My dad’s Christmas present to my brothers and I last year was a weekend break to Copenhagen. I’d met a few Danes travelling who were delightful, but I’d never given any thought to their home country – beyond being astonished at how fluent their English was, which as a general rule is better than my own slurred, expletive punctuated dialect.
We touched down in the capitol and I was immediately impressed by the utopian airport and the infuriatingly attractive Asgardians striding around with the confidence that only an immaculate bone structure and flowing golden mane can give. The women weren’t bad either.
Average height seems to be a couple of inches taller, too. And skin a naturally radiant bronze. Suddenly I found myself feeling sorry for my great ( X 10) grandfather, happily spreading manure across his fields, only to have these semi nude sexy barbarians wade ashore, disembowel him, and sail away with my willing grandmother slung over one shoulder.
After my semi homo erotic visions had subsided, we jumped on a train to the hotel in the town centre. The public transport, like pretty much everything in Denmark, is sleek, efficient, and noticeably spotless. With only 5 million-ish people in the country, overcrowding isn’t an issue, which has clear implications for general living standards. Also to thank is the sky high tax rate the Danes pay. Upwards of half their earnings go to the state – and it shows. Public services are top notch.
If other families in England are anything like mine, I’d wager the average family household has a couple of rusting bicycles, a skateboard with a jammed wheel, and a half deflated Spacehopper crammed in the tool shed under a mildew ridden tent. In Denmark, pretty much everyone has two bicycles, minimum. They bloody love them. The whole road system is adapted for the vast numbers of bicycles zipping past at any given moment. As with Vietnam, this requires a new approach to road crossing. Where the Vietnamese practise the ol’ walk ‘n’ pray, the Danes have strict rules on J-walking, which was baffling to an Englishman who is used to staggering into the road on a Friday night laden with a kebab and having his toes repeatedly run over by pre-booked taxis.
Black guys are rare. Not sure why. Just an observation. Do with that information what you will.
Over the weekend we saw windmills, ate delicious nutritious porridge, visited H.C.Andersson’s burial place, and drank some divine beers. We rode bikes (just barely) and enjoyed Denmarks bars while generally avoiding it’s bodegas. A bodega is typically a smoke filled independent pub with surly locals drooping off their bars stools. Imagine a cross between a Viking longhouse and a an Old West saloon. Or just a Wetherpoons on a Sunday afternoon. Worth a peek in the door, but don’t be surprised when all conversation ceases as you enter, board short clad and wearing an I <3 Thor t-shirt.
Not that proud to admit it, but it’s a blessing that pretty much everyone speaks English, because my attempts at the Danish language sound like a recording of someone licking a window played backwards. Danish is vaguely reminiscent of French, German and English all at the same time, but with any angular sounds smoothed out. ‘Frederick’ becomes something akin to ‘Freghrlhick’. It’s as if the words have eroded over time with constant use, and now rounded, edgeless vowels remain.
The countryside is very flat and very beautiful, and the country’s composition of many islands means you’re never far from a beach. These are proper beaches – quiet, picturesque, and relaxing. You won’t find urine soaked arcades and vomiting 13 year olds peppering Danish beaches.
Denmark is sublime, a shining example of what a country can achieve when it sits up straight and gets it’s act together. As much as I enjoy the grimy chaos and adrenaline of inner city England, it is soothing for the soul to visit a country where everything just works, where the people are warm, and where countryside is never more than a five minute drive.
It’s so nice, in fact, that I can almost forgive the constant pillaging and buggering of my distant relatives a thousand years ago by those muscle bound Norse sex machines. Almost.