I don’t regret many things in life, but I do regret not going to a party I was invited to almost 14 years ago.
That was in 2000, when I first arrived in Denmark. It was a party to mark the opening of the Øresund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden. There were no cars on the bridge yet, so you could easily walk or bike between these two countries that had been bitter enemies for hundreds of years.
At one point, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden – who were both young and unmarried at time – met and shared a hug and kiss in the center of the bridge, right across the national dividing line.
Now, that’s a party.
I won’t be able to walk or bike across the Øresund Bridge any time soon. A half million cars per month drive over it now, plus a train every 20 minutes, full of commuters.
The Prussians of the North
In some ways, the Øresund bridge has brought Denmark and Sweden closer together. Danes buy vacation homes in Southern Sweden. Swedes come to attend university in Denmark. Danes go shopping in Sweden, because almost everything is cheaper there. As a matter of fact, the only thing cheaper in Denmark than in Sweden is alcohol.
And Danes, as cold as they may seem to outsiders, are still more outgoing than the Swedes. Among Scandinavians, Danes are sometimes called the Italians of the North. They know how to sit down, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy life.
Swedes, on the other hand, are known as the Prussians of the North. They’re tall. They stand up straight. They follow rules. And the men have terrible haircuts.
Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2019