The very first impression of Denmark I got was the liberal alcohol policy. The harbour of Helsingør is full of liqour stores. Just like Tallinn, but with the considerably higher prices. There is no state monopoly on the sale of alcohol, you can buy hard liquor in conveninience stores at any time of the day. Apart from that Helsingør is a very enjoyable place with its oldschool pretty architecture, cobblestone streets and a medieval castle. It started raining the moment I stepped on Danish soil, soI had a lunch under a tree near the castle. Living the dream, man.
After the mordor of Swedish west coast, the distance from Helsingør to Copenhagen was pure bliss. No wind, excellent cycling infrastructure, clear traffic signs, subtle hills, which make you feel like going downhill in both directions and well-famous industrial design. How about modern looking traffic lights as if they were designed in The Infinite Loop, California? Or a water/heat/something station, where a bunch of rusty tubes were put under transparent glass, making an impression of a modern art installation. Lamp posts, trash cans all show the signs of careful design. Postmodernism at its best, except here it serves a concrete function. Just lovely. Things changed after I had left Copenhagen, though. Roskilde is a rather forgettable place, apart from the church and the festival. Køge was next on the agenda. Small, provincial and full of old buildings, including the oldest building in Denmark, built in 1524. I went to Møn to see unique white cliffs, but found brutal wind instead. Ten kilometres and one lunch later, I made a decision to turn back and head straight to Germany. This time the wind was on my side, and fueled by sugar and fat I kept going the steady 30km/h, twice as much as to the opposite direction. It was a glorious evening. Sometimes quitting is the right choice.
Lolland had nothing interesting to offer except the fascinating name. Pity. The further south I went, it turned more provincial. Infrastructure showed slight signs of decay and no hints of the wonders of the capital area. At some point it started looking like half-assed rural Germany. The south was pedalled through very quickly indeed aided by the tailwind, high prices and the lack of anything remotely interesting to see.
At some point of my life I toyed with the idea of replacing Swedish/Finnish äö with the mode stylish Danish/Norwegian æø. In all the four languages the letters serve the same function, but the Danish/Norwegian counterparts convey way more style and design. I was obsessed with the idea to such a degree that I had even planned ordering a DiNovo Edge keyboard from Denmark, but the export price set me back, so I had to settle with the umlauts instead. Maybe one day the grand idea of King Bluetooth of uniting the three crowns will come into fruition, language refor will take place and long boats will be built once again causing havoc all over Europe. On that note, nowadays it is hard to believe that these peaceful Nordic counties were once involved in a bloodshed going on for many centuries. All the castles in the area were built for the reason after all.
Danish language looks like Swedish and sounds like German. More specificaly it lacks the joy of Swedish language, but has the harshness of German. Not a fair trade methinks. Unlike Dutch Danish people do no get offended when they are mistaken for Germans, at least those I asked about. Place names sound like mythical places from fantasy novels, eg. Naerum, Dysselgård, Solrød and so on. A nice change from international brand sounding place names in Sweden. In a true viking fashion many men wear full grown beards. Danish women look, well, Danish, kind of Scandinavian but with a German touch. It is not Germany yet, but all the influences are there.
I visited Copenhagen three years ago in the winter of 2009. It was cold, it was stylish, it was expensive. This time it was different, at least in terms of temperature and general vibe. As with all the Scandinavian cities Copenhagen truly comes to life in summer. There’s life on the streets, bicycles bustle back and forth and terraces are packed never mind insane prices. Combine this with the stylish architecture and the famous Danish design and it almost made me to move here.
I longed for a company, but the days of “forestation” had left a mark. I felt lonely in the city full of people. Urban alienation at its best (or worst). I was not mad enough to strike conversations with random strangers. So I spent time cycling around admiring the excellent cycling infrastructure and pretty buildings. Cycling in Copenhagen is an experience itself. Bicycles are of all forms and shapes, can be found everywhere and thanks to the flat landscape they move fast. There is no room for solo cruising or interpreting try traffic laws in a creative manner here, you are part of the traffic. Rules are to be obeyed and your manoeuvres to be advertised using hand gestures. An intense experience, which requires your undivided attention, just like driving a motorbike in Vietnam.
I went to Christiania in the morning, but found only an unkept and messy area. Just llike a hippy commune that has not be cleaned up for ages, a strike contrast with the rest of Copenhagen. In the evening I rendez-voused with Teppo and I got the company I had longed for. We talked and the signs of the untalkative mood were completely gone. It is so true that in order to get into a talkative mood you just have to start talking. We visited Christiania again and this time it was full of people and there were no signs of the dirty hippy commune I had found in the morning. Just warm, laidback and cozy atmosphere. I stroke conversations with strangers and asked for tips on what to see in Copenhagen. Invariably the answer was always the same: Christiania. Well, there are definitely other worthy things to see in Copenhagen (the Little Mermaid status is not one of them, though), but Christiania is a truly liberal oasis in the heart of Scandinavian order and structure.
I enjoyed Copenhagen a lot and wished I would have spent more time there, but once again the journey had to be continued towards Germany and Fusion. Copenhagen to be filed under the “to visit again” category.