In The National UAE- Coronavirus: How does Abu Dhabi’s new border system work?

I was recently quoted in the National with my views on trying to get into Abu Dhabi to help my decluttering clients.

You can read the full article here.

Enjoy!

Thanks!

Shelina Jokhiya

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Staycation at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

This weekend, I got to spend a weekend relaxing, for once, at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island. The decision was very last minute, but we felt like getting out of Dubai and seeing one of the other Emirates.

I have never been to the Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi, but have been several times to the Dubai branch to use their dining and spa facilities (and also to attend a wedding there). The Park Hyatt Dubai is beautiful from the moment you get to the entrance and valet. I expected the same when we got to the Abu Dhabi Park Hyatt, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the same authentic arabic charm as its Dubai counterpart.

When checking in, we encountered the strange demand of giving AED300 as a “deposit”. We are used to being asked to give our credit card details, so they can use it to deduct all expenses when we check out, but this was something new and slightly annoying. We gave a credit card to pay the deposit and to also settle the room bill and went on our merry way to the room. The room was lovely. Everything I have expected from Hyatt properties on my travels. We took a ground room floor which had a balcony overlooking the garden and pool.

Dinner choices are limited at the hotel so we choose the Park Bar and Grill. Fortunately I had an Entertainer Voucher to buy 1 get 1 free main course so we could splurge a bit on the meal :). The food was delicious and the service fantastic; one waitress from South Africa was especially kind and helpful.

The night should have been joyous in the comfortable bed, but there was this bizarre dripping noise above us for the whole night. It was intermittent so couldn’t tell if it was due to pipes, a leaky bath in the room above or if it was between the ceiling and floor of the two rooms. It was truly irritating.

The next morning we spent chilling out at the beach and in the room. It would have been better if we had not received text messages from the bank at stupid o’clock (more of that soon).

Also we didn’t receive our complimentary newspaper. We couldn’t understand how they could forget a simple thing that they offer as a service!

At midday exactly, we started getting calls and knocks on the door that we had to check out..NOW! The hotel had obviously ignored the requests we had made in the booking which included “Late Check Out”. The hotel was not busy at all so they could have let us stay an hour or two, but nooppppe we had to leave pronto.

Now back to the text message we got. Remember we gave the AED300 at the start? Well after that we had a meal and a few drinks as obviously we were staying at the hotel. Well that deposit was used up so the hotel decided that rather than waiting for us to check out and check the total bill, that they would charge us immediately for any expenses we made during the stay. Plus they were deducting at silly o’clock so we were being awoken by the phone beeping. We were so angry.  At the hotel desk, we complained about the method of taking money off us without us check the final bill.

The reasoning by Park Hyatt (the Manager decided to join in to defend their position – quite condescendingly if I say so myself), was that they had a new policy that they would block the amount on our credit card as and when we used their facilities. The actual amount would not be deducted until we had checked out they assured us. The reality was that they weren’t blocking the amount, they were automatically deducting from our card as and when they felt like it. I have been to Hyatt hotels globally and other hotel chains, but never heard of this nonsense.

They were treating us like potential thieves who were planning to do a runner out of the hotel without clearing the bill and also they were deducting us for amounts we were unable to verify first. They may have deducted amounts which were not related to our room. If you have dealt with banks in the UAE, you know how much of an ordeal it is to get refunds for amounts that are falsely taken from your account or credit card.

The attitude and behaviour left a very bad taste in our mouth. The apologies were insincere. In the end, we viewed the bill, signed and left very angry. Because of the behaviour at this Hyatt, I have no desire to go to another one unless there are assurances that we will not be be treated like this and will receive better service from a 5* hotel.

What has been your experience with the Park Hyatt’s you have visited? Would love to hear your good or bad stories.

Update 12 October 2015 – I have received an apology from the hotel with regards to the complaints above. The policy on getting a deposit and then deducting as and when is supposedly an citywide policy in Abu Dhabi. I find it hard to believe this can only happen in one city in the country. It was good of the hotel to acknowledge my blog post and feedback from their survey.  

Would be interested to know if others have had to deal with the same payment/deposit policy in Abu Dhabi. 

Shelina

© 2015 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.

Using Public Transport in Dubai (vlog #6)

Metro Gold Class Entrance

My lovely car was with the car garage for 2 days so I recently had to use public transport. As the petrol prices have gone up in the UAE, the Ministry of Transport has told us to make the most of the public transport. So I did…

Here is my vlog on using the public transport – Careem private taxi, tram, metro, bus (well tried to use the bus) and taxi.

Using the public transport would be great, if you could access it and there was help from the RTA Dubai on using it.

I did complain to RTA and was advised they would look into my complaint. With regards to the bus stop, they told me the bus stop number I had to go to (with no directions), complained again, then they said the road where the bust stop was  and finally gave more directions. Pointless telling me when I was home where the bus stop was. I got more information from the JVC Facebook group on the location of the bus stop (one member gave me a map with an arrow pointing the location of the bus stop!).

The RTA said they would also consider my complaints about lack of air conditioned shelters at the Mall of Emirates main bus stop. I have heard nothing since from them.

What experience have you had using the public transport in Dubai. Is it a better experience for you?
 
Shelina

 

 

 

    

 

© 2015 Shelina Jokhiya | All rights reserved – This post is provided for the convenience of Shelo’s Cheeky Rantings readers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited.

 

VAT it back!

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People don’t believe me when I say I take an empty suitcase with me when I go to the UK.  UAE is not cheap or good for shopping. Back home there are constant sales and we also get our VAT back as non-residents #win.

Admittedly it took me a few years to realise that as a resident of the UAE, I could claim my VAT back in the UK and Europe. After several years of claiming back, I am now an expert at it and highly recommend doing it.

So if you live outside Europe this is what you do to claim your VAT back.

1. Go to the store. Buy loads.

2. At the till say “I want to claim my VAT back”.

Do it before they start scanning the items and most probably again 3 more times if you are in a high street store.  Don’t both in Selfridges, and Marks and Spencer’s. See below.

3a. Classy Designer store – they will ask you to complete yours details on a form. They will take those details and print a VAT receipt for you with all your details completed on it, so all you need to do is sign the VAT receipt.

3b. Selfridges – you collect all the receipts you get around the store and then go to the VAT department (basement near kitchen department in Oxford Street). When your number is called, go to a desk, complete a form with your details and the lovely Selfridges people will print a VAT receipt for you with your details completed. You just need to sign the receipt. Selfridges keep your details, so you just need to show your passport when shopping there again.

3c. Normal high street store – most probably the sales person will be unhelpful and say either they don’t do it or you haven’t spent enough. Both reasons are normally rubbish and they just can’t be bothered to get the VAT receipt or don’t know how to do it. Ask them to check with their manager. Most tills now ask automatically if the sales person wants to print the VAT receipt (hence why you have to tell them several times before the end of the transaction).  If not, they have to manually completed a long form with the details and will ask you to complete details as well. (Hence why they try to get out of giving you the receipt).

3d. Primark – You need to go to customer service or if in Marble Arch the specific VAT department to get the receipt. Just show them your receipts and they will print or manually complete the VAT receipt. It will be a manual receipt if you are in a small town Primarni.

3e. Marks and Spencer is the same as Selfridges – collect the receipts from all the stores (except food) and then go to one to get the receipt from the customer service department. Go to a big store like Marble Arch to get your VAT receipt as they have the automatic receipt printing machine. In some other stores they complete the form manually (so behind).

Note: In some stores such as House of Fraser, they will ask if you want your VAT back immediately in cash. If you say yes, you have to pay additional admin fees so the amount given back to you is far less. I would recommend saying no and filling in the forms to get the refund on your credit card.

4. Make sure that the sales person signs the VAT receipt and stamps it. You cannot get your money back if they don’t sign it.

5. Make sure you take your passport or ID showing you live outside UK/EU with you. A lot of shops ask for it as proof that you are not a resident in the UK and EU,  and show them your current visa page (the sales people can get very confused and argumentative if they see you with an EU passport). Passport is therefore the best bet.

Apple will not give you a VAT receipt at all without the passport being shown. They are beyond difficult.  And they forget to sign the form so be careful with them.

6. If it’s not a classy store, you need to complete the VAT receipts before you leave for the airport. Put in name, address in country of residence, date of birth, arrival and departure date, etc.

Make a note of the tax receipt number and tax company (Premier, Global Blue, etc).

7. Put in your credit card number, so you get the VAT refund straight to your card. It means your VAT return helps to part-pay the bills and also reduces the amount of admin fees you pay.

If you ask for cash you have to a) pay extra admin fees (you have to pay one set of admin fees) and b) claim cash at airport where there will most probably be a long queue.

8. To be organised, put all VAT receipts for Premier tax in one envelope, Global Blue in another, etc. There are about four tax companies.

9. Take your VAT receipts in their specific envelopes and your actual sales receipts (hold them separately) to the airport.

10. Before you check in, find the VAT office/counter. There will be signs for it.  I repeat do it before you check in.

11. Give the the customs people your VAT receipts and passport. They will also ask where the goods are so have your luggage near you. They may ask for the sales receipts if they are on a jobs-worth mission.

The customs people will stamp the VAT receipts and then return them to you. You need to put the VAT receipts only in their specific envelope and then mail the envelopes (it’s free to mail). There are normally letterboxes in the departure area or give them to the family/friends to post them immediately for you.

12. You need to get to the airport earlier than you would normally, to do the VAT stamping.

It can take a while if it’s a busy time of the day and if you are flying from Heathrow.

If its Gatwick North Terminal (for Emirates) it takes 5 minutes.

Other airports maybe quick, but Heathrow is never quick (except during the Olympics when they just took the receipts without asking any questions at all!!).

13. Check in, do the duty free (might as well continue with your tax saving shopping).

14. Fly home (unfortunately not in Concorde) :(.

 

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15. Check credit card bills after about a week and you will see the refunds. If you don’t get the refunds within 3 weeks contact the tax company to check the status of your refund. Global Blue are on twitter so you can tweet them.

16. If you go to different EU countries, make sure you go to the VAT counter at the airport/train station from the country you are leaving to get the stamp. You can mail the envelope from your final destination with the other receipts.

So for example, the other year I went to London, Copenhagen (for 4 amazing days), back to London and then to Dubai. I obtained VAT receipts in Copenhagen (they are very organised and helpful there) and had the receipts stamped at Copenhagen airport before I flew back to the UK. I stated my date of departure on the receipts as the date of when I would be leaving Europe (not Copenhagen).  The receipt was included in the envelope with the other Global Blue ones from the UK and mailed.

Of course the procedures can change, stores might be become more tech savvy, etc. If there are changes, please let me know so I can update the above advice.

If you have had any experiences with claiming your VAT back let us know.

Hope this was helpful.

🙂

Update: You can also claim your VAT back when in Lebanon. Information on how to claim back can be found here. Remember to take a copy of your passport with you to include with your receipts sent to the tax refund company.

 

Totally Fabulous Fujairah Food Tour

As a few of us were missing the food delights of Fujairah we organised a tweetup to join our good friends @daddybird and @kangayayaroo to eat ourselves full yesterday.

Our first pit stop was at Nepal Kitchen House where we had Peanut sandeko, chicken momos, mutton momos, thukpa (noodle soup), chicken chili, chicken tass (chicken and puffed rice), and aloo jeera fry (potato, cumin seeds, corriander). I loved the mutton tass last time and had been dreaming about it for this trip. Unfortunately the chicken tass whilst tasty, the rice was not as puffily nice as last time. :(. The chilli chicken and momos were delish though.

Mutton momos Chicken Tass 2

To give our tummies a rest we ventured up to Al Hayl Castle. The road was slightly bumpy but it was nice going through an old skool village (with beautiful doors for each residence).  The castle is the very old home of the Fujairah Royal Family (saw 100 odd years old).

View from top of fort Daddy, Kanga and Mita Al Hayl Castle 2

We then took our first tea break on one of the main streets, with the men coming to the car to give us our 1dhs karak chai.

Next stop was Salu Salo which is a Filipino restaurant in an alleyway. I couldn’t tell you which alley, but you can find it on Foursquare. Here we had: Bicol express, Bopis, Lumpia, Pinakbet, and Kare Kare were our choices. Bicol express is a stew in a coconut milk sauce. Bopis is heart and lung sauteed in tomato, chili, and onion. Lumpia is meat filled fried rolls, Pinakbet is a shrimp and vegetable dish, and Kare Kare is an oxtail stew in peanut sauce. I loved Kare Kare and Lumpia, but my mate G was a big fan of Bopis.

Filipino

After that lovely meal we had one of the best karak chai’s i have ever had at Finjan Cafe on the Corniche which was served in a clay pot! It was 4dhs but worth it.

Karak Chai

Our final meal for the day was at the very long titled Zamarod Al Afghani Rice Bukhari Restaurant. There we had mixed grill, mutton curry, lamb kofta, “special” flat bread and hummous. The hummous was freshley made and divine. Reminded me a lot of the lovely hummous we ate in Beirut. After a final cup of tea we left our lovely guests and headed back home. Full but happy.

Afghani

(Thanks to Kangayayaroo for the list of food we ate from her blog post (with the same title)  as I couldn’t recall them off the top of my head :)).

Long weekend in Jordan

8 years of living in Dubai and the only place in the Middle East I had visited before was Damascus. Since January I have made up for this complete faux pas by travelling to Lebanon (great), Kuwait (awesome hotel shame about the boring city), Oman (lovely) and now to add to the list, Jordan.

My friend G and I decided to do the normal trail of Amman, Petra and 2 nights in the Dead Sea Resort driving around in a pathetic Citroen C4 (it really struggled to get up the big hills – and there were loads of them).

Here is our travel diary for the four days in Jordan

Amman

We hired our car from Thrifty/Dollar. They tried to screw us around with a car with no boot shelf to hide our suitcase. After several minutes of being difficult we were giving a suitable (bruised) car.

We stayed in the Four Seasons Amman. Yes it’s bling but we wanted to spoil ourselves for a night. The sheets, as G will tell anyone who will listen, were amazing. Must have been a few 100 on the cotton count J.

Due to Emirates and their impeccable service of departing and arriving late to all destinations we had less time to explore Amman. We went to Rainbow Street in Circle 1 and saw a continuous stream of cute men. Whatever anyone says about Amman can be discounted by just staring at the hawt men. We went to Reem Shawarma which is supposedly the best shawarma place in the world. I can confirm that it was one of the best I had ever had and really helpful guys working there. Sitting on Circle 2 (a massive roundabout) we ate our shawarma and admired the crazy arse driving (they don’t believe in lanes).

The hotel was not seen much but we sat in the bar for a few hours and chatted away as we do whenever we are on holiday together.

Petra

After a lovely breakfast in our hotel we made our way down the main highway to Petra. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to Petra from Amman. There are no speed cameras but police patrols with cameras and ready to stop people for any reason. We were stopped twice but the police apologized for stopping us each time.

At Petra, I had organized to have a private tour guide to take us around Petra for JD50. Turns out that this fee didn’t include the entrance fee. We didn’t know and I had asked him to confirm the costs of going to Petra several times for a few weeks. After the tour had ended and we had given him his tip, he came back to us and accused us of being criminals and purposefully not paying him properly. Long story short, as I am still so angry with him, he spoke to us so disrespectfully that I ended up exploding London stylee in front of loads of tourists at the entrance to Petra to the point that I was shaking with rage. If you ever go to Petra don’t use a young man called Abdullah. Not only was he nasty and abusive he also spoke too fast, got annoyed if we asked questions and took our cameras to take photos and this was before he started his rant about us not paying him properly. We also think he was stroppy with us as we wouldn’t take a donkey/horse/cart to go around Petra or buy the tacky jewellery. He must have been getting commission for it. The animals looked in terrible condition and it was heartbreaking seeing them.

He ruined a moment we had been waiting weeks to see, but we were still glad we saw Petra and sang the Indian Jones theme tune (had to be done!).

To be honest Petra is extortionate (JD 50 entrance fee is GBP50!!) and they have only dug out mainly tombs. It is a big area and we did go at a stupid hot time but I don’t think it was worth that money (plus the guide fee of additional JD50!). However when in Jordan you have to see it, so go and then you can cross it off your list.

Whilst I was exploding, G got directions from a lovely bellboy at the Movenpick Petra on how to get to the Dead Sea. It took 3 hours to get to the Dead Sea resort but we took a windy picturesque route through Jordanian villages, farms, mountains and eventually the Dead Sea. It was amazing and fun and calmed me right down after our time in Petra. You have to drive that road during the day otherwise it would be a nightmare, but it was awesome.

Dead Sea

We stayed at the Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea. Lovely resort but shame about the hair conditioner being sooo shite and no wifi in the rooms. There was wifi by the 6 pools, restaurants and beach side but in this day and age you need it in the room.

The Dead Sea is the weirdest thing ever. As soon as you get into the sea you float up. You really have to struggle to move your legs downwards. I can also confirm that if you get the salt in your eyes, it will burn you to the point that you might need to ask a kindly couple to help you out of the sea to wash your face (G was busy relaxing with ears covered by water :S).

We slathered on the Dead Sea mud twice during our stay. Loads of people didn’t follow the instructions on the slathering process so here is our guide to do the Dead Sea mud experience:

  1. Sit in the Dead Sea for 15-20 minutes
  2. Slather on the mud everywhere (except your hair – remember the hair conditioner in the hotel was shit; it took half an hour to brush our hair)
  3. Sit semi quietly admiring the muppets in the sea for 20 minutes
  4. Go into the sea and take off the mud making sure you don’t splash the sea water into your eyes and relax for a while in the sea water
  5. Go to the shower and take off the remaining mud and any salt water in your eyes.
  6. Sunbathe.

Our plan was to do very little during our stay at the Dead Sea and we did that successfully. We ate, drank, tanned and swam a bit. After check out on the last day we went to the Baptism Site where John baptized Jesus. Once again we were hot but it was good. You get a free listening device to hear about the various points whilst you walk around. We went to the River Jordan (singing “By the Rivers of Babylon” – it amused us) and saw a massive group of American tourists on the other side (it had the Israel flag there) filling up bottles of the River Jordan (the water looked dirty) and baptizing babies and themselves (wearing special baptism t-shirts). It was rather surreal especially being so close to the other side of the bank. We didn’t expect the Jordanian baptism tour to be that well organized or within such a big area, but it was impressive. Bloody hot though as you are outside most of the time.

After that, we made the relatively short drive up to Queen Alia airport going through the non highway highway and not getting stopped by police once! . The airport is modern and clean and has decent shops so we quickly did our tourist souvenir shopping and ran for the plane. Two thumbs up for the airport. Much better than Kuwait and Muscat (Kuwait was beyond bad).

I’m glad I finally made it to Jordan and got to see a lot of it, which you may not see if you go with a tour group. It’s not somewhere I’d go back to in the near future, unless of course one of my lovely Jordanian friends got married there or something, but it is worth seeing. Just bear in mind that Jordan is relatively expensive so take more dollars than you would normally for your holiday.

The Chedi @ Muscat

When I thought I was going to leave Dubai and the Middle East I created a bucket list of places I still hadn’t been to and decided to do as much as possible before I left. One of the places on the list was Muscat and in particular the Chedi.

I flew on Fly Dubai as it was the cheapest and its an hour flight; so I wasn’t going to spend loads on travelling. The flight was good but shame they confused us by saying the flight was due to be delayed for four hours!!!

On arrival I paid 5 rial for an entry visa (as a GCC resident you get a discount which is a bonus). To get a taxi you prepay and then have a mental Omani bloke drive like a maniac to the hotel. Once at the hotel the craziness dropped off.

This is a five star hotel so from the moment your taxi door is opened you are treated like a queen. I was asked to take a seat and was given a cold towel and a glass of orange and ginger juice. Check in formalities were done whilst I remained seated by a lovely Filipino lady. As I was too early she offered me complimentary coffee in the lounge and a wifi password to keep me occupied for a while. I also got a map of the hotel which as you can see if bloody huge.

In the lounge I could only get biscuits to nibble on but the waiter brought me loads to tide me over. Bless.

After waiting a few hours, a friend who has been here before suggested i pay the extra amount to upgrade. Upgrading would mean i would get access to the club lounge, drop off at the airport and free minibar. Plus it would mean i would get the room. So after sitting for 4 hours i finally got into a room.

The rooms were the normal 5 star standard of lovely, understated and Arabic designed. Lovely.

As quick as a flash i was in my bikini and had my beach bag ready to start exploring the 3 pools. I went in one direction and ended up in the Long Pool area. Each point of the pool had a section with a massive lounger (enough to fit 3 people) and steps into the pool. It was awesome. You could sit in the pool and the drinks would be brought to the edge to sip on whilst relaxing and topping of your tan.

After a while i went to the pool restaurant at the smaller pool area to have some lunch (Wagyhu burger and chips – when sunbathing i need a burger). Delicious and very proper.

After the meal and feeling very bloated I chilled by the Long pool for a bit longer. The whole point of this weekend was to do very little and to rest. I did a lot of that whilst on the massive lounger.

In the evening, i put on my semi fancy dress (thank god i brought it with me) and went to the club lounge for the free drinks. After a while of listening to couples chat, i went over to “The Restaurant”. Supposedly in the Top 100 list of restaurants in the world. Still feeling bloated i opted for Prawns in corriander (see picture) and also sashimi. Two starters might be weird but it was what i needed. There is another restaurant by the beach but with the mossies in love with me, i thought it best to stay away from there.

Being alone, the rest of the evening was spent chilling with my ipad and being lazy.

The next morning not planning very well, i sat by the beach after a lovely breakfast. At 12 I had the grand plan to go to the souk in Muscat, but of course the souks close from 12-4 in the Middle East so instead my lovely taxi driver took me to Muscat City Centre. It is the same as Deira City Centre in Dubai but smaller. I had lunch and then left there very quickly. I had the taxi drivers number so he picked me up from the mall and we organised for him to come and get me to take me to the souk later.

After checking out, i went to “The Spa” (yep they were clever with the names of stuff in the Chedi) and had the hot stone massage. To say it was painful would be an understatement but it did clear the really tight muscles on my top and lower back. Unfortunately the middle part of the back suffered for the next few days after. The spa was different in that there was no joint changing room, but you changed and got ready in each spa treatment room (each room contained a shower and toilet as well). It was like being in a hotel room with a massage bed and spa bath.

Finally after that i went to Muscat old town and saw the souk for a few minutes, buying the famous delicious halwa (saffron and regular) and some buqur (frankincense) for my parents.

Muscat is what you wish Dubai would be. Arabic designed everywhere even on new flyovers, growing but not high rise and with gentle kind locals. The locals work as taxi drivers, in shops, etc so you can talk to them to get an idea about the city. Even on a weekend the roads were quiet. The souk was old school with a covered warren of lanes with stalls selling various arabic things for locals and tourists. I wished i had planned better.

It is crazy to go to another country to stay mostly in a 5 star bling hotel but it was nice to get out of town. The only downside was the couples in the hotel. It was full of them; all staring as if us single people (3 in total) were freaks. Smug couples should remember that they could break up and that the grass might be greener on our side. Also a few unsubtle staff members at the hotel did ask if i was alone and then made a slight face. It’s not cool. Otherwise I had a lovely weekend away and highly recommend going to Muscat.

Tag Copenhagen!

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If you follow me on twitter you may be aware of my love for Scandinavia and anything to do with the area. Despite never being there I have been in love with the men, food, clothing, music and sweet looking reindeer.

An opportunity arose recently to get a cheap ticket from the UK to Copenhagen so in the spirit of craziness I bought the ticket and got my  arse to Denmark to see some culture and Scandinavian deliciousness. Here is my adventure…

Of course being addicted to being on my mac/apple products (yes I am one of them now) I researched and found a lovely looking hotel on the harbour called 71Nyhavn.

 

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The hotel is predominately for business people but I look business enough and hey it was a convenient location. The hotel was lovely and had a great restaurant more about that later but the bathroom in my smallish room was weird. I forgot to take a photo but the lack of separate cubiclelising the shower was weird. Weird!!!

There are touristy things to do but you have to see them to enjoy the beauty of them. My writing on them won’t be useful but here is some useful stuff to know when being a tourist in Copenhagen:

1. Buy a Copenhagen card – 72 hours. They can be bought at the main  tourist office in Tivoli (very helpful) or in other places such as the Canal tours in Nyhavn. The card lets you go on public transportation in  the central area for free and also to the museums and other attractions.

2. Copenhagen is practically dead on Sundays (but going to change in  October 2012 due to a law being passed to allow shops to be open). Monday is also dead if you go from January to April. There are a few places open but not much.

3. Rosenborg Slot (Castle) – has the worst timings in the world ever to  see the place. The main castle is open till 2 and then crown jewels and  special exhibition are open till 4. A few of the attendants there especially one butch woman were really rude. But others were really friendly. Also get the QR barcode scanner for your iPhone so can scan info on the stuff inside otherwise you wont have a clue at what you are looking at.

4 Amalienborg Slot (castle) – beautiful palace with proper information on each room. Small but well done and the staff are really friendly. Outside don’t sit on the steps otherwise a Danish Royal Guard will come and tell you sweetly to get up (yes that happened to me).

5. Christiana – supposed to the hippie commune. I couldn’t find it even on google map and what I did find was a scary looking council estate.

6. Canal tours – its free with the Copenhagen card and you get to see a lot of stuff in an hour. You can’t hear anyone on the phone including the reservations line for Noma whilst on boat but still cool.

7. Noma (top restaurant in the world right now) – make a reservation to be on the waiting list online as soon as you know you are going to Copenhagen. Then keep your phone on high volume at all times to hear the bloody call. If you miss it you will regret it always.

8. Christansborg Palace – has a massive library with lots of books on Napoleon and none on Hans Christian Andersen. The dining room is massive as well. See..

 

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9. Nyhavn – its  cobbled. It has a sex shop on the street. They’re a lots  of pubs and restaurants there and blankets for when you sit outside and its bloody cold as by the harbour side. Pretty area though and Hans Christian Andersen’s house (which you can’t go in) is here.

10. Dansk Design Centre – its not very big and they replay the start of  Vogue too often but its still awesome.  Do you know how much stuff the Danish, which we use, created in everyday life???

11. The Little Mermaid – as the Danish will tell you it is not the national symbol of Denmark. It is in an open harbour area so at the time of the year you will freeze to death seeing it and people go mental taking photos of it. Here is a quick shot I took of it. All say awwww.

 

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Now onto serious matters…Shopping. Denmark is famous for clothes designers and design stuff for the home.

These are the places to go to for your fix:

DEPARTMENT STORES

ILLUM
Østergade 52, Copenhagen (00 45 33 14 40 02; http://www.illum.eu). A pretty department store. Not as big as Magsin but still good.

MAGASIN DU NORD Kongens Nytorv 13, Copenhagen (00 45 33 11 44 33; http://www.magasin.dk).Its like the Selfridges of Copenhagen.

LEGO Amagertorv 10, Copenhagen. – It is Danish and just brilliant to relive your childishness. I used the excuse of buying for my nephew the reason for going there.

FASHION

BY MALENE BIRGER AND DAY BIRGER AT MIKKELSEN
Antonigade 10, Copenhagen (00 45 35 43 22 33; http://www.bymalenebirger.com). Malene Birger, who started the famous fashion house Day Birger et Mikkelsen in the 1990s, is the unrivalled queen of Danish high fashion. I bought from Day Birger the most awesome clothes. It was like clothes heaven in there.

INTERIORS

ILLUMS BOLIGHUS
Amagertorv 10, Copenhagen (00 45 33 14 19 41; http://www.royalshopping.com). I mixed this up with Illum. Illums Bolighus has an amazing mutli floor haven of design stuff. It was orgasmic. I cannot emphasize how awesome this place was for buying everything and anything. They also had Designer Remix which is a fashion store and I picked up some stuff from them.

ROYAL COPENHAGEN Amagertorv 6, Copenhagen (00 45 33 13 71 81; http://www.royalcopenhagen.com). It is the Wedgewood of Denmark and very cool. Being close to Easter I got a porcelain egg. It’s almost next door to Illums Bolighus (see above).

FOOD

Copenhagen has become the gastronomic capital globally in recent years due to Noma, Paul and other restaurants getting the “stars”. There are other restaurants around which may not be famous but sold food which taste sublime. I don’t know whether it was the cold or something in the food, but I loved every thing I ate there. From the cheese roll to the whole lobster I was in food heaven.  The choice picks were.

Lagkagehuset – forget the Baresso coffee chain (it was not good) and go to Lag. It has an amazing choice of Danish’s (geedit) and the coffee was good. The best thing in the world as well is to get a bread roll and ask them to put cheese in it.

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Ida Davidsen – Store Kongensgade 70, Frederiksstaden, Copenhagen (00 45 33 91 36 55; http://www.idadavidsen.dk). They have over 250 smørrebrød (open sandwich), I had the steak tartar and also the salted fish sandwich (called Princess Marie). There are men at the front. One moody queen and the other lovable queen. He made me laugh whilst helping me choose what to eat. I finished off with the Danish apple crumble.

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Restaurant Pakhuskælderen –  located in my hotel 71Nyhavn. They had a tasting menu for the week which you could review every time  you got in the lift so I had to try it out. The smoked duck breast with horseradish foam and beetroot was divine as well as the Chicken and  Mushroom. The service was so good and they are accommodating. Thumbs up.

Noma – I would talk about it if I had not missed the call. *sigh*

I did take the train to Malmo for a few hours but Malmo disappointed me so I wont bore you with that tale but the service at the station (even when the train was delayed) and the train journey itself was great.

All in all Copenhagen was amazing for me. It was beautiful, cultural and amazing in its design and food areas. It is an expensive town and the Kroners went too fast out of my purse so I had to start using my visa for all purchases even small ones as there were not enough forex places to change money when I needed to change.

If you have some extra cash and want to go somewhere different then I highly recommend you get on an Easyjet/Emirates flight and go to CPH.