So when I say Scandinavia, I’m assuming you don’t think sunshine and palm trees. No, I’d rather expect you to assume something about three hours of daylight and rather bitter cold. Well, it’s pretty true.
Daylight is scarce and seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is in abundance. Coming to Copenhagen during these winter months is a pretty good way to meet up with some serious malaise. However, not all is lost. The Danes have been dealing with rather inhospitable weather since the dawn of their existence, so it’s natural to assume they’ve come up with a few good ways of combating the down time. Here are a few suggestions to get you through these dark days and maybe get a sunnier disposition.
Health Clubs in Copenhagen
Health clubs are very popular in Copenhagen, and a little bit of exercise can really bring some of that much needed adrenaline and joie-de-vivre back. The most important feature about these health clubs when it comes to winter blahs, though, is the tanning beds. Most every health club has them but there are also individual tanning salons if you don’t need any aerobics. They’re quite popular and you shouldn’t be surprised to see a rather bronzed Dane walking down the streets mid March.
Embracing the sun
Denmark is a coastal city with a lot of clouds. Rain happens frequently and winds are gusty. Sometimes, though, the sun breaks through and you feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. While you may be blinded by the sun at first, embrace it. Head to Parken or the shore and just soak in the rays for a minute. Go on a canal cruise. Yes, it’ll still be cold, but frankly just put on a coat and deal. Some vitamin D from the sun rays will help you in the long run.
The Danish Art of Hygge
Some cultural theorists say that the inhospitable weather led to the Danish phenomenon of hygge. If you don’t know what this is, consult your nearest guidebook for a more complete description. Take a cue from the experts of handling miserable days and get together with some close friends or associates in a nice, warm place (your call of hotel room, café, apartment, etc) and share a meal and conversation. Warmth sometimes comes from within, so cozy up with some comrades.
Danish drinking traditions
Finally, and this one should come as no surprise, imbibe in alcohol. This is easily the most important one. Really and truly, the Danes love a good drink, and the stuff they have does wonders to perk you up and make you feel full and happy. The beers (and there’s more than Carlsberg and Tuborg in the world, folks) are usually thick and satisfying. These aren’t like Mexican beers where you feel like you should be at a barbecue, no, these are for when you should be sitting by an open fire. Hard liquor favs like Fisk also help perk you up with their stronger and usually more mint-flavored flare. So if you can’t find tanning beds, sunshine, or friends, just head to a bar or pub and embrace the rich Danish drinking traditions.
Also, never forget spring is only so far away!
Photo of statues in Copenhagen, Denmark, originally posted by wili hybrid