Copenhagen, Denmark


IMG_0652First impressions…

WOW! As expected, we have fallen in love with this city after a few days here. It is so accessible for families with children, with beautiful clean streets, pedestrian-only zones, green spaces and playgrounds around every corner.  And the bike lanes! They run throughout the city, are separate from the pedestrian sidewalks, and are wide enough for 2 bikes to ride alongside one another (or to pass each other during bike-rush hour when the work day ends). The bike lanes even have their own mini-stop lights next to the regular stop lights at all of the intersections. Traffic lights here go from green to yellow to red, and then back from red to yellow (cars, start your engines again – no idling in this city!) to green. The locals speak such flawless English it is sometimes hard to discern whether someone is indeed Danish.

From conversations with friendly parents at playgrounds, we have learned that the Danish have a quality of life to be envied. They receive a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation per year, just for starters. They finish each work day at 4:00pm (max 37 hours work per week), which has been confirmed by the major increase in bicycle traffic at that hour. The vast majority of households with children have two working parents, because the childcare is free and extremely high quality. One mother who lives in the city told me that her 3 year-old son’s daycare puts the children on a little bus and takes them out to the forests and beaches to spend their days in nature before returning them to the city at pick-up time. We met a father picking up his 3rd grade daughter from an after-school daycare program that is, of course, free for all elementary school children as well. Health care is free, education is free and excellent, and physical fitness is a priority. Everyone seems to have time for work and for play, regardless of income or occupation. And this is possible how? An income tax rate of 35% – 51% for the Danes – the good life doesn’t come cheap!

IMG_0638

Nyhavn, lovely Canal District

Highlights of our stay thus far include:

Rosenborg Castle and Royal Treasure, nestled in the heart of the city and surrounded by incredible gardens. A guided tour led us through the royal décor spanning the 16th-19th centuries, and of course, a treasure trove of crown jewels to ogle at.

In front of the castle

In front of the castle

Royal Thrones

Royal Thrones

Are we related?

Are we related?

We LOVED Copenhagen’s Experimentarium!  We explored this hands-on science museum for 6.5 hours and could have stayed longer!

Experimenting with spinning very fast

Experimenting with spinning very fast

Beautiful big warehouse space, all for kids

Beautiful big warehouse space, all for kids

Each square is a musical note, like a giant piano and hopscotch combined

Each square is a musical note, like a giant piano and hopscotch combined

Future construction workers honing their skills

Future construction workers honing their skills

We made little movies by drawing clips and spinning the wheel

We made little movies by drawing clips and spinning the wheel

Exploring the city by foot and by bicycle:  We spent a total of 12 hours over the course of two days just roaming the streets, trying out different playgrounds and visiting some of the main attractions like the Royal Palace and of course, the famous Little Mermaid statue.

Cycling around the Royal Palace

Cycling around the Royal Palace

Walking along the Strogen, pedestrian only district

Walking along the Strogen, pedestrian only district

Strolling Nyahvn

Strolling Nyhavn

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A day trip from the hotel…by bike!

We found some awesome playgrounds!

We found some awesome playgrounds!

With rain come rainbows!

Smiles at the end of a rainy day

The Little Mermaid sculpture, created by  Edvard Eriksen

The Little Mermaid sculpture, created by Edvard Eriksen

Playing near the Little Mermaid

Playing near the Little Mermaid

Reflections from Jeff:   The architecture! A brilliant mix of old and new, with a leaning to the contemporary, especially along the harbor revitalization zone. Turn a street corner and you are as likely to find a sleek modern building as a 16th century castle or church – it’s all jumbled cohesively together.  Large residential, commercial, and civic buildings coexist within the same neighborhoods instead of complying with a strict zoning strategy. Every contemporary building I have seen sets itself apart in massing and explores the limits of the materials being used, whether modern or historic. The inherent uniqueness found in each contemporary building epitomizes the progressive logic the Danes have on life in general. They are proud of their history and make every effort to preserve their cultural landmarks, yet they are not fearful of detracting from that history by departing from it.  Rather, their modern architecture is a playground for risk-takers, pushing the boundaries of design and innovation.

Copenhagen, much like other Scandinavian cities, is fiercely committed to progressive, energy-efficient design. Much of the current strategy consists of large off-shore wind turbine parks and district heating and energy plants powered by urban and household waste. Looking down from our 12-story hotel windows it’s amazing to see just how many buildings are draped with rooftop gardens and civic meeting places.

Old silos converted into modern apartments

Old silos converted into modern apartments

Contrasting aesthetic

Contrasting aesthetic

Old blends with new in Danish architecture

Old blends with new in Danish architecture

Here are some reflections from the girls:

Thayer: I really liked the Experimentarium because it had really fun stuff in it. I got to build with a crane and bricks and I got to go into a dark fun house with my sisters and we had to feel our way around it! Also the pool at our hotel is so great because it has these waterfalls and we play mermaids together.

I did an experiment on genetics - check me out!

I did an experiment on genetics – check me out!

Schuyler: I loved the “mini city” for bikes today at the park, with roundabouts and stoplights and crosswalks all just for kids on bikes! It teaches you how to ride your bike safely in a city. We had so much fun flying around on our bikes. There were even little parking lots and yield signs for bikes. I also noticed that the Danish architecture is really cool because they mix the old with the new and they aren’t afraid to be different from other countries and take chances with their style! And who doesn’t love the trampolines at the playgrounds!

The playgrounds have trampolines!

The playgrounds have trampolines!

Zoe: I loved the Experimentarium. One of my favorite things there was definitely getting to see and touch and learn about a sheep’s lungs, ribcage and heart. It was a live demonstration and very fascinating. I’ve never seen real organs before. I learned that in our throats we have little hairs that are brushing upward all the time when we breathe in to remove all the bacteria that our bodies don’t want. We could see those hairs on the inside of the sheep’s windpipe.

Live demo on Sheep respiratory system. Not for the faint hearted

Live demo on Sheep respiratory system. Not for the faint hearted

We leave Denmark tomorrow after 10 days here.  We have loved our time in the city as well as at our small rental in the suburbs. We mastered the trains and buses, found some delicious bakeries and restaurants, and had a blast at Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens. Here are some final photos from our time in the city, including our FUN at Tivoli.  Tomorrow, we’re off to Amsterdam!

Outside the Arken Museum of Art

Outside the Arken Museum of Art

Beautiful old building in downtown Copenhagen

. Beautiful old building in downtown Copenhagen

Inside the Danish Museum of Design - love these chairs!

Inside the Danish Museum of Design – love these chairs!

Hard to look any cooler on a bike

Hard to look any cooler on a bike

Where are we?

.. Where are we?

Wheeeeeee!

Wheeeeeee!

Hold on!

Hold on!

Carousel is still a favorite

The carousel is still a favorite

Ariel view of Tivoli Gardens, from the ferris wheel

Ariel view of Tivoli Gardens, from the ferris wheel

 

See you in Amsterdam!

In front of the Little Mermaid

In front of the Little Mermaid

 

Categories: Copenhagen, Denmark, EUROPE

7 comments

  1. You are the cutest family I know! And now I get to cyber stalk you 🙂 Miss you already! Keep the adventures coming!
    Love the Hayes fam

  2. I feel like we’re there! We love the photos and summaries. We are missing you all!
    Jill

  3. This is so fun to backtrack on your experiences, adventures & comments in the UK and Denmark. And I look forward to read your first impressions of Amsterdam and your stay on the houseboat…and after that the countryside of north-holland. But that’s all in the future ! And the weatherforecast for the upcoming days seems not too bad !

  4. Okay posted the other one too early or was not as detail oriented as I used to be. Love love the ZSH take on it all. If I were on the whee ride might have funny video of my screaming.

  5. The experimentarium looks so much fun. I hope you guys are having fun in the Netherlands.

  6. I know you’re only putting the “happy pictures” on this site. I want to see the ones of Jeff whining and crying!!! When do we meet up in NZ!!!! Make sure you get a big enough place to fit us all. We miss you guys but need to let you know that Wendy and Derrick are now our new BFFs.

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