Lifestyle & Habits, Copenhagen
People ALWAYS obey signals at pedestrian crossings. If the red man is showing, whether the road is busy or not, no-one crosses the road until the green man shows it is allowed.
Because us Brits always want to try and get from A to B as quickly as humanly possible, this phenomenum was a complete novelty. We were inclined to march fearlessly across the empty road, to looks of horror and admiration from the crowd on the pavement.
But everyone knows and defends their rights on the road in Denmark - cars, cyclists and pedestrians - which must make for a happy city overall!
One thing we noticed was that while generally a very polite and certainly tidy people (a very clean city, it seems like almost no one litters!) Danes think nothing of running smack into you while walking by and never saying Unskyld (excuse me/I'm sorry). It happened all the time, people would slam into us as they passed, hard enough to knock us off course, and no one batted an eye. When we were coming out of Magasin, this 85 year old woman just clocked me as she passed, literally knocking me back a step or two, and never even paused.
Also, if you don't crowd up to the counter even before the person ahead of you has left it, someone will walk right in front of you.
We talked about it and realized it's not that they are being rude, it's just their culture. Just like the men in Spain didn't think it was rude of them to openly and overtly gawk at me in the presence of their wives/families/my husband, even though to him it was incredibly offensive, that is just the culture there, and we're not used to it. It's no different than hand gestures that mean totally opposite things in different parts of the world.
On the eastern side of Christianshavn is the area called Christiania. Originally a military camp which was abandoned. It was subsequently taken over in 1971 by hippies who then declared their own “free state“.
Christiana has never gained full independence but still enjoys status as a tax and rent- -free enclave with a lively, arts scene. Cars aren't allowed here but you can walk or cycle through the area without street lighting and take in the craft market and organic food eateries or buy drugs being legal here.
Guided tours are available daily in the summer. Today, the village stands as a utopian experiment.
To my big surprise it attracts almost as many visitors as The Little Mermaid!
Directions: Christiania is located east of the city centre, in Christianshavn, in the near of the metro station Christianshavn, about a few hundred metres walk on Prinsessegade.
The bars and restaurants in Nyhavn have seemingly good meal deals but they rake it in on beverages. Locals of course know this, but in order not to miss out on the great Nyhavn atmosphere, they have a solution! They simply bring their own crate of beer and sit on the quay with their friends and, perhaps a guitar.
Believe it or not, a local superstition says, the Viking horn blowers named Bjorn Iron Rib and Ljoter the Unwashed, sound their S-shaped horns called lurs, if a virgin walk by.
Because of unknown reason, I never heard anything, when I strolled there.
Would anybody explain, why is it? Am I a little bit deaf, or ...?
By the way, the figure of the proud lur blowers (Lurblæserne) unveiled in 1914 is the work of two sculptors, Wagner and Rosen.
The stone statue of the two manly Vikings can be seen on the top of a pillar beside the clock tower of the City Hall, as that is a Victorian building, statue is presumably also part of the nineteenth century mythologisation of the past.
Bill Bryson writes up Copenhagen in his book 'Neither here nor there' in a very entertaining way. Although written a few decades ago, his observations still seem to ring true. One particular point (or two) stick out in my mind. They are beautifully rounded sentences :
"Copenhagen is also the only city I’ve ever been in where office girls come out at lunchtime to sunbathe topless in the city parks. This alone earns it my vote for European city of Culture for any year you care to mention. (p.107, Bryson.)".
Bravo. - sourbugger
Danish royals have not been as posh as their continental counterparts in the last century and the Danes love their royal family. A sign of this is the fact that during the German occupation of Denmark, King Christian X went for his daily morning rides along the streets of Copenhagen and when the German soldiers asked if he didn't need guards to accompany him, the king replied "The Danish people is my guard". You can see his statue in St Annæ Plads just behind Nyhavn. Non-royalists will quickly point out that the king had nothing but good to say about the nazis before Denmark was occupied by Germany. Then the tune changed apparently. Personally, I have no view on the matter.
At times, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in England when walking the streets of Copenhagen. This is particularly true in Osterbro where you have Kartoffelraekerne and a whole range of other areas with row after row of extremely English looking brick houses but going by train along the coast north of the city will also give English views. The photo shows the St Albans anglican church in Churchill Park. This is at least something you expect to look English. I will add more pictures when I've been around Triangeln with my camera.
Nipped out one night from the hotel, in search of a something to feed a late night hunger pang.
I stumbled across a 24hour petrol station. What little havens these are to the somewhat hidden Danish sense of masculinity. Aside from petrol, the main products on sale appeared to be sausages, chilled beer and hard-core porn DVD's.
What more could a man need for an entertaining evening ?
On the Hop on Hop off bus tour we learned about the garden allotments. In Danish culture the allotment garden has become a symbol of blue-collar culture - with all the positives and negatives associated with that.
In Copenhagen an association named "Arbejdernes Værn" (lit. "The Worker's Protection") founded the first allotment gardens in 1891 so that the people who came to the city from the country and were used to growing their own food could rent some land and grew some vegetables and be more self-sufficient.
By 1904 there were some 6.000 allotment gardens in Copenhagen - about 30% of the number in Denmark as a whole.
During the First World War, vegetables from the allotments became an important food supply to Denmark. The number of allotment gardens grew and by 2001 the number of allotment gardens was estimated to about 62 thousand. Today most allotment gardens are on land owned by the municipality which rents the land to an allotment association. The association in turn gives each member a plot of land. To preserve allotment gardens as something that is available for all kinds of people the membership charge is set significantly below what a market price would be. Since allotments are often placed on attractive plots of land, this has led to huge waiting lists for membership in many allotment associations.
The big day to get out into the garden was and is Sunday. To make it easier to work, the allotment owners started building structures on their allotment to shelter or rest in. The quirky houses aren't built according to architectural standards. These pavilions can range in size from an old rebuilt railway car to a small summer house. Many people live there the entire summer. It is not allowed to live there year-round. The houses were the main feature of the allotments that was pointed out to us.
While out at a resturant make sure to use the propper eating customs here. For all you non-smokers you'll hate this and for you smoker's a dream. Everyone and their dog smokes. So don't be shocked when you see people everywhere smoking. While eating it is considered propper ediquett (don't think I spelled that one right) to start off with fish first, then your meats and what not don?t mix. Also if right handed it's proper to eat with fork turned over in the left hand while using the knife in the right. Of course vise versa for southpaws. If your at a buffet don't pile your plate to the extent of making a mountain. Little at a time and when your eating take a periodical break in between. This is when you take a cigarett break. Don't be alarmed this is all the norm. But before lighting up that cig. make sure that you place your silverware on the plate at about 4 and 8 o'clock. This will indicate to whomever is serving you that you are just on a break and will continue eating in a moment. Otherwise you risk loosing your plate. When you are all done with your meal set both silverware side by side on your plate at about 5 o'clock or so. This tell's the server you are now done, get this out of my way . Just a little friendly advise. For all you Americans like me. Eating with a knife and fork like this maybe a challenge lol...
I have had frequent contacts with Danes for a couple of years because of my work and I have found that most people have a fine sense of humour.
Did you notice a sculpture just outside the airport? It represents four human figures with their mouths and eyes wide open, and with their arms and legs pointing in every direction. Its name is "The four winds", but locals have named it "Where is my luggage?".
Danish are known to be very open people. They will tell you what is in their mind and heart, which for some can be shocking, but for me (as being Dutch) is the normalest thing in the world. In Denmark (as well as in The Netherlands) one knows what you can expect from one another, which makes understanding stand on a high level.
The Danish people have very unique habits and mannerisms ... They say thank you for everything, and they consider it very rude for people to be late. So, if you make an appointment with someone, make sure you're on time... I felt like the Danes were very easy-going people and very educated... There are many different national newspapers all catering to different interests/needs... The Danish people also tend to pay a lot of attention to detail in their homes... I was amazed at how they utilized their space in homes and had very exquisite decorations, especially their furniture...
The Danes speak English better than the English and their manners are impeccable. A thanyou is greeted with 'You're Welcome' and handshakes are popular. Such a genteel and kind people are the Copenhageners.
When ordering a special beer in the topless bar in Istegade. Its not a special type of beer but a special and unique way of it being served. It involves a certain sex toy.