20 November 2010

Mind the gap

I feel bad about the 4 day post gap. And it is not exactly because the last couple of days have been uneventful. Just yesterday I watched a man die on the street. The medics were working frantically to revive him, but it didn't look good. I did not want to stand around and watch, and I certainly wasn't going to take pictures (and neither did anyone else, I am relieved to say), so I can't tell you if he made it. But I think not.

I came straight from my very first flash mob experience. It was raining hard, and although Danes have a way of dissolving in the rain, along with whatever we had planned, I still expected a big show. I decided to give up the chance to be a part of it, to take pictures and bring you the whole story. The idea was simple: bring your bike to Town Hall Square, park it in the middle at exactly 16.35, leave it for 5 minutes, then go back in and ride it away. Bicycle flash mob:

Seven bicycles. I feel really sad for them, because the idea is so cool. And I would still love to be part of a flash mob sometime, rain or not. (Still not entirely friendly with the after dark camera settings, grrr..)

Today I had a way too quick 1 hour trip to Sweden. Malmö is exactly 40 minutes away from my local train station, a ticket is 80 crowns each way (around €11/$15), and you get the full experience of going to another country. The first indication that you are entering a new country is 20 minutes into the ride, when the speakers on the train switch from informing you in Danish/English, to Swedish/English, so funny. And then you get the alert from your greedy tele provider that everything is now thrice the price. When you arrive, everything is different: friendlier, much more relaxed and zero graffiti, tags or stickers (on the first stretch anyway). 

The all important first sight, exiting the train station, not a bad welcome:


The Swedish Crown is the Pesetas of the North, it goes a long way. And while stores in Copenhagen are right now struggling to stay afloat, the Swedes kick some overseas ass. I talked to a girl in one of the coolest independent fashion stores, and she told me that on an average 80% of their saturday customers are Danish. And I completely get why. It is energetic, funky and above all positive. I pity the Danish stores for how much they have to struggle right now, suffocated by rules, regulations and unreasonable taxes. But I also think they could take a lesson from our friendly neighbours, and throw in a smile once in a while. After all, it costs nothing to make people feel welcome. Perhaps this is why Swedish staff is in such high demand here.

I was just in town for a quick meeting, but I did make time for a cup of coffee at a local café, and even there I felt welcome (sad that it is such a big deal, but it is..). Someone left a packet of cool Swedish candy behind: love pills, to make your heart flutter. Oh, Sweden.

Pirrpiller / heart flutter pills

As I returned to Copenhagen, I really felt how different we live. The all important first sight, exiting the train station:

Whenever I hear the word culture..


And then I looked up and felt at home again: the big, beautiful glossy heart garlands were lit today.



A classic Copenhagen treat.

Broken heart

Broken heart...

If I could, I would hug you. Thank you for reading my blog.


  1. You're the one who should be receiving hugs! Thank you once again for a wonderful blog ("Wonderful Copenhagen", hehe)! =)

    I love Sweden and the Swedes too, and I fully understand what you mean when you say that you feel much more welcome over there than here. The Danes are ... well, I don't even have a proper word for it. "Sad", maybe. Already on the train, the whole atmosphere changes with happy, Swedish staff on the speakers and relaxed, friendly-looking Swedes around you.

    I always want to stay longer when I visit Sweden, and I'm considering moving there since at least they TRY to keep racists out of political influence.

    But the Christmas decorations here in Copenhagen are lovely - the Tree of Hearts in Tivoli being a personal favorite especially when they spend a little extra on gigantic mistletoes hanging from it.

  2. Svenskere er bare flinkere.
    Jeg tror jeg skal en tur til Malmö og jule shoppe i år.

  3. You're very welcome, reading the blog is a pleasure. Happy Sunday!

  4. Malmö føles en smule som Århus, men det er helt sikkert anderledes. Det er UDLANDET.

    Fantastiske billeder!

  5. That is actually one of my favorite quotes, "Whenever I hear the word culture I reach for my gun".

    As it turned out Mr G was one of the biggest art collectors in Europe "liberating" much art and thereby ironically saving it from destruction.

  6. Hello Spiren, thank you for the hug back. I think "sad" describes Danes pretty well, at the moment, it is like we are moving too fast here, consumed by stress and some degree of fear. Very unhealthy. I don't know how you wind all that down again, it is a place that is easier to get to, than get away from again. Good thing we have the Swedes, and the good vibrations only 40 minutes away. :-)

    Hej Amalie, Malmö er et uopdaget stykke by for mig endnu, jeg tror også at jeg skal tilbage og fare lidt vild snart.

    Hi Dave, a happy sunday to you too, over there!

    Hej Kirsten, mange tak for ros. Hyggeligt.

    * I just love it when there are comments waiting for me here, ah. *

  7. Hi Sandra, thank you for this post, it is soooo interesting. My best friend is a buyer for Ikea and she goes often to Malmö, and her experience is so different from a French point of view. And the photos are great, i love the feeling coming from them. And it is always a pleasure to read your blog... Big hugs to you from Los Angeles!

  8. Hi Uden Relevans, I was under the impression that these guys just destroyed art, not keeping it for themselves, but hey, some good came out of it after all then. You are not really living up to your name here, haha.

    Hi Carole, I wonder if your friend does not feel as cosy about Malmö as I do. Maybe you have to go directly from Copenhagen to really feel the warmth. To someone like for example a hot blooded Brazilian it would probably be a cold and unwelcoming place.. And I am really glad you like the pictures, I am so frustrated with them these days, with the underexposure and loss of light. And thank you for the hug back, too!

  9. We went on a tour of Lund & Malmo when we were in CPH 2 summers ago. It definitely was a different feel, but I actually felt more at home in Cph...I don't know if it was because it seemed like the English language was more visible there or if it was because we were with family. I definitely would like to spend more time in Lund & Malmo...they were beautiful.

  10. Hi Mary, it is interesting how we all experience the different countries depending on our nationality. I would not want to leave Copenhagen to live in Malmö, at all, so I understand that you like it better here, but we could still take a lesson from the Swedes. I am happy that you liked it here. Even in tough times, Copenhagen is my sweetheart.

  11. Hey Sandra

    Thank you for blogging about (my (well its not really mine, i just arranged it)) Bike Flash mob, i had written it of as kind of a faillure on the friday, but when i foud your blogpost, it gave me a bit of hope. Eventhough only 8 bikes participated, i still motivated someone (and maybe more then what i know of) to come by.

    Thank you for standing in the rain :)

    BTW : The bike flashmob is at part of my bachelor project - with this facebook page connected.

  12. Hi Louise,

    You are so welcome! I love that there are people around with the inspiration to set these things in motion. I am so on next time you arrange a flash mob or something else, please keep me posted. :-)

  13. Thanks once again, for making my day.I always have the same feelings whenever I travel from Australia to New Zealand.Strangely,Kiwi friends tell me they have the same feelings when they travel the other way. Perhaps it's because when we are in 'holiday' mode we give out a relaxed 'lets have some chit chat'vibe? When we return home we have to face the reality of bills,work, relationships,airport parking!

    I've only visited CPH once in my lifetime and found it to be a very welcoming place,as I struggled with my pathetic attempts at Danish. But I was on a company sponsored junket, far from day to day reality, hey?



  14. Hi Ian, you are probably on to something with the holiday vibe. It is interesting that Copenhagen visitors don't feel the "hardness" so much. I find the fact that people wish to spend their hard earned money and precious time in my city so touching, and I hope they all go back feeling good about their stay.

    And it is impressive that you even attempted to learn a little Danish, no attempt is pathetic, it is the only way to learn. The bigger part of my French vocabulary is picked up from Parisian taxidrivers, I make a huge fool out of myself, mispronouncing and searching for words, but I learn more every time.

    Selvtak, Ian


I love comments! Go ahead, make my day. :-)