Copenhagen, Denmark – travel journal (2)

While I have never been a tour fan, it is the only way to have a quick glance at six countries in 17 days.  Except for Norway, we spent only one day in each capital city. It is not fair for me to make any personal comments on a place when I had only a little taste of it. I can only talk about my first impression and the things I have witnessed or some facts mentioned by the tour guides.

Knew so little about Scandinavia, I had no expectations of what to see in Denmark.  This is also exactly the reason why I am here to explore.  Norway strikes me with the extreme beauty of their fjords country among everything else. Denmark impresses me with their high tech and modernity while magnificent historical buildings and palaces are displaying their architectural beauty.
Contemporary facade
One thing I like the most is the Danish design mind and Danish design style – functional with an edge. I sensed the fine design mind in every single thing that I have used, touched, and encountered. Like most Europeans, they are practical and efficient, and yet they seem so driven to make everything beautiful and pleasing to the eyes.
Wherever I stopped, I saw designs of something. Not mentioning art hangings in the hotel rooms, contemporary decors are carried on throughout the whole reception area. There are large light pillars, colorful and beautiful lamp shades, lips stool back, wood blinds with
contemporary paintings underneath and graphics on all the aluminum door panels along with the lobby.
One design led me to the other and I was brought to the basement where I walked into a couch seating area that turns out to be women’s and men’s restrooms. Most of the restrooms require you to go in and out as quickly as you can, but this inviting environment actually made you want to stay.
The seatings in the lobby are either hammock-like rattan loungers or the velvet benches with four corners secured by the drapery ropes which are fastened to the ceiling. Contemporary Resort mixed with classic Victorian.
contemporary and comfortable
Europe is packed with historical cathedrals, palaces, castles, and museums. After seeing 3-5 of them, they all start to look the same. I wish I had more chances to walk down the street and walk into the local crowd to explore what I am more interested in, culture, and people. Besides for a tour like this one, I had barely any good photography opportunities. 90% of the time I was taking snapshots through bus windows. My husband always made sure that I sat by the window, but there was not only dirty glass but there were also glares and reflections. The bus was in motion and there were endless electric poles and traffic lights. Worse of all, perpetual people traffic. Sometimes I even stood up and shoot across the aisle, crazy enough. I am happy if I can get one decent shot out of 50-60 attempts.
Denmark has a total 5.4 million population, with 1.4 million in Copenhagen metropolitan area. It has 443 islands and the highest sea level is only 500 ft. There are 22 miles of walking path and tons of bicycles. As far as I know, in Copenhagen city alone, there were about 800,000 people while there are 1.6 million bikes. Men ride bikes to work at the parliament and women ride bikes to shop in the fashion district. The bicycle is almost the most popular transportation tool.
Parking lot inside the palace
China has long been thought to be the bicycle nation, but now I say, it is before I visit Denmark.  Car drivers are aggressive and they seem to challenge the daring pedestrians. Pedestrians’ right, in my opinion, is weak compared to home. We had to walk fast through the zebra lines, otherwise, soon the light changed, and car engines start to roar.  Pedestrians not only have to watch cars, but they also have to look out for the bikers, too. We were told that bicyclists could speed up to 60 miles per hour, and they have become one of the two biggest threats (and pickpockets) to pedestrians and tourists.
Government imposes a 180% tax on cars. People tend to drive small cars like Italian Fiat or simply ride bicycles.  I was happy to see many American cars in the streets.  I also learned that the US has a strong relationship with Denmark. President Clinton, George W Bush, and Obama have been there. Among many statues in the streets, I was surprised to see President Roosevelt. Guess our friendship went back a long way.
In Norway, I saw dominating red on houses. In Denmark, this dominating color becomes a terra cotta color. Almost all the roofs are tiles that remind me of Mediterranean styles except that the roofs are steeper purposely designed to ease snow loads. Other than a few large houses, most of them are smaller in size. If I want to find a word to describe it, I say, ‘cute’ and manicured.
Typical Danish house (no window glares)
Danish pastry is the first thing we tried while we were in transit at the airport.  It costs $4-5 each (the price we can buy half a dozen at home), but it is worth it.  American calls it Danish; it is actually called ‘Vienna Bread’ here. It is a true pastry, fluffy, and not very sweet. The size is also smaller.  I would call what we can buy at our grocery store Danish-style bread because it is more like bread, butter heavy, and very sweet.
Everything is bigger and the serving volume is larger at home. Is it the vendor who pushes us, consumers, to eat more, or is it us who want more and vendors are catering towards our needs?  We all want to be thinner, but we seem not to have controlled consumption habits, what we have are big weight loss and a 24-hour gym business. Our food is so inexpensive in comparison, and we may perceive ‘whatever I want as a form of freedom and food intake has become an uncontrollable desire?  When our gas prices rise, we stay home more. If our food prices are higher, we will buy less and consume less.  Maybe this is what we need? I am envious watching slender people walking in the streets here…
A few facts may be interesting to you:
Danish is one of the original developers of popular SKYPE. The other two are from Estonia and Sweden. All three are from the Baltic Sea region. The world’s largest ocean carrier company Maersk Line is initiated and headquartered in Copenhagen. I knew Maersk Line since I had my first job out of college, but I have never known they are from Denmark to this day.
Same as Norway, Denmark has a great social welfare program. Government offers one-year maternity leave for pregnant women and it is guaranteed that women won’t lose their job due to pregnancy.  It is even better than this one-year break can be split between wife and husband.  The wife can take 6 months off and the husband the other 6, how cool is that?  Scandinavia countries have large lands but there has not been enough working population to boost an even stronger economy. This explains why the maternity leave program is so tempting.
At the same time, drunk driving costs a whole month of salary plus three weeks of traffic school.
I was on the cruise in the last week of the trip. Internet access was expensive and not very accessible. This blog was planned for last Wednesday, but I have not been able to post it till today. I finally downloaded all my pictures. I hope to share more in the upcoming blogs. Just grab a few below to show the classic aspect of Denmark.
Amalienborg Place (Danish royal family winter palace)
Inside Trivoli Garden, the world’s oldest amusement park
Christiansborg Palace (Royal family’s summer palace)
Carlsburg Art Museum

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