December 26, 2019
photos Isabella Orteza
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An unexpected trip to Denmark and Estonia leads to the discovery of new all-time favorite holiday destinations

Dumbfounded at the sight of both Copenhagen and Tallinn, Estonia, I was confident that I found some of my new personal favorite spots in Europe. Copenhagen, Denmark with its distinct and plentiful landmarks side by side, is the perfect place for travel as mostly everything can be reached by walking or biking around. Its landmarks include a centuries-old theme park, an iconic mermaid statue, several royal palaces, and a postcard-like canal. Tallinn, on the other hand, is as unique as it can possibly get. Tallinn’s Old Town pulls you into different eras of Estonia dating from its medieval years to its period under Russian sovereignty. With its preserved medieval houses, market squares, and Russian art and architecture, Tallinn boasts of a rich past and present. Altogether, my journey across the Baltic Sea was nothing short of amazing. So, please mark your calendars for a trip to Denmark and Estonia soon, fellow globetrotters!

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Nyhavn in Denmark.
King’s Garden at Rosenborg Castle.

Copenhagen, Denmark

On a cold and rainy morning, my parents and I started our trip in the capital city of Denmark by visiting the famous canal and entertainment district called Nyhavn. Despite the gloomy weather, the canal district was still buzzing with life as the narrow canal sits in between 17th-century bright multicolored townhouses, cafés, and bars. The canal itself was also full of energy as it accounted for floating restaurants and several tour boats. Like most tourists, I hopped on one of these tour boats too, which allowed me to basically see the whole city in about an hour on my first day. Besides the convenience of having the tour guide finish all the spots on your itinerary, a cruise along Nyhavn offers breathtaking views of Copenhagen’s landmarks. Honestly, I’d say it’s the best bang for your buck!

Following Nyhavn, we proceeded to the Amalienborg Palace where the current Danish royal family resides. The Danish royals have lived in this very palace since 1794, and it makes perfect sense why. The palace grounds hold a spectacle on its own as it creates an octagonal courtyard, with four identical palaces situated on the diagonal sides of the octagon. Meanwhile, on the bottom side is a straight path towards the beautiful green-domed Marble Church. And finally, on the top side of the octagon is the waterfront garden known as Amalie Garden, which has a direct view of the Copenhagen Opera House on the other side of the water. Hence, there is much to see within the impressive arrangement of the palace grounds alone.

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Tallinn’s Pink and Yellow Theme.
Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky.

Tallinn, Estonia

As we hopped off our taxi, we arrived on a cobblestone street that was several blocks away from our Airbnb in the middle of Old Town. Because my family and I have never learned to pack light, we begrudgingly pulled our luggage on the rocky road towards our home. After about ten minutes of struggling, we finally found our abode which to our surprise was just a few steps away from the Town Hall Square. Though, what was more surprising was the apartment itself. Inside, we found out that the apartment building was constructed in the 14th century, and indeed it appeared so! Although the creaky wooden floors, red tapestries, and dim lights were a little too creepy for my liking, it all added to the unique and medieval experience we had in Tallinn.

After a good night’s rest, we visited the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky. If I had to choose my personal favorite spot in Tallinn, this would certainly be it! Especially because I have never been exposed to Russian art and architecture before, I was immediately drawn to the exotic facade of this cathedral. Mikhail Preobrazhenski, the respected architect of St. Petersburg, designed this building with the typical Russian Revival style when Estonia was under the Russian Empire in the 18th century. Apparently, the cathedral was deliberately built atop Toompea hill to show the Russians’ dominance over Estonian locals. Now, with that controversy forgotten over the years, what is left on this hill is simply a masterpiece. The multicolored cathedral is composed of five onion-shaped domes in total, with four small domes in each corner of a square and one large dome in the center. I wish I could say more, but I am currently struggling to find the right words to justify this cathedral’s beauty. So, pretty please just pay it a visit!

Read the full travel story of Isabella Orteza featuring tourist destinations in Denmark and Estonia in Lifestyle Asia’s December 2019-January 2020 edition titled, “Agents of Change.”

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