Alex Berger: Copenhagen is not Denmark

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Motivation on a Monday: Please welcome guest blogger Alex Berger – co-blogger, fantastic photographer, American and lives in Denmark. While he likes Denmark, he realizes it’s Copenhagen he’s fallen madly in love with. Read on…

Spring Picnic

Lovely Copenhagen park life

Copenhagen is not Denmark. This is, of course, common sense. When does one city ever truly reflect the entirety of a nation? Is New York the embodiment of the United States, or Madrid the living embodiment of Spain? Of course not, nor do we assume it to be. Yet, perhaps because of Denmark’s small size and the relative cost and difficulty of traveling within the country, the narrative about “Denmark” is often actually a narrative about Copenhagen.

Aarhus Rainbow Walk

This is not Copenhagen – this is Aarhus!

When bloggers (myself included) write about Danish bike culture, we rattle off statistics and innovations found around Copenhagen while glossing over the plethora of great biking cities found throughout Denmark. At other times we discuss Danish culture, or even the Danish people, gushing over their quirky but refined fashion sense, stunning looks, and the near complete absence of overweight folks. While this may in fact be true of large parts of Copenhagen, the rest of Denmark is decidedly more average in all aspects.

Tulips in Spring - Copenhagen, Denmark

The Danish colors the flourish way

From people to politics, from architecture to agriculture, and from cities to culture – Denmark as a whole is not Copenhagen. It is something that Danes rush to remind me of every-time I post a new blog post about “Denmark”. Often, their comments are patient albeit annoyed and possessed of that ever-familiar parental tone that mothers and fathers the world over use with children when reminding them for the umpteenth time not to chew with their mouth open.

Sailing Past Øresund Bridge

The bridge over Øresund, leading to Sweden

For years I’ve told friends, readers and fellow travelers that I have fallen madly in love with Denmark. But it is only recently that I have started to realize that while I like Denmark, it is Copenhagen that I have fallen madly in love with. That obsession, one that so many expats, sojourners and first time visitors share, is one which colors the way I speak and think about little’ ol’ “Denmark”. And yet, those paternal reminders from Jyder, Fynboer, Bornholmere, Skagbo and the plethora of Danes in-between are a wonderful reminder that I do myself a disservice when I fail to appreciate the depth, breadth, heritage and glorious diversity that defines Denmark as a whole.

The Fantasy Rider - Copenhagen, Denmark

This is Denmark, too

If you’re preparing for your first visit to Denmark or even a long-time resident of Copenhagen I encourage each and every-one of you to pause and recall that even those of us most passionate about Copenhagen have an entire country full of grand achievements, amazing regional foods, rich history, and exciting modern innovations to explore. With more than 400 islands Denmark reminds me a bit of the traditional smørrebrød … something that at first blush seems uniform but is awash in diversity, different flavors, colors and comes in richly unique combinations which beg to be discovered.

Follow Alex Berger on his blog

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