If you live in city or a big town in Denmark, you may notice that the weekends are getting very quiet just about now.
The streets outside my home in Copenhagen are empty. The streetlights just change from red to green and back again, but no cars ever pull up. Nobody comes to cross the street. It’s a little like a scene a movie right after the zombie apocalypse.
I’ve been away from the podcast for a couple weeks. I’ve been on vacation in the USA. But I’m back now, and it only takes a few minutes after I arrive at Kastrup airport before something happens to destroy the relaxing effect of 2 weeks off and several thousand kroner spent on spas, hotels and tasty dinners.
In a country where new cars are taxed at up 150% of their purchase price – that means a $20,000 car will cost you in the neighborhood of $50,000 – bikes are bound to be popular.
Everybody bikes in Denmark. You’ll see executives in grey pinstriped business suits on bikes, and pretty girls pedaling in high heels. You’ll see people toting their kids through heavy traffic in fragile-looking bike trailers.
You’ll see old ladies biking very, very slowly with a lot of people backed up behind them, and you’ll see me, trying to balance my fresh dry cleaning on my bike because I don’t have a car.
The fact that Denmark is relatively flat helps – nobody likes to bike uphill – as does the fact that the climate is temperate. Denmark is as far north as parts of Alaska, but it usually isn’t bitterly cold in the winter.
This essay is from a series I wrote shortly after I arrived in Denmark. The line drawings are my own.
I must admit I envy Danes at vacation time.
Danes on vacation have so much time, and it must be so much easier to travel when your country hasn’t started any wars lately. But I have a lot of trouble understanding how they use it. They seem to be on an endless search for other Denmarks with better weather.
There is no Jantelov when it comes to comparing Denmark with other countries. I have seen Danish women furious when men in Italy and Spain flirt and flatter and generally act like Italian and Spanish men, instead of their wimpy Danish counterparts. If only men here respected women, like they do in Denmark.
Why can’t they do things the way we do them in Denmark?
Danes shake their heads at drunks sleeping on the sidewalk in New York City – If only they had social workers to help them, like we do in Denmark – and at veiled ladies in Africa. If only they could wear what’s in the weekly ladies’ magazines, like we do in Denmark.