Travelers find Denmark unique, welcoming


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Contributed Photo King Christian IV built Rosenborg Castle as a summer home in Copenhagen in 1606.

Five of my relatives — Elaine Knope, Lori Acken, Ellyn Ruhlmann, Elisabeth Kelly and Terry Malcheski — recently visited Denmark. Knowing I will never visit this small country where ancestors on my father’s side originated, I enjoyed the delightful stories about their visit and I hope you readers will too.

Elizabeth recalled the day the group landed in Denmark. She commented: “Finally, after all these months and years of Facebook posts and pictures, we met our cousin from Denmark! She is beautiful and elegant, but she also has a quirky eccentric look to her. Wild curly hair, ever so slightly cross-eyed at times and a silly sense of humor that despite the language/cultural differences, we all related to right away.”

“As Hanne drove us out of the airport, a sense of Denmark started to emerge. We drove along the coast of the Baltic sea and almost took a wrong turn and went to Sweden,” Elizabeth joked. “We passed strange modern buildings encased in glass and in shapes I’ve never seen before. Soon we were in the middle of Copenhagen with its elegant old buildings mixed with newer more utilitarian ones.”

“Although travel wary, we decided to venture out and get a bite to eat to celebrate our first night in Denmark. It was close to 8 at night, but the sun was shining and the skies were a deep blue. We walked just a couple blocks and went into a little corner café,” Ellyn reminisced. “We sat at an old shabby-chic style cream-colored table that overlooked the street. The restaurant was dark but glowing with candles on all the tables. It reminded me of my grandmother who loved to have candles lit on Christmas Day. It was warm and cozy.”

“When researching for this trip, I came across the Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-guh),” Elizabeth remarked. “It refers to a sense of friendly, warm companionship of a kind fostered when Danes gather together in groups. Many cafes, bars and restaurants do their utmost to foster a hyggelig atmosphere with open fires, tea lights no matter the time of day, and a nonstop supply of alcohol.”

Smiling, she added, “The restaurant had hygge and we experienced it elsewhere many times on our trip.”

The travelers rented an apartment in an older district called Frederiksberg. The rooms were bright white with high ceilings, tall windows and light wooden floors.

Elizabeth commented: “The ornamentation around the windows and ceilings were also painted white. It felt like we were inside a wedding cake.”

The kitchen window looked down on a courtyard with potted geraniums and clothes hanging on the line.

Elaine remarked: “The Danish people are very environmentally conscious. Our apartment had awasher but no dryer. Out of our window we could see both men and women hanging wash on the line. No doubt dryers were not popular because of the expense of running them.”

Ellyn remarked: “One day the others decided to visit a little fishing town on the south end. I went instead on a three-hour guided bike tour around the city. In Copenhagen, everyone rides bikes to work and everywhere else. Many men were dressed in suits and women who seem effortlessly chic and polished in their pointy flats and sunglasses. Sometimes a scarf would billow behind them.

“No one else showed up on the day of my tour, so I had my tour guide, Jacob, all to myself. We pedaled all around the city and Jacob gave me some excellent tips about where the locals hang out (Mikkeller’s beer pub, which we visited the next night) and where to buy the best homemade chocolates (Ro Chokolade).

“Finally, Jacob and I headed to Christiania, which I first heard about on a Rick Stevens video. It’s like a little city within the city — a free town, self-governed — filled with craftspeople, artisans, hippies and nonconformists, all of whom seem to arbor a distrust for the European Union.

“There are no building codes, so the homes are often oddly shaped and decorated with a mishmash of materials which somehow makes them highly appealing and welcoming. Many of them bear Christiania’s own flag, red and yellow with three dots.

“Normally when I visit places, something reminds me of something else. Here it didn’t. It was like nowhere else I had ever been.”

Denmark remains a Monarchy. Elaine commented: “The magnificent castles were like those pictured in fairy tales. The architecture is superb.”

The travelers agreed, the Danes are unassuming and comfortable to be around. They were welcoming and helpful. Danish people enjoy the simple life complete with healthy food, relaxed conversations and good friends.

Lori smiled wistfully and said, “I think we would all go back tomorrow if we could.”

Answer to last week’s question: Kenneth Fetzer owned the Coast to Coast in 1973.

This week’s question: In what year was the Wolf River Paper and Fiber Company (now Little Rapids Corp.) built?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.