For the last two weeks I’ve checked the weather for Copenhagen every day. And every day for the last two weeks the forecast showed rain all day for Thursday, August 30th, 2018. Yet for some reason I figured it wouldn’t be true … not on MY vacation anyways. And yet, here we were, Thursday morning, staring out the windows of the flat, at cold, wet, drizzly rain. I was dumbfounded … how could there be rain?
We opted to take the short walk back to Grød, so Eli could get the good breakfast again. With neither of us really having any true rain gear, we were both a bit wet after the seven block trek. We ate our porridge in near silence and pondered what would become of this day. Even after our bowls were empty, we lingered a bit, not wanting to face the fact that it was still raining.
As we walked back to the flat, we talked about our options, and the conversation continued for the next hour back at the flat. Finally reality hit us both … this was our last day in Copenhagen, we had to do something. A quick check of the upcoming weather showed a potentially small gap in the rain, so we decided just to bike down into the heart of the city to revisit some of our favorite spots.
However, by the time we’d even reached the bike racks, it was clear that not only was a reprieve not forthcoming, but it was actually raining harder! Undeterred, we pressed on.
Reaching the city center, we were absolutely drenched, yet still smiling. Hard not to in this wonderful city. First a quick stop at Democratic Coffee, but the line was too long, and there were no seats to rest our soaking bodies. So we pressed on, down the street a few blocks back to Torvehallerne. We perused the choices for a bit before I settled on finally trying the Danish classic, Smørrebrød, from Hallernes Smørrebrød. With a plethora of choices, it was tough to choose, but I finally landed on Liver Pate with beet, bacon, lingonberries and thyme, and Fishcake with creme fraiche and shrimp. Absolutely delicious! Eli chose the tried and true, tacos from Hija de Sanchez. We ended our visit with a coconut macaroon from Laura’s Bakery, and a single espresso from Coffee Collective.
Still slightly wet, we got back on the bikes and headed back to the flat to dry out before the Europa League match we were attending in the evening between FC Copenhagen and Atalanta.
At the flat, I passed the time hair drying our jackets and clothes to be ready for the match, and trying to find an alternative way of getting to the match. While only a 15 minute bike, it was still pouring rain, and we were both not feeling like sitting at the stadium soaking wet. No alternatives could be had in our current situation. Uber left Denmark about a year ago, as did Lyft. Taxis require a phone number (which we did not have), buses required cash (which we did not have). So we were left with two choices, bike or walk the 30 minutes with a single umbrella to share. We opted for the latter thinking this would keep us the most dry, which turned out to be a good choice. While it took longer, we stay dry and reached the stadium just at kickoff.
Originally, we had planned to attend the Danish league match on Sunday, but when we noticed they were playing Atalanta (the Serie A club from Bergamo, Italy) in the Europa League it was a no-brainer to attend this match instead. The first leg of this qualifying round had ended 0-0, so there was all to play for, for both teams, with the winner advancing to the group stages of the competition, and the loser out.
We had gotten pretty damn good seats too! Fourth row, just right of the half way line. Plenty close to see all the action up close. Attendance at the 36,000 capacity Telia Parken was limited to 18,000 due to European restrictions, so it felt a bit empty. That is until kickoff when the supporters end roared into gear. Cheering, chanting and singing songs all match long, even as the rain continued to fall.
A back and forth first half saw a handful of chances, a couple of great saves from FCK’s keeper, and a 0-0 scoreline. Halftime also brought an end to the rain, for the time being. The second half started brightly, with FCK pushing for the opening goal, only for Atalanta to push back and create a few opportunities for themselves. About 10 minutes from time the rain returned, even heavier than before.
Full time was reached still deadlocked at 0-0, giving us extra time, and the potential for a penalty shootout. As each team adjusted with substitutions, the match waxed and waned for each club, finally settling for 0-0, and the excitement of PKs.
PKs started 2-2, before Atalanta striker Papu Gomez hit the crossbar with his attempt, giving FCK the advantage. Unfortunately, they squandered it as their striker, Dame N’Doye skied his attempted into the visiting stands. With the drama as heavy as the rain, Atalanta’s next player struck his shot hard and low towards the bottom left corner, only to be saved by the FCK keeper! The crowd went nuts, knowing the next strike could seal progression in the competition. Defender Denis Vavro stepped up and converted the penalty, sending the crowd into a frezy, and the FCK coach streaking around the field.
I had never attended a European match, let alone one in a European competition, but I knew the atmospheres eclipsed anything any US sport thinks it can conjure up. This match confirmed that line of thinking, as the crowd never sat down, never stopped chanting, and so thoroughly engaged in the event.
What a match, what a night, what a trip!