fam & dam

Who loves a good rhyme, family time, and stroopwafels?! This gal.

The third week of November: yes, the time of Thanksgiving for us Americans. Buuut this year my third week of November was a little different than usual. My family came to visit me in Europe! We spent the first part of the week in Copenhagen while I was in class, and the second half of the week we went to Amsterdam since I was off. Mom. Dad. Olivia. This is a shout out to you all.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset


I picked them up from the Copenhagen airport with my Danish flag in hand and Danish pastries in my backpack. I tried to plan things for us to do in Copenhagen that I had not done yet so it would be new, fun, and exciting for all of us to do together. After settling in to their Airbnb, we made our way to the edge of Copenhagen in Vesterbro to go to the Carlsberg museum where we got a historical tour of the brewery grounds and heard all about the story of the Jacobsen family. It’s a pretty wild, petty story I’ll say. My Danish host sister said that all of the kids learn the story from when they are really young. Carlsberg’s slogan is “probably the best beer in the world”. I mean, it’s pretty good. And matches the Dane’s modesty (but also not being modest about their modesty but very proud of it- something I’ve noticed).

After that, we went to Reffen for dinner and explored the Christmas markets, stopping for some GLØG (juice of the Gods, or mulled wine, call it what you will) and æbleskiver on our way home. Interjection about what gløg is. It’s like a mulled wine that pops up all around Denmark in November when things start to get cold and Christmas-y. It is so so so good. My mom, sister, and I decided we are going to make some for our extended family at Christmas this year. And æbleskiver. They are sort of like little pancake balls that traditionally come with jam and powdered sugar. Denmark knows how to do Christmas szn.

The next morning we went to breakfast at Mad & Kaffe and they all really liked what they checked off on their little cards to eat. We had a really pleasant breakfast before we went to find the hidden giants in the woods of Denmark. They are these unique scrap wood sculptures of giants in the forests a bit outside of Copenhagen. There are 6, and we were able to see 2. My mom read about these guys back in August, so I made sure that we were able to take the trip out to find them! We truly stumbled upon the first one when there was no one else around. It felt quite magical and adventurous.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The fam kept saying how they wanted to try Danish food. And while I have loved being immersed in Danish culture, there are some Danish foods I think I could go without having again before I head home to the US (I sent them to get smørrebrød with herring without me, that was a one and done thing for me). That being said-there are also some DELISH Danish dishes that always come with potatoes and cabbage. Some people may say those are two of the most bland foods of all time. I honestly won’t argue. But I will say that they are two of my favorite foods of my whole 20 years of life. My sister got the Danish national dish which is literally bacon. My dad and I had what some families will eat for their Christmas meal, and my mom had a duck dish.

Because it gets so dark so early, we were done dinner by 6:30. My circadian rhythm wasn’t prepared for this!!!! We had plenty of time at night to do something fun, so we decided on going to the board game bar to play Catan.

The next days I was in class, so they did sight seeing and I met up with them after. We went to Tivoli since it had just reopened with Christmas decorations. We had North Pole weather that day so we didn’t last that long outside. We went to the Glyptotek museum which is free on Tuesdays!! And had a good time shopping on Strøget, eating at the Glass Market, and just walking around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was free after I submitted all of my assignments on Tuesday! DIS conveniently gives us Wednesday-Friday off during the time of American Thanksgiving, just like I would have off at home. And it was off to Amsterdam!

We stayed in literally the coolest Airbnb EVER in Amsterdam. Our host gave us stroopwafels and had a kitchen with a fancy coffee machine. We had our first experience with Nespresso. Remember when the Keurig came out and everyone was so impressed by it? Revolutionizing your morning coffee? Well now I need a NESPRESSO MACHINE. Wow. That machine and those colorful coffee pods changed my life.

But there is more to Amsterdam than a nice coffee machine. On Wednesday we started our morning real bright and real early by taking a tour of the canals on a boat. This boat had these portable cushions that heated up! Kinda just want one to bring around with me at all times. The sun was rising while we were on the boat and it was pink, purple, and stunning. The boat also had a Nespresso machine. I’m just saying.

The next thing on our itinerary was the Anne Frank house. It was a very insightful, informative visit. I read the play version of her diary in 8th grade and was still able to remember a lot of the story from that. At the end of walking through the tour there was a video with remarks from celebrities about Anne and her story. John Green read a quote from The Fault in Our Stars about how there were many other “Anne Franks” whose stories were never told. And we shouldn’t forget about them. I felt like that was an poignant thought to leave on.

So basically the only things we had planned for Amsterdam were the boat tour and the Anne Frank house. After that, we sort of just left it up to what we felt like doing. On Thursday, we slept in, and started out day by going to the TFIOS bench!!! My sister and I saw The Fault in Our Stars 4 years ago on one of the first days it was out. I just remember crying and sitting in my seat as the credits rolled. Let us not forget…TFIOS soundtrack though… is fire. Jake Bugg. Grouplove. Tom Odell. STACKED. ANYWAYS, we got our IAmsterdam pictures.


LOOK AT THIS!! The whole fam in one pic. Please appreciate this because it took me a long time to make in Paint.

We later walked to Vondelpark, kind of the Central Park for Amsterdam, which got us closer to our destination of a pancake restaurant. I got a crepe style one, where my sister and mom got the poffertjes which are small little puffs, very similar (or the same?) to æbkeskiver in Denmark. This was the perfect lunch for our Thanksgiving day. We walked around a flower market, got french fries, and saw the Red Light District before our Indonesian dinner. Indonesian food is a big thing in Amsterdam since the Dutch colonized Indonesia. So…pretty questionable of why Indonesian is so popular..sounds like the Dutch stole it. Besides that, the food was SO delicious. It was a proper feast, perfect for Thanksgiving.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

my favorite exhibit at the Rijksmuseum

Friday was left very open. The only two things on our to do list was: get a fresh stroopwafel (mainly my to do list) and get a family photo by the canal. Both were successfully accomplished by the end of our day!! In between stroop and the family photo, we also went to the Rijksmuseum and saw work by Van Gogh, Rembrant, and Vermeer. The floating, elegant flowers was my favorite exhibit.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

coming to a Christmas card near you

We had a really wonderful time in Amsterdam. I was pleasantly surprised many times by the city. It was much larger than I thought and I think it was the cleanest city I’ve been in Europe. The canals are truly everywhere, making is a very pretty city. However, the bikers don’t really seem to care about you. I think in Copenhagen, ranking goes pedestrian, bikers, cars. In Amsterdam, it was definitely BIKERS, peds, cars. I definitely was yelled at in Dutch a few times as a biker went by. Unskyld!?!?

We had a really late flight back to Copenhagen on Friday. On Saturday, we were able to enjoy breakfast together before they headed to the airport for their flight home.

That was all a week ago…and I have two weeks left until I’m home. After they left, I started to ~freak~ out a bit because I realized my time left is seriously SO. SHORT. I remembered counting the weeks until they came and realizing that after they left, things were going to start to end. Have I done everything I want to? Not physically done, visited, or seen but done what I needed for myself, mentally, emotionally? While I was basically frantically contemplating my past three months for about an hour after they left, the rest of my week I’ve spent reflecting on all of the good and growth that has come from this semester. And I have 13 days left to make the most of it.

Tak fam for the visit! Vi ses (see you soon)!!

gwen (1)


4 thoughts on “fam & dam

  1. CVaphiades says:

    I’m tearing up reading this! SO happy for you… (one of) my FAV reds (you know I have 2 others in my life!) but I can hear your voice in your writing and the joy of you and your time with your beautiful family. Looking forward to seeing you over Christmas break!! Huge hugs and love ~ xo

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s