I’m not going to lie; I have high expectations from Copenhagen, the capital of the world’s happiest country and all. I have only been here for a couple of hours and I am yet to fall in love or truly connect with this city. But here are some postcards of things that caught my fancy and top 8 things about Copenhagen/Denmark. 😉
This is my Airbnb in Copenhagen, I’m staying with a Danish couple in a neighborhood called Osterbro and their charming apartment is oozing with hygge.
1) Teach me how to Hygge
Hard to pronounce and even harder to describe, Danish hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) roughly translates to coziness. If you have wondered how Danes manage to keep their spirits high through the painfully long and gloomy winters, the solution to the mystery and key to their happiness is *drum roll* hygge. In essence, hygge means creating a warm and cozy ambiance and enjoying the finer things in life in the company of your favorite people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Spending time with friends and family – that’s hygge too. Sharing a meal by the cozy fireplace after a walk through the Christmas markets in winter – that’s very hyggely. Exploring the city with a group of friends in spring – very hyggely. Catch my drift? 🙂
2) One does not simply avoid Smørrebrød in Denmark
After setting down our bags, we set off on the quest of the much-celebrated Danish obsession Smørrebrød. Smørrebrød which means buttered bread in Danish, is a simple open-faced sandwich. It comes in little triangles of dark and dense rye bread and is smothered with butter and topped with an assortment of cheese, herbs, veggies, fish and meat.
We chanced up on an adorable little hyggely space in the Old Town called Atelier September. This café served a really good avocado smørrebrød that came seasoned with chives, lemon zest, and fresh cilantro. At first the dense rye bread was a shock to the palate but after a couple of bites, it tasted really good especially between scoops of rich, delicious Icelandic skyr yogurt that came sprinkled with hazelnut granola, matcha tea, and basil leaves and sips of their luscious cup of cappuccino.
3) Biking heaven
Biking is practically a religion in Copenhagen. Often times, there are segregated biking lanes, dedicated “safe lanes” should Copenhageners want to bike home after a glass of wine or two, and even scenic bike routes if they desire to perk up their ride to work. Nearly half of Copenhageners bike to work every day, no matter their age or occupation. Even the crappy Scandinavian weather doesn’t deter these tough-nuts; they simply throw on a rain/snow cape and bike on. They are so adept at biking that they sometimes carry umbrellas, groceries, and flowers in one arm while biking. But this biking-behavior gets crazier; I have seen women bike in high heels in the pouring rain; dapper men rock business casuals and text; they don’t appear too concerned about the perils of texting/smoking and biking. Some people are so damn confident that they don’t take their eyes off their screens for many seconds.
Danish people, in general, are very friendly people. But put a bike in between their legs, they jump into crazy Viking mode. Keep that in mind before you accidentally step into the bike lane or “lane of death” if you will, especially in the middle of a green wave; these Viking descendants will take you down or at the very least yell unmentionables about your mother.
Wait what is a green wave you ask?
The traffic lights are programmed in such a way that a biker riding at 20km/hour will hit only green signals for a majority of the biking duration. While this is excellent for locals and efficiency, it blows for unfit travelers *cough* me *cough* who pray for red lights as a cover up to stop from passing out of exhaustion. 😛
4) Blindly trust
thy neighbor anybody
This is a society built on trust! The Danes really trust each other and theft/crime in pretty low in the country. People leave their bikes untethered and locked with small locks outside their houses or even unlocked sometimes.
Danes trust each other so much; they sometimes leave their babies in their prams outside restaurants and shops. #UMMWHAT?
5) Danish currency
Even though Denmark is in Europe, they don’t use Euros. They use the Danish Krone or DKK. Look at this 5 DKK coin.
Danish is rather hard to pronounce and even harder to learn; it sounds like a combination of German and Chinese. One Dane told me “you have to speak like you have a potato in your mouth all the time”. Another person said, “prepare to dislocate your jaw and twist your mouth before you commence”. But surprisingly, Danes speak impeccable English and you can get by just fine w/o speaking a word of Danish. One of our pub-crawl organizers fondly everyone referred to as “Mexican Jesus” fell in love with a Danish girl and moved to Copenhagen two years ago and has managed just fine w/o learning the language. 😉
7> The Danish word for marriage is “gift”! Before you go all “awww” on this trivia, try guessing what the Danish word for poison is? YES, “gift”. :O
Now perhaps you won’t be that shocked to discover that Denmark has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. (More about this later)
8> Your favorite band Aqua is Danish. 😛 And so is Jaemi Lannister. Let’s call it even Denmark!
We wrapped up the day with a visit to 17th century Rundtarn and watched the sunset from the top of yester-year astronomical observatory; what started off as an pink glow soon turned to a bright orange which made it look as Copenhagen was set ablaze.
Signing off with some photos from the hyggely dinner place “Mother”. When in Copenhagen, what else you gotta do? 🙂 Maybe I will love Copenhagen a little more tomorrow? Let’s see.
P:S I suspect Scandinavian summers are something of a myth really.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What do you think?