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  • Writer's pictureTamanna Mohapatra

My Scandinavian Summer

This summer we visited two of the three countries that make up Scandinavia: Denmark and Sweden. The third country being Norway.

Although two of a group of three, the countries were quite different in spirit, food and culture.

Let’s first talk about Denmark. If I were to sum it up in two words it would be friendly and


From the beginning I felt all people- natives and immigrants- were all very friendly. They didn’t hesitate to start a conversation, give advice, or make jokes. In fact, the first day I was very surprised when the cab driver told us we should walk to the restaurant instead of getting into his cab. If I remember correctly, he’s words were, “it’s just 500 meters away!” Walk we did.

Most people bike. Instead of traffic jams, there is bike jams. One of my most memorable impressions of the trip is the end of a very fancy meal we had at a relatively fancy restaurant. We two left about the same time as another couple and while we were waiting for our cab, the other couple just got on their bikes and pedaled away into the night. I was both amazed and thrilled.

Another characteristic of Copenhagen was their impeccable politeness and I have the perfect story to prove it. For lunch we were sitting behind a family of 8 who had ordered a variety of items. Fries, bread, salad etc. still remained on their table after the left awaiting to be cleaned up. But before the staff could get to it, along came a bold, young lady and sat down confidently at the table and started taking a bite of this and a helping of that! Observing from my vantage point, I was both shocked and in awe. I thought she maybe a staff member helping herself to the food before starting her shift. One of the waitresses noticed her but didn’t say anything. I think she was pretty shocked and taken aback too. But being the polite Danish she was, she didn’t say anything. I can’t think of such a situation repeating itself in the USA. I will always remember that scene fondly and with astonishment.

My last memory of Copenhagen has to do with how relaxed and chilled everyone was. They don’t get many days of summer but they sure know how to make the most of each minute of each day. There were plenty of water sports in which pretty much the whole city participated. The people who were not in the water were then either sunbathing pretty much anywhere and everywhere or sitting alongside the canal and waving at us tourists as we passed by in one of the innumerable ‘hop-on hop-off’ boats. No phones in hand; no texting or scrolling going on..just sitting and chatting or enjoying time pass them by! Thank you Denmark for reminding me how to RELAX again.

Now- time to relive Sweden.

Since we went to Sweden after Denmark, they seemed much less friendly although I am sure they were just fine. We stayed in the old town which is so beautiful and historic that you immediately fall in love with it. We had a hotel with a water view so obviously I got hooked to the window.

The food in Sweden was much more appealing to me-hot food vs. Denmark’s meat based open faced sandwiches. I enjoyed all my local meals in Stockholm. Even though it was a little touristy, it wasn’t too pricey so we ended up buying quite a few souvenirs from Sweden, such as a porcelain Angel, a jacket which incidentally was from a Danish brand, a handbag and quite a few trinkets.

Stockholm is also a lot more historic or felt like we got a better taste of it’s history. For example, there was the Nobel museum which our silly tour guide said we could visit in 15 minutes but honestly, it’s so full of amazing facts and figures we could have easily spent half a day there. I should be grateful that he made us go in there when we did. The other truly breathtaking place in Stockholm was the City Hall. We were lucky that we went on a day that had the equal amount of breeze, sunlight and people. It’s just so beautiful-both inside and outside. A #mustvisitdestinationinstockholm.

It’s not too big a city so in the same afternoon we were able to pack in both City Hall, Vasa museum and a bit of shopping. Vasa museum is a one of a kind museum dedicated to a one of a kind ship that has about 700 statues built on it implying it took a lot of love, money and time to put it together yet it failed to do the one thing ships are supposed to do, which is, to stay afloat. It sank on its maiden journey 5 minutes after it set sail and then stayed buried for about 300 years. Now it has people from all around the world go on all its three decks and touch and feel every inch of it. How surreal.

That’s about all I remember from Sweden unless I jog my memory more but I will leave it at this and urge you, my dear reader to one day explore it on your own.

Bon voyage!

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