Denmark: The Land of Cozy

Okay, technically Denmark is not part of the Middle East, but I was there presenting research about the Middle East, which is more than enough of an excuse to post a few pictures. Although a brief conference trip can’t capture Scandinavia in all its clean and orderly glory, a few images will have to do. Most travelers know Copenhagen is worth a stop, but far fewer have made the 2-hour train ride to the sleepy college town of Odense, most famous as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen:

One thing that’s immediately noticeable about Odense – and really any urban center in Denmark – is the abundance of green space. Woods, lakes, lawns and public parks dot the path around Odense, and on Sunday afternoon couples come to dance in the city square. This signals a broader cultural predilection for hygge, “cozy living,” exemplified by a rainy evening spent indoors watching a movie and snuggling under blankets:

Also, based solely on my impressionistic traveler’s intuition, the Danes are awfully fond of public statuary. Especially prominent are figures of medieval kings, which accompany a broader national fascination with pre-modern Scandinavian history (don’t miss the silhouette photo of Hans Christian Andersen’s statue!):

After conferencing in Odense for a few days, I spent some time in Copenhagen. Aside from the sumptuous royal palace and wide (wholly unoccupied) main streets, there were far too many bicycles than are reasonable for one nation to possess. Someone should talk to NATO about that. Also, traveling through the Copenhagen airport is an experience that everyone should have at least once. Among other things, it has a chocolate fountain and a massive Duty Free that one has no choice but to walk through on the way to departure gates:

To sum up, Denmark is beautiful and it should be on anyone’s travel bucket list. But be warned: if you go in summer, the sun refuses to stay down for very long. Bring a sleep mask! I took this photo in Odense at 10PM:

Odense sunset (at 10pm!)

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