Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Danish Delights

If I'm a bit behind in my blogging, I can only blame our over-active travel schedule.  It's already been almost two weeks since we went to Copenhagen, and we've also managed a five day trip to Provence since then. 

But let's give due time and honor to Copenhagen.  Having never been to any Nordic/Scandinavian country before, I expected a lot of blond people.  Definitely got that.  However, what we really learned and loved about Denmark were the following:

1. Cinnamon-themed pastries.  The French don't do cinnamon - which is one real black mark against French baking.  Mr. Oil and I love cinnamon. And now that we never have it, we REALLY love it.  So when we were introduced to kannelgiffel by Mr and Mrs Copenhagen on our first afternoon, it was love at first cinnamon-filled bite.  We pretty much proceeded to eat our way through as many cinnamon-themed pastries as possible in four days, which is no small number of pastries.

2. Danish design.  Yes, there are the classic chairs and starkly-designed sofas.  What I fell in love with were the gorgeous vases and tableware, and the general feeling that if your home was filled with this stuff, you would have a sophisticated, classy, light-filled home.  And this home of course would be spotless at all times, despite your blond-haired children laughing happily as they traipse through the house with their Legos and other Danish toys. 
Normann Copenhagen

From Illum Bolighus

Anne Black

3. Things for Kids.  By this I mean that Copenhagen is prepared for toddlers and young kids like no other city I've visited.  Case in point, when you visit the big department stores, they actually have nice, clean, free play areas with all sorts of toys out for kids to play on.  One store even has a mini carousel that kids can ride on for free - which was great for Baby Oil, since we're still too cheap to pay for him to ride the carousel in Parc Monceau.    And also in "Things for Kids" are Danish toys, which includes Legos and my new favorite toy (though not available in France or in the US), Plus-Plus
Giant Lego Dragon Head at Lego Store

Plus-Plus diagram. I promise they are awesome.

4. Giant strollers.  Babies and toddlers are carted about Copenhagen in the largest strollers in the world.  I read a description in a guidebook that said it's as if Victorian-era prams are still in style, and that about sums it up.  They are huge.  Fortunately, because of "things for kids" there are working elevators everywhere. 

5. Tivoli.  Definitely also a "things for kids", but you must love a city with a charming amusement park at its center, where all kids go all summer long, that manages to be just the right combination of nostalgia and shmaltz.  And is clean.  And there are giant stuffed bears (see below).
And the happiest-looking park security guard ever.

6. It's the Portland of Europe.  This is a completely biased statement (since everything else I write is objective, naturally), especially given that Mr. Copenhagen and I both grew up in Portland, Oregon.  But Copenhagen shares many wonderful characteristics with my fabulous hometown - it's manageable, clean, lovely, people are truly friendly, it has the accoutrements of a city without being overwhelming urban.  Also there are almost no minorities (just telling it like it is). If you love Portland, you will like Copenhagen.  Plus, they have better pastries. 

7. Licorice. All you black licorice haters, stop reading.  Or keep reading, and realize how wrong you've been.  But Denmark, Sweden, Finland, etc - this is the home of real licorice.  That is delicious.  Think chocolate-covered licorice.  Mmmm. Licorice.  Mr. Oil's not a fan - more for me!

In all, we spent a truly fantastic weekend with friends who showed us all the best of what Copenhagen has to offer (we skipped the herring).  Baby Oil and Baby Copenhagen were pretty much besties by the end, and we can't wait to find a reason to return to another Nordic country soon.