Copenhagen, the not so happiest place on earth, yet…

I’ve been in Copenhagen just about 24 hours and all I want to do is go back to Stockholm. I’ve been really excited about Copenhagen, my friends raved about it, it was my dad’s favorite city when he backpacked Europe 40 years ago, I even read a book about why it’s known as the happiest place on earth (The Year of Living Danishly). But, to my dismay, so far I don’t love it. Here’s how it’s gone so far:


  • My first hostel was fine, a bit hippie-ish but I think that’s a theme here in Copenhagen. A couple of downsides, wifi worked about 6% of the time I was there, and I think I pulled several muscles working my up to my top bunk (remember I look young but I am 30!). But, no snoring and free breakfast!
  • From my train to my hostel I walked past a high school just letting out filled with cigarette smoking, punky looking teenagers, a stark contrast from the uniformed innocent looking Swedish teens I saw in Stockholm. I also passed several tattoo parlors all with groups of less than friendly (or happy) looking people loitering out front.
  • In speaking of how Denmark acted during WWII, (which was honorable and brave by the way, and I plan to visit the Danish Jewish Museum), my walking tour guide described how the normal Danes helped hide the Danish Jews in their houses when the Nazi’s came to round them up. Of course this was not the meaning he was going for but it irked me either way.
  • After the walking tour I was walking along the water and could sense this man in a dirty looking suit following me. Now I was in the most touristy area of Copenhagen, Nyhavn, where the row of pastel colored houses is, so I didn’t feel unsafe by any means, but I knew he was following me. He finally approached me and asked if I’d like to go somewhere quieter to talk. Thanks but no thanks.
  • The prices are “the same” as Stockholm in terms of numbers. As in, a cheap dinner in Stockholm was 100 SEK, and a cheap dinner in Copenhagen is also 100, but that’s DKK. SEK to USD is 7.98 to 1. DKK to USD is 6.27 to 1!
  • Have you ever heard someone speak Danish? What a horrendous language.
  • This morning I switched hostels (planned, but will be here the rest of the stay). It was about a 30 minute walk from one to the other. The walk was filled with broken glass, the stench of beer, and garbage everywhere. Yes, there was a Denmark v. Poland World Cup qualifier game in the city last night which I’m sure contributed to the current state, but still…I missed the clean, quiet, cobblestoned streets of Stockholm.
  • My new hostel won’t store bags if you check in early. There are paid lockers, fine, but in a hostel that houses 800 beds, there are about 12 large lockers, so needless to say those weren’t available.IMG_6652
  • If I learned anything from my first city, when you feel frustrated go to a cafe and sit. Which brings me to my current location, Espresso House, where I bought a $6 single latte. But they have the same comfy couches as they do in Stockholm, and free wifi.
  • In summary, so far everywhere Stockholm felt peaceful, quaint, and relaxed, Copenhagen feels loud, dirty, and crowded.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Parts of the city are beautiful, of course. The bike lanes are outrageous (in a good way, see the right hand turn lane for the bike path below). The Korean street food I had last night from Papirøen, a huge street food warehouse, was delicious, coupled with an amazing view. There was a Mikkeller bar across from my hostel, which was highly recommended from friends and the Pilsner was great. And the sunny weather I brought to Scandinavia from California continues! So, over the next 5 days I plan to stay out of the city center as much as possible, eat some Danishes, and enjoy the beautiful parks.

Hoping to return in a few days from the happiest place on earth from a little happier place…

5 thoughts on “Copenhagen, the not so happiest place on earth, yet…

  1. rfeldman27

    Sad to hear how Copenhagen has changed in 40 years! Hopefully the rest of your stay will be better. Your description sounded a bit like the mission! And please stay away from the dirty old men!! Danish and parks….good idea.

  2. auntcorie

    Do you know about the Copenhagen experiment involving Schrodinger’s cat? Check it out on Wikipedia. Another view of Copenhagen.

    Love, Corie

  3. Aunt Corie, I think you’ve missed your calling as a quantum physicist! At least we know where all the smart genes in the family are…
    I had not heard of this experiment and it is a very interesting read! Similar to the question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” I have given a lot of thought to the similar concept of destiny vs. free will, especially in my newfound travel freedom (or is it? 😊) I have even started to draft a blog post related to that but I plan to publish in a later city so stay tuned…
    I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and I really appreciate your comments!
    Love, Emily

    1. auntcorie

      First, Thanks for the sweet compliment. Yes, I would have liked a career in science but you can’t do it all in one lifetime or so I thought long ago. The world is different now. Maybe you can have it all. I so admire your courage and lively mind.
      I look forward to your blog on the subject..

      Much love, Corie

  4. Matthew Dyment

    At least they know how to make a heart shaped swirl in the $6 latte. Which, you have to admit, sure helps cushion the blow to your wallet. Keep writing. Tom and I have a weekly Tedious and Brief catch up session on mondays.

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