Monday, February 1, 2010

I am totally in love with Copenhagen

Copenhagen is awesome.

The city is amazingly beautiful. The people are beautiful, extremely nice and speak English perfectly. We are planning on eating Danish food today, but the ethnic food we have eaten has been amazing. The major (and essentially the only) minority group in Denmark is Asiatic, ranging from India to China. There are also some really good Middle Eastern restaurants along the major shopping street, the Strøget. We don't really plan on loving Danish cuisine, it is mostly big slabs of meat, fish, preserved fish and other preserved goods. It makes sense given where we are in the world, but it seems particularly boring. I am excited to try some fish and pickled fish... because fish are delicious.

Denmark is a very interesting country and is an outlier on many different indices, standing out as one of the happiest countries while having some of the highest taxes and most extreme levels of social welfare. There is a flat sales tax of 25% and the range of income tax is roughly 45-70%. Life in Denmark is not cheap as a result of the sales tax, we have been spending at least 20 dollars on most of our meals. Taxes like this would be a hugely contentious issue in the bipartisan politics of the US but here all of the many (7+) political parties are largely in support of social welfare economics. As somebody who generally opposes all forms of government, I find myself very convinced that the systems which are in place here, work here. Don't look to me for support in copying these politics in the US. Government isn't simply theory, and governments can't be copy-pasted. Denmark is much smaller, more homogenous, uniformly educated, has a growth rate that is exactly the same as their death rate, everybody (literally everybody) who we have met speaks at least three languages, perfectly. Social welfare works when your entire country is essentially playing for the A team is the big lesson Denmark has taught me. Even when we eat in asian food restaurants, the ethnic minorities speak to one another in their native languages, to the Danes in Danish and to us in English (and not the broken english we are used to when dining in authentic ethnic food restaurants in the US.) I have been here for a couple days and I can would totally be willing to live here. It has been cold, but not too cold. We saw it snow, almost got run over by a snow plow tractor who unexpectedly reversed. I have been wearing many layers (because a side-trip to scandinavia during a trip to the 70 degree and rainy part of Asia while not checking any bags is not the best logistic packing maneuver) and this has been comfortable and warm. The only part of my body consistently getting cold is my toes, and this is because Vans slip-ons do not make very good snow boots. Big surprise.

Today is our last full day in Copenhagen, I will fly to Hong Kong tomorrow and will arrive there the day after that. My travel day will start at 5:00 pm and I will arrive in Hong Kong at 4:00 pm the next day. Crazy. But now Brian is awake and it sounds like he just finished his shower, so I am off to shower and prepare myself to seize this, my last day in Scandinavia in the foreseeable future... But I promise you (speaking to the second person in a blog feels weird) that I will be back to Denmark.


1 comment:

  1. That's great reporting there son - and weird-feeling or not keep it coming! Sounds like an incredible place.