It was Christmas Eve and I was two forkfuls into Rudolph.
At least, that’s how it felt.
Typically at this time I’d be sipping spiked cider with friends in Minneapolis or at home in North Carolina with the family, rolling a cheese ball.
But this year, my sister — who, like me had recently gone through a significant breakup — and I decided to convene instead in Copenhagen. “Christmas in Copenhagen” has a decidedly romantic ring to it, doesn’t it? But reality proved otherwise.
Oh, it was gorgeous of course. Tivoli Gardens, gussied up with lights and holiday vendors, was enchanting. And, while fighting terrible jet lag, I consumed my fair share of glögg — a mulled red wine.
But outside of those highlights there were problems: most notably the fact that most of Europe shuts down for three weeks around Christmas. It was a ghost town. Restaurants that were open almost exclusively offered pre-fixe menus. And everyone was dishing up reindeer for the main course — a scandalous realization considering Santa’s imminent transportation needs.
In the U.S., I’ve struggled with closings on holidays, too.
One New Year’s Day in Washington, D.C., the first seven eateries I called were all closed. Two years ago, Thanksgiving was spent in a New York City hotel room, ordering a feast for one from room service. On the contrary, Thanksgiving on Maui was sublime — replacing turkey with sushi to the sound of crashing waves.
One option for holiday jaunting, if you’re so inclined? Travel somewhere that doesn’t celebrate that holiday. Otherwise, do your research before you land so you’re not disappointed and so you don’t end up jeopardizing Christmas with the plat du jour. An unintended benefit? Sometimes you’ll find something you didn’t know you were looking for. In D.C., I happened upon a stellar Greek bistro. In Copenhagen, we discovered some phenomenal street kebabs. And of course, I’ll never forget the reindeer scandal.
Amelia Rayno covers food and travel for the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @AmeliaRayno