Aside from visiting the architecture, canals, beautiful narrow streets and landmarks of Copenhagen, I learnt a few bits and pieces about Copenhagen I thought I’d share with you below. Here are 10 random little bits I picked up during my time in Denmark. Some things I didn’t know (but now know) about Copenhagen!
1) WORK LIFE BALANCE IS A BIG SERIOUS THING
According to the locals, work life balance literally means a balance, something like 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play and 8 hours of sleep. Many finish work around 4pm with flexitime and work-from-home being very common. With a 37 hour working week, 5 weeks of annual leave and a collaborative work culture, the Danes are apparently so happy at work they even have a special word for being happy at work: arbejdsglæde – happiness at work.
Cycling Copenhagen offers cycling tours around the city if you want to get a feel of what it’s like to bicycle around town like a local. Plus, stop at some interesting landmarks and learn about the city along the way!
2) THEY LOVE BIKES
Most people in Denmark get around via bike. There are over 400kms worth of bike tracks and most people own a bike for themselves as well as a ‘guest bike’, in case someone comes over and they need to ride somewhere together. Taxis all have bike racks to fit up to three bikes and trains have special bike carriages where they are filled with bike racks inside. At train stations, instead of seeing car parking bays, you see bike bays & hundreds of bikes parked on the side. It’s crazy! The bike tracks and the city overall is very flat, so riding a bike is pretty easy and most people just dress for whatever the occasion they are attending whether its for going out, going to the office or whatnot.
3) ZERO-CARBON FUTURE
Denmark is really passionate about the environment and have set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. Wind farms are a major source of power in Denmark – Tivoli Gardens operates entirely on renewable wind energy and his own windmill!, the city is one of the most bike friendly in the world, buses have solar panels on top of them to generate more power than they use.. there are so many initiatives happening all at once in Denmark.
4) DON’T JAYWALK
Barely anyone does it. Only cross when the green walk light starts to blink, otherwise you may be at risk of a 1000DKK ($200AUD fine)!
5) SKÅL = CHEERS
The first Danish word I learnt was skål. Pronounced ‘skol’, it means cheers and the Danish just love to use it.
6) DANISH IS ONE OF THE MORE DIFFICULT LANGUAGES TO LEARN
As quoted by one of our hosts when we tried to pronounce some words! There are three different types of ‘o’ in the alphabet, all with varying sounds. Many letters are silent or pronounced differently. Things like ‘Strøget’ and ‘Jaegersborggade’ are not what they look like they sound!
There’s a Danish concept called ‘hygge’ which is describe a state of enjoying the little things in life. It’s part of the Danish culture and things like having dinner with friends and chilling out at home by candlelight. It really hasn’t got much of a direct English translation but a few Google articles should give you a basic idea. The Danish embrace hygge.
8) SUNLIGHT IN SUMMER IS CRAZY
As Denmark is so north, the daylight hours in winter and summer differ greatly. In winter, the sun rises around 8am and can set at 3:30pm, so the days there are extremely short (and of course extremely cold as well). However, the opposite rings true for summer where the sun rises at 4:30am (!!!) and sets after 10pm. So you would wake up at 5am to use the bathroom and realise it’s already completely bright or have dinner at 8pm even though it still feels like it’s 3pm. It’s absolutely crazy how long the days are in summer and the Danes love it. Because of these daylight hours, I would definitely recommend visiting the country during the warmer months – from May to June if you want to beat the summer tourist rush or if you love being in and amongst it all, then from July to August. There are heaps of outdoor parties, events and concerts during this season!
9) BRING HOME SOME DANISH SWEETS
I picked up some really nice chocolate caramel fudge sweets from Karamelleriet on Jægersborggade (Norrebro), a nice street to visit with lots of local small businesses. Karamelleriet specialise in handmade caramel and have lots of nice sweets to try out. You can also watch them make it as they hand make it in store.
Also worth checking out is liquorice sweets. People here love liquorice and a wide variety of it is available everywhere from supermarkets to specialty shops.
10) DOGS TRAVEL FREE IF IN A PURSE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
This is the most random thing I learnt about Denmark so I just had to end with this! Dogs travel free on public transport if in a purse. Otherwise you must buy them a child’s ticket. ^_^
Photography: Rowena Cao & I