Amager Strand at Femøren

Before we moved to our new place we usually went to Amager Strand at the end closest to the city. As we are now within walking distance of the opposite end of Amager Strand close to Femøren Station. We’ve been up there every warm weekend so far – flying kites, paddling and eating ice creams.

The swimming bath, Kastrup Søbad, is a wonderful addition to this end of the beach, although we’ve not been brave enough to take the plunge. The sea temperatures of 10 degrees c are not appealing at the moment, although that doesn’t stop the fearless Vikings. The other plus points of this end of the beach are that the beach is very shallow, perfect for families and it doesn’t get that busy (so far). I don’t want to encourage too many crowds but it is definitely worth travelling a few more stops down the Metro!

PostBox – culture oasis

A few weeks ago I received an email about a forthcoming pop up project in the city centre close to the main station, called Postbox. I headed over there with my son last week and we loved it. It is reached by a long open corridor from the back of the main station as well as in the street below. I was amused to see some tourists looking at the signage curiously but when they saw us walking down the ramp they followed and I later saw them enjoying a chilled glass of rose.

Postbox is billed as a new temporary culture oasis between Vesterbro and City focussing on art, design and culture. The post office – the area between Bernstorffsgade and the railway station at Copenhagen Central Station – has been closed to the public and the site has been empty for the last couple of years. In the coming years, the area will be transformed from industry into a new neighborhood (but I’ll save my thoughts on this until I understand more about the plans, which incidentally you can see visuals of along the walkway to Postbox).

Meanwhile, the large car park at Postgrunden has been transformed into a temporary creative haven in the city. Over the past few years, Designerspace, the group behind Postbox, has focused on pop-up design markets for talented artists and designers but now they have transformed the large car park on Postgrunden into a temporary creative culture in the heart of Copenhagen. The vision is to create a city space that emphasises community through activities, design and culture.

The PostBox project on Postgrunden will consist of loads of containers with creative workshops, shops and showrooms. In addition there will be dining and drinking places as well as a lot of cultural events such as Dovne Sundays with brunch and children’s workshops, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, ThursdayChill, Rita Blue’s flea market.

There is a little sandy area, deck chairs, a rose wine bar and an area where hops are being grown by Byhumle

Take the chance, before the area will be closed down and becomes a building site from 2018, to enjoy stroll to a huge and hitherto ‘hidden and forgotten’ area in the center of Copenhagen.
PostBox on Postgrunden runs from 6th May to 22nd October and is open Thursday-Friday 14-22 and Sat-Sun 11-22.

Blue Monday – what’s it all about?

We were in Tivoli this Monday, a day of the week we rarely go there, and it will packed with young teenagers feasting of sugar and calories and having lots of fun. It was interesting to see that the pinnacle of bad behaviour we saw was a group of boys messing about on the kiddie vintage car ride and being asked to get off, which they did willingly.We were curious as to why there were so many kids about until we were told it was Blue Monday (Blå Mandag) something I hadn’t come across before. So heading to the trusty Google I found out.

We are now in the thick of confirmation season here in Denmark, where teenagers are confirmed in church as a rite of passage to adulthood. This happens at the weekend and the Monday after is known as Blue Monday, where the newly confirmed teenagers enjoy a day of fun with their friends after the solemn family occasion the day before. They go shopping, to the cinema or to Tivoli or Bakken. Some schools give this as day off but not all.

The idea of Blue Monday goes back a long way. In Denmark, the confirmation was originally intended solely as a religious festival. But already by the 1700s, young people from the Copenhagen bourgeoisie met in the King’s Garden at Rosenborg Castle to show their gifts at the time of the few who could afford things like a cigarette case, a parasol or other grown up things. Blue Monday was in fact an important day because it was the first day you even owned some of the things that belonged to adulthood. In today’s society that could be a new iPhone.

Reading around the subject on Danish website it is a bit scary (as a mum) to read about advice about drinking, sex and fighting on the day considering the age of the kids but as far as I could see in Tivoli it was all pretty tame.  In fact one boy gave my son some fairground money he had won on the whack a mole so my son had a little more towards yet another soft toy. Also kids are warned not to take too much money or expensive gadgets in case they get robbed.

Whilst it is a lovely experience for the young people, I think I’ll stick to visiting Tivoli on other days of the week, if nothing else the queues will be shorter!

If you are interested in reading a little more about the confirmation part of the tradition , this is a good link.

Store Bededag

We seem to be out of sync with other countries when it comes to public holidays. This Friday is Store Bededag, a day where, in the 17th century, the Danish church consolidated lots of prayer days into one on the fourth Friday after Easter. Almost everything closes for the day and traditionally Copenhageners walk around the city ramparts enjoying the sun (if we are lucky) and time with family.CIMG6566 As usual there is a food tradition associated with the day, varme hveder. These are delicious soft bread rolls flavoured with cardamon and usually simply toasted and buttered. This is when the flat toasters come into their own! SONY DSCHistorically everyone should have Store Bededag free of work for prayer so bakers would make these breads the night before for people to eat the next day. Nowadays these rolls are available during the week before and, of course, on the day. And not everyone gets to day off!SONY DSCEnjoy the holiday!

Don’t panic – the siren on 3rd May

May 3rd DEMA (Danish Emergency Management Agency) will go through the annual sounding the sirens all over Denmark. This will take place at noon and sounds like an air raid siren. There is no need to worry or do anything. On this date the first year we lived here I was walking home after a morning at Danish language school and I was a bit panicked. Looking around no one else was so in a rather sheeplike manner I didn’t panic either!

If you’d like to read more about it and also what to do if it sounds at any other time, this link will help.

 

Putting in what you would like to get out

There is something about human nature where we like to mirror other people’s behaviours. Think about if you are talking to someone about something sad, exciting or happy – we mirror the tone and facial expressions of the person speaking. This is something you notice yourself doing if you don’t speak the same language as someone, you can gauge how they feel by their smiles or frowns and match them. 

I am a big believer that in life you get what you put out and that is something that is really essential in expat life. I notice that people who have a negative view of life in their new country seem to attract negative experiences. Is this because they are looking for them and miss the positive or is it that their attitude means they attract negative experiences without actively trying?

I recall when I first moved to Berlin that I would be smiley and polite to people I met in shops and in the street and also other expats. I would be open to asking questions and listening but in time (and quite a short time) I realised that in many cases this was not being mirrored back to me. My smiles would be met with suspicion and negatively or sometimes simply ignored. My requests for information from other expats already living in the city – simple things such as good places to go swimming – would be met vague answers. It was very much for this reason that I started to write my own blog about places to go as I was sure (and I was right) that there were people like me also finding life difficult. I’d like to say that I remained smiley and positive but that wasn’t the case and I wonder that if I had whether I would’ve had a better experience. I certainly saw negatives over the positives.

Moving back to Copenhagen it was nice to be back somewhere where my smiles were returned, where people were willing to help when asked and the positives outweighed the negatives. I have been around town with other expats who moan about Danes being rude and show surprise when I get smiles in places where they usually don’t. I understand that it can be soul destroying to feel that your new life is tough but starting with a positive attitude to the people around you is a big step towards a positive experience.

I notice on the expat forums that when people ask simple questions such as where to buy something for example, some people feel it is necessary to immediately criticise the food selection in Denmark.

Someone asks for a doctor recommendation and there are a number of posts about how all Danish doctors are rubbish (based on that one person’s experience). This is not a way to feel comfortable in a new place nor to make others feel welcome.

I have recently offered a few things for free on a free cycle Facebook group and a number of people have said they would like things to then simply not bother to reply to messages about collecting them. Common courtesy says you reply to these especially when you have reached out in the first place. If some expats are behaving in this way there is no wonder they find others less than friendly to them.

I was listening to a podcast recently about teaching kids good social media etiquette and it also goes what I am talking about here.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this need to be said now?
  • Does it need to be you that says it?
  • Is it honest or true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it kind?
  • If it is yes to all the above then say or do it, if not don’t.

So as we say to our son good things come to people who do good things. Smiles elicit smiles, help begets help, politeness brings it back to you. And the same goes for the opposite.

New Dejlige Days Publications

I have added a couple of new ebooks to my shop on the Dejlige Days Welcome website.

First up is Dejlige Days Welcome Guide to Danish Bureaucracy – Getting you started. This ebook guide to bureaucracy in Denmark pulls together publicly available resources into one simple to use document. Finding all the information you need easily and in a timely manner can be tough when you are in a new country with a language you don’t understand, this guide takes the stress away. Click here to buy.

Secondly is a pre order Dejlige Days Welcome Guide to Having a Baby in Denmark (and the first year of parenthood). This e-book covers everything you need to know about having a baby in Denmark – from pregnancy to birth to the first year. Sections include where to buy what you need, the medical process, bureaucracy, places to meet people, classes, private clinics amongst other super helpful information. Pre-order before the publication date of 31st May 2017 and save 30dkk. Click here to pre-order

Don’t forget there is also a ton of free resources there too.

Stop b*tching and start a revolution

A lot has changed in Copenhagen over the nine years I’ve lived here but it is still a city I am in love with. It has matured into a different kind of love than the heady early days. I still get my breath taken away by the city, I still love the people here and our life. But most of the time it is the kind of love that makes you feel comfortable and safe.  That this is my city and my home – this makes me happy.

I do however see changes. With the supposed housing shortage here there are more and more apartments being built and it is changing the face of the city. For many, many years there was a building policy about the heights of building and whilst new applications are looked at carefully, this rule is being waived more and more, with high rise public buildings and apartments popping up in Nørrebro, Vesterbro and the city centre. These buildings set a precedent and I fear that the flat beauty of the city is slowly being eroded.

When I read that the iconic Palads cinema painted in its beautiful pastel colours by Poul Gernes in 1989 and has been standing since 1912 will be torn down to be replaced by some steel and glass behemoth it makes me mad (as it did a number of people who protested the decision).

There are plans to build yet another high rise apartment, retail and leisure complex on its site, so close to the incongruous building that is Axel Towers, I wonder if we are now on a slippery slope where Big Money and developers are deciding the face of our city.

I wrote about the changing face of Vesterbro before and talking to a friend who is moving out of her post 90s apartment there I hear the rent for this two bedroom place will be pushing 23,000dkk a month for the next tenants and this is living in the middle of bars and the Red Light area. With no cap on rents in modern apartments, how long will it be before the regular working person is pushed out of the market, both rental and buying, in the newly built areas, if they can ever afford to live there in the first place?

There are a number of active groups trying to save places from major development such as the biodiversity of Amager Fælled to Palads Theatre to trees all over the city. Many organise via Facebook so that is a good place to start if you want to get involved. I know there is an argument that these protests don’t work but sometimes they do and that is no excuse to sit on your sofa and do nothing.

If nothing else get aware and sign petitions. But if you are on your sofa take a visit to www.wechange.dk and add your signature to causes that mean something to you (this platform is one that anyone can post a petition on so there are some very micro interest ones) or start your own petition.

In a small country this can have more impact than in bigger ones. The petition against proposed development on Amager Fælled has 28,000 signatures and a decision is pending in parliament over this issue and there is a protest organised for the 7 May  Sandra Høj is the woman behind Rød Byens Trær and she works to protect valuable mature trees in the city from being cut down and has had some victories.

If you love eating in the current grungey Copenhagen Street Food you may want to get involved in signing a petition to save this from modern development and of course yet again more apartments. I know it’s a tiny bit of history being lost here (and by that I mean the old paper stores from when newspapers were printed here) but with each little bit of history being erased by homogenous modern developments the soul of the city is slowly chipped away. Remember the destruction is the Wall of Fame last year? Little but not insignificant.

It is time what we stood up to the big developers and show that there is value in the old and also in nature.  There are battles on many fronts and this is a war we may not win in the end but small victories count. So like a t shirt I bought years ago in the hotbed of political activism that is Berkeley, California says: *Stop bitching and start a revolution”.

Spring in Tivoli

Although the last week has been pretty wintery I was lucky enough to catch Tivoli in the sunshine. We missed the Easter opening but the park is still looking very fine. If the colder weather continues it is a great time to visit without the crowds (a silver lining!)

My Guide to a Successful Relocation is now available directly from me!

I have been selling my book via Amazon since I published it last year but I have decided to also offer it via my website too. I have a secure shop on the site and it is possible to buy the paperback version slightly cheaper directly from me, especially if you are based in Denmark or mainland Europe. It is a really useful book if you are planning on moving to another country (not just Denmark) or you are in the early stages of relocation. Thank you!