Denmark 101 – Danish Bike Rage – Episode 4

You’ve no doubt heard about Danish bike culture. At least about how more than half of all Copenhageners bike every day (many to work or school) and how Danes across the country are inseparable from their bikes.

But…there’s a darker, red-eyed, steam bursting from the ears, bells of hell ringing side to Danish bike culture. In this episode I delve into the topic, poke some fun, and enjoy a few good laughs. Want to see footage of Copenhagen’s bike traffic?  Check out my “Denmark” playlist on YouTube.

Denmark and its’ residents are a fascinating group. In this video series I’ll be leveraging my observations and research to share with you insights into how to get the most of your interactions with the Danes and your time in Denmark regardless of the duration of your visit. One day or ten years – my goal is to share observations I’ve made from my 5 years of living, studying, and working among the Danes.

If you’re Danish, hopefully you’ll find this series interesting, a bit informative, and not too outlandishly inaccurate. So far the feedback and input has been great and I look forward to continuing to further exploring Danish culture with you.

If you’re a foreigner coming to Denmark, I hope this helps you build upon observations and insights the rest of us had to find out the hard way.

Topics that will be covered include the Danish approach to nudity, how to make Danish friends, how to meet Danes, Danish manners, studying in Denmark, working here, traditions, key behaviors, taxes, dating and even a look at Janteloven.

Stay tuned for future updates – this is just the beginning!  Can’t wait?  Jump to YouTube and view all of the latest episodes and while there make sure to Subscribe!

2015 – A Year of Travel In 65 Black and White Photographs

2015 was a big year.  I started a brand new full time job in February which meant that my travel schedule changed quite a bit. I still had the opportunity to take some amazing trips and spent quite a bit of time exploring Copenhagen in greater depth. I also made it home to the US for the first time in two years for a road trip through Southwestern Colorado. In addition to these trips I also took a 19 day trip through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand – however, that trip ended on December 29th, which means that while the photos were taken in 2015, they’ll be included in my 2016 roundup as I’ve got about 150 GB of photos to sort through! In 2015 I also upgraded from my Canon 600D to a Canon 6D which brought with it exciting new opportunities but also some growing pains.

Each is linked to the related album on flickr and uploaded in full-resolution. If you’d like to license one of these photos please reach out to me directly. Want to use one for your computer desktop or background? Be my guest as all photos are uploaded under a CC non-commercial license.  Want to help support me or send a thank you? Shop camera gear (and everything else) over on Amazon through my affiliate link or contribute to my new camera gear fund via PayPal.

Want to see my 65 favorite color photos from 2015?  Click here.

Your support and feedback is inspiring!  Thank you for allowing me to share a taste of how I see the world with you!

Rapids and Flowers

The West Fork – Colorado – USA

The Warehouse District - Hamburg

The Warehouse District – Hamburg – Germany

Colorado High Country

The High Country – Colorado – USA

The Lone Bike – Weekly Travel Photo

The Belgian cities embody the feel of storied medieval cities in a way that very few other locales can.  The city of Ghent is a beautiful blend of historic architecture, winding waterways, and ever so slightly overgrown cobblestone roads.  Despite being a major tourist attraction it is still possible to explore parts of the city without feeling overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of tourists constantly shattering the ambiance of authentic daily life.  The city’s greatest and most elegant charm is on display after the sun sets when every detail of the historic buildings comes to life under the multi-hued rays of lamps and lights making it one of the most beautifully lit cities I’ve ever seen.  Luckily, one need not wait until the sun sets to properly enjoy the city as an aimless meander is guaranteed to have you stumbling across UNESCO World Heritage sites and an oft’ surprising mish-mash of cultures and architectural periods.

Danish Bike Culture Is Even More Amazing Than You Thought

Over the last few years Copenhagen has become world famous for its incredible biking culture. It is no secret that there are a LOT of bikes in Copenhagen. The most commonly cited statistic is that more than 50% of Copenhageners bike daily to work or school. That, in and of itself, is pretty spectacular – but it is also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amazing bike-centered things going on in Copenhagen. After a somewhat rocky roll out, last year’s big announcement introduced Copenhagen’s new and heavily updated city bike program which replaced the recently retired free bike program.  While the reception has been luke-warm to the new bikes due to their cost and the fact that they are no longer free, the updated bikes possess GPS, electric engines, electronic maps and a plethora of perks for the price of about $4 an hour.

Copenhagen in June

The city of Copenhagen has also undertaken and recently completed a number of expanded bike lanes many of which are now roughly the same size as traditional car lanes.  Other projects include cycle superhighways, bike-only stop lights, lean-rails for bikers waiting at lights, and proposals for built in street-based notifications to help bicyclists time their speed to avoid red lights and delays.  The latest of these safety innovations was introduced September 4th (in Danish) and focuses on tackling an emergent problem – the collision of Copenhageners exiting public buses and bicyclists who, while technically required to stop and yield to those disembarking from buses, don’t always remember to stop.  Copenhagen’s solution?  An innovating plan to build lights into the bicycle paths which will direct bikers to stop when a bus is present and unloading passengers.  In effect, this is a modern and updated take on the old school-bus “STOP” sign.  It’s precisely because of initiatives like this that bike-usage in Copenhagen is continuing to grow. Biking is safe, incredibly good for you, convenient and a priority across all levels of society.

Goodbye Norway, Hello Denmark!

The Round Tower - Copenhagen, Denmark

Excited for the next leg of my adventure I woke up with a spring to my step. It was cold and rainy, but given my mood, I found it more invigorating than anything.  I’d picked up a cheap youth ticket for 693 NOK (about $110 at the time) via the regional budget airline Wideroe.   While I had initially hoped to make the trip from Bergen to Copenhagen by train, what ended up being a two hour flight would have taken me closer to 15 hours by train and cost about the same (possibly more).

A Lazy Traveler - Bergen, Norway

From the hostel I made the 5 minute walk to the bus stop for the airport express and found a marginally dry bench.  Once there I leveraged years of experience, and settled in for one of the things I’m famous for – a quick cat nap. From there it was a quick bus ride to the airport, during which I had a delightful conversation with an older Canadian couple, before catching my flight.

Street Scene - Copenhagen, Denmark

The trip from the airport to my hostel was easy. A straight forward metro ride to a major stop, and then a quick walk to a funky hotel/hostel. I wasn’t thrilled about the place, it was a hotel which had converted its 3 story basement into a hostel.  Despite its general lack of character, and inflated price, it did offer decent facilities and a prime location.  I tossed my bag on my bed and set out – it was time to explore the city and rustle up some food.

Jazz Festival - Copenhagen, Denmark

The first thing I noticed about Copenhagen was the people. The Danish have repeatedly been ranked as some of the happiest people in the world. It’s hard to describe but there’s an energy throughout the city which truly reflects their ranking.  They’re just down right friendly, happy and active.  I’m sure it didn’t hurt that a massive, city wide jazz festival was also going on, which meant that there was stages set up in all of the small squares and musicians everywhere.

Draft Horses - Copenhagen, Denmark

In addition to being an extremely friendly city, Copenhagen (København) is also a spectacularly beautiful one.  The architecture is a delightful mix of international styles, the streets are clean, well groomed/repaired and the city itself a mixture of streets and parks crisscrossed by the occasional canal.

Main Drag  - Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen also boasts a fantastic amount of foot traffic. Something which while initially surprising started to make more sense once I learned more about the culture.  As it turns out the Danish government imposes a 180% tax on the purchase of new vehicles.  As you can imagine, that goes a long ways towards encouraging pedestrian traffic and the use of public transport.  The locals also are prestigious bikers. The only other city I’ve ever seen that came anywhere close was Amsterdam, and though it’s a close tossup I’m tempted to say that Copenhagen may be the bicycle capital of Europe. Everyone has one, and there are bike parking areas every block which consist of literally hundreds of bikes lined up in rows.  Some are chained to something, most are not.

Bicycles Downtown - Copenhagen, Denmark

As I wandered through the city streets I couldn’t help but be impressed.  Granted, the size of Copenhagen makes biking/walking a feasible option, but can you imagine if the US tried something similar?  A 10% sales tax is grounds for excessive complaining, let alone 180%! There would be riots.  Yet the Danes take it in stride and are happier, healthier, and better off for it.  No doubt there’s an important lesson to be learned there.

Old Skyline - Copenhagen, Denmark

I mentioned that the city was a beautiful mixture of architectural styles.  The eclectic roof line int eh photo above highlights this slightly.   You definitely get a feel fairly quickly for Copenhagen’s rich history.  A few minutes walking around the old city leaves one with a solid insight into the centuries of wealth, power, architectural and intellectual might that define Copenhagen.

Candy and Scale - Copenhagen, Denmark

As I wound my way down the main market street I couldn’t help but feel my mouth water.  Every block or so there was another food stand offering delicious looking wares.  From dried apricots to Danish hotdog stands.  With a chuckle I quickly realized that in Denmark the go-to street food isn’t kebabs, it’s hotdogs.  But not just any hotdogs…

Lunch - Copenhagen, Denmark

…Danish hot dogs.  Though there were a variety of options one of the most appealing (and healthy…obviously) were the bacon wrapped hotdogs served with sweet ketchup and a bucket full of mustard all washed down with a good ol’ cocacola.  Other options included big brats served up with pickled relish-like cucumber and sprinkled with dehydrated/breaded onions.

Street Music - Copenhagen, Denmark

I picked up one…or perhaps two? Hotdogs and made my way towards a small stage set up in the middle of the square.  Once within sight of the stage I found an empty set of cobblestones and settled in to enjoy my snack, people watch, and enjoy the sound of live music bouncing off the ancient cobblestone streets and multi-colored walls of ancient storefronts.

The Old Harbor - Copenhagen, Denmark

From there it was time to explore a bit further before heading back to the hostel.  I was in desperate need of a nap, and had made plans to connect with a friend I’d made during my Central America trip earlier in the year. I was eager to catch up, and to get a local’s insights into the city. It promised to be a good evening.

On a final note here are two quick bits of information I found fascinating.  The city of Copenhagen, despite being a capital city and home to several of the largest shipping companies in the world, sports an inner harbor that is so clean, you can swim in it (and people do regularly).

Remember how I mentioned that the city was incredibly bike friendly? An estimated 36% of locals commute to work by bike.  Amazing!