Little Moments in Copenhagen

A couple of months ago, I received a comment on an old post. The comment said something like, do you guys ever have time to just have fun on your vacations? I had to laugh a little when I saw it, because everything we do on our vacations is fun to us! But I think maybe what that person was meaning to say was, do you guys ever have any downtime on your vacations? And the answer to that is yes! But it’s probably not what most would consider typical vacation downtime.

We all have different travel styles. I know people who like to chase the summer sun and escape to the beach every vacation day they get. I also know people who travel to new cities just to drink coffee. There’s no right or wrong way to travel, unless you’re trying to travel in a way that doesn’t feel natural for you.

For us, going to a new place and then spending three hours in a cafe watching the world pass by just wouldn’t feel natural. We like to stay occupied. So even when we’re not checking out the tourist sights, trying to experience a bit of the culture, or seeking out new foods to gorge ourselves on, we’re almost always doing something.

And now that we all have our own cameras, that something is usually related to photography.

Raindrops on a bicycle seat in Copenhagen

Boat docked in Nyhavn canal in Copenhagen

Street art in Copenhagen

Colorful street in Copenhagen

Colorful homes in Copenhagen

Paint peeling on window shutters in Copenhagen

I would never be so bold as to call myself a photographer, but I am a person who loves to take pictures, and I am constantly working to improve my eye for a good shot and my skills to capture it.

I have found that, for myself, there is no better time to do this than when I’m on vacation in a place I am unfamiliar with. So, when there’s nowhere else we need to be, we let ourselves wander away from the places we’ve already been, or intend to go later, and look for unusual things to photograph.

In a way, I enjoy photographing these locations and subjects more than the major sights because there’s no pressure behind it. If I don’t get any good photos, it’s no great loss; the important part is trying. Sometimes I end up surprising myself, though.

For instance, in Copenhagen, my best shot was not of the Little Mermaid or Nyhavn – it was of a bicycle, propped up against an office building, with fresh raindrops sprinkled on the seat. I love that picture, and quite a few others I got walking around off-the-beaten-track areas of Copenhagen.

Most of the time, I’m drawn to natural-looking colors and objects, but Cory has a completely different style, so when he’s out with me, I get to practice on subjects I wouldn’t even normally attempt to photograph.

Read More: 5 Things to See at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen

The Global Visionary sculpture by Zinkglobal in Copenhagen

The Global Visionary sculpture by Zinkglobal in Copenhagen

This guy is known as ‘The Global Visionary’ and is one of the newest sculptures on the scene in Copenhagen. Designed by Zinkglobal and located in the harbor near the Little Mermaid, this metal man is made up of 8,500 pieces of old machinery and used car parts. If there was ever something that would attract a dude with a camera…

By the way, my husband is turning into quite a talented picture-taker himself. Check him out on Instagram if you like, @cory.shumate.

Read More: Copenhagen on a Budget: 10 Money-Saving Travel Tips

Busy Christmas markets in Copenhagen

Band performing at the Christmas market in Copenhagen

Besides practicing our photography skills, sometimes when we have a little extra time, we like to check out things that aren’t a permanent fixture in whatever city we are in. In Copenhagen, this was the Christmas markets.

Saying this out loud is risky in Europe, but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about Christmas markets. We walked through the ones in Copenhagen and it was – Candles, check. Wood-carved trinkets, check. Glühwein, check. Giant bratwurst, check. It’s always the same. What am I missing? Why do people go crazy over these at Christmas?

I was much more interested in getting a good spot to watch Jerry Garcia, Adam Lambert, and Jon Bon Jovi come together to play Christmas songs in the square. Kidding – these guys were really good, actually. They put a rock and roll spin on traditional Christmas songs and I could have listened to them all day. But, alas, it’s not always about what I want to do, or what Cory wants to do, for that matter.

The Happy Wall in Copenhagen

The Happy Wall in Copenhagen

The Lego Store in Copenhagen

Lexie also gets a say, which is how we found ourselves leaving messages at The Happy Wall in Copenhagen at least three different times, and the Lego Store where we tried, unsuccessfully, to create Lego people that resembled ourselves. (If you thought the one with impressive cleavage was the one I made, you’d be wrong. Lexie apparently has high hopes for herself.)

So maybe we aren’t the most relaxed of travelers, but we also aren’t the type to schedule ourselves so rigidly that we can’t change our minds or have any downtime. We learned the hard way this wasn’t our travel style in Paris, and now we always leave room for the unexpected. These little moments in Copenhagen were our favorites!

So how does one figure out their travel style? Trial and error, of course. Generally, I think the way you are in your day-to-day life can predict how you’ll want to spend your vacations, too. For me, I know I’m getting sick when all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch television – if I don’t stay active, I get cranky. But for others, it’s the opposite, and that’s totally okay, too. From now on, I’ll try to share the less structured side of our trips more often on the blog, because it does happen, I swear!

So what’s your travel style? Do you prefer to chill out or stay busy on vacation?

Read More: An Epic Christmas Holiday at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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  • Sarah
    May 30, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    Lovely photos. It’s got me more excited for my little trip to Copenhagen.

    And I love what your saying about travelling too, I couldn’t go to somewhere and not explore as much as possible. Although sitting in a coffee shop and watching the world go by does appeal, but not for hours at a time.

    Having said that.. my summer beach holidays I do like to have a lot of time just sitting by the pool/ at the beach and reading a good book.

    We all do it differently don’t we? Keep doing what you do. It’s great to read about.

  • Miwa
    February 17, 2015 at 11:16 PM

    You know what? I think I like these types of photos even more than the shots of “famous” places. The colors, the angles, the composition… it’s all so interesting to me. I would love, love, love to see these “little moments” posts of other places you visit as well!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    February 17, 2015 at 10:00 PM

    Love this post Sarah and you are right – everyone has their own travel style. I am a bit of both. I like to have loose plans and know what I want to see, but I am also a people watcher and love to sit back in a cafe (or pub ;)) and watch the world go by. Also, I think you are an amazing photographer. Your photos are my favourites! xx

  • Isa // belle + compass
    February 16, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    I always feel awkward walking around taking pictures of everything for some reason, even though I often want to. I need to get over that.

    If it makes you feel any better, I actually think most Europeans also do not see what all the fuss is about Christmas markets. They get old really fast. You visit every year for a Glühwein out of habit/tradition/for a change of scenery, but not because it’s a really exciting trip to a Christmas market. So maybe you’ve just traveled enough you’re almost a native :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 19, 2015 at 5:55 PM

      Ha! Well I’m glad to know it’s not sacrilegious to not like the Christmas markets! :) I was wondering if I was just missing something that everyone else was seeing.

      I used to have that same self-conscious feeling when I’d take pictures in public. To an extent I still do, especially when we’re in London nearby where I live. I have no idea why, but in those cases I normally feel awkward taking photos. But when we’re in a country where I don’t know anyone, it doesn’t bother me. What I need to work on is getting brave enough to ask people if I can take their picture! I love people pictures, but feel like a weirdo trying to sneak ones without them seeing! :)

  • Katrin
    February 16, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    I would say that my travel style is similar to yours. I am not the one to relax on a beach all day long. If I go somewhere new then I want to see as much as possible. Go to museums, famous places, discover the nature, go hiking, try new foods etc. And by the way, you should totally call yourself a photographer. You are great! And I don’t get Christmas markets either. It’s always the same. I go every year for ca. 30 minutes with my dad because he likes to eat a Dampfnudel but that’s it. :) So you are not alone!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 19, 2015 at 5:57 PM

      Haha! How nice of you to accommodate your dad like that! :) I really am glad to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t go crazy over these markets! I think we could totally travel together, Katrin – you seem to like all the same stuff I do!!

      • Katrin
        February 19, 2015 at 8:35 PM

        We could totally travel together! :)

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    February 16, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    I like a little mix of both, but my favourite is just wandering around and looking at things. I could walk for a whole day when I’m traveling. That wall is really cool!

  • susannem
    February 15, 2015 at 3:22 AM

    It is really hard for me to “just chill out” on vacation. I am always wanting to try and see it all which is never possible. I love traveling with people who are a little more relaxed in their pace so it slows me down to really enjoy what I do see. I do love having a relaxed meal where you get to chat and experience the culture of the area.

  • rorybore
    February 15, 2015 at 2:09 AM

    I have no idea what my travel style is….. because I have not gone anywhere in like… forever!!
    And anywhere I do go, is with 3 young kids, so it’s always busy no matter what. there is no down time.
    but if I recall my trips (of which there were many) of my youth before children arrived and debt followed — I tended to do the lay on the beach, read, and relax one day, and then maybe schedule a day of activity the next day, or even two. And I definitely like to soak up the local colour (just ask the Rastafarian dude I hired to squire me around Montego Bay, Jamaica. He wanted me to be his 2nd wife, but sadly, I still had to finish school back home. ha) – so if I am on a resort, I don’t necessarily like to just stay there; I will go seek adventure. One of my best vacation memories was when I was in Cuba, and a group of people I had just met there all decided to rent mopeds for the day and tour around the island of Caya Coco. It was awesome!! *sigh*
    These days, I might be more beach simply because…. sleep departed when children and debt arrived. ha
    that bike seat pic — needs to be submitted to a contest.

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 19, 2015 at 5:50 PM

      You have traveled to some seriously cool places! And I was just telling Cory the other day that I wanted to live somewhere where I could drive a moped instead of a car! :) I want one so bad!! I get the draw of the beach, I really do. Once we’re back in the US, I want to start exploring some of the Caribbean islands and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of beach vacations in when we do that. In Europe, though, especially knowing our time is limited, I just can’t justify a beach vacation. Maybe a day at the beach, but not a whole trip!

      • rorybore
        February 20, 2015 at 3:42 PM

        yeah exactly — the beach is for when you need to just relax and plan where you are off to next!! As much as I love the sand and surf, I don’t see the point of traveling to some amazing locale — and then just staring at water all day. :)

  • Polly - Let's Love Local
    February 13, 2015 at 5:29 PM

    Love these shots! I’m definitely a much more relaxed traveler but, like you said, there’s no wrong way to travel unless you’re not enjoying it.

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    February 13, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    We’re super, super busy travellers too (with ample coffee breaks). I always try to schedule in a complete chill out day – as paradoxical as that sounds!
    I figure you can chill out in your own lounge or miss out on something new & crazy…!

  • Jo
    February 13, 2015 at 2:47 PM

    That picture of the bicycle seat is great!

    We are the kind of people who would chase the sun to the beach every vacation we get … if we could find a sea/beach that was similar to what we were used to back in South Africa. It just doesn’t count as a vacation if you haven’t been to the beach…. This doesn’t mean I don’t like going to new places, only that I don’t count them as legit vacations ;)

  • Emmymom
    February 13, 2015 at 5:20 PM

    Following Cory on Instagram now, his pictures are great! We are more of a go and plan lots of things too; though when we get together with family we tend to have more downtown of just letting the cousins play, so I guess it depends on the trip. Love that bike picture and all the pictures! Have you ever thought about doing stock photography? You could probably make some good side money.

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 14, 2015 at 11:22 AM

      That’s how we are with family, too. There’s never very many organized activities when we get together with them, but there’s enough people we all stay pretty well entertained.

      I wouldn’t even know where to begin offering stock photography, but I’d definitely be interested. I’ve sold a few photos to advertising campaigns, but that’s it. And that wasn’t something I went looking for, they just found me. Wish it happened more often, though!

  • Lizzie @ Wanderful World
    February 13, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    I love this! There’s definitely no right way to travel. I love staying busy when I’m somewhere new, but I also like to break up all the dashing around by sitting outside cafes and watching the world go by. There have been times when I’ve gone away and spent the entire trip dashing from one place to the next that I never really got to enjoy being in the moment, so I’ve learnt that I need to balance the two in order to have a good time.

  • Melanie Fontaine
    February 13, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Love this post and the message behind it! There really is no right and wrong way to travel! And it definitely bothers me that there are some people who act like their way is the only one – we should all just enjoy our trips the way we want to – whether that’s hanging out at an art museum, checking out the local nightlife or just wandering the streets with our cameras! :)
    I always used to be a little of a hardcore traveller in the sense that I always tried to do as much as possible on my trips – kind of to get my money’s worth out of them! ;) These days I’m a lot more relaxed – I go into most of my trips thinking that I always can come back some other time and that most things won’t have disappeared by then! :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 14, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      That’s a good way to go into it! I wish I could feel that way, but I know how soon we’ll be returning to the US and once we do, trips to Europe will probably happen only once every 5 years or so. So when we go places, I have to give a lot of thought as to where I want to go and what I want to do once I’m there, because coming back probably won’t be an option! However, in the States, I’ll be able to travel like that. Returning to places there will be much easier than going back to ones in Europe!

      • Melanie Fontaine
        February 18, 2015 at 8:04 AM

        I definitely understand – I feel I would be the same way if I were an expat from overseas! But I think you guys do such a great job traveling around Europe – not only going to interesting places, but also really traveling in a way that represents your interests and priorities! :) I definitely hope you keep on sharing your adventures in the States once you return! :)

  • Esther
    February 13, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    I have been traveling as a journalist for years now. And I definitely feel that there’s a difference between my work-travel and my just-for-me travel, my pace is one thing ;-) When I work for an editor, I better cram everything in to get all my info together, when I travel just for me, I take things slower, I have more time to really take things in. Since blogging I’ve noticed the two closing together a little more: I have accepted that even during a worktrip I can relax and enjoy myself every once in a while and during my private trips I often think: if I get off my arse now, I can do something cool and blog about it. Funny how this works.