City of the Month: København

When I told a friend I was going to Copenhagen he smiled and said “4 words: Beautiful women on bikes.”

That was an understatement. The women are quite pretty (you know, if “beautiful” is your thing) and also quite often on bikes. But the men are just as happy and (presumably) good looking (especially if hipster is your thing.) I’ve never seen so many smiling happy people riding bikes. Something like 40000 people ride bikes every day. Denmark consistently ranks as the happiest country on earth, and sure that’s not something that is at all quantifiable but the eye test does reveal a lot of happy-looking people.

Walking around the city, I felt I could best describe the vibe as Edinburgh meets Melbourne. These are two of my favorite places, so that’s high praise from me. I saw a man walking a great dane and tried not to snigger too much. Some Koreans found me by a fountain and asked me to take a picture with them. I blew their minds by saying “hana dul set” as they took the photo. I visited Christiana (it’s much smaller than I expected and felt more like hippy towns in Southern Oregon than I would have guessed) and read a Dickens book on a bridge.

Like most European cities, Copenhagen has a dedicated pedestrian walkway, buskers galore, lots of parks, and gothic architecture. There are funky areas, especially in the Norebro area, and some good vegan restaurants. Microbrews and craft beers are readily available in the supermarkets. And, being Europe, history is everywhere. Copenhagen is the city of Hans Christian Anderson and the Little Mermaid, the city where Neils Bohr and his family are buried, the city where Søren Kierkegaard strode in thought as he wrote Fear and Trembling.

Sweden is minutes away, as are the two oldest functioning theme parks in the world (Bakken is free to get into–Tivoli, more centrally located, costs a chunk just to enter) and lots of fantastic museums. You can rent a bike (old-fashioned or crazy new electronic bikes) and there’s a beach for those rare hot summer days. And the Danish have such a virtue of comfort that they’ve co-opted the word hygge from the rest of Scandinavia to specifically mean a very cozy place.

Unlike Sweden and Norway, prices are a little more under control and you don’t have to take out a loan in order to get a beer (though don’t get me wrong, it’s still quite expensive by Yeti standards. You can find American craft beers like Widmer and Lagunitas on tap for about 12 bucks a pint, and Danish beer can be close to that.) With affordable beer (at the supermarkets), good food, and lots to do, I can see why the Danes are the happiest folks around (though I didn’t have the nerve to tell them that Norway is much prettier)!

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