I think Denmark and Germany tied as my favorite places in Europe. Arriving into Copenhagen, I was shocked by how many Swedish people I met. Apparently, it’s easier to fly into Copenhagen and catch a quick ferry ride over to south Sweden.
Another thing that surprised me was how good-looking everyone was. You ever feel like the ugly person in a room? Nah, go to the Scandinavian countries. Everyone’s tall and physically fit, with gorgeous hair. I felt like I was walking around supermodels the entire time. I don’t think I’m a bad-looking dude, but damn I doubted myself a bit.
I landed on January 2nd. I’m passable in Norwegian, so I prepared some quick sentences in my head and made sure to have Google Translate download Danish if necessary. After all, the Scandinavian languages only have minor differences between each other. I walked out of the airport, and tried to find the address of the place I needed to go.
Prior to conversing with locals, I always make sure to ask if they speak English in their language. I consider it rude to assume that they just happen to speak English, and locals find it pleasant that you’re asking in the language of the country you’re visiting.
But when I spoke in Danish, Danish citizens responded in English with extreme fluency. In fact, Scandinavians sound very American when speaking English. Later, when visiting a coffee shop in Copenhagen, the barista suggested some reasons on why Danish sounded American. His reasoning was pretty simplistic: most people in Denmark learn how to speak English through watch American shows with subtitles. With the progress of Netflix, this has become easier. Not to mention their excellent education system.
When I exited the airport, I found a quick taxi. It was late at night, and I was too tired to figure out the transportation system. While in the taxi, I began to converse with the taxi driver and shocked him by speaking fluent Punjabi. (He thought I was either Middle-Eastern or Hispanic.) We had an excellent exchange and he suggested some great spots.
Unfortunately, he dropped me off at the wrong spot. We both didn’t catch the mistake. It was only after he left, that I realized I was kinda lost. But I grabbed my bag and started orienting myself. Once I figured it out, I started walking and noticed a few things. First of all, Copenhagen has walking/biking pathways and they show up on Google Maps with specific pathway names. Second of all, people were exercising ALL the time. It was 11:30 P.M, and there were people running outside. In my 30 minute walk, I passed 3 different gyms. Differently styled gyms, all within the same radius.
After arriving at my AirBnB, I asked my host about this. Physical fitness is a huge part of Scandinavian culture. People want to look healthy, and this is how they define it. There’s minimal use of cars, since the transportation system is effective and affordable. After all, Denmark isn’t really a large country. People walk or bike to work.
While walking around downtown Copenhagen, I discovered some spots that you all may find interesting. The first is a pub called Mikkeller, with excellent selections of beer. Guys, I’m not a big beer person. But these were heavenly. Second of all, venture down to the meat-packing district. I heard rumor that it was based off of the New York City one. The clubs to go to would be Jolene, Bacchan (not sure if I spelled that correctly), and Warpigs.
Finally, I had a chance to learn about the dating culture in Copenhagen. I’m not absolutely sure on the validity, but I have no reason to doubt any of it from what I saw. In Danish culture, it’s almost offensive for a guy to insist on paying for the first date. A woman may take offense because it means that the man may assume that the woman can’t take care of herself. (There may have been an easier way to say that.) This wasn’t just one person informing about this dating culture, but several. Women and men hold to the notion of equality, and men hate invading a woman’s private space. In some instances, they never actually talk to the woman herself directly. It’s usually a relationship that forms through similar social circles, but almost never a direct approach. My AirBnB host told me about her friend who met a foreigner and decided to separate from her husband, because the foreigner was so different from how the woman had perceived men throughout her life in Denmark.
It became easy to navigate around Copenhagen. I visited a Danish war museum, that discussed major wars and the separation of the Scandinavian countries. I also saw an exhibit on Vikings at their National Museum. I saw more bicycles in a single location, than I’ve ever seen in my entire life collectively.
I think just the atmosphere of Copenhagen sold me. It was a pleasure seeing people care deeply about their culture, while absorbing pieces of others. I grew to learn so much, and experienced great coffee. But I realized that Copenhagen is also a bit of a beach city, so I should re-visit this place in the summer.