Typical Danish: The Royal Guards (Den Kongelige Livgarde)

When I get family and friends visiting, or when someone asks me for things to do and see in Copenhagen, I always suggest to catch the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Castle. I’m a fan of these kinds of things, royalty, pomp, ceremony, tradition. But I also think they are a landmark of Denmark and Copenhagen. Okay, I might be slightly biased because my Danish boyfriend used to be a “garder” himself! Boy, did he look handsome in that uniform…


Changing of the guards at Amalienborg

The Royal Guard, or “Den Kongelige Livgarde” in Danish, looks back on a rich history. The guard was founded in 1658 by King Frederik III., who didn’t think the peace treaty of Roskilde with the Swedish would last, and thus felt in need of a guard. The Royal Guard today serves two purposes: it is an infantery combat unit, which regularly sends soldiers to international operations, such as Afghanistan. And it is a ceremonial unit that guards the royal family and their castles, providing permanent guard at Amalienborg Castle, Kastellet, Rosenborg Castle, and Fredensborg Castle, among others.


It used to be possible to get drafted into the guard during the standard military draft in Denmark. But with the ever-increasing number of volunteers (such as my boyfriend, that old patriot!), now the Royal Guard is mainly made up of soldiers who volunteered for the role. The service in the Royal Guard takes eight months. The training consists of three months of basic military training (complete with sleeping in the woods and all), followed by a month of learning the elaborate marching routines, before the guards are put on a rotation schedule for the remaining four months of their service. During the guard rotation, they have 24-hour shifts, during which they will stand guard for two hours and rest for four hours.


Garder waiting to commence the ceremonial march at Blå Fest

The four months of basic and marching training culminate in a big event called “Blå Fest” (blue fest), during which the garder are allowed to ditch their camouflage and wear the blue ceremonial uniforms for the first time. It is traditionally held in the town of Horsens, and it soldiers can bring their girlfriends to the event - and it’s a big deal to be invited! Some guards, who don’t have girlfriends, will invite more or less random girls, or those they have a crush on, to spend a romantic weekend with a big gala dinner in uniform and evening gown. The guys are also taught some rules of etiquette, like pulling back the lady’s chair and accompanying her to the restroom. Now, my boyfriend was already past his bachelor studies when he entered the guard, but the standard is to do the military service right after school, so those boys are all about 18 years old and it’s adorable to see them “play grown-ups”. One guy even proposed to his girlfriend during the dinner!

Now, in a very rare moment, I will share with you the portrait we took at Blå Fest (the official one is less grainy, this was taken with my iPhone). Isn’t there just something about a guy in a uniform? Swoon!


Finally, here are some more facts about the Livgarde, which you might not know:

  • The last time shots were fired at Amalienborg was during the German invasion in World War II., where two garder were killed.
  • After every four month service rotation, the guard that has been the “best comrade” to his fellow guards receives a golden watch from the Queen herself, which is engraved with her seal (since my boyfriend had an office job scheduling the shifts, he was once actually in the same room as the Queen - I’m soooo starstruck by proxy!)
  • Guards are told that in the event that they have to fire a warning shot in the air (which never actually happens), they should point their gun towards Sweden - this might be due to the century-long sibling-like rivalry, or maybe just because that way, the bullet will most likely end in the water.
  • Each bearskin is made from the fur of an entire bear, and they are super heavy.
  • The Royal Guard’s motto is “Pro Rege et Grege” - for the king and the people.
  • The uniforms include sabres, some of which were acquired as spoils of war from the Napoleonic Wars, but today, most of them are replicas.

Now you want to catch one of those changing of the guards ceremonies, don’t you? They are free and they are super popular, especially with tourists and kids. When members of the Royal Family are home at Amalienborg Castle, the Royal Guard will march from their quarters at Rosenborg Slot around 11:30 every day, accompanied by the music corps. They march up Købmagergade and Strøget and pass Kongens Nytorv, before arriving at Amalienborg a few minutes before 12. What follows is an elaborate choreography in which every single guard around the four palaces is replaced. There are three different types of changing ceremonies: the small Palævagt (only 12 guards and no music corps), Løjtnantvagt, and the largest, Kongevagt, when the Queen is home. The schedule can be found here.

Travel tips: Copenhagen on a budget

Copenhagen is known for its great quality of life, but unfortunately, this comes with a price tag. Being a tourist magnet, home to some of the world’s best restaurants, and famous for designer products, it’s not always easy to navigate around the city on a budget. But great news - there are a couple of tips and tricks that you can use to save some cold hard cash! I’m listing some below, but would love to hear your best-kept secrets on how to get the best value for money in Copenhagen - post them in the comments below!




Forget hotels, and even the gigantic Danhostel on H.C. Andersens Boulevard is not as cheap as you would expect from a hotel. Recently, more and more Copenhageners are renting out their apartments or just a room via airbnb, and not only can you find some real bargains there, but you also get the chance to see how the locals really live.


Getting around

The cheapest way to get around in Copenhagen is by foot - obviously! And since the city center area is relatively compact, you can actually walk pretty much anywhere. Get a free map at the Visitor Center on Vesterbrogade 4A, near the Central Station (hint: they have free Wifi there, too!).

Since you’re in Copenhagen, you might want to get around by bike - a great choice, since it’s healthy, quick, easy, and cheap! There are many bike rental places, but the cheapest solution is ByCyklen (city bikes). The bikes can be picked up at returned at one of the many stations in Copenhagen and are equipped with GPS as well as an electric motor to support your pedalling efforts. You can create a profile and reserve your bike online. (price: DKK 25 per hour)


Rebates and cards

If you’re staying longer than a weekend and think you’re going to go to Tivoli, you might want to consider getting an year-pass - it already pays off the third time you go. (price: DKK 290)

If you’re a tourist coming for a weekend only, it might pay off to buy a Copenhagen Card - it includes free transport in all busses, trains and the metro, and also gives free access to a lot of museums and other places, like the aquarium or a canal tour. I recommend that you do the math to see if this card would actually save you money - this might only be the case if you’re planning on visiting many museums. (price: DKK 469 for a 48h pass)

Note that there are some museums that already offer free entrance, including the National Museum and the National Gallery. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is free on Sundays, and the Hirschsprung Collection on Wednesdays. It pays off to check beforehand if the museum you want to go to has a free admission day or whether there are any special deals.



If you don’t want to pay for a boat tour, just hop on to one of the harbor busses (lines 991, 992, 993) that go through Copenhagen harbor and stop e.g. at Fisketorvet, Nyhavn, the Royal Library, the Opera and near the Little Mermaid. These are like regular bus lines and you can use the normal public transportation tickets.

You’d like to get some information about the city while sightseeing? Join one of the daily free guided walking tours starting every day at 11am or 2pm at Rådhuspladsen! They also have an alternative tour of Christianshavn, including Freetown Christiania. Alternatively, download an app for self-guided walking tours.

Be sure to watch the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Castle! They walk every day at 11:30 from Rosenborg Castle through the city center and up Strøget, and then change at Amalienborg with an elaborate ceremony. If the Queen is home, there will be music, too.


Spend time

In the summer, it’s always great to go for a swim in one of the harbor baths. There are four in the Copenhagen area, and two of them are in the city center. They are open to the public and free. If you’re in the mood for some beach time, head out to Amager Strand or Svanemølle Strand.

Copenhagen has plenty of green spaces, and parks always invite for a picnic or just to hang out and enjoy the sun a little bit. In Frederiksberg Gardens, you will also have a view to Copenhagen Zoo’s elephant enclosure, without actually having to pay the zoo’s admission.

Another free attraction is Freetown Christiania, which is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very alternative, hippie neighborhood, governed by its own law, and very colorful and diverse. They also have some cafes and food places which are very affordable.

A little outside the city, near Klampenborg station, lies Dyrehaven, the deer park, a large public park and woods space where you’ll get the chance to see some free roaming deer and other animals. Attached to the park is amusement park Bakken, which offers rides and carnival attractions (admission is free, but they charge extra for rides).


Eat and drink

Copenhagen has some great and even world-famous restaurants (noma), but eating out can generally get pricey really fast. Make sure you don’t fall for one of the tourist traps in the city center, they are mostly not very good! If you just want a quick snack, you might want to stop by one of the hot dog stands, but keep in mind that one hot dog might not be enough to replace a whole meal if you’re hungry. A good roundup of budget food in Copenhagen can be found here.

If you want to try the famous “New Nordic” cuisine but don’t want to go for the super pricey options like Michelin-starred noma or Geranium, I recommend Oliver And The Black Circus or Almanak in The Standard at Nyhavn, which both serve delicious food for more reasonable prices.

Week 30: 5 things to do in Copenhagen this weekend

Hooray, we’ve survived another week in the heat, and the weekend is upon us! I’m doubling up on art this weekend, but if you’re not into that, there’s always food. Or music. Or free movies outdoors! Enjoy your weekend!


Guided tours at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

What – A guided tour through the collection “From block to body. French and Danish sculpture”, which includes pieces by Rodin and renowned Danish artists Sinding, Bissen and Jerichau.

Why – It might just be me, but I’m a big fan of sculptures. And if you’ve ever been to my favourite museum in Paris, the Musée Rodin, you’ll probably take the chance to see some more of his great work. Plus, I love guided tours as they always allow me to learn something!

Where – Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Dantes Plads 7

When – 24th-26th July, 13h

How much – DKK 15 for the guided tour (plus normal admission to the museum, DKK 75)

More information – Glyptotek website


RAW 2014

What – Denmark’s largest clubbing event, combining mainstream and underground electronic music

Why – Over 70 artists + 8 stages + 6.000 people = 12 hours of music and party fun! (or maybe a fraction of that if you prefer)

Where – Lokomotivværkstedet, Otto Busses Vej 5A

When – 26th July, start 19h

How much – DKK 170 (standard), DKK 210 (late ticket)

More information – Facebookrawcph.com


Free movies at Ørstedsparken

What – For three nights in a row, MIX Copenhagen is showing movies for free at Ørstedsparken. Since MIX Copenhagen is an LGBT film festival, all movies shown revolve around the subject, with a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Saturday, to celebrate the movie’s 40th anniversary.

Why – Watching movies outside is always fun, and with the weather being like this, there’s almost no excuse not to go!

Where – Ørstedsparken, Nørre Voldgade 1

When – 24th-26th July, 22h

How much – Free

More information – Facebook, mixcopenhagen.dk


Shiny Happy People – Danish contemporary art exhibit

What – You might have heard this thing about the Danes and happiness – they keep popping up at the top of all those happiness and quality-of-life rankings. This exhibition showcases seven Danish contemporary artists to explore a bit more of why exactly the Danes are so happy all the time (although a recent study suggests it’s in the genes).

Why – If you’re interested in art generally, and Danish art more specifically, you should take this opportunity to get to know some of the contemporary artists in Denmark. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a great new painting for your living room, too?

Where – Bredgade Kunsthandel, Bredgade 67-69

When – 26th June – 16th August

How much – Free

More information – bredgade-kunsthandel.dk


Creative kebabs in the Meatpacking District

What – The popular Bakken in the even more popular Meatpacking district (Kødbyen) hosts a series of special food events which center around a grill and a popular “drunk food”: kebabs. Served with homemade sides as well as freshly baked bread, British chef Lee Tiernan will be preparing the traditional dish with a creative twist.

Why – If you’re into food, a bit of a hipster atmosphere, and trying new things, you should head out to Kødbyen to try one of these creations!

Where – Bakken, Kødbyen, Flæsketorvet 19-21

When – every Thursday through Saturday between 18th July and 23rd August, from 18h

How much – ca. DKK 50 for a main course

More information – AOK


Summer vacation in Rørvig

Just like last summer, we headed up to the North of Sjælland (Zealand) to spend a couple of days in the summer house - I’ve already shown you pictures from a dinner at the beautiful marina. Here are some more impressions from those beautiful summer days where time just seems to move a little slower…

I miss those long and lazy days, those hours spent lying in the sun or on the couch with a book. The salty scent of the sea and the sand between my toes. The long evenings and the cold breeze that finally relieved the day’s heat. The late-night walks with the dog, through the quiet little summer house colony. The smell of coals from nearby barbecues and bonfires floating in through the open window. The cold glass of wine to end the day. If only I could’ve stayed there just a bit longer!

First off, some details from the summer house itself - I just love the summer house style!







The lovely little Antik Caféen, where you can enjoy a cold soda, iced coffee or some light lunch



On the way home, we discovered these people selling home-made jam on the street - unfortunately we weren’t carrying any cash because I looooove home-made jam!


Of course, we also went to the beach:



Processed with Moldiv



Mon Amour: A French bistro in Copenhagen

A couple of weeks back, my mom came to visit us for a couple of days. Being the francophiles that we are, I decided to take her to dinner to a French bistro that I’ve recently found out about and wanted to try: “Mon Amour”, located centrally on Skindergade, close to Gammeltorv.

A family-driven bistro, Mon Amour is what the Danish would call a “hvedagsrestaurant” (an “every day restaurant”, which is by no means derogatory). It might not be decorated with Michelin stars, but from the second we walked in, we felt right at home. The place isn’t very big, and it was completely full on a Tuesday night – which to me really speaks volumes! Lots of people were ordering the Moules Frites, so I’m guessing that they are very good – unfortunately, I’ll never know because I’m not a fan of mussels at all.

We were seated at a small table by the window, relatively close to the tables to our left and right, but the atmosphere didn’t suffer from the crowdedness – on the contrary, it just felt that much more cozy and homey with the waiters buzzing between the small tables and all those people around us enjoying their food and company.

Processed with Moldiv

We decided to go with three courses, but ordered à la carte, as the menu only offered Steak Frites and aforementioned Moules Frites as the main course, which we were not really in the mood for. The steak is a French bavette cut, which is not very common outside of France. It’s known for being very flavorful and tender, but being more of a lady’s cut filet steak kind of gal, I decided not to risk it. I’ll be sure to take my boyfriend there to give it a try, though!

For starters, I got a champignon soup with homemade croutons and a hint of truffle oil drizzled on top, which I really enjoyed. It had a great mushroom taste without coming across as stuffy, and it wasn’t too heavy either. Some bread on the side would have been nice, because I ended up stealing about half of my mom’s bread! She had the starter consisting of two different pâtés, imported from France, which we both liked as well.



For the mains, my mom went with the pan-fried Sole Meunière, which was served with mashed potatoes and a salad. When she asked about the bones, the waitress said it’d be no problem to remove them before serving, but unfortunately they must have forgotten. It wasn’t a big deal, though, and she came back later and apologized (without us actually having complained), so I’ll give some points for good style here. I chose the Coquelet à la Provençale, a poussin with Provence spices, accompanied by fries with a delicious dipping sauce and a salad. I absolutely LOVED the chicken, with its crispy skin and tender meat, it reminded me of summer days in the South of France! Definitely recommended!



Finally, we got Profiteroles and Crème Brûlée. What can I say, I’m a dessert person! No matter how much I’ve eaten, you will never see me say “no thanks” to dessert. Not in a million years! I firmly believe that I have a small dessert stomach, whose capacity is unaffected by the contents of my other, “real” stomach. So after urging my mom to please order dessert, I ended up eating most of both of them, but who can blame me? They were both amazing. The Profiteroles were fluffy and filled with delicious ice cream, smothered in a chocolate sauce, and the Crème Brûlée came in a very flat dish, meaning the ratio between crème and caramelized sugar was just as I like it. It had just the right vanilla taste, and the crème wasn’t too sweet, which balanced out nicely with the sugar coating.

I decided to go with the wine menu, which consisted of a nice crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc for the starter, a red for the main (I don’t remember 100% what it was but it was totally fine and actually went quite well with the spices from the chicken) and a Crémant de Bourgogne for dessert. I like the option of having a wine menu, especially if you’re not dining with a big enough crowd to order bottles for each course.

All in all, it was a lovely evening and both my mom and I really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere at Mon Amour. I will most definitely be coming back here!