Skip to content

Coveting Copenhagen

Envy comes easily looking down at the slick, shingled roof tops of Copenhagen, Denmark. They are so desirable in their delicately toned, film processed hues of slate, apricot, and mint. I imagine only good things are allowed to occur under those eaves. Coffee cups never break; morning toast is always warmly buttered; potted plants thrive next to minimalist furniture. All is calmness and decorum.

I yearn to have a pied-à-terre in Nørrebro to which I can saunter after late night drinks. Or an artist’s studio in Nyhavn from whose dormer I can wax lyrical about my muse: the canal. Surely I would be a better novelist if I had a regular café along Nordre Frihavnsgade to haunt? I’m certain I could achieve more if I were contemplating sunsets from my dock-side desk on Kongens Nytorv. After all, it worked wonders for Hans Christian Andersen.

Instead, I must be contented with glimpses into hygge accommodations from my lofty perch. I spy Panton chandeliers and Jacobsen egg chairs. My envy grows as I peer at sleek steel appliances and curvaceous wooden rails. I covet walls painted platinum and charming salon tableaux. Every penthouse vista Copenhagen divulges feeds my fever. Each chimney pot and tiled square fuels my inner comparison demon — the one that’s always eager to convince me life would be better if I were doing things differently.     

Climbing the spiral steeple of the Church of our Savior, I have to remind myself, “you don’t know what it’s like to live under those roofs, you can’t tell what goes on behind those paned windows.” Nose pressed against the grill, surveying the candy-colored townhomes shouldering one another, I shout back at envy, “Stop trying to trap me inside your false, constrictive metaphors!”

Still, when I read the plaque about Copenhagen’s contribution to the Danish Golden Age, when a passing tour guide praises the city’s commitment to urban design, when I peruse an article claiming this is the happiest place on earth, envy rears up to whisper at me, “See what you’re missing? You should be part of this. When will it be your turn?” I sigh in defeat. Resentment is triumphant. It has managed to demoralize me amidst a Danish utopia. I stop exploring. I don’t want to see Copenhagen’s rooftops anymore.

In an older neighborhood, I slip into a garden nestled between mansions. I rest underneath a tree by a lake. No one else is there. The light sparkles off the water for my amusement. The poisonous murk clears. I see the situation clearly. I don’t need lodgings by the canal. I don’t require quarters in a canary terraced house, under a slate roof, or along the Strøget. I am part of Copenhagen, I realize. I have tasted its delights. I’ve watched it from above, delved into its interiors, climbed its heights. I’m immersed in hygge at this moment. The petty monster has no response. I smirk. “It’s my turn now,” I say.


TRAVEL NOTE:

Copenhagen is a bicyclist’s dream city. It caters to their safety, welfare, and comfort through the use of bikeways, traffic preference in city planning, and integration into the public transport service. To experience the Danish capital like a native, rent a bicycle or sign up for a bike tour.


Has a city or an object ever made you envious? What is your remedy for getting out of the comparison trap?

133 replies »

  1. Expertly written, authentic thoughts about envy … something I too have given thought to and feel we all deal with at times. Your photos have captured that northern light beautifully!

    • Hello Sherri, lovely to have you drop by and thank you for the kind remark. Indeed, bicycle riding in Copenhagen is an art form. It’s definitely not for hobbyists. They are serious riders and it helps to know the rules of the road and be adept at managing small spaces. I think what made it fun was that the city was planned around the bicycle which gives you confidence that a bus won’t roll over you or you won’t suddenly end up on a pedestrian sidewalk by mistake.

  2. Lovely post. I enjoyed my time in Copenhagen. Denmark, Sweden and Norway have beautiful outdoor museums with period homes to enter and explore. People were not as tall in earlier times so doorways are lower. Your photos are gorgeous.

    • Thank you for your kind words. What an intriguing historical fact! I have often noticed that older European doors are smaller. I’ve also seen giant entrances at castles which I’ve been told is so that people riding horses could enter without having to dismount.

    • I found Copenhagen locals to be more gregarious than other Scandinavians, but in general they too are on the reserved side preferring to keep to their own circles, very mindful of private space, and unpretentious. They are very into design ethics – whether it is in architecture or fashion or technology or urban planning. I don’t know that Danes themselves think of hygge as a concept, so the idea of a quotient would be strange to them. It is an organic part of their culture, like pickled herring or bicycling.

  3. I want to go there too. The pictures just made me want it so bad… And i thought about walking in flipflops, feeling lazy, probably licking at an ice cream con with the sun in my face. Thinking, the world has no problems at all.

  4. Beautiful post and I completely agree– seems like a wonderful place to live. We said that many times on our trip a couple of years ago. What a lifestyle. Love your photos which capture the elegant beauty of the city.

  5. This was an interesting read. I’ve been to Denmark several times. I enjoy the Danish peoples warmth, it’s different compared to the other Nordic countries, more like southern Europe. The beautiful houses are a treat for the eye as well. I really enjoyed your visit in this post!

    • I appreciate you coming along on my virtual trip and I’m glad that you enjoyed your own Denmark travels. I do agree that the Danes seem less reserved than other Scandinavian countries.

  6. I was in Copenhagen last winter and I agree, it is a charming city. I have lived a lot of different places and each of them has had their charms, but I’ll be honest there has been no place that is perfect. I guess that is a bit freeing in a way, I can visit other places, enjoy their charms and then wander back to wherever home is for me at the moment.

  7. Hmm… interesting to envy a city. I can’t say that it’s ever crossed my mind, but I think that Copenhagen might be a little too orderly an atmosphere in which to create. Not to mention all that happiness going around. I will say that I was a little afraid of those bicycles when I was in Copenhagen. They sort of own the road and even the pedestrians play second banana.

    • It’s funny you mention that Copenhagen may be too orderly an atmosphere in which to create. Someone else also mentioned to me that the “happiest place on earth” can’t be very conducive to authors and we were chatting about how we need that angst for fodder. 😁

  8. Nyhavn is so very cute. Did you make it to gritty, grungy, counterculture Christiania? That was my favorite part of Copenhagen. I was also there during the world Santa Claus convention and parade, which takes place every July. Did you bring along your friend from your Solvang post of yore to try the real Danish food? (I sometimes have a good memory 😉) The comparison trap is difficult to escape. Whenever I find myself doing it, I bring my focus back to my intuition. If that makes any sense.

    • I like your advice about focusing back to your intuition. I assume it is a sort of trusting that your inner compass has done the right thing for your needs so there’s no reason to be envious? I did make it to Christiana. It’s no longer gritty or grungy. There was a lot of graffiti, a lot of tour groups, and a lot of cafés. Also a lot of signs in the “Green Light District” about not running or taking photographs. There is talk of new residential development in the area, to keep it from going economically “stagnant.” So cool of you to remember my Solvang post! Yes, I did bring my friend along and she LOVED Copenhagen. 🙂 She couldn’t stop ‘instagramming’ all the candy-colored houses from every angle. We also spent an entire afternoon staging pastry shots for her account. 🙄 She was, however, disappointed by the small size of the original “Little Mermaid” statue.

Send A Note

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bookstore

Buy My Books
Follow Bespoke Traveler on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog:

Join 18,996 other followers

Support

Thank you for your support. Donate button

Postcard

Click the envelope below to sign up for the Bespoke Traveler newsletter:

Bespoke Traveler Newsletter

Language

Portfolio

Social

Recommended Reads

Poetry Anthology

WordPress ❤️

%d bloggers like this: