- 1 June, 2012
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Say cheese! In 2007, a series of surveys about happiness ranked ranked Denmark as the happiness place on earth. Two years later in 2009, OECD – the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development agreed. Like other Scandinavia and Nordic countries, Denmark scored high on education, living standard, salary, health, etc. The one thing which set them apart was while others were a bit depressed and ‘suicidal’, The Danes were a jolly bunch. Danes called it the happiness factor.
I wrote an email to a friend asking her to visit Denmark with me, using country’s happiness selling point. She instantly replied, “I’ll be saddest person in the happiest place in the world.” Well, I had to agree after spending a long weekend in Copenhagen. It was only early autumn but I had already shivered to death, too cold to enjoy the city. It rained sporadically throughout the days, but due to this reason, I spent a long days in Copenhagen’s National Museum and National Gallery, both were free to the public.
“I don’t know Jarda; I couldn’t find any trace of happiness here. It was cold, rainy, expensive, I’m going to bored out of my mind living here.” I complained. “Well, if these people can ride their bikes like that in the rain, I guess they have to be very happy.” Jarda said. Maybe this was the reason why Hans Andersen, the world’s most famous fairytale teller hailed from Denmark and not from let say the chaotic, bustling towns in Southern Europe. In this kind of weather, people had more time to sit inside to think and imagine.
My favorite of the trip was the quirkiest the free town of Christiania. The self-governed society of anarchists had its own currency, a post office, coffeehouses and an art gallery. Home and shops were made out of broken former military barracks. People were burning and selling hash right under the nose of the police who guarded outside. You do what you want in there, but don’t think you can bring any of the drugs out. It’s very interesting how one society maintains strict rules while still allowing others their freedom of choices.
Another highlight of this trip was staying with Christian, my couchsurfing host who had a huge map on the wall where he pinched pictures of his surfers to the countries where they came from. You would guess that Christian traveled a lot. On the contrary, he traveled little if not at all and only in Europe. This was a way to bring traveling to him. He showed us some of the mixed music he made in this tiny studio. Not knowing anything about electronic, I played it safe by switching to what I thought one of Denmark’s greatest brands. “I really like Aqua. Do you?” and expected the guy to nod in agreement, “Yes, we Danes are proud of them.” Instead, he covered his mouth and chuckled, “Hush! We don’t want anybody to know they came from Denmark. We are a little embarrassed.” To shift off some of the responsibility, he continued, “But the lead singer is Norwegian, you know.” Aqua was popular in the US in the 90s during the time when European dance-techno ear-catching songs flooded American radios. I should have kept Aqua a teenage memory. This isn’t what you bring up in an adult conversation.
Christian organized a dinner and invited his friends, a couple of Danes, a Swede and her Finnish boyfriend. If there was a Norwegian, we would have a Nordic reunion.
I have more photos from galleries and museums than the city itself.