Below you will find a handy list of highlights and lowlights from our recent trip to Denmark. I’ve tried to keep it as clear and succinct as possible so you can recreate our experience for yourselves… Or so you know exactly how to avoid all our mistakes!
- Muscle your way into the locals’ hearts
Being broke –ahem—I mean, wanting to see the country from a local’s perspective we decided to couch-surf during our stay in Copenhagen. A really lovely Danish girl took us in for four nights in exchange for our delightful company and a pretty good pasta meal (if I do say so myself). We slept in her dining-room and had a really good time getting to know our funny, quiet host.
- Then crash your way into their dinner parties and balls
She invited us to come along to her friends’ place for supper and then we all trundled of to the university ball. Yup, my sister and I went to drink and dance with a bunch of Scandinavian mathematics students! And do these nerd know how to party or what! Everyone was still there at 4am as the sun rose and by the time we got to bed at 6:30 it looked like broad-daylight outside.
- Get lost in a tiny town
Of course one of the main attractions of the Scandinavian countries is their history: namely Vikings. We decided to take a trip out to Trelleborg in Slagelse to see what’s left of Harold Blue-tooth’s old fortress. But the journey there was more treacherous than the crossing to Lindisfarne! Taking directions from the website we took the train to Slagelse station where we would then catch a bus to the site. Except when we got to the bus station we discovered the buses had all changed their numbers and no-one knew where we could find the bus we needed (though I must say the bus drivers we accosted did try their best).
We then set out to look for the tourist office. It was so poorly signposted (and in fact looked completely abandoned) that it took us an age to find. Once we did awkwardly find someone to talk to she said the bus wasn’t running that day and didn’t offer us any alternatives. I guess tourism isn’t a big business round these parts??
Eventually, after hours of faff, we found a taxi who would take us there.
- Confuse the motorists
After a great time wandering around the museum, replica longhouses, and old fortress site, it was time to head off. But now we were stranded in the middle of nowhere! Instead of asking someone to call a taxi we decided to walk to the nearest village and get a bus back to Slagelse from there… No bus. It took us two hours of walking along the motorway to get back to civilisation. People driving past in cars and trucks waved and honked in greeting, sometimes trying to wave us off the road. We just smiled and waved back.
- Almost piss yourself on The Devil
Tivoli is a big amusement park in the centre of Copenhagen and on the Friday night our host invited us along to see a Danish band play on the big stage. After a few songs we all got a bit bored and started wandering about the park, looking at all the magical lights, stalls and rollercoasters. We discovered that a ride called “The Devil” was our tour guide’s favourite so decided to climb aboard before we left. It. Was. Terrifying.
- Awkwardly play cards with a Viking
An astrophysicist who spends his weekends sailing replica Viking ships invited us to play cards with him and a few other people on our last night. When a huge, tattooed, real-life Viking invites you to come drink beer and play Cards Against Humanity you don’t say no! We had a fun night but it was a little awkward as we felt our humour was slightly out of step with theirs. Ah well.
- Be underwhelmed by The Little Mermaid
“Be prepared to be disappointed”: this is actually what the tour bus says on the way to see The Little Mermaid! But really, of course a small statue of a mermaid isn’t going to be the most exciting thing in the world. Though the fact that it’s been blown up, painted red, decapitated and had its arms chopped off is rather intriguing. I preferred visiting Hans Christian Anderson’s house myself.
- Count every man you see with a pram
Danish men love to take care of the kids! It seems as a whole, the Danes live in a much more equal society when it comes to men’s and women’s roles. Everyone just does everything. Danish men are even known to take paternity leave when their children are born. Yes please!
- Get lost on GPS bikes
Being the city most famous for its biking culture, we couldn’t leave Copenhagen without having a go ourselves. It was rather simple to sign up to the public bike system where you take a bike from one station and just deposit it at the next. And even though the city is super flat, these bikes even have a little motor to push you along! We must have looked like super tourists. Although the little GPS screens were a nice touch, I can’t help but feel like they made things more confusing than they really needed to be.
- Pretend you’re a shield-maiden
Oh, I forgot to mention that the Viking settlement had robes and furs and armour you could try on. And since a third of all Vikings were women there was nothing stopping us trying it out for ourselves!