(Translation: I love Denmark.)
If there ever was a statistic collected on how many times a person visits Denmark in their lifetime, I probably would be an outlier, at the FAR high side. Having visited the country four times over the past five years and meeting the PRINCE once while visiting (OKAY, I will stop bragging about it after this post, maybe), I think I can safely declare that Denmark is indeed my favourite country in the world.
Those who know me will know about my love for Denmark and suspect that I have a secret Danish boyfriend. But those who know me well, will know that I can just be weird that way.
Having said that, I don’t think I am THAT weird. There are so many things about the country that do not get the glory it deserves (although that’s partly the reason why I love it so much since it doesn’t get too much attention). Just like how a lot of people did not know that giant corporations such as Lego, Maersk and Carlsberg are from Denmark, here are the list of some cool things that I love from the Land of the Vikings, that you may or may not already know:
- Nyhavn. There is just something about this harbour that I can’t quite get enough of. Perhaps it’s the row of colourful houses by the harbour. Perhaps it’s the atmosphere that the cafes have, full of tourists and locals alike sitting down to enjoy the nice weather in summer. Perhaps it’s how charming the place can be when it turns into a small Christmas market come December. Whatever it is, this is the part of Copenhagen that I will always visit whenever I’m there.
- Copenhagen is the best city for cyclists. It is also the first Bike City in the World. The cycling culture in Copenhagen is so strong that 37% of workers and students prefer to cycle in the morning as their mode of transport. There are 390 kilometres of dedicated bike lanes in Copenhagen – it is so efficient and has become an inspiration to many cities to copy its system, including New York City. (Fun fact: there are approximately 72,000 bicycle theft cases in Denmark in 2012). Everyone cycles in Denmark, from the young to the old, come rain, come shine, come snow. I distinctly remember an embarrassing experience when I was struggling to cycle uphill on my way to school in Copenhagen and a 70-year-old looking grandma cycled past and easily overtook me.
- Danish language is so unbelievably hard, it’s fun to learn. It doesn’t help that the words are not pronounced the way it is spelled. For example, “rød grød med fløde” is pronounced as this. Even though most Danes speak really good English, living in a country wouldn’t have been complete without learning the local language. Hence, I took the plunge and immersed in a semester-worth of Danish language course – and I loved it!
- The Little Mermaid Statue, although this is probably one of the most overrated landmarks in the world as it is literally very small. However, for such a little statue, ‘Den Lille Havfrue’ has a huge influence. In 2010, there was a nationwide debate of whether the Statue should be transported out of its perch for the first time ever to Shanghai to be part of the Danish pavilion in the Shanghai World Expo 2010. It also has gotten its head decapitated by vandalisers twice, but love it or hate it, the Danes are proud of their Mermaid and Hans Christian Andersen of course. (And as you can see, H. C. Andersen’s quote is the inspiration for the title of this blog).
- Tivoli, the oldest amusement park in the world. True, they may not have the most high-tech rides as Disney Land or Universal Studio, but Tivoli is still REALLY fun to go to. During Christmas and Halloween, you’ll find the park very elaborately decorated to celebrate the festivities, and besides the ride, cool concerts happen there too!
- Danish people are cold and warm at the same time. They don’t smile at you in the street nor do they just come up and say hi to you like Americans do. They are in fact very reserved. But if you approach them, they reveal their nice and warm selves and are always willing to help you.
- Hygge. This is a uniquely Danish word. Its closest meaning in English is probably cosy, but it is a bit more than that. I guess the best way to describe this is when it is snowing outside, you sit on a comfortable sofa in your living room next to the fireplace with a glass of wine in hand and listening to your favourite song. Hygge. Danish people place very high importance in attaining ‘hygge’, and it is something that I can totally learn from! To me, it sounds like finding happiness in the simplest things in life.
- I MET THE PRINCE OF DENMARK. (Okay, I will stop after this.)
- Denmark is good at badminton. I am probably one of the very few people who appreciate this fact. However, badminton, being an Asian dominated sport, is surprisingly big in a small country like Denmark, and they are really good. Peter Gade is a badminton living legend, and at the moment, there are a lot of world-class Danish badminton players who are making their marks in the sports’ history. It makes this curious little country all the more charming isn’t it?
- This is where my love for travel started. You can call me biased, but the fact that I lived one of the most eventful and memorable 5 months of my life here certainly played a part in developing my fond feelings for this country. But this is where it all began, from a home-bound person to a traveller you know today.
Please note that this is nowhere an exhaustive list. I may jump back anytime to this blog and write another lengthy post about Denmark. You have been warned.