KLINT STRAND AT SPRING EQUINOX | NykøBING SJÆLLAND, DK
We have just returned from a lovely weekend at the Danish coast with friends and our families. It had all the trappings of some true Danish hygge. Laughter. Good food. Fresh fish from the local smokehouse. Skål (cheers) with snaps. Fab tunes. Fun games. Dips in the frigid sea. Warming up. Soaking up sunshine. Walks on the beach. Toasted marshmallows over the fire under a sky full of stars.
It was beautiful. And needed. A perfect start to spring. We stayed near the far northwest corner of Sjælland, the island where Copenhagen sits. Our summer house rental was almost to Sjællands Odde where you catch the ferry for Aarhus in Jutland. This area is called Odsherred. It’s little over an hour from Copenhagen. And it is definitely not odd. It is decidedly the opposite. It is truly lovely. And I was taken with the tones. The colors of the beach. A Danish beach. This is Scandinavia.
Winter isn’t coming. It’s here. In Scandinavia at least. Today in Copenhagen, it is cold and dark and damp. To me this is the worst. I’d rather have snow. But the Danes have an answer to combat these shortening days and less than desirable weather. It’s called hygge. You know it. You do. I have talked about it before. More than candles and cookies and cool Danish design, hygge is about creating a space that your community can well, commune in. It’s about moments. A feeling. For me, music helps to create that feeling.
Every year I create an alternative Christmas playlist. I love the classics and a carol sung by a choir or two, but music evolves and how I listen to it equally evolves. I like seeing where winter music can take me. And since I now live in Scandinavia – it makes sense that my musical tastes have been swayed by the locals. Let me sway you. Or rather – feel the sway of this beautiful music. I have created a playlist to help UP your Scandinavian winter hygge. I hope you enjoy.
Agnes Obel is a classically trained pianist and her music for me is an updated and modern version of George Winston’s December. I know – super dating myself there. But to be honest, I have not played George Winston since my sorority sisterhood nights in college. Don’t ask. It’s cringy, but sentimental at the same time. Not Agnes’ music though. Pure and gorgeous. Put this on your Scandi winter mixtape, bust out some candles. Light them all. Enjoy. With someone preferably. Now you’ve got hygge.
WHEN YOU TOLD ME IT WAS CHRISTMAS | BODEBrIXEN | Aarhus, DK
Something about this duo from Aarhus conjures the hours and hours and hours I used to listen to my Jesus & Mary Chain cassette on loop. In case you were wondering… YES. Yes it was a yellow Sony Sports Walkman. I’ve already dated myself. See above. Don’t judge. I love this song.
Mr Little Jeans, which might be my new favorite band name ever, is the lovechild of Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, who now calls LA home. Kicky, swingy and beautifully sung – try not to move to this one. I can feel the Norway AND the California is this fun holiday song.
Listening to Sys Bjerre sing about julefrokosts and brunkager in Danish is amusing and fun. The way she interjects English into the song is much like riding on the train with Danes. All of a sudden you are like, “HEY! I understood what they said!” Oh. Because that was English. Yep. I do understand though (a little too well) her sharing that her underwear don’t fit anymore from enjoying too many marcipan treats. Hahaha!
CODY – which stands for Come On Die Young are based right here in Copenhagen. Known for their own brand of Nordic gloom, this year’s julesang, Christmas song, is all about the angst that coming home for Christmas can bring. Reminiscent of Blitzen Trapper’s Christmas is Coming Soon! and Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal, I love CODY’s vibe and will probably be shouting their refrain all season – “It’s Christmas!” Check out the video to for a traditional Danish Christmas dinner too!
I do love a beautiful Swedish voice and local Alice hits us with hers. You know Malmö is like a suburb of Copenhagen right? (Shhh.. don’t tell the Swedes that!) Lilting and lovely, Be Mine will definitely notch up the hygge this winter. Snuggle in, but be ready to tap your toes.
Then you already know the Swedish group Caesars. Winter Song is from 2005, but it still holds a rich and full sound that is perfect for creating that Scandi hygge – and I find it means more for me now living here – “… running down the icy streets, trying to catch the last sunbeam.” I know it will hold a space on my indie Christmas list for a long time.
Dreams today | EFTERKLANG | Copenhagen, DK & BERLIN, DE
In Danish, Efterklang means echo or reverberation. Try to listen to this song and not feel it. Viscerally. I also love their song Modern Drift where the piano and drums push the music, pulling you along in slow and steady rhythm full of a sorrowful sweetness. Creative and evolving, Efterklang is Danish design put to sound.
No Scandi mixtape would be complete without some indielectric syntho pop. I love this one – a collab between long-time Norwegian friends and music producers Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Thomas Moen Hermansen. When grey days call for hygge socks and warm drinks, add this to your mix.
Ok, ok. So Klyne is not officially Scandinavian. But I have been asked if I speak Dutch after living here in Denmark. (I know, I was just as embarrassed as you!) Because of this, I offer you the tongue-in-cheek inclusion of this Dutch band Klyne. Once you listen – you’ll understand why. Warm energy, delicious beats and yummy vocals. Insta-hygge. The Dutch may call it “gezelligheid,” but it is similar in sentiment.
If you don’t know Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit – stop everything and look them up. Now. The soundtrack to my life across borders here in Denmark includes lots of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderbergs’ gorgeous harmonies and elegant lyrics. I adore My Silver Lining and Wolf. New Year’s Eve is no different. Written in 2012 – it seems especially pertinent for 2016.
Well it’s a new year, with it comes more than new fears.
Met a young man who was in tears, he asked me,
“What induces us to stay here?”
I said, “I don’t know much and I’m not lying,
But I think you just have to keep on trying.”
And I know I am naive, but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me
Took a stroll around the neighborhood where the trees are swaying.
People passed in cars with their windows down, with a pop song playing.
A man walked by, walking back and forth the street with a drunken smile to go along.
He stopped to look at me and say, “Child, don’t fear doing things wrong.”
Yet I am still afraid but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me
Now I have a lot to learn and I’m starting tonight,
Got to stop looking at things like they’re black and they’re white.
Got to write more songs of a little more, treat my friends better.
Got to stop worrying about everything to the letter.
And sometimes when it’s too hard to get up,
It just might be a little call apart.
But I find it hard to believe, but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me
New Year’s Eve | Mø | Ubberud, DK & Copenhagen, DK
You may know Mø from her hit Final Song, she is crazy popular here. (And it is not pronounced Mo – see here for the artist pronouncing it herself. Try taking the oo’s in pool and add it’s closer to that.) This year, she has her own version of a New Year’s song – take a listen – her unique voice offers an honest message.
Thanks Erin – but what if I don’t want to click on every song by itself and make my own playlist. NO WORRIES. I already did that. You knew that right? I work in Spotify because I think it is awesomesauce and we got the no-ads version with our Danish phone contracts and when you connect with with Sonos you can play it all over your entire house. WHAT? I know. That was not a plug and I get no kinds of kick-back for saying any of that. But I LOVE it.
I don’t have Spotify though. It ok. Spotify offers a free version. Just after a few songs, you may have to listen to an ad. You can create playlists, share songs and connect with friends. Check it out.
Here’s my list – includes songs shared in this post along with other classic Danish juletunes. Did I miss one of your favorites? Or have another indie Scandi band favorite you need to share – PLEASE – I always am looking for new music. Cheers from Copenhagen and happy listening. Get your hygge on. Erin
Know someone who might enjoy these tunes? Share it!
Sweden is super cool. Yep, you heard me. I know, I know. I live in Denmark. But our Scandi neighbor really is. Cool. In a completely different way than Denmark. I mean Copenhagen is cool. VERY COOL. Sometimes, maybe possibly – a little too cool for school. Don’t get me wrong. I love it here. In all it’s tatted, skinny black panted, chunky white trainer wearing, oversized trench coated, giant scarf wrapped, top-knotted or bearded, coffee drinking, Tuborg swilling, design toting, bicycling glory. I said I loved it – remember?
But today – it’s all about Sweden. Denmark’s tall leggy blond and blue eyed cousin -Sweden. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. Not all Swedes are tall, blond or blue eyed. But… Sweden’s flag is blue and yellow. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And so is IKEA. All blue and yellow. (P.S. – you pronounce it ee-KAY-uh here. Not EYE-kea.) And every time you step inside one of those enormous Swedish box stores and think – jeesh, I just came in for cheap candles and a couple picture frames – do I really have to wind through all of these displays? Just think of how big Sweden is! Compared to Denmark anyway. It’a all relative. But Sweden is pretty big! Have you looked at a map? Much larger than Denmark. In fact, Sweden is the third largest country by area in the European Union. And it’s all kind of tall and long. Another coincidence? I don’t think so. (*wink, wink.)
AREA: 450,295 square kilometers (173, 860 square miles)
POPULATION: 9.9 million
DENSITY: 21 people/square kilometer (54 people/square mile)
And of all those 9.9 million people living in Sweden, 85% of them live in urban areas – mostly Stockholm, Gothenberg and Malmö. That means there is a lot of land with nobody on it. Lots of space for all the moose. And farms. And trees. And nature. Lots of nature. Want to know the coolest part about Sweden? All of that land and all of that nature is available to everyone.
Especially lovely to roam old growth forest – beech trees as old as 200 years at Osbecks Nature Preserve, Hallands, Sweden
Get outside – southern Sweden
You heard me. It’s open to EVERYONE. Sweden has a law called Allemansrätten that gives the right of public access to everyman. It literally translates to everyman’s right. Also known as outdoor access rights or freedom to roam, it means that you have the right to walk, hike, bike, ski or camp on any land in Sweden. The only exceptions to the rule being that you can’t tromp through someone’s private garden, across cultivated land or hang out near homes. Because that would be just rude and really kind of creepy. But everywhere else – open. Yep. It’s awesome.
As an Oregon girl – this resonates with me. In the state of Oregon we border the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful stretch of coastline. But when we visit, we don’t say we’re going to the beach or the shore – while both are there. We go to the coast. The Oregon Coast. It is also known as the “people’s coast.” And for good reason. Every inch of the Oregon Coast belongs to the people and because of that you have access to it. Where it is safe to do so – of course. My inner Oregon-ness appreciates Sweden. In fact – it feels a little like Oregon over there. Especially when you start throwing in evergreen trees across the landscape the further north you travel.
Come on over to Sweden. But bring your passport. You’ll be checked. Even if you’re Danish. Maybe especially if you’re Danish. Just kidding. Maybe. But once here – roam where you want to. Roam around the land. Explore Sweden. That is cool. Sup-ah cool. And Swedes take advantage of it. We’re lucky to have Swedish-American friends living in Sweden while we’ve been here who were willing to share one of their favorite places to hike and explore.
Only 2 km off E20 in southern Sweden near Hasslöv
Autumn is a beautiful time to visit southern Sweden.
Allemansrätt lets you explore the Swedish countryside
Today, we’re going to Skåne, the beautiful region at the tip of southern Sweden. Think rolling green hills, tall beech forests, farms full of brilliant yellow rapeseed, old castles, rocky coastlines, little inlets and islands all await you in Skåne. (Pronounced “skona.”) From Copenhagen – you can drive across the Øresund Bridge to Malmö and head north or take the short 20 minute ferry from Helsingør, Denmark to Helsingborg, Sweden. Then take the E20 north in the direction of Gothenberg. Need a place to stay? Try super charming little Torekov or nearby Båstad. It’s not a bad word. It’s pronounced BO-stah and is the home of the Swedish Open. And unless you’re a huge Björn Borg fan or are just really into tennis, steer clear of this place for two weeks in July every year. Otherwise it is a charming little outpost to base your outdoor exploits.
Swedish seaside town in southern Sweden in fall’s colors
Fall colors in Torekov, Sweden, Skåne
Now that you’re here. Let’s get outside! Only about 10 minutes outside Baståd heading east on route 115 is the gorgeous Naturreservat Osbecks. Officially you are now in Halland County, but just right on the border of Skåne County. If coming from the E20 motorway, take the exit towards Hasslöv. After 2 kilometers there is a sign saying “Hiking area”. There is should be a football field on your left. Turn right onto the gravel road and follow the road up to the car park. A forest of beech trees cover this open nature preserve. Parking here and pick a trail. Autumn is an amazing time to visit as the leaves are turning, coloring the landscape and there is a crispness to the air.
The trees here at Osbecks are mostly deciduous with many beeches, birches and old oaks, which is why it gleams in autumn. Some of the trees here loom overhead nearly 200 years old. History rocks at this nature reserve in the form of stone age and bronze age cairns. Literally piles of rocks that farmers of yore piled to the side of their plot – both marking their territory and allowing cultivation. See if you can find them! But remember, the general rule when accessing allmansrätt is:
Do not disturb – do not destroy.”
Look out for tree snails and song birds, ferns and funghi. Sweden is proud of the diversity that has taken root here. Plan ahead and pack a picnic. There are several spots where you can make a fire in the pits available. Firewood is available free for your use. We grilled hotdogs and roasted marshmallows while soaking in the views. It was a perfect end to a perfect afternoon.
Grilling hotdogs (pølsers) over open fire in Osbecks Naturreservat
Tasty and fun end to a hike in southern Sweden
Hiking in southern Sweden forest ends with grilling
Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows in Osbecks Nature Reserve, Halland Sweden
Seriously more delicious after being outside in the beautiful fall Swedish forest.
Time to grill after beautiful fall hike in southern Sweden
Can you believe all this lovely is just over two hours from Copenhagen. Cross the big bridge or take the ferry. Go for a hike. Pick ligonberries. Hunt mushrooms. You can. It’s allowed. It’s allemansrätten. Tack Sverige! Thanks Sweden!
Southern Sweden spreads out in farm land and forests – fabulous view from the picnic grill
Hiking in the southern Swedish forest – it may have tasted like marshmallow!
Happy to link this post and introduce a new collaboration of travel bloggers today. Join myself, Katy of Untold Morsels and Clare of Suitcases and Sandcastles in a new supportive and inspiring linkup community we’re calling #FarawayFiles. Read more here about how we started it, what we want it to be and how you can engage. We’d love to see you there!
Start Your Norway in a Nutshell Tour by Train from Oslo
Summer break is almost here and maybe Norway is on your list. If you haven’t taken the overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo – that is an experience in and of itself. Spend time in the elegant and accessible city, but don’t limit your Norwegian trip to Oslo. Norway really shines outside the capital. Ride along as I revisit our train trip from Oslo to fjord country… this is Norway by rail.
ALL ABOARD | STUNNING NORWEGIAN SCENERY FROM THE TRACKS
Wending along in the eighth of ten cars, feeling the pull and sway along the tracks. Remarkably insulated from the bracing sound of metal wheels upon steel rails. Suprisingly infrequent is the clickety-clacking one most associates with this mode of travel. I love riding the train.
Tried and True Things to Do This Summer in Copenhagen
FROM BIKING TO BOATING TO SWIMMING AT THE BEACH
(Originally posted May 2016, updated June 2018)
Summer in Copenhagen. It’s amazing here. And we earned it. It was dark, dank and cold in December. But now, the Danish summer days are long. Full of that Nordic light we all so craved over winter. At midsummer’s peak, celebrated on the 23rd of June with the annual Sankt Hans Aften festivities, the sun shines 17.5 hours in Copenhagen. The swing feels radical in contrast to the average 7 hours of daylight back in December. But it’s summer now in Denmark, or sommer in Danish. And there is so much to love about summer in Copenhagen.
The trees lining many streets are once more lush and verdant. Flowers bloom everywhere. At the end of May, the air is lavish with lilacs and vining roses. Roses that drape around doorways of those charming, colorful old houses all over town. The sun glints off the water and everywhere people are out soaking it up. Faces to the sun. When it’s out. And lately, it has been out in great quantities. A reminder when planning a summer holiday to Copenhagen, don’t expect perfect weather. There are few places better when it’s blue, blue skies overhead. But, be prepared for some good days and some potential grey days. Remember to bring layers. Even if you turn up during a few of the more lacking days weather-wise, you can absolutely still enjoy this beautiful city and have a great time exploring. So, without further ado, here are my favorite things to do in Copenhagen in the summer, in no particular order.