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  • Kristan Higgins

A Connecticut Yankee in Queen Margrethe’s Court

Updated: May 3, 2022

Just one of many beautiful residential streets in Copenhagen.

Just one of many beautiful residential streets in Copenhagen.

We had the most wonderful time in Denmark this past week! The weather was brisk and mostly sunny, the food superb, the scenery absolutely lovely.

A few observations about my new favorite country…

Danes seem to have a reserved politeness. They are helpful, kind, but not effusive or determined to win you over in one conversation. When you enter a store, the shopkeeper greets you with “Hi!” and leaves you alone until you ask for help.McIrish and I generally greet someone with “Hello! How are you?” This is not a common question in Denmark, and was usually received with a charmed chuckle—Isn’t this American adorable, asking how I am! “I’m doing very well, thank you, and how are you?” Everyone is tri- or quadrilingual there. It puts us Americans to shame.

Lots of ice cream. Lots and lots and lots, and always with waffle cones.

Lots of ice cream. Lots and lots and lots, and always with waffle cones.

Denmark, and especially Copenhagen, is made for bikes. People bike everywhere. Toddlers can bike without training wheels. 50% of people get to work on their bikes. And what I loved particularly is that bikes are not status symbols. No one wears the silly Tour de France gear that Americans so love, as if they can’t go for a bike ride without their special pants, shirt, gloves, shoes, sunglasses, helmet. Nope. In Denmark, you just get on a bike—any kind, any year, any outfit, any number of gears—and just go. Which happens to be exactly how I ride my bike. : )


Bikes are everywhere.

There is an understated beauty to everything Danish. The architecture is quietly beautiful with a few awe-inspiring buildings thrown in here and there. The people…my goodness, yes. Danes tend to be very beautiful. That whole Nordic thing is true. Their sense of style is quiet and elegant—not as much makeup, tattoos, pink and blue hair. But the scarves, oh, the scarves! Danish women (and men) can rock a scarf in a way we Yanks cannot. Not yet, anyway. I’m trying. Nearly hanged myself, but I’m trying. The food, too, is beautifully presented, layered with subtle flavor, fresh and thoughtfully prepared, the portions small but the courses many. We ate so well, gang. So well.

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The Princess (mine, not Denmark’s) demonstrating the Danish art of scarfery.

There’s a Danish concept of trust that we found very lovely indeed. Most bikes are not locked or chained; they’re just left. According to what our Princess has learned, this is a national point of pride. The royal family sends their children to public school, and apparently, the kids ride their bikes like any good little Danes. They are not stalked by paparazzi; people are allowed to pet the royal horses and wander among the crown jewels.

botanical garden

The beautiful cherry trees outside Rosenborg Castle

Who wouldn't be happy living in such a beautiful city?

Who wouldn’t be happy living in such a beautiful city?

The idea that the Danes are the happiest people on earth is a little misunderstood, according to the Princess’s take on Danish life. Danish happiness is satisfaction with what you have, and quietly cherishing it. The Danes were not like, say, Australians, where everyone seems to be your best friend waiting to happen, or American Southerners, where there’s no such thing as a stranger. Instead, there’s a deep contentment and pride in their way of life, and it’s very appealing. Every Dane we met was so pleased that we were visiting their city…but they already know how lucky they are.


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