10 excellent things about Denmark
Updated: Jan 13
I have lived in Denmark for six months and I love it, let’s get that straight out there because I am biased. So I am looking for good things to tell you about the happiest country in the world http://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/art/happiest-people-world.
Here are my 10 reasons why I think Denmark is a great place to visit and an excellent place to live, in no particular order.
If you see something odd happening and you ask “why are you doing that?” Inevitably the answer will have something to do with “tradition”. Traditions in Denmark usually involve any old reason for beer, wine and good food. Which if you ask me, is a pretty good start to any ancient or modern ritual. And a lot of these traditions involve the Danish flag which they are very proud.
I love bakery products. Good bread, baguette, rolls, croissants and pastries. Nothing like a Danish pastry and coffee in a stylish bistro in London - no hold it. If you think you have had a Danish Pastry anywhere in the world other than Daneland then you can scrub it from your lips and vocabulary. There is no such thing as a Danish pastry outside of Denmark. You have not lived until you tasted soft fresh delicious dark chocolate Hoj Snegl [tall snail] - it is in the 100 things to do before you die book.
Denmark is pretty flat, the tallest ‘mountain’ is 561ft high, this makes biking a damn site easier than say, Nepal. Having said that, the government have made it a national project to get people on to bikes and keep them safe while they do it. They have proper bike lanes, not like in Britain where the lane abandons you in the middle of a ten lane junction. Bikes trump cars - always.
4. The Outdoors
The Danes do the outdoors in a way I have never experienced. As a group of people, young or old, you will see them in all kinds of totally crap weather out doors enjoying ‘nature’. They do nude beaches, this is Denmark for crying out loud, it is level with mid Scotland, it’s cold and wet and windy, it’s way north of the wall, white walkers are roaming the streets AND they are still throwing themselves into the sea. Blue is obviously the new pink. These are the descendants of Vikings and they look good for it. From their little children in cute one-piece wind and rain proof gear to the wrinkled weather beaten faces of the old people, the whole nation glows with outdoor vitality and health.
The Danish film industry is not blessed with a mega gazillion dollar film industry. They don’t have millions to throw at CGI and totally successful block busters like … oh … Batman v Superman [dawn of crap] for instance. The industry is small and relies on those old fashioned boring things like a great story with believable plot, memorable characters, powerful script writing and tremendous acting. Okay, I have to do subtitles but it’s been worth it.
Carlsberg, probably the best beer in the world - not. But Denmark is home to a remarkable dynamic and creative micro brewing industry. For the more discerning drunkard, Danish brewers are producing top quality world beating India Pale Ale with the Mikkeler brewery doing Denmark proud http://mikkeller.dk/ .
Copenhagen is home 16 restaurants with 20 michelin stars between them. Geranium tops the list with three and Noma and AOC each have two. Outside of gourmet dining [not something I am familiar with] the Danes do like quality healthy food. They have a very high standard of ‘ordinary’ dining. Sure they do crap, they have the usual suspects, KFC and McDonalds etc. but on the whole the mixture of traditional Danish next to exotic immigrant restaurants means dining out in Denmark is a genuinely exciting and affordable.
8. Pretty Girls
I haven’t noticed if they do pretty boys but I can tell you, as an expert in these matters, they do pretty girls. Sometimes it looks a bit freaky because they tend to follow the same fashion styles, so they can look similar, a bit clone like maybe, nevertheless, pretty is pretty.
9. Party Time
These modern Vikings know how to party. It always involves good food and wine and beer … and schnapps … and port … in fact any drinkable alcohol. It might be the birthday party of a 70 year old but you will hear “skol” more times in 10 minutes than you will anything else. They love singing traditional songs and drinking beer. They love picnics and wild parties with beer. They have baptism for the infant … and then a party with beer. A night out starts at 11pm - I know because when I am on my way home to bed when I pass them all going out. They will finish at 8am - I know because when I am off to the bakery for my morning pastry I pass them with their shawarma on their way home. And guess what? In all this wild drinking party animal behaviour, not on one single occasion have I seen it turn ugly, not once. The streets are packed with young adults all partying but no police riot van at the end of the street, no ‘street pastors’ or ambulances. The Danes can party and they can do it safely … mostly.
Hygge [pronounced hoo-gi] is an utterly untranslatable word. It describes a “feeling”. Imagine a cold dark, winters night, the wind is lashing rain onto the windows. You are inside, in front of a log fire, there are candles, you are in a comfy chair with big a lovely designer cushion. You have a glass of your favourite … [fill in the blank, for me it is port]. Maybe some background music and all the people you love in the house. People are chatting, laughing, sleeping, reading or playing games with the children. You stop, for a moment and take in the scene. All at once it is cozy and warm and loving and fun and … well it’s ... hygge.