Notes From the Road:
Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about Denmark is that this is a nation that believes there is no such thing as bad weather, only people poorly dressed.
It’s literally a Danish saying—“Der er ikke noget der hedder dårligt vejr kun forkert påklædning.” As a result, neither rain nor snow can erase the smiles from their faces; in fact, I can’t think of many things that could. Danes today are among the most tolerant, accepting and welcoming people on the planet (an impressive evolution when you consider their Viking origins!).
Denmark is highly characterized by agriculture, which becomes apparent as soon as we get away from the biggest cities. With a cultural importance placed on green space and an abundance of parks and forests, coupled with the miles of vegetation both inland and along the coast, it’s easy to understand why Hans Christian Andersen set so many of his fairytales in the woodlands.
Raised in the warm and welcoming tradition of hygge, a simple and pragmatic approach to problem-solving permeates the country and helps us to comprehend Søren Kirkegaard’s work. One of the most altruistic societies I’ve ever known, Danes are easily among the most open civilization in the world. Always ready to help anyone who asks, the Danish are special in so many ways.
This is also a place that thrives on innovation. From PH lamps and the best restaurant in the world, to a leading role in green energy production and a maritime giant in the form of Mærsk, you’ll often find the Danish at the forefront of global trends. For evidence, look no further than the kitchen, where the New Nordic Cuisine has become a full blown cultural phenomenon, its ethos of fresh, natural and locally sourced ingredients quickly spreading across the globe.
This mutual respect extends from the farmer to the monarchy, which the Danish still hold in high esteem, but don’t expect many signs of an aristocracy here. Manor houses and castles may still dot the landscape – the last relics of a medieval hierarchy – but this is a country built on equality.
I have spent many afternoons sitting on Dronnings Louises Bro (Queen Louises bridge, above) – the epicentre of Copenhagen’s hipster community – imagining how it is that a seafaring people famous for pilfering and plundering evolved into one of the most modern and harmonious societies on the planet.
But after four years of living in the country, I finally gave up trying to reconcile its past with its present. Like the (many) Danish riders on the country’s impeccably kept bike paths, I realized it’s far more pleasant to simply enjoy the ride.