I decided to write this post when one of my friend asked me “What surprised you most when you first came here?” As a Vietnamese girl who lived in Japan, Denmark is a whole new world for me. Denmark was the first European country that I visited. Let’s take a look at 10 most surprising things about Denmark in this post. It’s not only useful for those who want know more about this lovely country, but it’s also a good preparation if you have a chance to visit Denmark.
1.Toilet for both genders
If you are in Denmark, you can see a lot of toilets for both genders. Do not get shocked if a guy or girl just comes to the same toilet with you!
I was so surprised at the first time and thought that I came to a wrong toilet. I still remember the feeling when I heard some guys’ voice outside when I was in the toilet, and I was like “No way! How did I go to a wrong one?”, and hesitated to come out 😳.
I was really shy and embarrassed, so I actually stayed inside the toilet for a while, waited for them to go out but they were still there (Probably because they still had to go toilets 😂). Then I finally came outside, and that I knew that some toilets in Copenhagen are for both genders.
“What is the most special thing about Denmark that you will show a foreigner?”, I asked my Danish friend.
“Hygge”, he answered.
I heard that hygge is one way that helps the Danes survive from the cold winter, and I think it may be true!
So what is Hygge? Hygge is a very special activity in Denmark. It can be defined as having good time with good people. If you walk around Copenhagen in the evening, you can see lots of people sitting together, having a cup of coffee or having a meal, with a small candle in between. As I heard, too many candles for hygge caused health problems in Denmark 🙁
Also, I was shocked when I heard that it was common for Danes to leave their babies to nap in a stroller outside when moms “hygge” inside. OMG! How is it possible 😳? How can they leave the babies outside, even when it’s really cold and windy 😳?
I once asked my Danish friend about it, and he said “It’s really safe to do that, because they calculate the wind direction, and the baby will cry if bad things happens. Also, no one kidnaps children here. It costs a lot to raise a child”. It’s totally different from other countries that I’ve been to.
Denmark is one of the countries has highest tax in the world. The standard VAT in Denmark, or called as Danish VAT “MOMS” is 25%. Therefore, everything in Denmark is expensive compared to other countries. In my first day in Copenhagen, I was shocked when buying a small bottle of Coca Cola with 20 kr. It is more expensive if you buy it in Seven Eleven or Fotex, compared to Netto and Fakta.
4. Super windy
I think the thing that I hate most in Denmark is the weather :/ It is way too windy. Sometimes I cannot even ride my bicycle because of the strong wind.
5. Flat country
Denmark is a flat country. As I read, its average height is above the sea of 31 metres. The article also said that the highest natural point is Møllehøj, at 170.86 metres. You cannot see any mountain in Denmark, only small hills. So, it is the best place for cycling, isn’t it?
6. Bicycles, bicycles and bicycles
Because of the geography, Denmark is a perfect place for cycling. If you come to Copenhagen, you can see people bike everywhere. Danes love biking in every type of weather, even it’s rainy, windy or snowy. In Copenhagen, there are lines for bicycle only, and also traffic lights for bicycle. Bicycle thefts are very common in Copenhagen as well. So watch out!
Copenhagen after a rain
7. Drinking culture
It’s very normal to see people walking with a beer or many beers on the street in Denmark. You can see people drinking on the street, public transportation, and public places. It is legal to buy alcohol everywhere too. There are many drunk people in the weekend in Copenhagen.
You can read about Danish drinking culture at Julefrokost here
Another surprise thing to me is that many Danes smoke. You can see a lot of people smoking in the parties, bars and clubs. They will go out for some times and then come back inside. I was once the only one left inside the house because other people were smoking outside.
9. Apartments in the inner city
a) Same floors
The apartments inner the city of Copenhagen have same number of floors which are 3 or 4. The designs are also a bit similar as well. It seems to me that those apartments just have different colors, and different window styles. I was lost at first days when I just came, because I couldn’t find my way within similar apartments.
b) No curtain
I was surprised to know that some apartments do not have curtains on the windows :o! “How can they keep privacy then?” – I still wonder this until now… luckily my place has curtains already 😀
c) Only stairs
Also, most of the apartments only have stairs. 2 places that I lived, none of them has elevator. I visit some of my friends’ houses and there are only stairs too. However, it’s a good chance to practice and improve your health, isn’t it?
10. Health care system
You can get an assigned doctor when you have a CPR number in Denmark. When you change your place, you have a choice to choose your own doctor. Also, health check up is free. Feeling unwell? Just call your doctor and book an appointment. Unfortunately, the medicine price is pretty expensive, and the health care system does not cover your dental cost.
So these are top 10 surprising things about Denmark to me. How about you? What are the most surprising but interesting things about this lovely country to you?