A week in Spain and a relaxing weekend back home in Copenhagen

We’re officially halfway done with our semester here in Copenhagen- and along with it come midterm papers and tests, and a week long break from classes last week that many DIS students used as their travel week. I took the week to travel Spain with a girl from my floor and had a wonderful, relaxing time roaming Barcelona, Altafulla, Madrid and Toledo. I filled my week by enjoying daily pastries and espressos for €1 each, resting in parks in the warm sun, stuffing myself with tapas, sipping on sangria, brushing up on my Spanish, and participating in National Day of Spain festivities. It was amazing- a perfect break from the cold Copenhagen temperatures and the busy routine of classes and homework.

We took a day to travel to Toledo, a small city about a half hour train ride from Madrid. It used to be the country’s capital, but is now just a beautiful area popular with tourists that features some of the oldest buildings in Spain. In the top right photo is the meal we got for lunch, where my wine was literally cheaper than water. I didn’t know this was actually a thing.
We spent our final night in Spain back in Barcelona, and it was probably my favorite night of the trip. We went to a neighborhood that was clearly filled with families and spent the evening watching the area fill with life. Kids running around, dogs playing, various street performers gathering crowds- it felt like a perfect ending to our amazing trip to Spain. Pictured is our tapas dinner of nachos and hummus.

While it was a great week of eating, roaming and relaxing, I am so surprised at how genuinely happy I am to be back ‘home’ in Copenhagen!

Our flight got in at around noon on Friday, and I spent the day napping and binge-watching the new season of You. I’m ashamed to say I literally finished the entire season on the day it was released, but I needed the lazy day after being on the go all week.

On Saturday, I spent the day catching up on all the things I missed about the city while I was away. Next Door Cafe, Bilka, thrifting, pastries, my friends, I had so much to do!

I started the day with breakfast at Next Door, my favorite coffee shop in the city that I’ve mentioned at least once before in my blog posts. They’ve continued their DIS student special where you can buy a sandwich and get a drink for free, and their baker had just finished a batch of red velvet cupcakes when I walked in. By just, I literally mean he hadn’t even put them into the system to sell one to me yet. So, he just gave it to me for 15 k, which is about $2.50.

I always love my meals at Next Door, but this cupcake was absolutely outstanding. So amazing that I woke up the next day still craving it, but I’ll come back to that.

It was really busy in the cafe on Saturday morning, so I ended up sitting myself right next to a Next Door first-timer mother-son duo from the city and quickly struck up conversation. They were just as fascinated to hear about my experience as an American student in Copenhagen as I was to hear about growing up in their Copenhagen suburb, and they told me about their traditions of getting together this week during Denmark’s ‘fall break’, where students and many others have the week off. They said growing up they spent it coming to Tivoli and roaming the city, and insisted I try Grød, a porridge chain restaurant in the city. Apparently, many people in Denmark grow up eating porridge, but it’s pretty unusual to have a restaurant selling the dish. Despite this, the son insisted I go there during my stay in Copenhagen, because “it’s as hygge as you can get.”

I said farewell to my new Danish friends after making them promise they’d try a cupcake once they were done with their meal, and headed to Bilka.

I’ve mentioned Bilka before as well, and while it is just a big grocery store, I love making the trip across the city to go there. After being gone for a week, I needed a lot of groceries, and the opportunities are endless at Bilka. I know how silly this sounds, but it is just so relaxing to me to go to a big grocery store with so many options and take my time finding different things to eat for the week.

After returning home and putting everything away, I headed to roam the thrift stores near home. While I didn’t have any plans to buy anything, I love to look around and get inspired to try new things with my closet by seeing what all of these stores have to offer.

I ended the day by sharing a few drinks with one of my closest friends here, Ben, and also my only friend that had returned home from his travels. His girlfriend from back home was visiting, and we spent hours sharing stories my time in Spain and their time showing her around Copenhagen and their few days in Greece. It had only been a week, but it felt like it had been ages since we’d talked! Conversation easily flowed and it felt like no amount of time was enough to sufficiently catch up.

The next day, as I previously mentioned I woke up with one thing on my mind: a red velvet cupcake from Next Door. Yes, this was probably due to the previous night’s alcohol consumption, and I convinced myself I could not go into a cafe on a Sunday morning and just order a cupcake, so I ordered pancakes with a lot of butter. The baristas I’d talked to the day before all remembered me by name, and I realized how at home I felt in this community at Next Door. I’ve been a barista for almost five years now, so this sense of community that’s found in a coffee shop has been a huge part of my life for years, and realizing I’d found it somewhere so far from home made me so happy.

After my meal, I realized that wasn’t enough for my cravings. I went back up planning to order some bacon, and laughed while admitting I was desperately trying not to give in to my hungover craving of bacon. In response to this, they insisted I take the bacon for free, suggested their favorite ‘hangover juice’ (juice #4, with lime, apple, celery, cucumber, mint, and ginger), and even gave me another discounted cupcake.

I love this place so much.

I did a little more thrift shop wandering, and headed home to relax and do some homework to prepare for classes to start back up.

Everything that happened this weekend may seem so minor, but I really want to emphasize how important it was for me to realize things that made me feel at home here in Copenhagen. A coffee shop, a grocery store, thrift stores, my friends kitchen, all so simple but all so special to my experience here in this city.

I truly can’t believe I’m already halfway done here, but I’m really looking forward to furthering my connections here and finding more places that make me feel at home and happy.

Published by hawkelki

Hi! My name is Ellie Hawkins, and I’m currently a senior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I’m studying abroad at DIS Copenhagen for the Fall 2021 semester and am so excited for all I will get to experience.

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