The sharp "ring-ring" of a bicycle bell sounded behind me, and I quickly stepped back onto the sidewalk as a cyclist zipped by. It was my first day in Copenhagen, and I was getting a speedy introduction to the unspoken rules of biking on the city streets. This was one of the first things my mom and I noticed when we visited the Danish capital in September - there are bikes, bikes everywhere. They were chained to trees and bike racks, walls and street signs. People ride them in the drizzling rain that often descends upon the city, but they also love to bike in the sunny weather that we were lucky enough to enjoy for most of our weeklong trip.
The popularity of bicycling in Denmark can most certainly be attributed to the country's love of all things green, as they are a very eco-conscious people. The official website of Denmark has a whole page devoted to "Green Living." For travelers, this can translate into staying in eco-friendly hotels, enjoying Copenhagen's many parks and gardens (such as the famous Tivoli Gardens), and possibly even taking a joyride through the city on a rented bike.
"It looks so much like Amsterdam," exclaimed my mom, Sharon, when she saw all the bicyclists. The charming old buildings along the Nyhavn Canal also reminded her of the Netherlands, but there is something about Copenhagen that is unique and quintessentially Scandinavian. Their way of life, a concept called hygge that has no literal translation to English but is something along the lines of "coziness and comfort," resonates throughout all facets of life. One of my favorite hygge moments in Copenhagen was using the cozy plaid blankets that are casually draped over the back of every chair at most restaurants in the city offering outdoor seating. Wrapping ourselves in warm blankets and basking in the glow of an overhead heater, my mom and I enjoyed people-watching while we sampled traditional Danish foods, such as pickled herring and smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwiches.
The city is vibrant, with many interesting museums, thriving shops, and highly touted restaurants. One of our most interesting experiences was visiting Papirøen, or Paper Island, an artsy area of Copenhagen accessed from the city center by walking across a brightly colored bridge that offers an enormous warehouse full of food stands (oh, the delicious smells).