Scandinavia. Part I
Welcome to Northern Europe! Perhaps this is the most expensive region on the continent, but at the same time, having visited Scandinavia once, you will fall in love with it for life. This is a unique lifestyle, a unique society, unique architecture, unique nature, the north is just in every detail, and it really touches. Let’s go. 🙂
Scandinavian architecture is strict, functional, but at the same time beautiful.
From above, Copenhagen resembles a giant clockwork. Here you can clearly see that all these closely nestled buildings have closed courtyards, thanks to which residents are likely not to suffer so much from the daily flow of tourists.
The number of bicycles here is almost transcendent. I had the feeling that I’m somewhere in Holland.
There are also many hot dog stands. Of course, after Iceland I was prepared for the fact that Scandinavian hot dogs are way better than American ones, but to see that again was nice.
After all, it means that I won’t have to survive in Scandinavia without delicious street food. 🙂
The city hall stands out from the common view with its scale. It’s almost impossible to take a picture of it entirely from the ground, although I would like to capture some details like the LGBT flag among others in the square in front of it.
To my luck, there was a free seafood festival next to the town hall, so I dove into the gastronomic culture of Denmark from the very first morning here. I have to admit it’s true, having tasted their herring with rye bread, this ascetic northern dish immediately goes to the favorites list.
I usually don’t go to history museums, but here it was interesting to know how the ancient Europeans left the greenhouse conditions to live in the north, how they survived here, because earlier Europe was much colder, and in Scandinavia they had a real Siberian coldness back in time. The Danes approach the matter with an enviable methodology, telling a story with different examples, so you draw conclusions yourself.
And some of them are very unexpected. For example, these runes heavily remind me the Russian ones.
New Harbor, a postcard-like area. To my surprise, there are very few similar colored houses in Scandinavia: the northerners use this technique very carefully, emphasizing the dominants, and not just “to make it look more fun”, as we do.
Street installation: all these life jackets were taken from illegal migrants who tried to reach Europe by sea, but got caught in a storm and failed. Every vest here is someone’s life.
During the rush hour, there are a lot of bicycles on the roads, and they rush at a speed of about 30 km/h, so walking on bike paths here is literally life-threatening.
The famous Christiania, the self-proclaimed “free city” inside Copenhagen. Sometime in the distant 1971, a small area of Christianshaun was captured by local hippies who decided to create a communal community here, free from violence, crime, growing motorization and faceless commerce.
The government fought with them, but over time they agreed to lease land and all the captured buildings, and a few years ago they received the status of semi-autonomy from the mayor’s office.
The struggle continues, but now for minor things like the free trade in marijuana right on the streets of Christiania. And something tells me that it will end not with the hippie’s rejection of the weed, but with its legalization throughout Denmark. Nothing personal, just a worldwide trend.
And literally 10 minutes from there, expensive and beautiful areas begin.
Walk through the royal gardens to the national gallery.
Well, their pictures are cool. But this was expected: a couple of hundred years had passed before the Renaissance reached the north of Europe, and when the Scandinavians got involved in fine art, they had to immediately start with the maximum level of technology, skipping the era of disproportionate bodies, distorted perspective and other things. It’s also striking that the Danes don’t have a dominance of religious themes, instead they drew cities, landscapes, castles, architecture, and for me personally it was much more interesting to watch than another dying Jesus and crowds of sufferers around.
The museum is not very big, but they have their portion of the world masterpieces.
In general, it’s clear that they tried to cover all eras, there are halls for each of the branches of modernism, but I didn’t find anything truly impressive there Probably they were just trying to stay in trend. Here’s a bit of modern art, meaningless and merciless.
Hans knew the truth.
It’s visible that Denmark in its classical architecture has learned a lot from its southern neighbors: the Netherlands and northern Germany.
An old Protestant church on the shore of the strait.
A castle on an island of traditional defensive form: at the edge of each of the five corners, artillery was stationed, covering the entire area with fire due to a 360° view.
To my surprise, Copenhagen turned out to be not such a big city, you can easily walk around the whole. The entire city center fits easily into one photo. But at the same time, it’s interesting, cozy and, as it seems to me, comfortable to live here. I will definitely come back for their cozy Nordic coffee houses and nice people.
If you go to the embankment in Copenhagen, then on the other side of the strait you will see another city. And if earlier these 15 km of water surface separated Denmark from Sweden, now a bridge has been built between the countries, so I decided to visit that another city too.
Well, after the bustling capital of Denmark, it’s a little sad here.
There are no crowds of tourists, no endless shops and cafes, no heaps of places to go. On top of that, it was raining a little nasty and almost all the establishments were closed in the morning.
In Malmö it’s interesting to take shortcuts through such pedestrian arcades.
A defensive fortress, from which only walls and a couple of towers remained. Inside is the most ordinary museum.
There are almost no tall buildings in the city, only this one business center in the form of a swirling candle.
I cut the road again, this time through the cemetery. Well, it happens, of course, but on the way I paid attention to the dates on the monuments. There, on decently looking ones there were years of burial like 1880, sometimes really old ones with dates like 1790 come across… Just wow.
This park near the castle turned out to be the sweetest place I found in the whole city.
Nothing unusual, this is Sweden.
After another rain, an absolute calm suddenly began. I think this rarely happens in these parts, even the water in the canal turned into a real mirror.
By the middle of the day, people appeared on the streets, but still very few.
A normal mannequin.
I don’t know why they hang their pants instead of festival flags, but later I haven’t seen this anywhere else in Sweden, so I would venture to suggest that this is a local feature.
Drop station. This is definitely something you can’t miss when looking for a place by its name.
In the evening it’s nice here, one can feel the vibe of the old town, but still it’s a little deserted. It’s a pity for the owners of all these establishments, they try to make everything as comfortable as possible, and there is no one to appreciate their efforts, although life is swarming in Copenhagen, just 15 km away.
Going back to Denmark.
Gingerbread houses on the Tor Street, small shops and a family cafe on the neighboring Odin Street… This is the nicest viking town that I’ve seen in Denmark.
Odense is surrounded by parks, and along the river you can walk to the very edge of this island (yes, by the way, except for the Jutland peninsula, all Denmark lies on islands, for example, Copenhagen is located on the island of Zealand).
The homeland of Hans Christian Andersen is impressive in the amount of greenery.
Odense city center looks simple, there are mostly standard shops and chain cafes around.
Massive Odense Town Hall. They like to show where the power is.
They have slightly modified the river.
The Danes perfectly feel the balance between landscaping and naturalness, so here, on the one hand, it’s very comfortable to walk, there are paths, bridges everywhere, but at the same time it all looks so harmonious that at first it might even seem as if this park was not designed by someone, but grew up so comfortable for walking naturally.
The national dish of Denmark, smørrebrøds: rye bread sandwiches generously covered with different tasty things. My favorite ones are, of course, with herring and salmon. Even sets from supermarkets are tastier than those that you can try in Scandinavian restaurants in Eastern Europe. How they even do it?
Got hosted by the guy from Couchsurfing who believes in Odin, Thor, Valhalla, the existence of Asgard, the prophecies of Volva, etc, regularly goes to the forest and leaves offerings for the gods on the altar there. And, of course, he waits for Ragnarök. As I learned later, Asatru (literally “faithful ases”, in fact Old Believers) in Scandinavia is a quite living religion, their traditions and rituals are taken into account, they are treated with due respect, for example, in the civil service or in the army.
I was already prepared for the fact that further all cities will be as quiet as Odense, but Aarhus turned out to be noticeably livelier (as far as possible for a small northern country).
Of course, it’s still very quiet after Copenhagen, but there is a place to walk here.
A bit of LGBT propaganda.
In 2017, Aarhus was declared the cultural capital of Europe (a status that changes from year to year, designed to increase the tourist flow to the city), there are continuous exhibitions, concerts around, and I just came to see it.
A gloomy city hall with a tower almost like over the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The inscription “The same for everyone” under the building is actually part of a series of 10 identical installations scattered by some Scotsman all over Denmark. Not everyone likes the openly communist message of the work, but sorry, freedom of speech, you can only quietly criticize in your blogs.
Went to the city gallery, and there was such a huge boy sitting. I don’t know what it’s made of, but the skin looks very realistic.
The author of the exhibition bought signs from homeless people asking for help for good money instead of simple donations, framed and eventually made a whole exhibition of them. Some criticize him for his cynicism, because with this exhibition he earned much more than he gave to the homeless, but, in my opinion, this is still a cool idea, because all parties (both the homeless, the author himself, and visitors of his exhibition) only benefited from it.
The dude collected money for many years, bought a Lamborghini, drove it to the gallery and put the inscription next to it: “You can scratch and write whatever you want”. At first everyone was in a little shock from such a proposal, but very quickly a huge number of people appeared, they were buying tickets to this gallery just to scratch something on an expensive sport car, and in just a few days it was so worn out that the sign had to be removed. The rest of the time of the exhibition, it will stand here in this state, and then the author will finally begin to ride it.
Large “Dick” in Russian stands out. It can be seen that the logo has already been torn off more than once, someone even managed to steal the capital letter.
A public test of a miniature garden grown exclusively with artificial sources of light, water, and more. So don’t worry, even if a zombie apocalypse happens, we will survive somehow.
At the top of the gallery there is an observation deck in the form of a long circular hall made of colored glass. Although the pictures from the inside are cool, on a sunny day these colored glasses can burn away your eyes, no joke, the eyes start to hurt after 5 minutes there.
It’s becoming clear why some call Aarhus the urbanism reservation.
Efficiency in everything.
Once upon a time, Aarhus was a purely port city, and this place was its heart. Of course, this is the second most important port in Denmark today, but now the focus has shifted, and as a result, most of the former docks are gradually turning into cultural spaces.
The apartment of my hosts, Iranian family, who moved to live here long ago. The home of designers/architects is immediately visible. 🙂
A small town in the very north of Denmark, famous for its large port, which serves as an important link in trade with Norway and Sweden. Usually people come here by car, load and sail to Oslo or Gothenburg, but I arrived by train and had a few hours to walk around the center.
I can’t say that I found something impressive here, most of the city is some kind of typical buildings.
But the old center is nice, you can walk for about 30 minutes.
Taking this opportunity, I came into a cafe to work a little.
The Grand Canal runs through practically all of Gothenburg, thanks to which ferries go deep into the city and moor right in the center. A rare piece of luck.
As I later found out, Haga is considered the most hipster area in Gothenburg (or at least one of them), but when I was there I didn’t really feel it. Yes, there are wooden houses and cute shops, but there are many places like this.
Lots of kawaii.
For some reason, so far Swedish cities remind me more of Germany than Scandinavia.
No, seriously. I would not even begin to doubt if they told me that this is Berlin or Munich.
While the Swedes tell how Nazism is unacceptable, such posters seem to hint that this is a very urgent problem for them.
I was waiting for my coffee with my hands in my pockets.
Nature takes its toll, and people play along with it.
Instead of the central square, there is an old canal. Locals gather on the steps, drink beers, watch the lights come on in the streets along the canal and the city goes into darkness.
Approaching the point of teleportation to the next city.
Gothenburg has a cool train station with trees inside. In such a place it’s really nice to sit and wait for your train.
“Welcome to the capital of Scandinavia”. Such a loud status.
Well, I must admit, Stockholm is really a big and noisy city, with wide avenues, dozens of shopping and business centers around. After Malmö and Gothenburg at the first glance you can see where the Swedes have a province, and where is the metropolis.
It was a discovery for me that Stockholm is located on an archipelago. For some reason I always imagined it as a fortress city by the sea, so I was quite surprised to find that in fact, it’s scattered on separate islands of a large river in 50 km from the shores of the Baltic Sea. Well, this explains why it was so difficult to conquer it from the sea.
Going for a walk along the narrow streets of the old center.
In the 17-18th centuries, Sweden was the most powerful empire, which controlled almost all of Scandinavia and vast territories on the other side of the Baltic Sea. It has ended in the same way it usually ends for European empires with too great ambitions: the war with Russia, after which only original Swedish territories remained in Sweden.
Nevertheless, this period left a big imprint on the culture of the country. This can be seen on every corner, from some traditional little things to the tourist slogan “The capital of Scandinavia” (I think only the Swedes really perceive it this way).
They were not lazy enough to gouge this hollow in the stone.
The famous Stockholm subway, where tourists don’t go to get somewhere, but to see their unusual stations.
I must admit, it’s worth it, there are really few beautiful subways in the world.
Ads of Ukrainian Airlines.
The Museum of Modern Art is located on one of the smaller islands, which looks like a cool accent on the city plan. There were funny exhibitions, but nothing really catchy.
I hope this is not the last shot of this photographer.
The USSR has disappeared from the face of the Earth for almost 30 years now, and this topic is still being talked about throughout Europe.
In the east of the islands small ships are moored.
On the neighboring tiny rocky island is a fortress that has been converted into a modern conference center, but this red tower still serves as the headquarters for the Swedish fleet.
Came to the museum dedicated to one and only warship. The fact is that in 1628, due to incorrect engineering calculations, the Vasa ship sank during its first exit to the water, literally near the docks where it was built, that is virtually in the center of Stockholm.
By an amazing accident, in 1956 it was discovered under a centuries-old layer of silt, for archaeologists they came up with a scheme for long dives in such flasks with air, they dug the entire ship and then brought it to the surface.
Surprisingly, it turned out to be in excellent condition. Here you can see only its upper half, below there are two more floors, you can go down and see the whole structure. Just imagine: it’s with a five-story building, made completely of wood and very soon it will be 400 years old! An incredible time machine.
Here they like to joke about communism, because Scandinavian socialism with its sometimes absurd taxes, sometimes reaching ⅔ of the salary, is felt by many in a similar way.
Advertising of the new collection.
Went to a photography museum expecting to see some cool technical shots.
And there are Africans with bows.
And pictures of those events of the Ukrainian Maidan, which I already saw with my own eyes.
At night, all tourists disappear from the Old Town, everything gets closed except several bars, so you can take a great walk along these medieval streets.
And get ready for the next part of the trip.