit in 2013.
Heidi is a great tour guide, she showed me places most tourists don't go, and anticipated all my questions. She obviously loves Copenhagen and enjoys sharing stories about her city. We did a lot of walking, and between that and the jet lag, I am embarrassed to admit that I nodded off a bit on the water taxi ride ;-) She was quietly amused but understood completely.
We also went to Tivoli Gardens, where she is an annual pass holder, and had a wonderful amble around the amusement park. She treated me to cake and champagne, as well - remembering as I had not that when we last met I had paid for lunch. That was so kind of her, and it was a wonderful treat to sit in the shade on that hot day and drink cold champagne with a friend.
I was surprised to learn that Tivoli is 175 years old - the attractions are an interesting mix of old and new thrill rides, and the atmosphere that day was relaxed and calm - very unlike amusement parks like Six Flags or Disney or any of the others I had been to before. There are tree lined pathways and restaurants of various styles scattered around, and it was pleasantly crowded with people lounging in deck chairs on well-maintained lawns, or having picnics in the sun, or enjoying various performances throughout the park. I couldn't believe how clean it was, Heidi explained that it's part of the culture there to maintain a good environment for everyone, and to recycle whenever possible. Not only this, but despite the prolific availability of alcohol, I never saw anyone acting drunk or obnoxious, not even during the concert. More on that later.
Around 8pm I headed back to the hotel and called home, then waited for Amanda to arrive. She got in after 10:30pm, so I was really tired by that time, but super happy to be reuinted with my partner in crime. We talk often on Skype, so it was like picking up an ongoing conversation :-) Earlier that day I had managed to get in touch with someone who had inner circle tickets they couldn't use, who was kind enough to send me their tickets for free, so we were excited about the prospect of being able to get closer to the stage than we otherwise could have.
The next morning we did some sightseeing, and visited a jewelry shop I have followed on Instagram for a few years now (Handcrafted CPH). It was really difficult to decide what to buy there, I had seen so many of Anders' original designs online and I liked so many of the necklaces, rings and earrings. I finally chose two small things for myself and two gifts, and Amanda bought a ring. On the way back from the store, we found an awesome vinyl shop and browsed there for a while. By this time, Amanda was already planning to bring her husband to Copenhagen during the Christmas holidays.
In the afternoon, we decided to have dinner at the Vapiano's adjacent to Tivoli. We had a table outside and did some people watching while enjoying a long, relaxing chat. Then we went into the park and had a pleasant wander around, keeping an eye on the inner circle area so we would know when to go in and choose a spot for the show.
One of the reasons I was hesitant to go to a summer show was because festivals and stadium shows are notorious for being full of drunk people who are there to socialize and not for the music; besides that, I don't like to travel thousands of miles only to be stuck 100 metres from the stage with a terrible view, however I also hate queueing all day and having to stake out a spot in the front for hours before a show starts. Physically this is normally just too much for me, but as I mentioned before, having recently found a treatment for a chronic condition, I took a huge chance that this time an outdoor festival show would not only be bearable but fun - and the show at Tivoli didn't disappoint.
We went into the inner circle around 8pm and the show didn't start until 10pm. We sat for a bit on the concrete in front of the stage, and it was pretty chill until around 9pm, when more people started to come in. We had to stand at that point, but I was still feeling ok and not stressed at all - and the people around us were friendly and good about letting people come and go to the bar or to the toilet, saving places for people and basically just ready to have a good time together. The atmosphere was awesome, much better than I could ever have expected.
The show itself was amazing. Maybe it was the incredible atmosphere, maybe it was the band anticipating the prospect of a two week break afterwards, maybe it was the lunar eclipse/blood moon, who knows - but for whatever reason, the guys were having a great time, and we were, too. We were stood in front of Magne, which was perfect :-) I love watching him concentrate and groove with the music and engage the crowd and enjoy himself on stage. Highlights of the set were 'Train of Thought', 'Weight of the Wind', 'Lifelines', 'Scoundrel Days' and of course 'Take On Me' - and the fabulous crowd sing along during 'The Living Daylights', which years ago I used to be impatient with, but now I thoroughly enjoy due to Magne's energy in directing the crowd to sing their loudest. I can't seem to find a video from close up at this show, but this one is pretty good:
(the sing-along starts at 4:40 ish)
Another cool highlight happened during the break before the encore. The crowd was waiting eagerly for the band to return to the stage, and then unexpectedly Magne ran out to his microphone, gestured that it wasn't part of the encore return of the band - and told us all to look behind us because the eclipse was going on back there...! We knew it was going to happen that night, of course, but we were facing the stage and those of us in front at least never noticed that the moon was already more than half obscured and an interesting shade of orange/red. I can't remember what words he actually used, but he said something along the lines of he wanted to point this out to us because it had been going on throughout the show and it was 'not a normal thing you see' :-))) He then ran back off stage, and the band returned for the encore after we'd had a chance to appreciate the lunar situation above us ;-)
It was honestly one of the best concert experiences I've had in a long, long time. I am so glad I took the chance to go and that Amanda was able to join me. After the show, we had dessert and wine, and went back to the hotel tired and happy. On Saturday, we rode on the hop on - hop off bus to spare our feet, visited the SMK museum, did some shopping, and then spent another six hours in Tivoli. The sun was shining, we had deck chairs in the shade, large beers to drink, and even Facetimed with Amanda's husband for a bit. We were both happy to have another relaxing afternoon and evening in the park, rather than trying to get more big tourist sights in.
My flight home was very early on Sunday, I had to leave the hotel around 4:15am, but it was worth it. I was home by dinner, and back at work the next day. Less than two weeks later, my family went to London for a week, where Amanda and her husband met us. I met Amanda because of a-ha, I have been fortunate enough to travel to London a bunch of times because of the band, and I feel so much gratitude for all the great friendships and experiences I have had since I first took a chance to go to Norway and see a-ha in 2001.
Now my travels this year are over, but I am grateful I have so much to look back on to sustain me until the next time :-)
Edited to add this clip I just discovered:
Super. Adorable. That is all!