Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Denmark for Dummies: A Superficial Introduction To The Happiest Nation On Earth (Updated)

Winner of www.Denmark.net's International Blog Contest, 2009. Updated version.

All Danes are blond and gorgeous. And all of us have a cabin with a view of a lake. No wonder the whole world wants to be Danish, but don't get your hopes up. We're very protective of our gene pool.


You're smart.

You're planning to go to Denmark.

You've always wanted to visit our country because you know that it's the most exciting nation in the world. You tell yourself, "Why would I want to go to Paris, London or Florence when I can go hiking in Djursland?"

"Yes," you continue, "I'm trendy. I want to go to Denmark because the Danes are eco-friendly, they ride their bikes like there's no tomorrow, they're innovative with windmills and dildos, and most important, they're the happiest and most trusting people in the world."

Yes, that's right.

What we Danes have known for ages is now official: Denmark has been named the happiest nation on the planet. And I'm living proof of that. Right now this Danish novelist is sitting in the middle of happy Copenhagen staring at the happy rain, enjoying the 43 degrees of happy spring.

Come and visit us, will you?

And please bring all your credit cards because you're going to need them!


YOUR GUIDE TO DENMARK

Here's a superficial introduction to my Southern Scandinavian Paradise. Everything you read in this guide is the gospel truth and is not open for discussion.

Name: Denmark (Danmark)

Inhabitants: 5.5 million.

Capital: Copenhagen (1.5 million)

Ranking: Most livable city in the world (Monocle, British Magazine, 2008)

Other Top Rankings in the World That We Take Pride in Because We Damn Well Should:
a) Most trusting people in the world (April 2011)
b) Best restaurant in the world (Noma)
b) Most Commitment to foreign aid.
c) Most Pork consumption per capita (not counting your neighborhood Iman)

Language: Danish.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Currency: Kroner. (5.5 DKK to a US dollar)

Religion: No, thank you.

Name of Queen: Margrethe II.

Name of Prime Minister: Always a Rasmussen.

Size: The 8th biggest country in the world if you count Greenland. (Always count Greenland).

Unemployment Rate: Rising

Hospitality If You're Not White: Falling

Crime per Capita: Fourth lowest in the world.

Corruption: Second lowest in the world.

Average Consumption of Beer per Capita: Fourth highest in the world.

Weather: Not really.

Favorite National Hobby: Bombing Libya

New Pet Hate for Silly Danes: Norwegians.

Old Pet Hate for Wise Danes: The Danish People's Party

World Ranking for Danish Men In Bed: Number 9.


Famous Dead Danes: Hans Christian Andersen (fairy tale writer), Søren Kierkegaard (philosopher), King Canute (conquered England), Tycho Brahe (conquered the universe), Isak Dinesen (conquered Africa), Karen Blixen (conquered Meryl Streep), Vitus Bering (explorer), Niels Bohr (physicist), Georg Jensen (design), Jørn Utzon (architect), Carl Nielsen (composer), Carl Th. Dreyer (film director), Victor Borge (comedian), Hamlet (Shakespeare's boy toy).

Famous Living Danes: Caroline Wozniacki (tennis player, cute) Lars Ulrich (founder of Metallica, not that cute), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (General Secretary of NATO; he'll be happy to bomb any country you dislike), Bjorn Lomborg (climatic self promoter), Helena Christensen (ex-model), Peter Høeg (author), Michael Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel, Nicklas Bendtner (soccer players), Lars von Trier (film director)

Danes Who Ought to Be Dead: Jante.

Famous Half Danes: Viggo Mortensen, Scarlett Johansson, Ludvig Holberg.

Danish Oscar Winners for Best Foreign Film: Gabriel Axel (Babette's Feast, 1987), Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988), Susanne Bier (In Another World, 2011)
Biggest Danish Film Star of All Time: Asta Nielsen (from the Silent Age. Known as Die Asta by the Germans, and other adorable riff-raff)


Most Famous Danish Building: The Opera House in Sydney.

Famous Danish Companies You Probably Would Want to Boycott If You Were a Muslim Who Don't Care For Our Cartoons: Arla, Lego, Maersk, Ecco, Vesta, Bang and Olufsen, Danfoss, Carlsberg, Tuborg.

Daily Smokers: 10% of population. (All of them will be sitting in your outdoor café of choice)

Obesity Rate: 22% of population.

McDonalds Restaurants in Denmark: 25

Best Danish Food: Moss, lichen, and bone marrow.



Denmark's Claim to Fame in Great Britain: Bacon.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in Spain, Greece, and Cyprus: Blond girls with herpes.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Far East: Badminton.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Middle East: Cartoons.

Most Important Danish Invention of All Time: The atomic bomb (Niels Bohr)

Denmark's Biggest Contribution to American Sports: Morten Andersen, the all-time leading scorer in the NFL.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Into Knights in Shining Armour: 1. Frederiksborg castle, Hillerød. 2. Kronborg (Hamlet's castle), Elsinore. 3. Egeskov, Funen.


Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eight Years Old or Behaving Like It: Legoland.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eighty Years Old or Behaving Like It: Tivoli.

Most Overrated Tourist Attraction That You Shouldn't Waste Your Time With But God Knows You Will: The Little Mermaid.

Time of Glory I: When the Danish vikings conquered England in the 11th century.

Time Of Glory II: When Denmark won the European Championship in soccer in 1992 and the whole country behaved like a frat party.

This is the kind of abuse we Danes have to tolerate every day: Foreigners who fondle our national treasure as if she were a common strumpet. Shameless, that's what it is.

Biggest International Danish Hit of All Time But Please Don't Listen to It: Barbie Girl by Aqua.

Danish TV-Series That Was a Great Hit in the UK and Now Has Its Own Popular Spin Off In The US: The Killing (Forbrydelsen)

Worst Danish Accent by Great Actress: Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa

Most Sold Danish Novel Since The Time of Hans Christian Andersen: Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg.




Most Beautiful Cities in Denmark: Copenhagen, Helsingør (Elsinore), Ærøskøbing, Faaborg, Ribe, Skagen, Svaneke, Århus.

Places to Avoid at All Costs Unless You Have A Secret Death Wish: Mørke, Ringsted, Brøndby, Fisketorvet.

Best Months to Visit Our Fine Country: Late May, June, July, August.

Best Month to Commit Suicide Because It's Dark, Dreary, and Everybody Wish They Were in Thailand: January.

Best Danish Traits: Tolerance, sense of humor, informality.

Worst Danish Traits: Intolerance, pettiness, self-satisfied melancholy.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're an American Visiting Denmark: TV anchors with perfect teeth.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Italian: Bread and Berlusconi.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Norwegian: Norway

Most Beautiful Area of Denmark: The Silkeborg lake district in Jutland and the island of Bornholm.



Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Now, which part of Germany are you from again ...?

Second Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: I've just been to Sweden. It's my favorite Scandinavian country.

Enjoy your stay, but do bring all your credit cards. Copenhagen is the second most expensive capital in the world, but hey, we mean well.



Copyright, Peter H. Fogtdal, Danish Accent, 2008, 2009, 2011

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