I just read a funny post on Michele’s blog on what to pack for a holiday, and it made me think of the so-called travel advisory that I received when I had finally managed to book my ticket to go home in June… I understand that this advice can be important for some travellers, especially if you are going to an exotic, unknown country but I guess as somebody who travelled to Denmark for the first time at the age of 10 months, it seems a little ridiculous! By the way I think my first trip to Denmark was kind of late considering that it was just a 20-minute ferry-ride away. We went from Helsingborg to Helsingör (Elsinore) and I have a photo from the ferry crossing – I was very cute in a red dress and a white scarf on my head, probably the most stylish travel clothes I have ever worn 😉
Anyway, maybe there is somebody out there who is planning to go to Denmark this summer and who needs this advice better than I do (especially as I am actually just landing in Copenhagen and then continuing across the water to Skåne in Sweden):
– Travel can proceed to Denmark. There is no threat from terrorism and insurgency at present. Hm, maybe the Bornholmers (people on a small island in the Baltic Sea close to Sweden) will start an insurgency soon and demand to become Swedish, who knows!?
– Travelers in Copenhagen and other major Danish cities can become targets for pick pockets and sophisticated purse snatchers. Does this especially apply if you are carrying sophisticated purses!?
– Denmark also has a national breakdown network called Falck, which is available 24 hours a day. Try not to get stuck in the snow on a remote island, especially if you don’t know where you are, then it doesn’t help calling Falck… long story but here’s a photo when we returned to our abandoned car the next day and had to dig it out:
You can hardly see the car in the distance, by the old barn – imagine that we got stuck here in the middle of the night… At least we didn’t need to worry about malaria (see below).
– There is no malaria in Denmark. My favourite!! Denmark is a Nordic country with an average summer temperature of +18 degrees Celsius, that’s 64 degrees Fahrenheit… malaria is usually not a problem at these latitudes. (see the above photo)
– Prevention: Always use new condoms (preferably brought from your home country). My question is why can’t you trust the Danish ones??
General Cultural Tips:
- Smoking is restricted on public transport and in some public buildings. This does not apply to the Danish queen who is famous for smoking strong Greek cigarettes and probably does that in the royal castle… Smoking was a bit of a problem in the beginning when the Öresund trains started running from Sweden to Denmark across the bridge – [Danish] people tried to smoke in the train toilets and caused the fire alarm to go off and halt the trains.
- When people meet in Denmark, they usually shake hands. Which is the most common way that most Westerners greet each other, at least the first time they meet, isn’t it? I actually wrote a post on the cheek kissing habits of Belgians, and the hugging practises of Swedes last year.
- When invited to someone’s home, it is customary to bring a bouquet of flowers. Avoid white roses. I would say red ones as well if you don’t want to seem like you are coming on to the hostess!?
- It is impolite to leave someone’s home too quickly after dinner. Drinks are often served after dinner, rather than before, and dinner parties may continue late into the evening. Too bad if the party is really boring, you should still stay and abide the following rules:
- Toastings are a formal ritual in Denmark. Avoid touching your drink before the host says “skål” and do not toast elders before they toast you. Remember that the Danes are vikings and you wouldn’t want to offend them in any way, for example by drinking before you are supposed to!
- Danes like to toast with a traditional drink called “aquavit” (water of life). Be careful, as this is a potent alcoholic drink. I love how they call the aquavit (vodka) potent! But it is true and actually be especially aware of the potent drink called Gammeldansk – the Danes drink it for breakfast…
Actually, I wouldn’t worry too much, Denmark is quite a civilised European country and I would say that you would have to try really hard to shock the Danes… Well, try to avoid getting really drunk and annoying if you are Swedish as the police might “ship” you back to Sweden (nowadays on a train, before the bridge existed – on a boat).
Oh, and do you know how to spot a [sober] Swede in Copenhagen? He or she is the one who crosses the street even though the traffic light is red!! 😀
PS I am adding a link to Anna’s post on Swedish customs, it is advice for diplomats posted in Sweden.