Tag Archives: Denmark

Lonely Planet Denmark

den

Lonely Planet Denmark
(Seventh Edition)
Written by Carolyn Bain & Cristian Bonetto
£15.99

Denmark may be well renowned for having to pay some of the highest taxes anywhere – on average, around 45 percent – but along with said taxes, comes one of the finest qualities of life in the world. On average, full-time workers report devoting 66% of their days to ”personal care.”

Indeed, currently ranked third in the world (nearby Norway is first), the country appears to have cemented it’s position at or near the top of the global tree of fine living; which, in the ultimately B-I-G scheme of life, really is no mean feat. Or, to quote one of the editors of this overtly friendly travel guide, Carolyn Bain: ”Chart-topping contentment and quality of life, blockbuster dining and design, and a cheerful emphasis on hygge (cosiness) – explore (and envy) what makes Denmark tick.”

With Lonely Planet Denmark, it really couldn’t be easier to ascertain just what does make Denmark tick. Reason being, this book is cool and edgy, well designed, simple to navigate throughout and is written in such a way that you can’t help but want to travel to the country’s capital, Copenhagen, nigh immediately: ”Copenhagen is the coolest kid on the Nordic block. Edgier than Stockholm and worldlier than Oslo, the Danish capital gives Scandinavia the X factor. Just ask style bibles Monocle and Wallpaper magazines, which fawn over its industrial-chic bar, design and fashion scenes, and culinary revolution. This is where you’ll find New Nordic pioneer Noma, (once again) voted the world’s best restaurant in 2014, and one of 15 Michelin-starred restaurants in town – not bad for a city of 1.2 million.

Yet Copenhagen is more than just seasoned cocktails and geometric threads. A royal capital with almost nine centuries under its svelte belt, its equally well versed when it comes to world-class museums and storybook streetscapes. Its cobbled, bike-friendly streets are a hyggelig (cosy) concoction of sherbet-hued town houses, craft studios and candlelit cafes. Add to this its compact size, and you have what is possibly Europe’s most seamless urban experience.”

Sound like something of a cultural, dog’s under-carriage?

Like The Netherlands, another small nation in north-western Europe – who too, place a rather large emphasis on gezelligheid (cosiness) – Denmark does indeed drip with simply inviting sexy chic, along with a chilled vibration that needs to be exceedingly regularly embraced.

Hence, the equal abundance of Danish outdoor activities, as explained on page thirty: ”Although small (and very flat), Denmark has a great diversity for activities, from island-hopping cycling adventures to Lake District canoeing. The sea, never far away, offers fishing, sailing, windsurfing and beach-going, while the national parks and hiking trails offer walkers a chance to stretch their legs. And everywhere, the cycling opportunities are outstanding.”

Covering all the main regions of the country from obviously Copenhagen (a pull-out map is included) to Zealand to Bornholm to both Southern and Northern Jutland, these 309 pages – excluding Behind the Scenes, Index and Map Legend – is unquestionably up there with all helpful, concise and important travel guides. Along with sections on History, Food & Drink, Literature, Film & TV as well as Denmark Today and The Danish Lifestyle, Lonely Planet Denmark absolutely has to be packed alongside one’s toothbrush and credit card.

Especially if travelling to Denmark.

David Marx

Countrymen

country

Countrymen –
How Denmark’s Jews Escaped The Nazis
By Bo Lidegaard
Atlantic Books – £9.99

With yesterday’s announcement by the Danish Government that they are going to make it less attractive for refugees to seek sanctuary and asylum in Denmark – by confiscating all and any valuables/money (with the exception of wedding rings) – this overtly thought provoking book does put a number of humanitarian issues in perspective.

For instance, at what point does a society or a government stop reaching out to help others? And is it actually beneficial to society as a whole to stop helping others? If so, is it internationally beneficial to be seen to be doing so?

Perhaps the current Danish government have taken a ghastly leaf out of the equally ghastly gospel according to Donald Trump?

Either way, Countrymen – How Denmark’s Jews Escaped The Nazis is an all-encompassing, incisive investigation, into how the Danish government conducted itself during the Nazi occupation of their country during the Second World War. An inconceivably trying time when its ”government initiated a powerful political and moral mobilization aimed at galvanizing the Danish people against totalitarian ideologies and uniting the country around democratic governance and humanitarian ideals as the very essence of the national community.”

Admittedly, today’s Europe as a whole is politically cowering amid the current onslaught of refugees from Syria. As I write, three thousand are still arriving in Germany everyday. But, does that make it morally right, morally acceptable, to economically strip refugees of whatever it is they may have left upon (almost impossible) arrival?

These fourteen chapters (excluding Prologue and Epilogue) do much to show just how much society has changed – Danish society in particular. As The Guardian’s Ian Buruma makes clear: ”The story Lidegaard tells of how Danes, from the top bureaucrats, Church leaders and police officials down to the humblest fishermen, helped the Jews escape when the Germans tried to deport them to concentration camps in October 1943, is indeed astonishing and heart-warming.”

There is unfortunately very little that is ”heart-warming” amid yesterday’s seemingly immoral, rather crude pronouncement by the Danish government. If anything, it’s heart-breaking.

From that of a historical and political perspective, there’s so much of Countrymen that would suggest it’s a mighty big shame that history isn’t actually repeating itself: ”The peaceful occupation of Denmark was in Hitler’s lens the very model for how Germany could control Europe when the Third Reich had prevailed. While the areas and populations to the east were colonized and exploited – in fact mostly obliterated – in order to expand German Lebensraum, the northern and western European countries and populations held a more fortunate position. Denmark was a special case, both racially and because the government had chosen from the outset to base its policy on cooperation.”

For a totally different viewpoint on how the Danish government once was, how it could once tell the difference between right and wrong, have a read this most readable of humane and inspirational of books.

David Marx