I have been doing a fair amount of traveling in the last year and I’ve been an absolute tw*t (in the British meaning, so everybody calm down, it’s not that serious :)) about sharing any of it. I’m really the worst. But in a once-again renewed feeling of wanting to write and post more, I am going to start backwards with my most recent trip, which brought me to Copenhagen, Sweden, and Norway.
You guys, everything you’ve heard (or imagined) about Scandinavia is true. Yes, it’s very expensive, but everything else is just so pleasant (er…except for maybe the winters… :(). The cities are beautiful–a mix of old European architecture and spare, modern, elegant design. Everything is so clean; there was no trash on the ground anywhere! But I also didn’t see any cleaning crews constantly keeping the streets clean (what’s the secret??). Everything runs with great Scandinavian efficiency–public transportation runs like clockwork everywhere, and every bus, tram, subway, or ferry station tells you exactly how many minutes until the next one arrives. (The New Yorker in me that lives off of the N,R,Q line is outraged that the New York City subway system has STILL not found a way to implement this on all the lines.)
The whole society is also so nice! Everyone we asked for directions, advice, or help was so pleasant and actually so helpful. No one seemed irked that tourists were bothering them, and on several occasions, I wanted to to be friends with the people we chatted with randomly about what train to take to get to a museum. (Is it weird to ask the the girl who happened to be crossing the street with us what she’s doing later? Probably.) It helps also that everyone speaks English perfectly (like, seriously, probably much better than a large part of the American south… I’m a Yankee, so sue me. :)) and it was so easy to communicate with everyone.
Scandinavians are also apparently a very rule-abiding people. In so many places no one checked our tickets for anything, they just assumed that you would be an honest person and pay for your fare whether or not someone actually checked that you did. Traveling throughout Scandinavia made me sort of feel like New York City is some barbaric place where humans haven’t developed as sophisticatedly as in Scandinavia. That is sort of hyperbole, but let’s be honest… not really. Also, there’s not a chance in hell you’d ever find a #pizzarat running amuck in the stairwells of the subways in Scandinavia. Because they don’t have rats (or cockroaches or any type of non-beautiful animal roaming the streets). And they’re not really that into pizza. Because I’m pretty sure a strict diet of herring, salmon, and moose keep them lean and mean.
Speaking of being lean, the people are uncommonly good looking. They all have great skin, and hair (blonde), and eyes (blue), and bodies (not flabby). Alright, not EVERYONE is a blonde viking descendent, but many are, and I, for one, am not complainin’. 🙂
Unlike many of my recent trips to Central and South America, something about Scandinavia made me really miss being an expat. Because I was traveling with my family, I didn’t get as much time to wander around and explore the cities as much as I would have wanted, so I found myself wishing that I could come back and slowly discover what each city has to offer. I think the main difference was how liveable the cities felt, and much of that was due to a cool, hip vibe–similar to New York in a way: lots of nice restaurants, cafes, and bars that I could easily see myself hanging out in. Except that because it was Copenhagen or Stockholm, and not New York, they weren’t overrun with people. It had also been a really long time since I had traveled to a country where I didn’t feel like people were often trying to scam us or treated us like we had huge signs on our backs that said “Tourists! Take advantage of me!” Instead, I met just a lot of genuinely friendly people who were willing to answer all of my pesky questions, which was a really nice change of pace.
But of course I’m seeing Scandinavia through rose-colored glasses because I was there during the summer with 20-plus hours of daylight, and people were out and about everywhere, hanging out on the waterways, catching rays, drinking rose. As someone who needs warmth and sunlight for sheer sanity, I absolutely would not be able to handle the frigid winter with 6 or less hours of daylight. But I hear the aurora borealis is nice? 🙂
Next up, our first stop on the trip: Copenhagen!