Last weekend, I was visiting old friends on my first trip to Copenhagen. Becca (of Scandinavia Standard fame, who is also a native Bostonian) showed me around the city with what was clearly a lot of affection; the wide streets, lack of crowds, fresh food, and limited shop hours all combined to give an air of relaxation to the city that is definitely lacking in most, if not all, of London.
I think what really struck me was that the city felt confident, in a laid-back way. The best food we ate was authentically Danish - an evening spent at Manfreds had us eating carrot salad with olive sauce, onions in blackcurrant vinegar, and other seasonal combinations that seemed to come out of thin air. The best shopping we found was all in independent stores, selling Scandinavian-produced goods (to be fair, I was traipsing around town with a local expert, but even wandering around for a few hours on my own I found more stylish home goods stores than I knew what to do with). Even transport was its own form of entertainment - I loved the cycling culture, and find it hard to believe I've ever gotten used to spending so much of my London transit time underground.
It's a livable, small city - we were stopped probably half a dozen times to say hello to friends, a phenomenon that is pretty much unheard of in the bustle of many places these days. In addition to bumping into friends, students, and other bloggers, Casper, owner of men's designer resale shop Baubau invited us in and let us play a bit of dress-up, while the bartenders at Curfew gave us a personal tour through their (ridiculously creative) cocktail menu.
Perhaps it's provincial of me, but I was genuinely surprised and pleased, knowing how much English is spoken, to see most signs sporting translation-less Danish. It was like a quiet, just-between-us-Danes fist-bump, and refreshingly - if a bit sadly - unusual.
At some point in the weekend, Becca and I started talking about being a "highs and lows person," by which we meant someone who needs to swing from excitement to excitement without ever really being comfortable with... well, comfort. And while it's easy to get caught up in that, particularly when you work in competitive areas like blogging or marketing, or spend a lot of time in the particularly adrenaline-pushing environment of travel writing, what struck me about Copenhagen was that that attitude was conspicuously missing.
And I loved it. While sometimes, a journey is meant to induce euphoria and wild adventures, there's nothing wrong with valuing calm streets, familiar foods, bicycle rides - even if a car would be quicker - and a relaxed weekend with old friends.
In fact, I think I may prefer it.