Copenhagen is well and truly a city of numerous facades, to bandy about a commonly deployed maxim that many a travel journalist has surely applied to depictions of cities the world over.
As part of the Copenhagen edition of the Where to Go podcast, produced by the award winning team behind the DK Eyewitness travel guides, I recently had the pleasure of presenting wonderful Copenhagen in my own parlance – touring its different neighbourhoods where old meets new in this progressive and inclusive city.
Obviously, I’m not going to divulge all the content of the podcast (I am told that it makes for great listening on that morning stroll), but I will, in this article, aided by several images that encapsulate my time in Copenhagen, take the curious reader on a varied journey of the throbbing Danish capital.
A city of gentrification Nowhere has the redevelopment of an area been more clear-cut than it has in Vesterbro, the area I have called home for the past six years now. A walk down its streets on any given day is a journey of juxtapositions: old vs new, classic versus modern, and creative class via authentic hip.
Take it all in with a communal dinner at Absalon, a former church that today is a cultural bastion and meeting point for Vesterbro’s residents young and old.
In this week’s episode James and Lucy are joined by Like a Local: Copenhagen author Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk. Allan takes us through the different neighbourhoods of the Danish capital where old meets new in this progressive and inclusive city. Listen out for a secret deer park, historic amusement parks and one of the world’s best cocktail bars
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a dream come true – those who know me well are aware of the childhood I had. Writing was, in the imaginative mind of a young child, often the only thing I had – and it kept me sane when the world around me crumbled.
As a young journalist in my twenties, I wrote thousands of articles for free, just because it was my passion but inwardly, I always hoped someone would take notice, for instance a publisher.
Many years later, it all came full circle – Penguin contacted me last year and I wrote the book during the lockdowns, with unwavering help from immediate family, who I can’t thank enough.
My Year 5 teacher, Fiona Wace, wherever she is would be proud, thanks to that pep talk that laid it out clearly for me and got me to focus instead of being the class clown, a day my life changed.
In writing all this, I guess what I’m really trying to say (beyond “buy the book, it’s awesome” is that every kid out there that has a dream deserves a chance and everything is possible if you work hard – harder than everyone else around you has to work day in day out.
The times we live in are surreal – for all of us. In a world in which mobility became something we took for granted, the fact that we are, by all accounts, severely limited when it comes to our travel plans, is something that takes some getting used to.
Anyhow, after the first major wave of global infections had been somewhat curtailed via detailed lockdowns, it is now possible to fly again, albeit with carriers operating routes at a fraction of their normal capacity and with a raft of health restrictions in place to ensure the safety of all travellers and curb the spread of COVID-19 as far as possible.
My little family flew just over a week ago – a short domestic flight from Aalborg to Copenhagen as we returned from our surf holiday in Jutland and I´d like to share some of the experiences of doing so, for anyone wondering if it´s safe to fly currently.
This is a flight we´ve taken numerous times but this experience was unique in every sense. Here are some of the answers to questions a lot of people may be asking themselves right now.
Where can I fly to?
The answer to this question changes every day. However, KAYAK have made a useful page on which you can keep track of travel restrictions per country – with a regularly updated map that shows whether a country´s borders are completely closed, partially open, set to re-open soon or completely closed.
Similarly, in the interest of keeping you informed, momondo has made this hub with all the info you need about COVID-19 and flying at the moment.
Is it safe to fly?
The short answer is yes – if you wear a mask at all times from just before you enter the airport to when you reach your final destination – i.e. in our case, our home in Copenhagen. This includes wearing the mask on public transportation – not yet a requirement in Denmark, but honestly, it should be common sense in the middle of a pandemic by now to wear a mask at all times in public transport – peak and off-peak.
At the airport – you need a mask and won´t be allowed past airport security without one (we saw a chap with a makeshift scarf who was instructed to buy a mask before proceeding.) Don´t be that guy!
This said, how safe it is to fly also depends where you´re going. In our case, a short internal flight in a country that at the time of writing has its COVID-19 outbreak under control, is low-risk, you could argue.
What sort of mask should I get?
I recommend a standard medical mask (see below) as they don´t slip off your nose that easily (compared to synthetic masks, for example.) You need to change your mask every 2-3 hours (as soon as you can feel it getting moist,) otherwise it´s not effective. Synthetic masks last longer but my personal opinion is that they don´t protect as well.
Does my child need a face mask?
Children under the age of 6 are not required to wear a face mask
Can I take my mask off to eat?
Obviously, yes. Try to distance yourself from others when doing so, however.
What else can I do to fly safely ?
Sanitize your hands as often as possible and keep your distance. Our flight was more filled than I expected it to be but people were good at staying apart, with the exception of a select few who decided to block the aisle once the plane came to a standstill and they felt the urge to clamber out (some things will never change.)
I forgot to buy a mask before arriving at the airport – can I still make my flight?
Depending on the airport, you will probably be able to purchase masks either in one of the terminal buildings or just before the security check. Come prepared though so you don´t make a fool of yourself, or worse, contract COVID-19. It goes without saying – if you have a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, it´s probably best to stay home or at the very least, get tested.
This is the second installation of the series on the island of Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia.
This article focuses specifically on Dream Beach – a wonderful sandy beach on the south of the island. Read part I of the article here.
As with many things, the best time ton visit Dream Beach is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Nusa Lembongan´s population tends to multiply by a factor of 8 at noon every day when hordes of tourists on day trips from Bali flock to it, which takes the shine off what is otherwise a peaceful island that is home to some very friendly locals.
While on Nusa Lembongan, be sure to explore the nearby islands of Ceningan (accessible by bridge) and Nusa Penida (a 10-min ferry ride will get you there.) Read my article on the island of Nusa Penida here.
You´ll find Nusa Lembongan just off Bali. If Bali is the raucous upstairs neighbour, Nusa Lembongan is the quiet old man who lives down the street. I love this island and I hope it remains as it is – relatively liberated from the pitfalls of mass tourism. You can easily walk around Nusa Lembongan (or take a scooter or taxi at night) and there are some great surf spots by Jungut Batu Beach!
In this article, you´ll find visual inspiration from Jungut Batu Beach, Mushroom Bay, Devil´s Tear and Sandy Bay. Part II of this article focuses exclusively on Dream Beach.
Scroll to the bottom of this article for tips on where to stay and where to eat.
Jungut Batu Beach
The main beach on the island, more touristy than the rest of it but it´s also where the surf breaks are and you´ll find no shortage of accomodation options + restaurants.
A much quieter alternative to Jungut Batu. Walk 3 minutes away from the beach and you´ll find yourself in jungle-like confines.
Sheer nature at its best. Go there either really early in the morning or late in the afternoon when all the day tourists are done flocking here in their hundreds.
A lovely little bay north of Devil´s Tear (walk here from the former – the seaside here is a story in itself.)
Where to stay
Naturale Villas – Basic but very charming. Read my Tripadvisor review here.
Where to eat
Hai Bar & Grill: Try the tuna steak! Read my review here.
Hai Ri Zen: Right alongside the aforementioned Hai Bar & Grill: It´s more upscale but I prefer the former.
Thai Pantry: Waterfont bliss – try one of their juices! Read my review here.
The Deck Cafe and Bar: Also by the water (on the quiet side of Jungut Batu Beach – a great place for morning juice / brunch. Read my review here.
Mola Mola Coffee Shop: A quiet cafe by Mushroom Bay – perfect for watching the sun go down. Read my review here.
Sandy Bay Beach Club: Amazing setting (right by the epic Sandy Bay,) average vibes. Read my review here.
Where to Surf
*The main breaks are all along the long stretch of beach called Jungut Batu.
* Of these, Playgrounds is the easiest but also the most crowded (get there early.) It´s also the southernmost break of the 4 main breaks here (excluding Tamarind which is further south but poor if you ask me
* Further up, you will find the breaks called “Lacerations,” “No-man´s land,” “Razors” and “Shipwrecks.” – in this order as you go up the coast. As the names suggest, these are not for beginners or intermediates so only paddle out there if you know what you´re doing.
* There are plenty of surf rentals along Jungut Batu (I prefer the ones that are not on the main beach.)
* Carry a water bottle with you if you, like me, walk from one end of the island to the other (you can also hitch a scooter ride.)
For how to get to this island, read my Tripadvisor review of Ketut´s taxi service . I strongly suggest steering clear of all the many all-inclusive offers for trips to Nusa Penida that your hotel or accommodation will no doubt have on offer. We found Ketut´s service to be cheaper and cosier. You can tailor your trip with him – these are the three sites we visited that were worth photographing (Angel Billabong is not featured here as it´s on the way to Broken Beach (see below) and I personally didn´t find it appealing.
Atta Mesari Villas: Check out my review on TripAdvisor
Where to eat:
The Spell Creperie: Read my Tripadvisor review here.
Must-do: The Campuhan Ridge Walk – the best way to see Bali
Don´t do: Tegallalang rice terraces (or similar tourist traps. You can see the plenty of rice terraces on your own.) I found the monkey forest in the middle of Ubud rather unpleasant as well – a bona fide intention to have humans and monkeys co-exist but tourism spoils this relationship (my opinion.)
General: Ubud is scenic and worth a visit. I preferred other areas of Bali, such as those by the seaside. However, it is a great base from which to see the unspoiled north (Munduk and other areas as well as Amed – a great place to Snorkel!
The southern Indian Ocean island nation has a mixed heritage, offering a unique blend of two continents’ cultures
Just 14 hours away: The magical sunsets we long for in the winter time are not always as far off as one might think (all photos: Allan Kortbæk)
While destinations such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia continue to top the charts when it comes to popularity, so too do some of the impacts of excess tourism in these countries, whose visitor numbers put immense pressure on local resources.
Unique combination Luckily, the world still remains vast, with a plethora of destinations to explore. Mauritius may not be the first country on your mind, when one conjures up dreamy visions of your next trip, but perhaps it should and could be a great alternative to some of the overly-visited and documented chart-topping destinations du jour.
Mauritius is a mere 14-hour or so plane ride away from Denmark (including a brief stopover in Dubai, for instance) and offers all the comforts, sun, sea, sand and amusement that the likes of Thailand and Vietnam do, albeit with far fewer crowds and a lot more charm and uniqueness.
After visiting the Seychelles earlier this year, I had high hopes for my recent trip to Mauritius and thought much of it would be a comparable experience.
In truth, the two island paradises are very different to one another. While it is true that the Seychelles is the more raw, unspoiled and quiet of the two, Mauritius brings a rich Indian heritage and well-developed infrastructure to the table, giving it the unique feel of a veritable African nation with a strong multicultural foundation.
Here is my quick guide to what to see and do in Mauritius.
Mauritius: need to know Mauritius is a safe and stable African country in the Indian Ocean, located close to the smaller Reunion Island (which is actually one of France´s départements.)
Over 50 percent of the population are of Indian descent and you will find a compelling mix of cultures and religions here. Mauritian Creole, French and English are widely spoken by almost everyone, everywhere.
Living standards, by comparison to most other African countries, are generally high, and inequality is not as widespread as it is elsewhere on the continent.
You´ll probably fly to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in the former capital of Mahébourg.
While the main island of Mauritius is small enough for you to live anywhere on it and be able to comfortably drive from one place to another, I recommend staggering your trip into phases, allowing you to experience different areas in depth.
Renting a car and hitting the road is probably easiest, though you can also travel by taxi and, if you’re feeling adventurous, by bus.
The east of Mauritius is a great place to start your trip after you land. The area around Grand River South East is one you’ll want to visit a fair bit if you find yourself in this quadrant. Rent a boat tour via Kersley & Azur (firstname.lastname@example.org; +230 5756 1954) just outside Mahébourg and you´ll get to see some of the small, uninhabited coral islands of the east and ‘The Dalblair’, a 1902 shipwreck.
You’ll also have the option of sailing up the Grand River delta to the small but sweet Grand River South East waterfall. Your boat ride will also probably take you to Isle Aux Cerfs, a small island off the east coast, which is unremarkably touristy on its main beach, but much quieter further down (past the golf course).
Contrary to popular belief, it is practically impossible to walk from one end of the island to another, so check out the south side by boat if this option is available to you.
While you’re around Mahébourg, don your snorkel mask and flippers and swim in the pristine waters of Blue Bay Marine Park – one of the best snorkeling spots I have ever come across.
Recommended hotel Laguna Beach Hotel & Spa – a decent hotel that’s not too big and whose staff are extremely helpful and professional. Their buffet is scrumptious and rich in Creole delights – where possible, select the half-board option, as this gives you the benefit of breakfast and dinner included in your stay.
The North of Mauritius is more populated than the quiet east and home to some of the island’s revered beaches.
A good base would be the area around the beaches of Trou Aux Biches and Mont Choisy: two long, expansive stretches of sand on the northwest shoreline. The former has a great mix of locals and a few tourists on it and is a great sundowner spot, while the latter is also a public beach but is located at the foot of the Trou Aux Biches Beachcomber Resort and Spa, which takes some shine off it, despite the beautiful palm-fringed edge.
Further north check out the town of Grand Baie (the bazaar is a nifty spot to buy artefacts) and Perybere Beach – a favourite among the locals.
While in the north, one bucket list activity you definitely want to try is the Blue Safari sub scooter, which you will find at the northern fringe of the Trou Aux Biches beach. This three-metre dive to the ocean floor in an electric-powered underwater scooter is definitely one of the most amazing things you´ll do in your lifetime.
Blue Safari also offers a submarine service that takes you down to a depth of 35 metres in a larger craft, and this too is a memorable experience.
Recommended hotel Mystik Lifestyle Hotel – a boutique hotel with immaculately designed rooms and the famous #33 restaurant, which serves up some of the best seafood in these parts.
The West and the South
The vast majority of activities on your trip, depending on what you go for, will probably be in the west of Mauritius – for instance in or near the town of Flic En Flac, a great base from which to cruise the shoreline and wander south and inland.
Flic En Flac is home to numerous restaurants and a comfortable stretch of beach. From here, explore the rugged interior of Mauritius with a day trip to the Black River Gorges National Park, where sights such as the iconic ‘7 Coloured Earths’, Alexandra Falls and the Chamarel Waterfall await.
Hire a taxi or up your hill-driving game as the roads here are sinuous, narrow and not for the fainthearted.
Varangue Sur Morne is a fantastic restaurant to have lunch at on your way back down from the national park. Here, you´ll find a scrumptious selection of local treats and some of the best service on the island.
For something slightly less flashy, head to Restaurant Chamarel, which is further down the slopes and offers a stunning panoramic view of the west coast from above.
If you’re into your watersports, you’ll find no shortage of them in the west and down south.
For stand-up paddle and kitesurfing, head to Yoaneye Kite Centre by Le Morne. The swell on the northerly section of Le Morne is regular and easy to paddle-surf on, but be careful not to drift too far downstream with the current, as getting back takes a while.
Kitesurfing takes place further south of Le Morne, where consistent wind makes it one of the most popular spots to fly at.
As you wander further south, the coastline becomes rugged and more poignant.
Surfers looking for a good break will want to stick to the area around Le Morne, but as an alternative consider driving down the scenic beach road to the small settlement of Bel Ombre, where KiteGlobing is located – it is worth it! This is both a surf and kitesurfing hotspot.
For thrill-seekers looking for a taste of adventure on the waves, Sea Kart Mauritius offers an epic opportunity for you to pilot your own 110 bhp speedboat (no boat licence required). This powerful craft skims the surface at speeds of up to 80 km/h and is the closest thing you will find to a jet ski (since these are banned in Mauritius).
Last, but not least in the west, get yourself out of bed early and head out to spot dolphins as they surface in the morning.
Whilst among these great creatures of the deep, try not to disturb them with loud noises and splashes as they are actually sleeping (using half their brain to stay awake and the other to snooze).
You’ll find numerous boat operators to cruise out to see the dolphins with, but for the sake of these creatures and their well-being, I recommend going out to see them on a stand-up paddle board, surf board or the like.
Recommended hotel The 4.5-star Villasun is located some distance away from the beach in Flic en Flac, but a free shuttle service ad libitum is available to ferry you back and forth. Some meals are available on the premises, although shopping and cooking for yourself in the state-of-the-art ensuite kitchen is the way to go.