It feels good to be home, and even better it felt great that our apartment in Sweden is where I craved to go when I was done with Denmark and wanted to go home. (This weekend made 4 months that I have been living here) Despite visiting Sweden before, this was different, this was my first time really being a full on tourist. I experienced a lot and got to see many things I also learned some things along the way that I wanted to share.
1. Walk more – if you plan on visiting another country and are an ambitious site seer, start walking more BEFORE you go. Walking 5 hours every day kicked my butt! I don’t get as much walking time as I should but now that I have so many hours of walking recently on my feet, I plan to start walking more every day.
2. Careful on Cobblestone – If you are not used to walking on these beautiful stones, don’t over do it. Unless you are wearing some very thick soled shoes you WILL feel the pitch, angle, and depth of each cobblestone in the soles of your feet and your ankles. I have very sensitive feet, so maybe I am overstating, but I advise to avoid it if there is any smooth path along side the picturesque walkways.
3. Beware the Bikes – I’m serious. This also holds true for Sweden, as I have almost been run down a few times, but ESPECIALLY in Copenhagen be aware of the bikers. I think this would be applicable for any one traveling anywhere, and even more so for Americans I think because we do not have the same massive bike culture as other places. Just be careful. Cars are not the only thing that can run you down.
4. Obey the Lights – Being from New York I don’t have the patience to wait for a light to turn red, if there’s no cars a-comin’, I’m a-goin‘. DON’T do this is Copenhagen. You will notice that everyone waits very obediently at every single cross walk, even if there are no cars (to the point of construction on the street and no cars allowed), everyone WILL wait the whole duration of a do not walk sign. This is also found in Sweden, but not too the 100% degree. The reason is that the drivers and bikers in Denmark are known to be more aggressive. So, watch as the locals do and do the same when it comes to walking into streets.
5. Respect Bike lanes – This goes along the same lines of the last two but I just wanted to point out that bikers do not really appreciate you standing in their lane completely unaware of their presence as you are trying to get the perfect angle of a photo of some building. Just Saying.
6. Don’t over do it – It’s okay if you don’t see all the sights, it’s more reason to come back another time. Instead of walking an extra 3 hours one day I decided to skip seeing a few things and I am glad I did. You can’t see everything you want unless you are there for a very long vacation. Pick and choice your top ten and enjoy them longer rather than running after site number eleven.
7. Relax – On my last day I didn’t do anything. I left the hotel at 8 am,went to the bakery and picked at my food for 90 minutes while reading a book, watching people come and go. I didn’t inhale my food, but enjoyed it. When I left I walked for 20 minutes and sat on a bench for 30. An hour later I sat on a fountain for an hour, people watching. I walked and sat throughout the city until 2pm and just slowed down, read half of my book and didn’t worry about running to my next Danish destination. Being in another country isn’t all about the sites, museums, or shopping but about seeing the day to day life.
8. Disconnect – That last day of relaxation I didn’t take a single photograph. Not because my SLR camera died, I had two back up cameras, but because it would have ruined the vibe. I didn’t use the computer, the phone, I just sat back, watched, and read. Soaked in the sights instead of trying to get the perfect angle of them.
9. You ARE a tourist – Don’t be afraid to be new. I had to let go of my protective veil that I use in Sweden, where I try so hard to fit in and not bring attention to the fact that I am not from here. Being a tourist in Denmark made me relax on this front a lot, it’s okay to be different and from somewhere else. You are allowed to be lost, not fit in, not understand, do things incorrectly.
10. Don’t forget where you are – This not only goes for where you go and travel but where you are from. Every town in every city in each and every Country is unique, with it’s own history, beauty, and culture. You are always visiting, or living in, a city where others would love to be, it might not be the number one place you have ever wanted to go but you are experiencing SOMEONES bucket list, so enjoy it and embrace it the way they would.
11. Touristing alone is not so bad – I was only alone half the time, but the sentiment and experience still holds true. I took the train one way alone and every day from 9-4 I did all my touristy stuff alone. It seemed terrifying and impossible, I thought I might stay in our hotel room during the days instead of explore. But once I was there I was no longer scared, the fact that I am not often alone and have not done any solo adventures did not stop me. I became braver at approaching people to take my photo. I conversed with people. I was able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, at my own pace. As long as you are smart and safe and aware about everything around you (And have a good sense of direction) I think that it was a defining experience to explore a new country on my own each day.
12. Learn – Don’t walk away from a new country with only photographs. Take the time to listen to tour guide stories, read planks on buildings and statues, remember where things are, when things in history happened. On my first day I was sitting on the stairs of some building, writing in my notebook and eating a banana when a tour group walked up to the building and the guide started talking about it being the royal church. Having survived for 800 years through wars and great fires it was burnt down in the 1990s due to a firework landing on its roof. It was rebuilt 5 years later for the queens birthday. I was amazed, I followed them to the two next buildings and listened in from a distance. The next day I decided to take a canal tour to hear some more.
I enjoyed Denmark a lot, but even more so I enjoyed the experience. I knew once I moved to Sweden I would want to travel more, and a part of me found that exciting while some of me found it to be scary. It wasn’t scary at all. At the end of the week I was looking forward to going back to Sweden (a part of me felt like I was cheating on Sweden with Denmark!) but I enjoyed the stay. Make sure you don’t over stay your own welcome, as in how long you are comfortable being somewhere – it depends on your desire to be in that specific country, and your ability to be somewhere new for how ever long. If we were in Italy or France, or one of the countries I have always dreamed of going, I would have wanted to stay longer and experienced even more. Looking forward to my next adventure, whenever/wherever that will be- for now I am still experiencing Sweden and loving it!