Into the Woods: LLC Weekend

On Saturday, I packed my bag with sheets, extra socks, and plenty of snacks, and headed into the woods with my Outdoor LLC.

“Woods” is a bit of a strong word– the park where we hiked was bisected by a road and a small town, and there were people walking their dogs or riding their bikes down the paths. Nevertheless, Mølleåen boasts a wide range of landscape types, from swamps to forests, in a relatively small area of land. I always get so excited by the unique landscapes and animals in a new country. I find even simple things, like Denmark’s different species of ducks that I would never see in the US, so fun and magical (but maybe that’s just because I’m an absolute nerd).

We started off walking around the lake by way of a very swampy path (fun fact: swamps are characterized by woody plants, while marshes contain mostly grasses). Luckily, I was wearing my all-purpose, industrial strength, waterproof Timberland boots— it had rained the entire week prior, and the path was scattered with large puddles. Sturdy, waterproof boots are a must when living in Denmark, especially if you plan on venturing outside the city. Our guide and LLC coordinator, Aiyo, is extremely knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, as well as about the history of the area. He showed us a type of moss that you can not only get fresh drinking water from, but also can be used as toilet paper (if needed).

Aiyo also showed us a small overlook with a beautiful view of the candy-colored houses below, as well as a few trees equipped with a rope swing. Some were brave enough to attempt climbing the tree itself, and we were amazed when Aiyo climbed to the very top of the tree with the ease of a monkey.

Because it was supposed to rain, we ended up staying in a hostel for the night, rather than outside. Walking up to the hostel felt a bit like something out of a Scooby-doo movie, with its dark windows and twisted trees looming against the grey sky. On the contrary, the inside was incredibly cozy and warm, with a common room where we could make a fire in the old iron stove and play cards by candlelight. Dinner was my first real, traditional Danish meal– pork meatloaf and potatoes with some sort of heavenly cream sauce, and grape jam to go on top. Not something I would recommend eating everyday unless you want your stomach to feel like a rock, but delicious nonetheless.

Lyngby-Taarbaek Hostel

After breakfast, with the sun making a guest appearance, we walked just a few kilometers to the sea. At first, we were disappointed by the “private” fences lining the shore, until someone informed us that no one is technically allowed to own any land 50 meters from the water. With the law on our side, we hopped the short fences and basked in the ocean’s cold glory (Kids, don’t try this at home).

Before heading home, we meandered through “Dyrehaven,” which literally means “Deer Park.” Here, you can walk through beautiful, wild open fields, as well as dense forest. We even spotted some people riding horses, in the traditional hunting spirit. The King’s old hunting lodge stands tall in the center of the park, and is still occasionally used for royal events.

The park certainly lived up to its name; we spotted a large family of dozens of deer munching on hay by the old stables. I couldn’t get quite close enough to take a picture, but I did have a good old-fashioned staring contest with the herd’s alpha male.

We were never too far from civilization during the trip, but I still felt we were able to experience nature to the fullest, despite being a mere train ride from the city. Copenhagen’s urban nature and proximity to the ocean are perfect ways to escape from the center of the city, without breaking the bank or needing serious outdoor skills. This weekend was a wonderful opportunity to do just that, while at the same time forming tighter bonds as an LLC family.

The Forgotten Giants

They said that Sunday was going to be the nicest weather that Copenhagen has seen in a long time. With the weather app showing a full sun icon during a week of cloudy and rainy, I had no choice but to get outside somehow. Luckily, a bike and a good attitude can get you pretty much anywhere you want to go in Copenhagen– and I wanted to see the giants.

The 6 Forgotten Giants” are part of an open-air art installation by Thomas Dambo, aiming to bring attention to beautiful but overlooked nature spots on the outskirts of the city. With the aide of the treasure map below, you can go on your very own quest to find all of the giants, and see some fantastic scenery along the way. We visited the closest one on the map, number 2 (also known as “Hill Top Trine”), which was nestled into the side of a hill by the Quark nature center.

The park was about a 45 minute bike ride from our dorm through the city and out into the suburbs. Copenhagen suburban neighborhoods are a bit like those in America, except with more charm and less McMansions. We collectively decided that we HAD to live in one of the many quaint houses at some point in the distant, fictional future.

Although Denmark is known for being flat, the wind was strong enough to make us feel as if we were biking up a steep hill. I’ve found that sometimes the sunniest days can be the coldest and the windiest here. Really though, we were so distracted by the scenery and the joy of seeing the sun that we didn’t really mind.

The park not only houses this friendly giant, but also several goats, sheep, and chickens. During the weekdays there are activities for children, and right beside the hill there are shelters and a fire pit for camping. The seagulls overhead also told us that we were close to water– although we didn’t make it to the bay, I think it would be worth coming back another time to stay the night and venture out a bit further. We only made it to one giant that day, but we still got about 40 km of biking under our belt.

Stopping to admire the view of the canal on the way back

We of course treated ourself to some excellent hot chocolate at a small cafe on the way back– the perfect way to simultaneously celebrate and cancel out a long day of fitness. Although we’re only just a week in, I’m constantly marveling at the hidden gems of this city, whether it be cafes or nature parks. I think we spent our day of sun well– getting to know new parts of the city, besides the ones that every tourist visits and posts on social media. While the famous landmarks are great, I look forward to exploring more of these hidden giants.