Not just cake in Copenhagen
We did visit the National Gallery for the art and not just the cafe, honest! Actually now I think of it there’s rather a good shop too…
The building itself is splendid although being January the fountain was switched off. The original building is a classic temple to culture and an easy walk from the nearest station. There are plenty of other cultural sights to tempt you nearby and we enjoyed popping in to the Film Museum on the way back to Sweden.
Finding the cafe
The cafe is in the modern extension of the museum and looks out onto the gardens. So you can have a good view with your refreshments but get there early if you want a window seat as it gets busy! The ceiling is worth a look wherever you sit as its an art work in itself. You’ll spot it as you pass it on your way to the cafe on the upper floor.
Not just tea and cake
The cafe has a full menu including a buffet and is licenced. We just wanted some tea and cake and to thaw out a bit too! I had coffee in a very stylish mug along with the Danish version of a scone. My friend had tea and cake with a magnificent teapot.
The teapot was cast iron and the server struggled with it a bit. When we tried lifting it we found it was heavy enough to almost have its own gravity field. It did a fine job of keeping the tea warm as well as being good looking.
And the gallery itself?
Full of treats is my immediate thought. Galleries are themed by place and period so there’s a clear theme to follow. Our highlights were the surrealists, not least because their work was placed in the social and political context of their time, and Danish contemporary art simply because not much makes it to England.
I also liked the placing of large sculptures in the galleries. Perhaps my favourite being a life size Victorian lady who appears to be looking at a painting of a lifeboat launch.
An unexpected piece of puppet theatre
On the way to the cafe we spotted an intriguing shed like structure. This turned out to be a reproduction of a puppet theatre. It has a performance area on one side and workshop on the other. The gallery now uses it for learning activities. Worth a look if you go there!
Anyone planning a trip to Sweden will read about fika. It’s simply the Swedish version of tea and cake – or is it?
Well, traditionally it’s coffee and a cinnamon bun but we managed to vary it without being arrested by the culture police. Fika is perhaps best described as a coffee break and apparently some employers allow time for it in the working day. A fine idea I think!
In winter you’ll find candles on tables. This was the case from small cafes to a cafe in a very modern shopping centre. This really brightens up a winter day.
Coffee is taken seriously in Sweden and well made, good quality filter coffee is widely available. it is strong but not to the point of making your eyes cross. Several places I visited free filter top ups were available, even if you actually got an espresso in the first place.
Talking of espresso everywhere we went in and around Malmo from patisserie to station coffee bar provided well made coffee of excellent to good quality.
Some favourite coffee shops
In Malmo the Hollandia is a splendid traditional Konditori – patisserie and coffee house. The cardamom buns were excellent as was the coffee. Friendly service and a very impressive chaise lounge to perch on. Nice and central too with just being up from the main square.
Lund is a university town and did not disappoint on the fika front. We found a small friendly roastery and coffee shop called Love Coffee. Really good coffee that was a treat in a cup. It seemed a gathering place for local dads out with their toddlers which added to the friendly relaxed atmosphere.
We also visited lots of small places and the Espresso House chain. Not a duff cup consumed!
An old favourite revisited
I’d meant to go and see the Wallace Collection after its refurbishment for some time. A day off in May afforded the opportunity.
The collection looked splendid as ever and has something for all tastes from armour to ceramics. Plus plenty of well known works of art with Poussin’s A Dance to the Music of Time being a personal favourite. It’s the knowing expression on one of the dancer’s faces that I particularly like.
I enjoyed seeing the much photographed suit of Gothic armour. A professional photographer friend always claimed one day it would disintegrate from being photographed so much!
The new cafe
In the best museum professional tradition I tried the cafe.
It’s a lovely space in a covered courtyard and all the staff are really pleasant. I just had coffee and a croissant which was served beautifully. The jam was very impressive and came highly recommended.
Even if you don’t have time to enjoy the collection the cafe is an oasis worth popping into.
Down memory lane
While in Marylebone I went down Chiltern Street where my father had his printing business in the 1960s and 70s.
The corner shop is long gone and it’s all a bit bijou now. The biggest surprise was seeing the fire station is now a cafe bar. Apparently catering for the likes of Kaye Moss. Happily the building remains complete with its Marylebone Fire Brigade plaque.
Watching the firemen maintaining the engines and gear was a regular childhood treat!
Heritage plus cafe
We wanted to visit Cafe Horta because of its place in Antwerp’s architectural heritage. It’s reputation as a great cafe may have influenced us too!
Cafe Horta was built from recovered iron work from buildings designed by Horta. The iron work was nearly lost to a scrapyard but happily has a new life as a cafe.
Horta was an Art Deco architect and sadly not all of his work survives. I hope to visit the Horta Museum next time I go to Belgium.