Roaming the streets of Copenhagen, I felt like a kid again.
I did things I haven’t done since I was seven years old.
I fought other kids over LEGO pieces in the store. I got my entire face dirty with a messy and delicious hot dog. I spent an entire day riding my bike, not stopping until I was ready for a cocktail (when I was seven I would stop for ice cream, not cocktails).
I thought to myself: ‘Is this why Denmark is considered the happiest place on earth? Because adults never lose their sense of childhood?’
Denmark has been repeatedly identified as the country with the happiest citizens, and while I know the answer as to why goes beyond having a child-like sensibility, to include things like education, healthcare and politics, 48 hours in Copenhagen gave me a few ideas as to why Copenhageners are so happy.
Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex unions nearly 25 years ago. As such, it still remains one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.
The varied selection of gay bars is almost inconsequential because most venues are welcoming to gay and straight customers.
The Copenhagen tourism board even has a department dedicated to welcoming LGBTI travelers.
The city often endorses LGBTI events, like the 2009 World Outgames and the 2014 Eurovision song contest, taking place 10 May.
The open-air square outside Oscar gay bar in the middle of town will be converted into the ‘Eurovicious’ Pride Square, where there will be ‘entertainment, tents, and lots of rainbow atmosphere.’
Lars Henriksen, president of the Copenhagen Pride, said in a statement: ‘Fortunately, the City of Copenhagen has agreed to Copenhagen Pride’s vision about giving Eurovision Song Contest 2014 a clear and unambiguous LGBT character.
‘It is an important grant because it ensures that all visitors – LGBT and others – will experience Copenhagen’s openness and tolerance.’
Copenhagen and Eurovision are gaying it up so much this year same-sex couples can even get married during Eurovision.
Seeing the world on a bike
Copenhagen is the original biker city. The streets were designed with a lane for cars, one for pedestrians and another for bicycles. A computer in Copenhagen counted over 6,000 cyclists going by from 6 am to 1 pm on a bright, sunny Friday.
While the city has plenty of bike shops where visitors can rent a bike for a few hours or a day, the city has just launched the GoBike share system, the world’s first electronic bike.
While the bike itself is not as light as traditional cycles, the built-in engine offers different levels of support where riders can get a good workout or barely do any work depending on their preference.
Best of all for travelers, the bike comes equipped with a GPS map and guiding system, where the touch-screen allows riders to get directions to points of interest from tourist spots, to restaurants and shopping destinations.
Visitors can rent a bike for 25 Danish Krone ($5 or â‚¬3) per hour, and August 2014 will see 2,000 city bikes take to the street.
The new Nordic cuisine
The food… the food… my goodness, the food.
Copenhagen’s Noma has been repeatedly named the world’s best restaurant, and the city is littered with Michelin-star rated eateries that have foodies visiting from Mexico to Manhattan grunting and chewing in ecstasy.
Yet as many of Copenhagen’s culinary delights can be found without making reservations weeks in advance. Copenhagen’s street food scene is experiencing a renaissance with food trucks serving international fare and hot dog stands serving traditional toppings.
Stay tuned for an in-depth look into Copenhagen’s foodie scene, but until then, feast your eyes on the video below to get a first-hand glimpse into life in Copenhagen’s happy fast lane.