We are two extremely fortunate parents. Both of our children truly enjoy spending time with us, and the feeling is mutual.  With Jack’s time in Europe now winding down there remained a couple of places on his bucket list, one of them being Copenhagen. Because he was on IB exam study break last week, and more importantly, because he is pulling a most respectable grade point average heading into IB finals, we were okay with him taking a pause from his studies. So off to Denmark he and I jetted.

Whatever you may think of Denmark, you are probably only half-correct. Denmark is part of Scandinavia; Finland is not. The Danes wear clogs, but they are not Dutch (that would be The Netherlands). Their stores are filled with gorgeous Scandinavian design; but no, IKEA is the brainchild of a Swede. Yes, however, Denmark is where Legos come from.  Add to our visit thatched-roof villages and Hamlet’s castle, fjords and Viking history, world-class cuisine, and a language that sounded like IKEA-German with an occasional French word thrown in for fun, and neither of us felt like we knew quite where we were for three days.

But we were happy! What caught our attention immediately was the genuine happiness of the Danish people. Seriously. Whatever the method to their madness might be, the Danes have it going on. Be they a smiling passerby, a store clerk or the unearthly friendliness of our hotel bartender (more on that later), the Danes are a crazy happy people. Maybe it’s the oh-my-gosh high taxes they pay (56%, even higher than in Vienna!) for social services and wotnot; or perhaps it’s the biking culture. Or the proximity to the blue waters and the invigorating breezes gale winds of the North Sea. Who knows!

Our time in Copenhagen was more or less straight from the tourist checklist. To start, a smørrebrød lunch after a morning at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Though neither of us understand modern art we thoroughly loved the museum, and we most certainly loved the setting.

As well as the lunch. For those interested, shared sandwiches of roast pork with chili mayonnaise and rucola; and dill-mayo shrimp with rucola and trout roe. I needn’t tell you how spectacular our meal was.
No, Walt Disney did not write The Little Mermaid; that was the genius of Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark’s beloved author. A bronze sculpture to Den Lille Havfrue resides over the harbor near Østerport.

Nyhavn, the “New Harbor.” This is postcard Copenhagen. A note about the Danes: they are proud to fly their flag. Big ones, little ones, wind-resistant flags, and even banners of flags are all about the country, on stores, public buildings, and private homes, too.

 

Bicycles. We visited Amsterdam as a family a few years ago and thought the Dutch passion for cycling was impressive, but I think the Danes have a slight edge. There are true bicycle lanes (about the width of a passenger vehicle lane) throughout Copenhagen and other cities we visited. We noted that the Danes don’t seem to bother with securing their bicycles when parked.

 

When in Denmark…our visit to the Carlsberg Brewery was fun. I was expecting the technical experience that Tony and I had in Plzen, but this tour included a great deal of information on the working life of a brewery employee, as well. Plus beer samples at the end, but of course.

The brewery holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest collection of beer bottles in the world. Visitors from around the world contribute bottles to the collection, which numbers over 22.000 as of the end of April.

It was Mr. Jacobsen, Carlsberg’s owner, who donated the bronze sculpture of Den Lille Havfrue that adorns the harbor; visitors to the brewery can enjoy a stone replica in the sculpture garden of the brewery.
Had we one additional day in Denmark, I suspect a trip to the Lego Factory would have been on the agenda. Instead, we dropped in at the stores around town.
Lastly, Tivoli Gardens. Europe’s second oldest amusement park, it’s fourth most-visited and, it is believed, the inspiration for Walt’s American Disney Parks. It really is a small world after all!

Indeed, we felt as though we had fallen through a rabbit’s hole and landed in a colorful combination of the Magic Kingdom and EPCoT. Delightful!

 

Even Denmark’s flowers are happy!

 

 

Designated kissing stations for those happy Danes, too!

We missed the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace; missed seeing the Royal Treasures at Rosenborg Slot by a few minutes; and opted out of a peek at Freetown Christiania, the hippie enclave started in 1970 by a few hundred squatters in a section of the city’s unused military barracks.  One of Christiana’s tenets is the rejection of capitalism, naturally, which the community is happy to share via social media and through the sales from its soft-core drugs, bongs and pipes at its flea market, sales at its vegan restaurants, and other bastions of anti-capitalism. The squatters sought to establish this autonomous “state,” which the happy government of Denmark now mostly tolerates.
That was our whirlwind tour of crazy happy Copenhagen!