‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’…
That’s how I remember reading up on the place back in high-school when Mrs. Adams taught us that iconic play. But as I grew up, I suspected that perhaps there’s much more to this Scandinavian country than a simple Shakespearean reference.
Naturally, my suspicions were confirmed.
It turned about to be a complete vision-opener when I visited the not-so-much-touristy destination.
I couldn’t understand how the wanderers and adventurers would be missing out on such a pearl of a place. It’s got everything from a Royal aura to a natural ambiance, and a dip in the Viking history to a touch of the latest fashion etc.
Whenever I look back over my two-week worth of a trip to Denmark, my heart, like Wordsworth, is filled with utmost pleasure and a hint of sadness.
This brings us to the question of why. What’s so special about this spot that you can’t help but fall in love with it, and get downcast the moment you have to leave it? What are the characteristics that connect you to it and that you can’t find anywhere else in the world? What are the precious memories you take away from your visit to Denmark?
Perhaps, the following facts will help you find an answer to these questions, things which make Denmark so unique and which are missed when the journey’s over. Check them out below.
I’ll admit it outright. The healthiest point of my life came when I was in Denmark. Mostly due to the cycling culture which flourishes like anything over there. Not only is it an incredibly environmentally friendly habit, but it promotes social bonding. For people who can’t ride a bike, there are buses and the metro which operate 24/7. But for me, cycling is the primary way of getting around, even now that I’m back.
Take ‘simple’ on the one hand and ‘delicious’ on the other. Join them together and you’ve got the Danish food. Largely, it is wholesome, healthy and organic—a severely different turn from the oily, processed, so-called food that we’re used to eating. While there, I couldn’t get enough of the Rye bread, especially. Rich and seedy, it’s a staple for Smørrebrød, a famous sandwich that’s the glory of the Danish food. A must try! Even now, I sometimes call my Danish friend from my Spectrum phone to ask for the recipe, because I can’t seem to get the flavor off of my taste buds.
On the Danish west coast, and close to Skagen, there lies the greatest sand dune you’ll find in all of Northern Europe. A sand dune which moves hauntingly and was recently recorded to have eaten an entire lighthouse. It goes by the name of Råbjerg Mile. Once you lay eyes on this moving mass, you cannot un-see it. This wonder still lives in my memory as fresh as a flower.
Ah, to walk within the walls where Royalty once resided is a sensation of its own! Denmark is gilded here and there with castles and fortresses of yore. Guided tours are offered for the famous landmarks like the Renaissance-styled Egeskov, the star-shaped Kastellet, the Hamlet-inspired Kronborg, and the crown-jeweled Rosenborg etc. It’s a wonderful journey into the Danish past.
Due to a smoking ban, you can’t enjoy a cigarette in public places. But there are certain cafes which allow you to freely indulge yourself in an ecstatic and smoky inebriation, called the ‘smoky bodegas’. On cold, wintry days, head over to these bars and have the time of your life. ‘Floss’ is pretty famous in this regard, packed with people till 2 am.
One of the best things about Denmark is that you don’t really need a translator to get around the place. Most Danes speak English quite fluently and are eager to help you in any way they can. These are the friendliest locals you can find anywhere. Trust me.
I’ve always admired the sturdy beasts ever since I was young, but never really had a chance to see them in the full rawness of nature until I visited Denmark. Yes, the island of Langeland is a horse haven. The sight of free and wild flocks of horses, running all over the place with their foals, simply blew my mind away. You can catch them in action from a distance, via Ørnehøj.
Now, you might have made Copenhagen—that immaculate and well-ordered city—the hub of your activity. But I’d recommend skirting away from the center and checking out the corners too. Because that’s where you’ll find Christiania—that chaotic, free and anonymous hippy community. There are fairy-like glasshouses, colorful graffiti, wild foliage, thriving cafes and underground music scenes which you must experience!
Hygge is an integral part of the Danish culture. It is a quality or an ambiance, per se. A warm domestic togetherness centered on pleasure, but not in a hedonistic way. When you do happen to visit Denmark and get invited for a cup of tea or hot chocolate on a cold winter night—surrounded by mild laughter, warm fireplace, and books—you’ll definitely partake the Danish hyggelig. It’s what I miss the most.
If you visit Denmark around late June as I did, don’t forget to buy the tickets to Roskilde festival. This is an essential Danish music event which features local and international acts and has you dancing to tunes within seconds! Then, there’s the Vinterjazz festival with special concerts from famous jazz players.
So, as you may very well see, Denmark has a lot to offer. Do plan a visit soon and let me know how it went.