travel with kids

A place to play in central Copenhagen

We stumbled across a lovely playground in the centre of Copenhagen on a hot summer’s day. A paddling pool invited the children to splash around and cool down. Ride-on bikes lay about for children to freely play on.

ride-on fun

A welcoming hut had toys outside, akin to a pre-school, but all the toys were for passing children to enjoy, share and play with.

The spirit of community was strong and as visitors to Copenhagen we were greeted with welcoming smiles.

Playground and community hub in Copenhagen

It was a beautiful play-area and a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. A couple of children’s tennis racquets sat invitingly on a bench next to a swing-set . Miss 4 had a great time knocking the ball back and forth with me, whilst Miss 8 had fun nearby on the swings.

A beautiful imaginary play area, including carved wooden horses, totem poles and canoes, was surrounded by trees with bird boxes. As the children played I could hear baby chicks chirping from within the bird-boxes.

What’s more, there was a cafe that served a superb latte for the adults and ice-lollies for the children. Perfection!

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We visited this playground, Skydebanehaven, a few times over the 12 nights we stayed in Copenhagen (earlier blog post here). It was only a ten-minute stroll from the apartment where we stayed and just the place for children to be happy, nestled in a natural retreat within the city.

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Linking up with Country Kids at Coombe Mill

 

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen – Mr Disney’s Inspiration

After living in California for a year and being very fortunate to have visited Disneyland, it was wonderful to visit Tivoli gardens – the place that first inspired Walt Disney to set about creating Disneyland.

From the moment we walked into the gardens and amusement park it was very clear to see how Mr Disney was inspired.

The similarities between his Disneyland in California and Tivoli are apparent (just on a different scale). There is a lake in the middle of the gardens, surrounded by restaurants, with a tall ship anchored up at the edge of the lake. At night the gardens and lake are illuminated with colour, just like at Disneyland. The walkways are bedecked with hanging baskets and beautiful arrangements of flowers.

Thrill rides soar over the gardens, whilst children’s play areas and old fashioned fair-ground style games are tucked along decorative walkways.

Our youngest daughter was delighted with the playground area and beautiful, animal carousel.

Her older sisters were quite happy to go along for a ride too.

The gardens are a delight and there is a wonderful choice of eateries to suit all. There are rides for every age, size and level of daring. What’s more, this block of fantasy, fun and escapism is all located within the centre of Copenhagen.

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Linking up with ‘Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Scenes from the bus in Copenhagen

I took my three daughters on the ‘Hop-On Hop-Off Copenhagen‘ bus tour (though we didn’t do much hopping; as the children were very happy on the open air top-deck of the double decker bus).

If I wasn’t managing three children of different interests, ages and sensitivities, I would have spent all day hopping on and off, exploring the beautiful streets and historic landmarks, but I was aware of my own limitations (and my children), so I simply took the easy option – sat back, enjoyed the views and took just one ‘hop off’ at the half way point of the tour – by the ‘Little Mermaid‘.

We didn’t bother with the crowds of tourists lining up to get their photo with the ‘Little Mermaid’, but did enjoy the beautiful vistas.

As the ‘World Travel Guide‘ writes in its guide to Copenhagen travel;

‘Water is ever-present in Copenhagen, a reminder of the city’s heritage as a major Baltic port, and the harbour is the best place to observe the capital’s great contrasts. Nyhavn has retained a deceptively provincial atmosphere, with colourful gabled buildings and cobbled lanes, recalling the fairytale capital that inspired Hans Christian Andersen.’

Water is never more than a short stroll away in Copenhagen. Its city streets, broad and friendly to pedestrians, are pleasant to walk (or cycle) – free from the pollution that plagues so many other European cities. If it’s not water you seek, then inner city green spaces are also plentiful, from parks like the Botanical Gardens and the grounds surrounding the Rosenborg Castle to ‘Pocket Parks‘; drops of urban green on a small scale.

The streets in summer are lined with cafes spilling out on to pavements. Music from buskers filled the air as we drove past, intermingled with the sound of people happily whiling away time over a leisurely lunch.

As we finished our bus tour, riding on the lower level for the second half – taking shade from the sun, we plugged in our headphones, provided as part of the tour. The commentary came in a selection of languages, informing us of the sights as they came into view. I was surprised at how much my youngest daughter enjoyed this (even out trumping the choice of using her iPad and the free Wifi!).

The bus tour lasted a little over an hour and was definitely a great way to get an overview of Copenhagen. I could happily have spent all day hopping on and off. A beautiful city to see, especially in the summer.

Arriving in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Airport greeted us Sunday evening, as the sun was setting. It was a light and airy welcome, with barely a wait to clear customs and collect our baggage – just what we needed in our still jet-lagged state; after flying from LA, USA to London, UK, the day before! Our flight from Terminal 5, London Heathrow, was smooth and pleasant. British Airways were excellent to fly with; perhaps it was because we were obviously jet-lagged (we looked that bad!) that they handled us with extra care – giving us priority to the front of the line when boarding. All three children nodded in and out of sleep on the flight, which was just over an hour and a half long.

After landing in Copenhagen a friendly taxi driver took us to Vaernedamsvej, affectionately known as ‘Little Paris’, where we had an apartment organised for our 12 night stay. It was dark when we arrived. We walked into a courtyard, set back from the street,  following the instructions the land-lady had given us to find the key and access the apartment. The apartment was on the first floor – and we were grateful to have only one flight of stairs to walk up.

We didn’t sleep much that first night and were awake at 5am checking out ‘Yelp‘ to find out which cafe opened the earliest in our neighbourhood. Thankfully, the exceptional ‘Granola‘, which we could see from our apartment, opened at 7am and we were practically waiting at the door when they opened.

After breakfast we visited a local supermarket to stock up on essentials. It was ‘rush hour’, but you wouldn’t have known it. There were hardly any cars on the roads – just plenty of bikes. The scene was calm and serene. People smiled as they biked to work, most without helmets – as the dedicated and large bike paths made their travel so safe.

A street in Copenhagen in the morning

The man of the house then bid us ‘Farvel’ (Goodbye in Danish) and headed off to the office, whilst the girls and I walked back to the apartment.

We spent the afternoon sleeping. The man of the house returned from work at 6pm and joined us. We all woke at 8pm, with our body clocks utterly screwed!!

We ventured out of the house that evening for a meal – but the children really weren’t up to much exploring. Nevertheless the fresh air helped us and we were all asleep again – by 2am!

The next morning started incredibly early – 5am for two out of three children! Feeling seriously jet-lagged we got through the day, with only Miss 4 having an afternoon nap. Miss 11 and 8 managed to last the day, falling asleep in the evening and sleeping all night…

Finally, after four nights in Europe, the jet lag is over and we are ready to properly explore Copenhagen!

24 hours in England

We touched down at London Heathrow early afternoon on Saturday. Our flight from Los Angeles went smoothly enough – after a delay boarding the plane due to a fatality on the incoming plane from New Zealand. Thankfully, we had access to the Air New Zealand lounge, which was so much more pleasant and peaceful than the alternative. It was a lovely touch of ‘home ‘ for our three New Zealand born daughters. They walked in to a greeting of ‘Kia Ora’ and a big cuddly Kiwi bird. New Zealand wine and beer was available, cheese from the homeland, carrot cake and pictures of red Pohutakawa trees bordering a pristine New Zealand beach.

We enjoyed grazing on snacks, chatting to the cabin crew, watching the World Cup football and the airplanes coming and going.

The cabin crew on the Air New Zealand flight to London Heathrow were so friendly and welcoming; a blend of nationalities from Welsh to Spanish. We settled in for the ten hour flight, with a great assortment of inflight entertainment. The children were all impeccably well behaved on the flight. They didn’t sleep much (probably three hours at tops!), but were quietly happy with the movies and games. The man of the house was delighted to enjoy a ‘Speights’, so he was ‘good as gold… mate’!

When we landed in London, early afternoon, it was morning in Santa Barbara, California. They’d been on the go for 24 hours and were extremely sleep deprived, but still held themselves together for the nearly one mile walk from the airplane to customs!

It was incredibly humid in the airport. By the time with reached the lines of people at customs we were all dripping with perspiration. After a relatively short wait, of around twenty minutes it was our turn to hand over our passports for inspection. Unfortunately our middle daughter was feeling very queasy at this point and shortly after declaring, ‘I feel like I’m going to vomit’, she spewed on the floor at the customs desk. My heart went out to her, whilst my stomach churned. It was all too much for our eldest daughter, who withdrew as far back as possible. Our youngest was sweetly comforting and sympathetic. The staff at customs were so good, offering up water, a cloth for our daughter and a bag for anything else to follow. Poor love.

Half an hour or so later, we finally emerged with our bags at arrivals to be greeted by my dear parents.

Whilst Dan headed off with our eldest daughter to pick up a hire car, I headed off with our two youngest in Grandma & Granddad’s car to their home in Hampshire. We skipped an awful traffic jam on the M25, by driving via Windsor – pointing out the castle on the way.

We spent the rest of Saturday resting. The man of the house enjoyed watching some more World Cup football, having a couple of pints in an English pub with his father-in-law and picking up a primo English curry (the Gulshan in Fleet is such a good’un!).

Our youngest daughter was the liveliest. She was so excited to be at her Grandparents house.

The next day, Sunday, started incredibly early. Miss 4 and Miss 8 awoke before 5am. By 7am Miss 4 was ready for some exercise out and about (she’d already circled the garden, said ‘Good morning’ to the wood pigeons, and eaten a pancake). I headed out to the local swimming pool with Miss 4 and Granddad  – at 7am! We had a really fun time and returned back to the house. Miss 4 was still bursting with energy. Meanwhile Miss 11 awoke and headed up to the local town centre with her Daddy and Grandparents for a full cooked English breakfast, before walking up to the local Calthorpe Park to check out the annual carnival festivities with young Miss 4 in tow.

They all returned about midday, with Miss 4 asleep in the buggy. I’d stopped at the house to keep Miss 8 company – still in recovery mode from the being sick on arrival at Heathrow.

We had a few good hours left to rest before having to head off on another journey – this time to Copenhagen in Denmark. All the girls fell fast asleep and we had to wake them up at 4pm when it was time to leave for Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5.

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

So, a flying visit to England indeed! Managed to get a quick fix of an English curry, pub and full cooked breakfast though. I managed a nearly 4 mile jog too (on the day we landed – definitely had a touch of cabin fever to expel!). It’s always a great feeling to arrive in England, the birth place of hubby and I. There’s a feeling of completeness, for me in particular, when I’m at my folks home. We bid farewell, knowing we’d be back on British shores again in a fortnight, after a two week business trip for the man of the house in Copenhagen. Phew! Busy times, but precious too.