A Study in Scandinavia

My girlfriend took me to Denmark. I took notes.


My half-baked plan to avoid cash has failed: Catherine has just handed over 100 DKK to our first Airbnb host for a ride from the airport. We're in possession of both a Supercard and a Caxton FX card, so it wasn't an unreasonable goal, but unfortunately the Danes don't carry personal card machines.

After dumping our bags, we eagerly trek into Copenhagen for the first time. The streets are clean; the high buildings and wide streets leave the pedestrian overwhelmed but not confined; and the public transport is excellent. Vehicles are modern and air-conditioned, and tickets are valid on buses, trains and the metro. Colour me impressed. We end up eating hipster food at the Copenhagen Street Food market.


It's 26℃, too hot. Is Denmark closer to the equator than I thought? We travel to the zoo to eat ice cream, where the animals are a pleasant distraction. As expected, polar bears are as uncomfortable as we are in the heat.

Boring cars are popular here, with the exception of high-end electric vehicles such as Teslas and BMW i-Series. Later I realise this might have something to do with a parking charge exemption. I'm bothered that I can't tell the age of cars from their number plates.


Today we travel to Odense by coach. "The toilet is messed up because someone put a burger king down it" announces the driver. At this point I realise how accommodating the Danes are with their language; everyone speaks fluent English when prompted. To an English speaker, Danish sounds similar to Dutch, albeit with less phlegm involved.

Hans Christian Andersen is understandably a celebrated figure in this part of the country, and we take the time to visit a recreated 19th-century Funen village based around the lifestyle of his day. Catherine checks in to her university room and we make our way back, exhausted.


Rain is forecast so we head for Sweden over the remarkable Øresund bridge. Malmö is vast, and it seems that none of their architects could agree on anything. To Catherine's disgust, these people all enjoy drinking sparkling water. Girls wear their hair long and nobody has told them to go to the shops: Saturday shopping is a subdued affair. Perhaps it's because it's climbed to 27℃ and everyone is basking in the park.

The Danes built the castle in Malmö, which goes some way to explain why it looks the way it does. An industrial tangle of alternative styles, Malmöhus is now home to a free museum, guest art gallery and aquarium.


Today we're acting like the filthy English tourists we are. Fast food from the central station, post cards from gift shops and canal cruises are the order of the day. On our final tour of the city, we walk through Kongens Have ("the King's Garden"). As we exit, a couple of guards carrying large assault rifles guard a military compound. I want to photograph them but I'm scared to because they're carrying large assault rifles.

I will miss Copenhagen but I get the feeling that we've covered a lot of what is on offer in our whirlwind 5-day trip. If I return, I will be sure to check out the city bikes and Tivoli Gardens, neither of which we have time for.

19 June 2016