As most of you know, we (especially Mrs FOMOist) is not a huge fan of the cold. So when we discussed visiting cities in the land of the Vikings, one thing was clear – we were not going there in winter. The following observations might be sweeping generalising statements for Scandinavian nations, but here they are anyways:
- The first thing we both noticed was how beautiful the people were – boys and girls, they’re all out of a magazine!
- Then the ease of getting around – public transport is convenient, efficient and so clean.
- Finally, everyone will tell you that it is expensive. Yes it certainly is but it’s really worth paying for (and this applies to transport, food, accommodation, everything).
Our first Scandinavian destination was Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen. After arriving at the airport we took the train to our Airbnb flat which was walking distance from the Central Station (Københavns Hovedbanegård). As soon as we stepped out of the station, we realised that we were in the middle of the Red Light District. It didn’t feel threatening or unsafe at all but I was really hoping that we weren’t staying in the middle of it. After about 5 minutes of walking through scantily clad women and drunk-ish men, we entered the area called Vesterbro. If you do plan on visiting Copenhagen, the district of Vesterbro will be my recommendation for a centrally located, hipster neighbourhood. Everything we could wish for was within walking distance – the bike hire place, cafes with delicious coffee for breakfast and trendy restaurants. Some of the findings that had me go gaga over Copenhagen are:
- Danes are the happiest people on the planet. Of course they are! Their working week is less than 35 hours (full-time), and if they wanted to get Tertiary education, the government pays for you to study (imagine no student loan and a hand out from the government). I am sure it must come with a long list of T&Cs but it’s still possible!
- The Danish Parliament Building is open to visitors! Yes, anyone can walk through the Parliament Building. In fact one of the great lookout points are on top of the Parliament Building and open to tourists and locals alike.
- Copenhagen not only has the best restaurant in the world (Noma), where I couldn’t get a reservation, but also is the home to the best designed restaurant in the world, Höst, where we did manage to get a reservation and had an amazing meal.
- Then there is the famous Little Mermaid. Yes it’s an icon, but we were warned by a local that it is the most disappointing and overrated landmark. So, did we go there? Of course we did. Was he right? Yes he was.
- Danes have a local alcoholic beverage called Gammel Dansk that is not easy to find at many bars. However, if you do find it make sure you try it. I wouldn’t call it a pleasant experience, but it is an experience for sure. When we ordered our shot of Gammel Dansk, the bartender was well impressed and a local who we had befriended earlier offered to pay for the drink in recognition of our bravery.
- There is a Danish chain of a Japanese restaurant called Sticks N Sushi, with branches in London as well. It’s a little pricey but the food is delectable and they brew their own beer which is just as delicious.
Finally, the most bizarre thing that I remember about Copenhagen was the Freetown Christiania. I am not sure how many people know about it or have visited it, but it’s basically a community of 850 residents that is not regulated by the Danish government and follow their own special law called the Christiania Law of 1989. We found out about this place online and rode our bikes to the posh neighbourhood of Christianshavn. After parking our bikes outside the “gated community” we entered and immediately were slapped in the face by the absurdity of the place. People with masks selling hash (illegal in Denmark) from their tiny stalls. Signs outlined “No Photography” warning everywhere, huts made out of scrap metal and all sorts of waste. Mrs FOMOist and I are very open-minded but I have to admit this place made us quite uneasy so we left after I had my cup of takeaway coffee from one of the local Christiania shops.
After a quick rest in London, we then set off to our second Scandi destination of Stockholm, Sweden. Did I mention the people were beautiful? Yes, yes they were just as beautiful here with their beautiful blonde hair and strikingly blue eyes. Again we stayed at a trendy Airbnb flat, across the road from a subway station which worked in favour of our exploring souls (more on the subway later).
From the moment we landed in Stockholm, we fell in love. We still haven’t been able to decide what it is about this city but we could totally see ourselves living here (may be a bit of an exaggeration given how cold it gets in winter). The land of modern-day furnishing design kept us intrigued with the following:
- It might just be me, but I didn’t realise H&M is Swedish. And they like to celebrate it by putting 4 H&M stores literally facing each other on one of the downtown intersections. So if you can’t find your size in something you fancy in one store, just walk next door and you shall find it. Did we spend a few hours doing just that? Yup.
- Swedes’ other gift to modern-day youth is IKEA. I always knew it was an acronym, but didn’t realise that it consisted of initials of its maker and his hometown. Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd Agunnaryd was the founder of IKEA = I Know Everything Already.
- The current Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland used to be gym owner and personal trainer of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden before they fell in love and he had to attend the “Royal Training” to become a suitable spouse. Not a bad deal huh?
Like Copenhagen, there was a bizarre twist to sightseeing in Stockholm as well. Not many people realise, but the Stockholm subway system is said to be the world’s longest art exhibit – 110 kilometers long. The link above has a list of the best ones you have to see to believe, but most of the stations have their own arty flair that makes the daily commute a rather cultural experience.
I’d like to end this blog with this beautiful thought…