I should be a little embarrassed to admit that when we were planning on visiting Denmark one of the things I most looked forward to was to eat a Danish danish. I mean, right? It’s just like when you have to eat french fries in France, or drink scotch in Scotland, or eat a hot dog in Hotdogistan.
Or of course when you go to Anus, France, you… uh, hey wait a minute. I may need to rethink this entire concept.
It’s sad to say that we haven’t found ourselves in Anus, France yet, but if we ever do, I’m not going to be very inclined to do anything that pertains to its name. And yes, I already know there are lots of crazy place names, including: Pee Pee Township, Ohio, and Titty Hill, England, and Fucking, Australia, and Twatt, Scotland; and Dildo, Canada; and Humptulips, Washington; and Muff, Ireland… the list goes on and on. I don’t know how we’ve missed those during our travels, but now I’m thinking about taking a Crazy Name Tour of Europe.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales, here we come! Actually we may never get out of Wales if it’s a Crazy Name Tour.
In any case, on one of our first mornings our gracious and generous friends and Danish hosts, Pia and Per, went shopping at the Danish Danishes for the Danish shop and came back with this assortment of lovely-looking treats. I silently gave thanks that we weren’t in Anus.
This is what authentic danishes in Denmark actually look like. They were everything I hoped for, except I don’t know why they bought four for me and none for anyone else.
This is what it looked like after we tried as politely as we could to have a taste of each one of ’em. And yes, they were as delicious as they look.
According to Wikipedia, “a Danish pastry is a multilayered, laminated sweet pastry in the viennoiserie tradition. The concept was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers, where the recipe was partly changed and accommodated by the Danes to their liking, and has since developed into a Danish specialty.” So blame the origins on the Austrians, but the Danes made it all their own.
Since we’re on the subject of food: I’m not normally one to take “food selfies,” but this was such an unusual (for us) meal and had so many instructions and procedures, I just had to do it. The dish in the foreground is smoked eel, which I don’t recall ever eating before, at least sober. But it was absolutely heavenly. The traditional foods we ate included a series of open-faced sandwiches with various meats and fish on them. We were instructed to take a swig of schnapps with each bite. This transformed our mouths into a symphony of tastes and sensations like we’d never experienced before. It truly was one of the most interesting and delicious lunches I’ve ever had.
This is the restaurant that showed us how awesome Danish cuisine can be. We would have never even known about it, nor been able to even get a table, had we not been with Pia and Per. They also corrected my mis-assumption that danishes were commonly served with every meal. Dammit.
These are more likely the type of eateries we might’ve ended up in without our friends. BubbleWow is apparently famous, but it’s hard to imagine feeling “wow” after eating a bubble. Although I desperately wanted to visit the Drunken Flamingo, having never eaten flamingo before, much less one soaked in alcohol, but alas, my argument for going there had only one leg to stand on. Did you know flamingos get their pink color from their food? I really wanted to find out if that restaurant would put some pink in my cheeks. Either set would have been acceptable.
I got a little ahead of myself by plunging right into cuisine instead of sticking with our visit-timeline. This was taken out of our airline window as we came in for the landing into Copenhagen. I’d say that’s a pretty good use of resources since no one’s gonna be building a house next to all those cancer-causing windmills. For those of you who have forgotten or tried to forget, Donald Trump once said about windmills: “They say the noise causes cancer.” Also: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value.” Well, even if that’s not in any way true, the Danes are asking, “how about the houses near these bad boys, Donald?” Maybe just the fish get cancer now.
These are assorted buildings and monuments in the middle of Copenhagen. The weather actually treated us pretty well for April in Denmark. It stayed above freezing at least, and we didn’t experience much precipitation during the entire trip. We’ll call that a win!
Even though we’ve both gotten sick of seeing the inside of cathedrals, we still poke our heads in once in a while. In this case, we were rewarded with a very pleasant and –especially for a cathedral– a comparatively understated design. 72% of Denmark’s population are registered members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, although they don’t consider themselves particularly religious.
Here are some more scenes from the old town area. Copenhagen is well known for its canals, cycling culture, strong economy, and happy locals. In fact, it often appears at the top of various “happiest city in the world” lists. Some of the credit for that is surely due to its shorter workdays, free college tuition, and more vacation days (employees are entitled to 25 days (5 weeks) paid leave). Of course, who wouldn’t be happy with a steady diet of danishes, smoked eel, and drunken flamingos?
We stopped inside this charming tea shop. Nothing but tea. If you like the smell of tea, you may never leave this store. If I recall correctly, this particular shop supplies tea to the Danish royals. They have some very special and unusual teas, including frog’s leg tea, caterpillar cocoon tea, hemlock tea, and pulling-your-leg tea.
It isn’t often you get to see public restroom stalls in a travel blog, or any blog for that matter (although it’s probably a kink for someone out there), but I had to take a picture of these because they’re some of the most elegant bathroom stalls I’ve ever seen. The restroom itself is over 100 years old, and is staffed by an attendant (who is generally less than 100 years old) to make sure your bodily functions occur safely and in a clean environment. If it could be said that the cleanliness of public restrooms reflect directly on societies, and it’s not a bad thought, then the Danes must be some of the most cultured of all peoples.
That restroom was right next to the dock where you can board a boat for a tour of Copenhagen. We weren’t sure we’d be able to take a boat trip due to the variables in the weather; it could have easily been below freezing and/or windy. But as it turned out, while it wasn’t exactly warm, we didn’t freeze our patooties off while cruising on the water either. The blue sky followed us all the way from Portugal!
We love the colorful houses that line the canals and we were so delighted that it was warm enough to get these views from the water. Copenhagen is part of a large island, and Denmark consists of 1,419 islands altogether. In fact, the furthest you can be from the coast at any point in Denmark is only 52km (32 miles).
Here are some of the buildings and sites viewable during the boat tour. As you can see, it’s an amazing blend of old and new. Historical and beautiful modern design all at the same time. It’s also clean, safe, and vibrant. Can’t imagine what else you’d want in a city! Plus we’ll throw in a Pia and a Carolyn for good measure!
Of course, even paradise can have its issues. Here is the view of the Little Mermaid statue from the canal tour boat. Almost everyone we talked to about visiting Copenhagen told us to FORGET THE LITTLE MERMAID! Our Danish friends called it the most overrated tourist site in the entire world. I have to admit, however, it wasn’t underwhelming for me at all because I expected to be completely underwhelmed. In fact, I think my whelm is still sitting in the bottom of the canal. Anyway, she was exactly as I expected: just a little statue no one would think about at all but since everyone loves Hans Christian Andersen, well, there you go.
Once back on dry land, we were treated to a little touch of home by walking by the Portuguese embassy. It made us feel comfortable knowing that at least somewhere in the city, someone would be able to understand at least something we were trying to say. Actually, in all seriousness, 86% of Danes speak English; I don’t think we encountered one person who wasn’t pretty much fluent in English.
These are photos taken in and around the royal Palace, which is in the heart of Copenhagen and is the seat of one of the world’s oldest monarchies. It still functions as living quarters for the Danish Royals. We were hoping to see one taking out the trash, but alas.
And we finish this episode with a close-up of the Little Mermaid, because of course we ended up driving right next to it, and you can cheat and park in a restaurant parking lot that is only a hundred meters or so away, so I got the shot. As a result you can rest easy now… you don’t have to travel all the way to Copenhagen just to see the Little Mermaid anymore.
Hans Christian Andersen was a prolific writer, but is best known for his fairy tales, including: The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, The Nightingale, and many more. His most famous quote was, “I wrote plays, travelogues, novels, fairy tales, and poems, and all I got was this stupid little statue of a mermaid.”