I found myself between jobs a short awhile ago, and suddenly had a few weeks of downtime. Since I had an open invitation to visit Sweden and Denmark from friends living there, I figured I would take the opportunity and head over. I took a few pictures, and noted some observations about those countries.
If you want to take a package tour and see the parts of the country that are tourist attractions, feel free. But you'll get much more out of the experience if you know locals who can show you things that they think are interesting. I was fortunate to know both Pinky Fennec and Joel Fox, who were more than happy to host me while I visited.
The train system in Stockholm is pretty extensive. Trains and busses run pretty much everywhere you'd want to go. Both systems used a wireless card that you could buy with a week's worth of fare, and just swipe it at the turn style or at the front of the bus. Subway stations had displays above the tracks stating how much time until the next train would arrive. When bus schedules said that busses arrived on the quarter of every hour, they meant it.
It was also pretty much the same in Copenhagen, except I spent more time on busses. The bus service there was simply phenomenal. They had busses that would arrive every 8 minutes, and they meant it. I regularly commuted from a friend's place on the outskirts of Copenhagen to the central part of the city every single day.
Getting from city to city was also fun. I rode on what amounted to the Swedish version of Amtrak from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was a single train ride, about 400 miles in 5 hours. That's an average of 80 mph, but with the stops we made I'd say we did somewhere between 90 and 100 mph most of the time. The train ride was exceptionally smooth, and several times when we started moving I thought that the train next to us was moving. Naturally, these trains were also on time.
Public transit here in the US could learn a few things from how they do it in these two cities.
What comes with taking lots of public transit? Lots of walking. Be ready to walk everywhere. This is actually a good thing, because of the benefits of the exercise it provides. One thing I noticed in both countries was pretty much a total lack of obesity in the native populations. This was especially noteworthy given the amount of drinking I saw in both countries.
My first morning in Denmark, Pinky said "BRB" and ran a half-block down the street to the local bakery. She returned with a bundle of amazing pastries that were no more than a few hours old. They made for an amazing breakfast.
I wish I could remember what these delicious pastries were called, but I do know that the Danish just can't get enough of them!
One of the parts of Copenhagen I visited was Nyhavn ("New Haven")
The name might not ring a bell, but these photos of brightly colored homes might:
That's the waterfront district of Copenhagen, full of restaurants and shops. I had the pleasure of visiting one restaurant for lunch which served something like 12 different kinds of herring buffet style. That, and a beer was about $25. Not bad for a major city in Europe.
That said, food is more expensive in Europe, at least in these two cities. A meal for two at a restaurant can easily run over $50 USD. However much money you think you'll need to take with you when traveling to Europe, double it.
At least my ATM card and American Express card worked in Europe. I gave my bank and credit card companies a heads up before traveling there and head no issues whatsoever trying to use any of my cards.
For those not aware, Legos originated in Denmark. The word "lego" is a contraction of the Danish words "leg godt" which means "play well". I wandered into a Lego store in downtown Copenhagen and was greeted with these creations:
So how cold is Sweden? Well, I'll just leave these pictures of my friends and I walking around on a frozen lake on the first day of spring:
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