You would think that visiting in the happiest country in the world would be pure, unbridled joy and bliss. In actuality, everyday life in Denmark is pretty harsh. After observing and living with the Danes, , I would have to counter that on the surface they don’t actively seek happiness nor do they walk about looking particularly happy. On the contrary, many Danes on the street have a blank, zombie, stoned-faced look about them.
As a visitor when you walk the streets of Copenhagen, do not expect to find a sea of smiling faces, whistling workers, friendly strangers or any type of the Disneyland-style of happiness behavior we Americans expect.
Dear reader, do not confuse Danish contentment/happiness/subjective well-being with friendliness, good manners, polite behavior or any other such nonsense.
Danish happiness is hidden deep within the very reserved Danes. So, do I have any suggestions for how to explore or experience Danish happiness if you are a tourist?
Well, maybe, by meeting and living with Danes.
I recently had a chat with Rasmus H who rents out a suite in his apartment in Copenhagen on Wimdu http://www.wimdu.com/
When I checked Wimdu, there were hundreds of Danish properties (from single rooms to a whole house) for short term lettings and because there is quality control – the places are safe, clean and even stylish. Scandinavian homes have simple and elegant furnishings, earthy muted tones, honest materials and minimal ornamentation and (you get a real feel for the country by staying in a Danish home).
It sounded like a great deal, since the prices are well under half the price of a hotel room and some properties have their own living areas, bathrooms and kitchens.
The best part of Wimdu is that you get to meet a Danish local (the host) and pick their brains about the attractions, parks, grocery stores, shows, restaurants, shopping, and cafes – really get insight into the local flavor and culture.
As with many great cities, the cool and trendy restaurants in Copenhagen are always changing and popping up – ask your host about where they and their friends ‘hang out’. Danes are serious café goers and during the summer – it seems there are more outdoor cafes in Copenhagen than Paris!
Rasmus has even eaten dinner with some of his house guests. He says he loves out of town guests and it gives him opportunities to explore the different worlds without leaving his sofa.
Since many apartments have kitchens, I would advise you to live like a Dane and make your own Danish dinner with gourmet goodies picked up from the seriously nice indoor market Torvehallerne (http://torvehallernekbh.dk/om-torvehallerne-kbh). You can pick up some fresh (rugbrød) dark bread, homemade herrings, Danish micro-beer, artisan cheeses, unique sausages (some made with feta cheese!) and some fresh salad for an easy and affordable dinner ‘at home’.
Toast your host with a ‘skål’ (cheers, pronounced Skoal)!