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.

A Moment of Sun

Something miraculous happened on Saturday: the sun came out.

I actually had plans to go out with my visiting-host mother rain or shine, but I was extremely pleased when the weather in Helsingør turned out to be clear and mild, as if the clouds had parted just for us. Helsingør is an absolutely adorable 15th-century town about an hour’s train ride from Copenhagen that is home to Kronborg Castle, otherwise known as Hamlet’s Castle. Although Hamlet was not a real person, the castle provides tours where you can follow and actor dressed as Hamlet’s closest confidant, Horatio, through the various parts of the castle where the scenes from Hamlet might have actually taken place.

From the castle tower, you can look out onto the canal that separates Denmark from Sweden– in fact, you can see the Swedish town of Helsingborg, which sits only about a 30 minute ferry ride away from the shore. The view is stunning from all angles, and you can really start to understand why the castle was placed in such a strategic spot back in the 1400s.

Kronborg Castle

Besides the castle, the town boasts colorful buildings, an indoor food market, and a city square that hosts a farmer’s market in the warmer months. As someone who has searched Copenhagen far and wide for farmers markets, this excited me– although there were only one or two people selling things when we visited (I bought some lavender honey from a local beekeeper). My visiting-host mother told me that in the summer, the entire town square is filled with stalls selling local produce, delicacies and art. Even without all the hustle and bustle, I could have walked down each and every one of the quiet streets, just to get a little taste of the past.

The weather surprised me yet again a couple days later when a few of my housemates and I decided to take a morning run to try the famous snail rolls at St. Peders Bageri. It was supposed to rain, but the sun peeked through yet again and cast a heavenly glow over the city in the early morning. We ran about 2 kilometers from our house in Amager to the bakery, which is located right by DIS. After having done martial arts with our LLC the night before, I was still extremely sore– not to mention the fact that I hadn’t worked out properly in…longer than I’d like to admit. The run was a bit of a push for me, but I have to say, the cinnamon rolls might have tasted just a little bit sweeter after having worked for them.

“Snail Rolls,” or giant cinnamon buns, from St. Peders Bageri

Regardless of weather, I think that taking little trips can create unforgettable moments, whether it be to another city or just down the street to a new bakery. If I had stayed in bed an extra couple of hours instead of getting off my butt and taking a run, I might not have had the sunny experience I did that day. Going on even a short adventure can create bright moments on even the cloudiest, rainiest of days.