Shoes off please, you’re in Denmark

I understand that there is some debate between people from different countries as to whether one should wear outdoor shoes inside. I grew up in a shoes off household as did all of my friends in the UK. I personally find the idea of walking filth from the street into your house quite revolting especially if you have carpets. When I lived in Berlin my feet would be filthy after a walk in flip flops in our relatively clean neighbourhood so imagine how much dirt builds up on shoe soles!

So I had no problem when our first landlords in our Danish apartment stipulated shoes off whilst we lived there. It is the norm in Denmark for both residents and guests to remove their shoes at the door and either go in socked feet, your own slippers or borrowed ones from the host. I hear people, mainly from the US, complaining they are ashamed of their socks or feet. Easy answer – throw out old holey socks or do an at home pedicure. They also argue it feels too intimate but isn’t being invited into someone’s home an act of intimacy? Even tradespeople such as chimney sweeps take off their shoes or put on little plastic covers when entering a Danish home.

There were a few reasons our landlords gave, as perhaps they felt they needed to justify their demand, firstly they had spent a lot of time and money on their beautiful wooden floor and didn’t want scuffs or heel marks. Secondly the sound of shoes on the floor is disturbing to the neighbours below. Finally it is the cultural norm in a country where it is wet or snowy a lot of the year. Although they didn’t say so it’s about respect and also comfort.

I know people argue that as the floors are generally uncarpeted that they are easy to clean. Yes this is true but unless you run around behind people with a mop, there will be a build up of dirt. Danes entertain at home a lot but it’s more about the people, the food and the hygge than image so forget about showing off your Laboutins and get yourself a pair of hyggelig slippers – no one says they need to be boring!

Going to the dentist in Denmark

Going to the dentist is one of many people’s most hated activity especially when you end up with a bill at the end of it. Today I thought I’d write a quick guide to dentistry in Denmark. You can’t fail but to notice the vast number of dentist (tandlæge) all over the place. Many have wonderfully gaudy neon teeth lights in their windows. It is often hard to know which dentist to visit so asking for recommendations is a good idea.

Dental care in Denmark is not free under the public health but 40% of the cost of treatment is covered by your yellow card. The bill you are given by your dentist will already have this deducted. It is possible to take out separate dental insurance (tandforsikring). Here is an example of a company offering this it but of course there are others.

Dental treatment and services have set prices and you can see the costs on the dentist’s website or asking at reception. The Sundhed website is a good starting place to find out how much your treatment is likely to cost. If you are looking for cheaper treatment you can go to the Department of Odontology at the University. You will be treated by students under supervision.

You need to make an appointment in advance and make sure you bring your yellow card. A no show or late cancellation will result in many dentists charging you a fee.

Children, who have a CPR number, are entitled to free dental care and orthodontic treatment. You will get an automatic appointment to your eboks for your child when the check up is due. Whilst they will allocate you a dentist, usually based in a local school, you can ring and ask to go to a different public dentist if it is more convenient to you. For example they will give you an appointment at one close to your home but you may prefer the dentist based in your child’s school so they miss less time out of class for the appointment.

For emergency dental treatment there are a number of emergency dentists and you can find their details here.

 

Getting Crafty with Craftenhagen

I’m not sure I have ever mentioned here on my blog about the adult crafting group, Craftenhagen, that I run. I took the organising of the monthly crafting meet up from Valentina Fussell, who hosted it in her home, after she and her family returned to the US a couple of years ago. I love the group as it means that we can try different crafts without having to make the commitment to buying a lot of materials if the craft isn’t for you. It really doesn’t matter if you have done the craft before or even if you are particularly good at it, it’s just fun to try something new and spend an evening chatting with people whilst being creative.55044926-4A6B-4A57-9BDA-E88882AFEABC

We meet monthly in a community room in Vesterbro and examples of crafts we have tried over the last twelve months include Lino printing, shaker cards , fancy pom poms, decoupage Easter eggs and sugar paste flowers to name just a few.

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The group is not run for profit and the price covers all the materials (sometime equipment you get to take home so you can do more) and some light snacks and non alcoholic drinks.

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We have a Facebook group where you can join the next event and there are two more dates booked to take us up to the summer break. In May we’ll be making macrame key rings. Often the craft is suggested and then demonstrated by one of the members and sometimes we have an expert crafter come in and show us their passion.

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We’d love to see some more people come along so if it sounds interesting pop over to the Facebook group to find out more.

 

The view from the Mærsk Tower

One of the things I love about Copenhagen (and something I hope will continue) is the democratisation of spaces. There are many cities where the waterfront is exclusively for rich people who can afford to live in prime real estate, not so in Copenhagen. Likewise most educational building offer access to the public, whether it is to use sports hall and playground after hours or in the case of the new Mærsk Tower on the edge of Nørrebro to be able to enjoy an amazing vista for free.

Mærsk Tower is the new 15 storey building in the heart of what is known as Copenhagen Science City and houses the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of the University of Copenhagen. The architecture of the tower is based on an idea of creating communities – between the researchers, between students and the city.

I was delighted to hear that is possible to visit the viewing area on the top floor of the building as a member of the public without prior arrangement (there are tours organised and sometime the area is closed for private functions but it tells you at the lifts if this is the case). The public view faces towards the city and across to Sweden, down to Vestamager and the height of the windows means you get an undisturbed view. The view from the other side of the building is not open to the public as this side of the floor is the faculty lounge. You can read more about visiting the tower here and here

Understanding parking in Copenhagen

Parking in a new city can be daunting as no one wants to get a costly fine or have their car booted or toured. Some new  apartment complexes have parking provided but this is not common place and you may need to pay an annual fee for this. There are a number of public parking houses where you can take an annual subscription but there are usually enormous waiting lists for these places.You can buy monthly or yearly passes for the zones in the city or pay as you go using an app or one of the machines in the street. This link from Copenhagen Kommune gives you all the information you need and they also have a section about parking in Frederiksberg, where the rules are slightly different. There are a various apps you can use to pay for parking (mentioned in the link above) and you can add more time to your parking without having to return to your car in many cases.

If you are looking to get a residents’ parking licence (you need your CPR for this even if you are buying one for a .guest) this is the link for Copenhagen ,the one for Frederikberg and the one for Gentofte.

You will need a parking clock in your car (these are easily and cheaply available from petrol (gas) stations but you can, of course, get fancy ones too. When you are in a time restricted area you set the clock to the arrival time.

There are some parking rules you need to follow which may not be obvious, if you don’t want a parking ticket in Copenhagen.

Finally if you need a disabled parking licence search for Handicapparkering on your Kommune’s website.

 

 

Public Holidays and Danish celebrations

Before Christmas I created these printables for the key dates in the year in Denmark. I wrote about Store Bededag on Monday and it seemed a good time to share these printables again to ensure no one misses a date!

Click on either image to download both posters!

I’m currently working on my next newsletter due out at the end of the week. Click here if you want to be on the mailing list for it

Cherry blossom around the city

The cherry blossom avenue in Bispebjerg Cemetery used to be a secret place for only those in the know. Over the last few years it has become a huge tourist attraction with over 150k visitors. Last year they put signs up to help people find it and this year I hear there are now more benches and temporary toilets.

I’ve used my photos from 2015 and as it looks the same every year that’s OK, except now unless you go very early or late in the day you’ll be jostling with tons of people, at the weekend people were actually queuing to see the blossoms. It is also important that whilst this avenue of pink is beautiful, the location is in a cemetery so be respectful.

Whilst you are visiting the cherry blossoms don’t miss the chance to experience the wonder of Grundtvigs Church as well. It is a cathedral size church that is not a cathedral!

Also there are other places to spot cherry blossom in the city without the hype – Sonder Boulevarde in Vesterbro, Langelinie, and the Skydebanen playground in Vesterbro to name a few.

Store Bededag on Friday

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!

Free resources just for you

People, rightly, have so many questions about how things work in a new country, even some months after they have moved there. I have published tons of information posts here but as the nature of a blog means they get replaced by newer posts, I made all the resources posts into downloadable pdfs over on my Dejlige Days Welcome website. As I write new posts here that are relevant they will be added.

Pop over and have a look, I bet there is the answer to a question you have there. Also if there is something you would like more information about either send me an email, comment on Facebook or post below in the comments.

 

What can you get in the pharmacy?

Pharmacies in mainland Europe can seem very different to those in the UK and North America. One thing that many people from outside Denmark observe is that there are a lot fewer OTC (over the counter) remedies available. I often recommend to clients to makes sure they bring a few month’s worth of both prescription medication and the OTC meds they regularly take. It is also advisable to have your original packaging and the know the generic name for the medication as this can help both your doctor and the pharmacist in finding you the right stuff here.I thought I’d do a quick run down of what is available in the pharmacies (apotek in Danish) here.

  • Dental care products include for dentures
  • Feminine hygiene products such as intimate soap and sanitary products
  • Sun cream
  • Baby products including breast pumps and accessories, nail scissors, washes, zinc cream, nappy cream, dummies, formula and bottles etc but not nappies.
  • Dressings, bandages and plasters (band aids). If you need a special size dressing say for a surgical wound ask at the counter as they often keep these in the store room and if they don’t have them they can get them in for you.
  • Sports injury remedies such as heat cream, heat pads and supports
  • Bug repellents and bite remedies including devices to remove ticks
  • Head lice hair washes
  • Pet medications
  • Contraception
  • Pregnancy test kits
  • Health screening test kits such as lactose intolerance, ovulation and clamydia.
  • Vitamins, minerals and health supplements
  • Fancy French and Scandinavian beauty products but not make up

Behind the counter there are a number of OTC medications but nowhere near as many as in other countries. The pharmacists are very knowledgeable but there are many medications you will need to see your doctor for.

The main groups of OTC medications include:

  • Throat and cold medications
  • Nasal sprays for various ailments (these are popular and effective)
  • Hayfever and allergy medications
  • Stomach and indigestion remedies
  • Pain relief – for children there is both liquid paracetamol and also suppositories
  • Smoking replacements such as gum and patches
  • Weight gain products
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Antiseptic creams

General rule of thumb, if you can’t see something just ask as they may still have it.

When you arrive at the pharmacy there are usually two buttons to choose from to get a ticket – Recept for prescriptions and Handkøb for other purchases including OTC medications. You wait for your number to come up on the screen (you can read more about queueing in Denmark here)

You won’t get a paper prescription from your doctor but it will be on the system. You present your CPR card and they can see all your current prescriptions. If you have no preference of the pharmaceutical brand you can ask for the cheapest one and this may not be the same one each time but will be the same active ingredients.

You will be charged a subsidised price for your prescription. The more you spend of prescription medications in a 12 month period the greater the subsidy. I take a regular and expensive pain medication and now my all prescriptions are free. You always have to pay a set amount for contraceptive pills.

If you are on the not for profit Danmark Sygeforsikring insurance system (see here for more information) you get greater subsidies if you are a member of the above scheme.

You can find our local pharmacy by putting in your postcode here  (the box saying døgnapotek means 24/7 pharmacies).

You can also return any unused medicines to the pharmacy for them to dispose of responsibly (you don’t get any money back).