Copenhagen: The Danish Lifestyle Experience

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Categorized
Tags: , , , ,

Imagine you’re cycling through a city consisting primarily of 17th and 18th century buildings that produce a cozy and intimate atmosphere.  Everywhere you look, there are cafes and authentic Danish bakeries.  You see small kids walking around in their onesies.  Outside of the stores, are baby carriages left unattended while the parents are inside shopping.  Today is a lucky day, because the sun shines vibrantly in the sky, piercing through the grayness you’ve become so accustomed to.  As you cycle, you see nature and parks incorporated into the city life. Right in the center of the city by one of the most popular train stations, sits the Botanical Garden.  Even more, you see lakes that as the sun beams in the sky produce scenery that is bound to be displayed on a postcard.  In the middle of the lakes are snow-white swans, perched so elegantly in the half-frozen lakes, making you think of H.C. Andersen’s fairytale of the Ugly Duckling.

Next, you try to find street signs, only to discover they are on the corners of the buildings and many have different vowel sounds (æ,ø,å) that you can’t even begin to pronounce.  You want to speak to the people as you would do in a typical American city, only to discover they’re actually quite self-reserved.  Also, the people are very fashionable and black seems to be the most favorite color.

You continue your bike trip all the way to the extravagant Amalienborg Palace where the Royal Family is housed. As you cycle through, you try to get the Royal Guards to break focus and look at you.  Good luck with that. Eventually, you ride by a woman with a fish tale perched on a stone quite close to the shore and you flash back to your childhood where this statue is a Disney classic in American pop culture.  But as you continue to cycle around you see statues situated on top of buildings that one would have to really observe to become aware of.  You realize this city is like an enchanted fairy tale, where every building, every canal, every lake has some historical aspect to it that just sends you into a curious frenzy.  Even more, the buildings are vibrant colors and if you veer off main streets you eventually start riding down cobble stone streets making you feel like you’re living in the 17th century!  You eventually stop and realize the freedom riding through the city produces and the joy it incites from being able to explore the city at your own pace.

Describing Copenhagen to others can be a difficult task because as I’ve said before it’s a lifestyle experience.  You have to come to Copenhagen to experience the beauty within and the richness of culture that is so deeply entrenched into everyday life.  Copenhagen may not be the top city on everyone’s travel list and when you see the Little Mermaid, you think wow she’s kind of small.  Honestly, if she were bigger I wouldn’t think of it as a special Danish trademark, because keeping things small and moderate are also elements of Danish culture.

Every time, you go into a café you should expect candles in a dimly lit room, which are there to produce the Danish concept of hygge, which means “cozy”.  People will speak Danish to you, even if obviously you look like a foreigner.  Also, biking is such a huge part of the lifestyle here.  Every Danish person I know has a bike.  It’s healthy and a great way to get around/experience the city.  I think that Denmark definitely wants to attract tourists, but at the same time it manages to keep its originality.  Overall, Copenhagen has a small city appeal, but there is always something waiting to be discovered.  Therefore, to really appreciate what Copenhagen stands for, you have to actively engage yourself.  So in visiting, I challenge you to not only be captivated by the beauty but to also try to explore the lifestyle.

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  4. Philip Petersen says:

    Hey Winnon, love your blog. Was just reading about your experiences and reflections about everyone biking in CPH and I remembered that early last year there was a bike convention in CPH and a guy from Streetfilms made a great little 5 min video about biking in CPH, which for me as a born and raised CPH’er made me so proud. But mostly it is a great introduction to what biking is in CPH and I’ve showed it to some US friends, who really get it after watching it.


    More info here:

    Anyways, enjoy your time in CPH, hope you get the immigration stuff worked out! And thanks for writing such a great blog.

    Take care,

    • brunsonw says:

      Thanks a lot Philip! I’m really happy you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I loved the video, it highlights even more how special it is to bike in Copenhagen. I only wish we biked more in the U.S., esp where I’m from (St. Louis, MO). We are beginning to introduce bike lanes but it is yet to impact the culture of you should have a car instead. Also, St. Louis is not as flat as Copenhagen. Thanks for sharing the video! 🙂

      Take care also,

  5. Izna Manzoor says:

    Hey , I like reading your blog on CPH. I am travelling to CPH for three weeks trip and I hope I get enough time to understand the culture and grasp as much as I can from the country.

  6. Izna Manzoor says:

    I have been biking in Boulder and trying to get myself out of car habit, I pity people who cannot live without cars! My body and mind feel more active. Best part is I have realized that US lacks biking ethics. So much more to do on making every city bike friendly!

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