Archive for the ‘Denmark’ Category

Why Denmark? 109 reasons from an American Expat

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

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  • #8 Denmark is the 10th greenest country in the world
  • #18 Denmark is the second most visited destination in Scandinavia with over 4.7 million visitors each year
  • #32 Denmark hosts more than 100 festivals every year
  • #49 Danes enjoy one of the highest rates of social equality.
  • #71 Denmark boasts no less than 14 Nobel laureates
  • #86 The Danish have  a 37 hour work week and six week paid vacation each year

These are only a few of the 109 reasons why Denmark is such an amazing place to live and to visit, given by an American Expat who has been living there for years. I recently came across his blog, “To love, work, study, and travel in Denmark” and it’s definitely worth taking a look. Whereas we at the Nordic Company can only manage to do personal site visits once or twice a year, here is the view of an individual who wakes up every day to the bustling city life of Copenhagen.  In fact, a quick blogspot search of Denmark blogs will offer nothing, but good praise and addicting insider perspective.

More often than not, our clients call with the explicit intent of traveling to Norway. Many have ancestors and others would like to experience the fjords. One of our favorite suggestions is for them to fly into Copenhagen, Denmark for a few days and then take the overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo to start their Norwegian journey. Our clients are never disappointed. They are always taken aback by Denmark’s charm, exclaiming, “I had no idea it was such a destination!” Get out into the countryside and there are lots of opportunities to stay in quaint cottages, play at Legoland, bike around, or spend time on the coast. If you’re still not convinced, here’s 103 more reasons.

Midsummer is Coming!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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The Nordic Company’s (and likely all of Scandinavia’s) favorite time of year is fast approaching! If you’re going to be in Scandinavia for late June, specifically June 23rd, you’d better be ready to participate in bonfires, folk songs, and dancing around the maypole. Midsummer is the longest and brightest day of the year and Scandinavians have a lot to celebrate since they’ve spent the past few months shrouded in darkness.

Sweden remains the best known for it’s midsummer festivities. The bonfires are big, the maypole is always visible even if it may appear to be too old-school to dance around it, and the normally reserved Swedes are, quite frankly, kind of crazy!  Swedes get the day before midsummer off (known as Midsummer’s Eve) so this helps them to start their weekend. Usually, family and friends head to their countryside cottages to celebrate. The bonfires pop up in accordance with the pagan tradition that fires ensure fertile soil and ward off any witches. Another popular belief has young girls picking seven different types of flower’s on midsummer’s eve. They then put the flowers under their pillows and this helps them to dream of their future love. Because misummer is such an old tradition, there is lots of folklore surrounding the events, but in general, it is a holiday to have fun, be with family, and celebrate the arrival of summer.

The Nordic Company recommends heading to the countryside for midsummer because you will find the cities to be deserted of locals. Many of our scenic hotels offer special midsummer celebrations. Sitting up in the early hours of the morning, watching the first rays of midsummer sunlight peak between the fjords is one of those moments you’ll never forget!

The Bicycle: Our New Bailout?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

America should scrap the car industry and take a thing or two from Copenhagen, a city widely known as a biker’s utopia. In Copenhagen, you will see young and old on bikes, carrying babies, cargo, mail, groceries, whatever they can possibly fit, and you will see them everywhere. There are traffic lights for bikers, special wide lanes, turn lanes, and just a general level of respect that bikers in the States could only dream of. Bike racks are almost always brimming over and when those fill up, the Danes simply lean their bikes up against the side of the building, not bothering to lock them to anything. I’m telling you - utopia!

It’s been awhile since I’ve witnessed the bike bonanza of Copenhagen, (though a biker myself, I dream of it often), so I want to direct you to a recent post by publisher of Spacing magazine, Matthew Blackett. He does an excellent job of analyzing just how bike savvy Copenhagen is in comparison to his own home city of Toronto. His pictures of the Copenhagen bike scene are also some of the best I’ve seen. Enjoy!

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Now is the Perfect Time for Heritage Travel

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

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I was thinking a lot today about how to rejuvenate people’s spirits in such tough times. Taking a vacation has always seemed to be the cure-all, but in a recession, travel expenses frequently become just another form of anxiety. However, looking over our clientele this year, the rare exception to this rule is heritage travel. When the economy takes a hit and we are forced to re-evaluate our lifestyles, this soul-searching almost always leads to the desire to seek out our ancestral roots.

Many clients have to come me this year with the expressed need to “see where it all began” and “remember where we came from” in hopes of putting their current lives in perspective. Thankfully, due to the Nordic Company’s strong overseas relationships with transportation suppliers, hotels, and the genealogical services - heritage travel remains one of our more inexpensive Scandinavian options. Clients are able to travel to their family homestead and often times reconnect with relatives (many times removed) who still live on the farm. Hearing the retelling of this kind of reunion always sends shivers up my spine! People who have a stronger identity typically exhibit a stronger willpower and that kind of willpower is what sees them through a difficult state (such as our recession).

Our clients come home ripe with wonder at the simplicity of Scandinavia, its rich conversation, and its stupefying scenery, but most importantly, they come home with their hearts a little fuller and their heads ready to move forward. “It’s an experience I will definitely carry with me for the rest of my life,” one client told me. The Nordic Company understands that it is these kinds of heart-enriching (rather than pocket-book dipping) experiences that are in demand today and we do everything in our power to deliver the best.

Why Roskilde Rocks

Monday, May 18th, 2009

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What do Bob Marley, the Talking Heads, U2, Metallica, and Radiohead all have in common? Aside from being some of the biggest names in music, they also have taken the stage at the largest musical festival in Northern Europe, Roskilde. Since 1971 when two high school students decided to organize a concert series, Roskilde, Denmark has proven itself to be on the cutting edge of obscure beats, contemporary stars, and total legends. Last year at Roskilde 2008, Neil Young even declared it to be the “best rock show ever.”

Yet, the best part about Roskilde doesn’t actually have to do with the music. Since its fruition, the festival has been a non-profit event with many humanitarian and environmental components. Last year’s “Fair Phone-Fair Future” encouraged concert-goers to purchase sustainable phones made with fair trade practices and the proceeds from the concert went to a wide variety of charities. The concert is very friendly to international travelers and if you haven’t yet bought your tickets, don’t fret. Sunday tickets are for sale at the entrance July 6 at 8am, regardless of if the festival is sold out or not. Otherwise, you can buy tickets online at the Rothskilde website. For U.S. citizens, they are approximately $180.

This year’s festival runs from July 2 - July 5 and features Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Gaslight Anthem, M.Ward, and…well, you better just check out the line-up here. As always, the Nordic Company is eager to assist you in your hotel, transportation, and concert needs. 41 days and counting!

May marks the start of the Scandinavian festival season

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

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Tomorrow marks the beginning of May and there is a lot to be excited about in Scandinavia. In the office, May means the summer travel blitz is officially underway; we are taking calls, designing itineraries, and sending off our clients on their much anticipated tours. In Scandinavia, May always offers a wealth of art and outdoor activities that allow you maximize your vacation stay. For example, we recommend starting in Stavanger, Norway for Stavanger’s International Jazz Festival that spans May 6 – 10. The Nordic Company has sent many clients to this festival over the years and they can’t say enough about a jazz scene juxtaposed by fjord scenery! Next, make your way to Copenhagen for their annual Architecture and Design Days, May 16-18.

For fascinating art and arguably equally fascinating political climate, catch an Icelandair flight to Reykjavik for the Reykjavik Arts Festival, May 15 – May 31. Iceland is increasingly breaking into the international scene in terms of art and music and this is the perfect chance to see where they get their muse from. Finish back in Denmark to make your trip come full circle by taking a spin at the Aalborg Carnival in late May. The Aalborg Carnival is the largest carnival in Northern Europe and probably the only time you’ll find a whimsical event that rivals the fame of Tivoli!

Denmark is for Lovers Too - Noma in Copenhagen

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

If you and your significant other are planning on absconding to Copenhagen for the Lover’s Holiday, there is no better place to indulge in an unbelievable dinner than restaurant Noma, located in Christianshavn, just opposite of Nyhavn. We love this place! Here you will find ingredients that only Denmark and her surrounding neighbors can provide: musk ox, pigeon, porridge, elderberries, seaweed, sorrel, and beyond. Excite your senses with the millions of flavors that will pass through your palate and leave light-hearted and happy after an intimate dining experience. Noma offers personalized Nordic gourmet cuisine, prepared by expert chefs and presented with great care.

Noma’s warm atmosphere only further serves to compliment the food. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of a freshly renovated warehouse and was designed as a meeting between the traditional and the modern, as is characteristic of much of Scandinavia. Enjoy the poetry of space and the serenity of the wood floors and expansive windows, but most of all – enjoy your meal and your moments together.

Scandinavia’s Top Three New Year’s Eve Cities

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Everybody likes to go somewhere special for New Year’s Eve. If New York City is feeling a bit overrated, we can sympathize. Fortunately, you’re in luck…the cities of Scandinavia offer also incredibly attractive and charmingly unique surprises. It might be dark and it might be cold, but Scandinavians still know how to party. We reviewed the major cities of Scandinavia and came up with our best three picks for New Year’s Eve nightlife, romance, and memories. Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik emerged as the undisputed champions.

Stockholm

If you’re looking for a lively, but somewhat traditional celebration, Stockholm is the place. Take the afternoon to enjoy iceskating in Kungstradgarden and to dine at your hotel to a delicious, specially-prepared holiday buffet.  In early evening, soak up a moving New Year’s Eve concert at the Storkyrkan Church in Gamla Stan, followed by a spectacular showing off fireworks over Stockholm’s glittering harbor.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen similarly shines with a night of congregating in the famous Amalienborg square, outside of the Royal Palace. Here the party begins and ends, featuring a Royal Guard parade in special occasion red gala uniforms.

Reykjavik

If you want to get a bit wild, Reykjavik definitely delivers. Their New Year’s Eve starts out calm, with a traditional mass at Reykjavik’s cathedral, dinner, and then the broadcast of Iceland’s annual TV comedy special, that parodies a smattering of everything that happened in the past year. After these family-oriented activities, neighbors in each quarter of the city convene to create massive bonfires that burn well into the night. Downtown Reykjavik’s lights up with the nightlife and fireworks to ring in the dawn of the New Year. If the party beat isn’t your scene, you can always skip the bonfire and head out into the countryside hoping to catch a glimpse of the dazzling Northern Lights. Either way, your New Year will certainly leave you breathless.