When I talked to my Danish friend through Skype the evening before I left his country, he asked a meaningful question that got me thinking: "How similar or different is Denmark from what you expected?" That is a good way to evaluate a country you have visited. Here are some thoughts inspired by the question:
- We had expected to learn about the culture of Denmark and connect to its people. We saw how the country takes good care of itself and the people and is at the cutting edge in various areas and domains. Things are well planned and laid out. The art, design and technology are all impressive. The culture, as we saw in the various museums and in Christiania, is rich and diverse. The people we encountered (with the exception of the young rascals who almost took my wallet) were all nice and refined. They were dignified people who carried themselves well. We spent a good day with the friend and his family. The conversation over the dinner was not only pleasant but also an excellent way to understand how the locals see and feel about things.
- We had expected the Danish food to be good and it was. The bread, in particular, was always freshly baked and had exceeded all expectations. Smørrebrød was our favourite dish and I will certainly try to make it here at home.
- We had expected (or rather hoped) the weather to be good but unfortunately that wasn't always the case. And it got colder than we had expected when it rained, too.
- As expected, the cost of living is high. Transport is especially costly by our standard. The train, bus and ferry fares are several times more expensive than what we would pay for "equivalent" trips in Hong Kong. That said, the standard of living is also high. One pays high prices for food, products and services of good quality and I think that's fair enough.
- While we had not expected dramatic landscape, having been told by the friend that Denmark is a flat country, we nevertheless took in some beautiful scenery during the trip, especially when we took advantage of the "flatness" and did some biking tour when the weather permitted.