Eurovision Island (7): quicker to get to Malmö

I popped out to Eurovision Island on my  own yesterday to see how things were going, particularly on the transport front. The fan press pack hasn’t been too complimentary so far – I’ve a haul of quotes I’m going to sit on until after the event, as there are a range of factors at play and extra services from today, but for a sneak peek see Transport us to Eurovision Island.

One comment which tickled me was whether it would actually be quicker to get to Malmö, or the arena in Hyllie, last year’s venue, at least (whatever happened to that option?).

Here’s  a smörgåsbord of options from Rejseplanen for a journey from our south CPH suburb to Refshaleøen:


And to Hyllie:


So pretty equal on time, but hands down to Hyllie for ease of access.

I was also interested in signage:

The evidence on the ground – click to scroll.

And #bogwhallerne itself? Part of the diamand in the rough metaphor, or just run out of money?


Vegetarian in CPH – it’s mad!

Update, 25 May: an article in Politiken (Gang i gadekøkkenet, offline only) is glad that CPH has now caught up with other cities where food trucks have been part of the cityscape for a while. The trucks on Gammeltorv almost drowned during Eurovision, but are a welcome addition to CPH’s food scene, which lacks decent fast food, and to street life itself. The council has recently given permits to 18 trucks and 250 Christiania bikes to sell food on the street.

Update, 6 May: ScandiKitchen’s guide to Danish party food illustrates the issues, but Swedish veggie fast food chain Astrid och aporna now open at Jægersborggade 39, Nørrebro, and we’re having an ongoing convo with @copenhagencvb, so consider awareness raised!

I’m a vegetarian in the country with the highest meat consumption per capita in the world, but hey! Nordic food (aka mad) is a thing, with noma just crowned the universe’s best restaurant again. I’ll concede that options have improved slightly since I moved here, but in most eateries the choice is still on a scale from limited to non-existent – for example, the annual CPH Dining Week remains closed to non-carnivores.

Here’s our Eurovision survival guide, mainly covering options around the city centre and out to Eurovision Island – for full listings try Happy Cow or WoCo’s effort.

1098233_648298905182379_482510671_n (1)
spotted on Eurovision Island, August 2013 – no wheels…

Fan Mile

Eurovision Village sees the launch of a new organic food truck concept, organised by Copenhagen Cooking, WoCo’s eating arm. Despite my Pavlovian sceptical response, @copenhagencvb tells me there will be a pretty reasonable range of options, including open sandwiches with avocado or mozzarella, braised aubergine, Danish delicacy karrysuppe (curry soup) and the rather less dansk bretzel with dips. I’ll be there next week!

Huset, just off the ‘top’ end of the Fan Mile near Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square) and home to the Euro Fan Café, houses a restaurant called Rub & Stub. Based on a concept which becomes ever more troubling the more you think about it, it does offer vegetarian mains:

2014-04-08 18.34.29
1) lasagne and salad 2) pearl barley salad with felafel and polenta

Hotdogs or felafel?

I’ve never eaten one, but Den Økologiske Pølsemand, who has stands by Recreation Square in the middle of Strøget (Fan Mile) and at the Rundetårn (Round Tower), claims to have a vegetarian sausage in his range of organic delights. Why can’t these hotdog stands just do decent chips?

2014-04-08 16.00.58
the ubiqitous pølsevogn

Felafel are the chicken tikka of Denmark. No complaints herfra.

Wienerbrød and brød

Danish pastries in these parts are called Wienerbrød, or Viennese bread. Vegetarian, obv, butter laden and ever so tasty the first few times. Expat blogger Diane has done a guide to the various types, many of which pander to the Danish sweet tooth. I favour a frøsnapper or the healthy option of a grøvbirkes.

2014-04-08 16.03.30
Lagekagehuset on the fan mile

Bread, well, it can be very good but a loaf may cost the price of a small car, in particular in upmarket chains Emmerys and Lagekagehuset. How high will you go? The good news is that couple of boller (rolls) on their own may well be enough to tide you over – which is lucky, as the concept of just grabbing a quick sandwich is yet to catch on.

New (and very welcome) are in-house bakeries in the discount supermarkets. One of my all time favourite CPH Post articles is on how Danish supermarkets can free you from desire, but it’s worth remembering that most offer water and juice at reasonable prices, even if you have to pay a returnable deposit the same price as the drink elsewhere…

Bonus tip: poundshop-alikes Tiger and Søstrene Grene sell savoury snacks and drinks too, although you may well have to make your way round the  whole maze clutching your swag to find the tills. And finally on the subject of water, yes you can drink the tap water, but many restaurants will charge you for the privilege.

Raw and organic

For vegans and healthy types raw is definitely an option, ranging from 42 Raw and simpleRAW to Botaniq for fine dining. Botaniq is just across the road from Torvehallerne, the market that isn’t (more free samples wouldn’t hurt). There’s a lot of chewing involved but it’s the closest thing to a gourmet vegetarian experience in CPH.

Kødbyen, in ‘hipster’ Vesterbro just behind the central station, translates as Meat Packing District, but never fear, organic mecca BioMio has some vegetarian options. Prepare for a long wait while they cook your meal before your very eyes!

2014-04-08 18.59.41
it’s a thing – fruit and surplus packaging

Old school veggie

In the city centre, RizRaz (not exclusively veg) has two outlets and is a brilliant default offering – a keenly priced buffet, and cute little pita breads. You’ll go back for more!

Eateries in Christiania, home to the alternative lifestyle, tend to the how many carbs can you cram on a plate approach, see in particular Morgenstedet and Månefiskeren.


Pizza and pasta may well, as so often, be your friends. The food in CPH’s Indian restaurants resembles neither that in Blighty or on the Subcontinent, best avoid, apart from Bindia if you can spare the cash (poppadoms and pickles? DK 45). Gastro god Claus Meyer’s new restaurant complex, The Standard (the green building at the foot of Nyhavn), includes Verandah, which looks fab if too posh for poppadoms.

As someone who doesn’t like either rice or noodles I can’t really comment on the Asian offerings but many people rate the likes of LêLê…think tofu in all shapes and sizes. There’s also a fair number of places which offer pizza/felafel/kebabs (even on the same plate), which will fill you up just fine.

Nordic mad

Efforts are being made to wean your average Dane off the pig but it’s an uphill struggle. If you want to try celeriac baked in straw or weeds prepared in inventive ways Restaurant Relæ (one Michelin star, 2012) has a vegetarian menu – go them! Here’s a review.

Note for the sensitive of spirit, it may not come as a surprise that it can be a bit robust out there – the paleo diet, aka stenalderkost (Stone Age food) with a stress on the hunter rather than the gatherer, is a thing too, and several restaurants have found new ways to glorify the consumption of the pig and its friends.

New! Copenhagen Street Food

If you are taking the bus option, or fancy a nice excursion on the way to the show, there are several options on Holmen, a short hop from Nyhavn once the bridge is complete.

The Danish Architecture Centre, round the corner from noma, offers a “Danish inspired lunch menu” with herring, salmon and stewed red berry fruits with cream (the famously unpronounceable rød grød med fløde) for an OK DK 199 inc 1 drink. Strike that then…maybe they have cakes.

Copenhagen Street Food, a ‘sustainable food market’ with more stands/trucks, can be found in an old red dairy building on Papirøen (Paper Island – from 1958-2013 it was a newspaper warehouse. Geographically speaking it’s Christiansholm). It’s just opened, and early reports on vegetarian options weren’t promising, but the whole thing may well perk up over the next few days:

Copenhagen Street Food
Copenhagen Street Food

A bit further on, just before you get to #bogwhallerne and your final destination, is the scenic 56 Degrees (so 12 up from 42 Raw), with a pricey Eurovision menu (DK 350, involves ox). Can’t help feeling they’ve misjudged their audience.

Eurovision Island

Made it! Already in situ are Amass (or in my mind, Avoid) from the noma stable and beach bar cum restaurant Halvandet, who are doing the catering through Eurovision fortnight. I’m hopeful – reports from the press centre say the food is good, if veg options limited to salads.

fish in a barrel
fish in a barrel

And finally…

Awareness of vegetarian choices (and animal welfare issues) is low among the populace at large – heck, bestiality is legal.  Vegetarians are largely viewed as knit your own yoghurt sandal wearing types – think 1970s Britain (in many areas, actually), with options interpreted as vegan, or conversely containing fish. Please do your bit to raise awareness for expat vegetarians and make your voice heard. Free us from the salad bar!

Do leave a comment or tweet @annonescdk with a pic of your meal. Best of luck out there!

Transport us to Eurovision Island

Update: changes from 5 May (see Visit Copenhagen’s PDF map):

  • bus 9A runs to Eurovision Island, more frequent during peak hours, around 25 mins from central station (really?)
  • OTOH bus 40 stops running the whole way to Refshaleøen
  • harbour boats start running from Nyhavn, the ones which don’t run at the mo, voyage takes around 10 mins

Plus an email from Billetlugen yields up:

  • it’s a 15 minute walk from the bus and boat stops to the ticket only zone and security checks
  • for evening shows the ticket only zone opens three hours before the show starts, doors open two hours before
  • plan your journey with Movia; best ticket option – if you have a Danish mobile subscription a 12 hour Event SMS-billet costs DK 20 for zones 1-4 and DK 40 for all zones, if you don’t a City Pass is DK 80 : D
  • parking at Amager wotsit now free! if you bought a pass it shall be refunded; a bit more prodding and the shuttle boats/buses will surely go free too
  • there’s free wifi and a cloakroom (DK 30)
  • things you can’t take in: professional photo equipment, food and drink, bottles/tins, weapons and weaponalikes, laser pens, big bags – and animals

I  don’t mind admitting I’m a bit obsessed with the #escdk transport issue. How’s it going so far?

The fan press pack arrived over the weekend. Out first were ESCKAZ/Mike and Daniel, who frankly should have been better prepared, zipping across the harbour and, by the looks of things, not buying tickets. This society works on trusts, guys – man up!

Otherwise, a mixed bag:

  • Eurovision Times/Lynn Kenway (First look): Having seen ESCKAZ’s detours using the waterboats (are they off them yet?!), we took the safer route and got the 9A bus to the opera and walked. And walked. And walked. And then we walked all the way around the island. And then we walked all the way back to the opera as the no 40 bus only runs once an hour at weekends from the arena. Never again. 
  • Eurovision Times/Lynn Kenway (Day 1): We then had a boat fiasco, don’t ask, the transport links and information here is just awful quite frankly. We found the ESCXtra and Eurovision Insight guys so we got over to Eurovision Island and got lost together there. After too much walking we got checked in and got our accreditation passes.
  • The Eurovisionary/David Elder: After a bus journey, a seven mile walk and a water taxi ride across the Kattegat, oh and then a three mile hike across some industrial wasteland (carefully negotiating the barbed wire fences), we managed to find the accreditation tent. 
  • On Europe/Monty?: NOT The walk from the bus to the centre. Not because of the views and stuff, but because its just a tad too long. Lovely rustic views though.
  • WiwibloggsSeveral of us caught a public bus to the B&W Hallerne. When we got off we ended up in an apartment complex where hippie youths were smoking marijuana. They kindly directed us through this hole in a fence, which led to B&W. The giant concrete block may seem severe to some, but I think it’s kind of edgy and cool.

All that effort and then…

Once you get to the Refshaløen island itself, it’s not quite so pretty. The area is desolate, run down, overgrown, derelict. The venue must be one of the biggest, and ugliest (from the outside) buildings ever to host a Eurovision Song Contest and there is little to suggest everything opens tomorrow and Monday. We’re sure it’ll all be lovely inside though.

Oh Lynn…but panic over! 

Our trip to work is now by boat. We have travel that the city of CPH have given to us for free which includes all trains, buses and the like but, most of all, a boat trip. The same boat youve all been reading about – yes, it really exists and yes it does get you to Eurovision Island.

Plus there are shuttle buses laid on for press. Free travel and shuttle buses, what’s not to like?

Things may well get going again though when those without accreditation turn up, although the emergency arrangements should help. Anyone biking?

2014-04-26 11.36.39
fleet of new city bikes outside the town hall

Some advice from me:

  • it’s not worth taking the metro from Kongens Nytorv to Christianshavn unless it’s chucking it down – it’s a short walk over the bridge
  • don’t buy a single ticket – DK 24 for a 10 min boat ride, anyone?

It would be a nice gesture if the Nyhavn boats on show nights were free, to help with speedy boarding – but OTOH who’s going to check?

Tame The Danes

This may come as a surprise, but surveys have shown that a lot of tourists find The Danes a tad closed and unhelpful, particularly on the street. The #escdk volunteers have had special training in making eye contact, but DR has taken it upon itself to try to spread the message to the rest of the population through a series of videos featuring bow tied comms consultant Henrik Menk. Here he is on how to give a stranger directions:

Finally, here’s a list of my posts on transport issues:

Eurovision Island (6): a row of tents

Latest trip, Sunday morning, just before the fan press pack arrived. Definitely a different feel in the air – people smiling, tourists wobbling past on hired bikes, lots of working spaniels for the beagles to bark at. Sigh.

Now very much a private space, with a new wooden fence up, areas blocked off, security guards. Having been out there six times I thought we were pretty much inured to the raw look, but heck, it’s grim. And bizarrely, it can be too hot in Denmark in April, if there’s no shade to be had.

Some areas, like the flattened area where eager punters will queue to get in, I just couldn’t bear to take a photo of. Certainly lowered the bar for Eurovision venue environs – maybe that’s a good thing? And once you’ve actually got inside, it will all be forgotten, won’t it?

Click on an image to scroll through the lot.

The harbour bus stop story: alternative arrangements in hand?

CaptureUpdate, 28 April: spotted on Visit Copenhagen’s PDF map! The key part reads: The harbour bus stops are located at the end of Nyhavn, on both sides of the entrance to the harbour. 

Still reckon not quite ready, mind…

If you want a straight answer go to the organ grinder not the city branders extraordinaire. Visit Copenhagen have repeatedly ignored my tweets regarding the harbour bus stop story. Dårlig stil, guys.

On Facebook, the blessed Lone from Movia tells @esckaz Andy:

Yes you are absolutely correct – the bus stop ”Nyhavn” is under construction from the 3rd of March – 01st of June.

However, temporary solutions has been made during the “Gran Prix” from the 05th of May to the 10th of May, so you can use the bus from “Nyhavn”.

For bus read boat…what the temporary solutions might be, we don’t know, but this is a major step forward, and will help me sleep at night.

Some signage might be an idea – I hung around at the top of Nyhavn yesterday next to the building site, that’s how I get my entertainment these days, and there were a lot of confused people from around the globe in evidence, but no boats, obv.

2014-04-26 12.56.48

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

BTW that Facebook wall is a joy. Lone has my very best.

Eurovision as seen by @annonesc