June 2, 2016
Surprisingly to me, when I touched down in Copenhagen (I tried desperately to get a glimpse of the Øresundsbron, but did not) the landscape did not strike me as all that much different from the Midwest, USA. Even from the plane, we came in over water (as you would in Chicago) and there was the equivalent of the Danish suburbs near the airport, albeit more country-esque and quaint-looking with the Danish thatched roofs, colorful orange and yellow homes and lots of green.
However, the comparison is not equal when you consider that Denmark is a country of around 5.6 million people living in a little over 16,500 square miles, while the US is about 228 times the size and has nearly 57 million more citizens. Whereas Chicago has around 2.7 million residents in an area of 234 square miles, Copenhagen has around 562,000 residents inhabiting 34 square miles. When you keep this in mind, the pace of the people and the different social norms they adhere to become evident. I had to travel over 4,200 miles to truly understand the meaning of hygge (pronounced “hYOOguh”), which is the Danish term meaning ‘to take time out to enjoy life’, and did I ever. I am here to convert you all to hygge all the live, long day! It’s amazing.
However, to tease you just a bit more I will save that post for a later time, because it is a post all on its own. I will tell you that the people I met were very nice, welcoming and helpful, although quite reserved, quiet and a bit shocked that I would come all that way from Chicago to visit their country. This alone demonstrates their modesty and simplicity. In the short time I was there, I realized that Scandinavian life is very different from American life in many ways, but also remarkably similar. This may not make sense right now, but bear with me, as I have so much more to tell you in the coming weeks!
As I made my way to cousin Annelise’s home in Northwest Copenhagen, the sun shone bright and I could feel the Nordic air revitalizing my spirit. I could not get over the bikes – all those bikes! – and the fashionable people riding them. Young, old and everyone in between, Danes rides bikes like nothing I have ever seen, and you really do have to see it to understand. Talking on a cellphone, riding centimeters from dozens of others, over cobblestone streets and in skirts, they have perfected the art of multitasking in motion! However, I saw no accidents, no aggravation or irritation. They truly seemed like happy and content people. They did not ride around with huge smiles on their faces, but there was a calm, peaceful sentiment about the city and its people.
As I made my way to Annelise’s door, I could not wait to see what new adventure in this beautiful city lay waiting behind it. I had no idea that the next morning she would take me to Copenhagen’s Old Town area for a traditional afternoon tea, which included a three-tiered étagère filled with finger sandwiches and delicacies, including heavenly lemon curd and almost-too-adorable-to-eat petit fours. Somehow, we found a way to devour it all as courteously as we could! Not to mention, they had the best tea I have ever tasted. No wonder it has been around for over 180 years. Not only that, but the ambiance was out of a fairytale, and the décor was every child’s tea party dream come true as an adult! I thought it could not get better than that, but it did. Tune in next week to hear more about my time spent in København, my trip to Tivoli, the canal tour at Nyhavn and so much more!
To get in the spirit, enter this month’s giveaway for a chance to recreate your own tea party fantasy for two at The Drake’s famous Palm Court! The Drake Hotel History Tour & Tea is a hotel-guided tour, where tales from the 1920’s on are recounted so guests can envision the past and fancy a dejlig (lovely) afternoon tea in the legendary Palm Court.