It’s peak hour on HC Andersens Boulevard, one of the busiest roads in Copenhagen.
My friends and I are perched on our bikes at the front of a lengthy (by Danish standards) queue to cross the traffic lights. The lights turn amber and before I can register the click clacking of bikes colliding, I’m lying on the ground with the contents of my basket sprawled around me.
My Dutch friend turns around to see what the commotion is and doesn’t even try to suppress her laughter.
A fellow Aussie and I had managed to orchestrate a stationary crash holding up dozens of Danes on their way to work.
After two months of cycling round one of the flattest cities in Europe, I’m still stumbling my way around – but I love it.
Just Google map anything in Copenhagen, and you’ll find it’ll take about 20 minutes to ride.
That hyggeligt (cosy, homy, feeling of content) café your Danish housemate tells you about – 14 minutes; that college where your Swiss friend is hosting an Alpine Macaroni and Swiss chocolate dinner – 22 minutes; and that kitschy bar you need to check out – 13 minutes.
[Bikes ruling the streets]
[Hyggeligt dinner with exchange friends]
But the best thing about cycling in Copenhagen is their easy-going road culture.
Instead of the rampage of curses Sydney road culture has groomed me to expect after holding up traffic during peak hour, Danes swarmed to give the uncoordinated Aussies a hand, making sure we’re okay and having a bit of a laugh with (possibly at) us.
Before coming to Copenhagen I was warned Scandinavians are cold and standoffish. And it’s true that some may need a little coaxing to come out of their shell. But for the most part, I’ve found them to be warm and welcoming. Asking for help with buying flour at the supermarket can turn into an extended conversation about organic vs. non-organic products, how to make bread and where the yeast is. A casual remark from a Dane at a red traffic light about how his bike is too high for him can turn into light banter about the difference between Americans and Australians.
Living in a predominantly Danish student residence, Tietgenkollegiet, has also busted the standoffish myth right open. We bake together, have hyggeligt movie nights and a camping trip in the works.
[Baking cinnamon scrolls with my kitchenmate]
Joanne Tran 11248729