Blogger Melanie Haynes shares the top five things that surprised her about summer in Copenhagen, as well as two that really annoy her.
Published: 9 June 2015 07:48 CEST
Copenhagen's waterways come alive in the summertime. Photo: Colourbox
Summer in Copenhagen is a glorious thing, made even better after the long dark winter. But coming from the UK there were many things that surprised me during my first few summers here.
Photo: Melanie Haynes
1. It doesn't really get dark but there are amazing sunsets
I supposed I hadn't really considered how far north Denmark really is but I was surprised that it really doesn't get that dark overnight in the summer here. You need some ways to cope with the impact this has on sleep — blackout blinds and eye covers from Tiger are my preferred option.
I remember my surprise when during my first summer here I left Tivoli at past 10pm and it was still sunny. But even with those late nights, it is still possible to enjoy some amazing sunsets and sunrises over the summer months. Sunsets always leave me quite emotional and I often head out on my bike in June and July on a clear night to chase the sunset with my camera.
Now bear with me on this one. When I moved to Denmark I thought I was saying goodbye to warm summers. The guide books I bought suggested that the maximum temperature over the summer months was around 20C yet every summer since I have lived here we have enjoyed decent runs of hot weather – and by hot I mean over 25C and even around 30C for over a month in 2014.
I have photos of me at the beaches here in swimsuits every year for the last seven. I get a decent tan, every year. I moan about how hot it is at night, every year. Last year was super hot and we regularly swam in the sea. My mum amazed her French neighbours by boasting she had swum in the Baltic – they still probably think she was fibbing! Of course there were the wet weeks in summer houses in June but that is just what happens when I go on holiday anywhere be it Denmark, Florida or France!
Photo: Nicolai Perjesi/Copenhagen Media Center
3. You can swim in the sea twenty minutes from the city centre
Swimming in the sea, in a capital city? Although this summer has yet to produce hot days suitable for it, when you live in Copenhagen you can make the choice of swimming in the clean waters at one of the harbour pools (or just jump in from the harbourside and climb back out thanks to the helpfully places ladders) or heading by Metro or S-train to lovely city beaches at Amager and Svanemøllen or travel up the coast to the popular, especially with Italians, Bellevue beach and take a refreshing dip in the Baltic.
4. Bus loads of crazy kids
At the beginning of June you start to notice young people walking about town wearing white sailor-style hats and a week or so later they are hanging happily drunk out of big open sided trucks with blaring music, waving and (maybe) flashing at passersby. This is the rite of passage for all teens graduating from school in Denmark and another example of how the normally moderate Danes can really let go! The tradition is currently under threat from EU vehicle safety regulations but I say long live this tradition. Every year, hearing those honking trunks and yelling kids, it makes me want to be a teenager again, to be filled with that amount of confidence, excitement and anticipation of the years ahead.
5. Shops and restaurants close over July
One thing that surprised me the first summer here was how many individual shops, restaurants and cafes (mainly but not exclusively) outside the city centre will pop up a sign saying, “Summer holidays, see you in August”. They will simply close, giving their staff the summer off. I can understand that this time can be quiet with locals out of town but it must surely lose them money? But the Danes have a strong idea of a true balance of work and life and this has to be the most tangible example of this. Why should people who run and work in the retail sector miss out on arguably the best month of the year for sunshine and relaxation?
There are, however, a few downsides for me over the summer. One is how many people living in apartment buildings feel that it is appropriate to have incredibly loud parties until well into the early hours of the morning, with their windows open to ensure that they share their (always bad) taste in music with as many people as possible. The other is the sheer volume of rubbish left scattered about parks after a sunny day — if there aren’t enough litter bins there, take your litter home with you!
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for seven years. She writes about life in Denmark on her blog Dejlige Days.
Ten surprising things that happened to me after moving to Denmark
Relocation expert Melanie Haynes shares ten things she wasn’t prepared for when she joined the Danes.
Published: 6 February 2017 11:24 CET
A shameless approach to public nudity caught the author off-guard. Photo: CandyBox Images/Iris
Moving to Denmark is a great experience but there are some things that catch most expats out at some point. So here are ten of the things that have surprised me most in my first few years here.
1. I had a hard time mastering the local lingo
Remember that episode of ‘Friends’ when Joey thinks he is speaking French? That will most probably be you at the start of learning a new language. You hear what your teacher says, repeat it exactly how you think it sounds but she still looks at you with a complete lack of comprehension. Eventually it gets better, and you might even be ‘complimented’ by being told that you sound like a peasant or a Norwegian (even though you are neither).
2. I learned that not everything is as it seems
Careful what you pour in there! Photo: dimakp/Iris
Things at the supermarket look like they should until you get home, ready for a hot drink and find yoghurt plopping into your well deserved caffeine injection. Yep, Europeans love yoghurt and it comes in litre cartons, just like their milk, so be vigilant.
3. I found out suppositories are a thing
You're putting my medicine WHERE?!? Photo: erllre/Iris
Babies are not given oral medication. Yes, that means paracetamol for your baby (and up to the age of two) needs to be administered at the other end. My shock at this was not understood by my doctor.
4. I got hooked on salty food
Pass the salt, please! Photo: Sebastian/Iris
When I first moved to Denmark I found the food excessively salty. Now I immediately reach for the salt on the table when in the UK as I moan about the lack of seasoning.
5. I had to accept that nudity is no big deal
Danes have a relaxed attitude toward nudity. Photo: Dmitri Maruta/Iris
Changing in a Danish swimming pool can be an awkward experience for people from more conservative countries as there are rarely many or any private changing areas and the changing rooms are full of naked women (or men) wandering around, showering and enjoying a sauna. Eyes down is the best policy if you are shy and remember no one is looking at anyone else – we all have the same bits. And try not to be bothered by the mums who look like super models in bikinis at the baby swim classes.
6. I discovered that doing laundry can be an eye-opening experience
Shared laundry rooms can tell you more about your neighbour than you'd care to know. Photo: Brenda Carson/Iris
In some old apartment buildings in Northern Europe you have a communal laundry room with drying lines. You’ll never look your staid neighbour in the face again after seeing her sexy undies on the line.
7. I have no shame when it comes to getting what I want
You may have to occasionally go to extreme lengths to get your point across. Photo: zoryanchik/Iris
I mimed being a duck (with added quacking) at a Berlin department store butcher’s counter when they couldn’t understand me when I was out shopping for our Christmas dinner. The assistant didn’t even crack a smile but showed me where they were. Luckily here in Denmark this is less of an issue.
8. I learned to prepare early
Want champagne for New Year's Eve? Best to be safe and buy it in early December. Photo: tiero/Iris
Shops selling champagne will be closed by 4pm on New Year’s Eve and those that are open will be sold out. But you will still be able to buy fireworks to fire off on the streets, willy nilly. Before any public holiday make sure you have what you need as many shops will be closed.
9. I found the search for everyday things to be harder than expected
I just want one of these – how hard can it be??? Photo: Pabkov/Iris
The search for an everyday item like a drying rack can become a mission of epic proportions with people in shops looking at the picture of what you want as if you are looking for a mythical creature. Two weeks later you haemorrhage a huge amount of money for one in the best department store in Europe as it’s the only place you find one.
10. I learned to be wary of the Danish love of liquorice
Danes not only eat liquorice by the handful, they also sneak it into everything from ice cream to beer. Photo: cyclonebill/Flickr
Ice cream that looks like Oreo cookies? Nope, that’s liquorice. Ice lollies that are called Kung Fu that look fun? Again liquorice. Learn the word lakrids before any other when moving to Denmark to avoid inelegantly spitting out something you hoped would be lovely or having wailing children with mouths on fire.
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for eight years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog Dejlige Days and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at expats called Dejlige Days Welcome and works with Copenhagen Housing to offer an integrated settling-in and home search service. Her ebook, 'Dejlige Days: A Guide to Relocation', is available now.
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