I don't have to travel much with my job, but I have done about one international trip a year. This past Sunday (right after the birthday bash), Ivy dropped me off at SFO and I flew out to Copenhagen. A few of us from my company met up with Sony Ericsson in the south of Sweden (in Lund) yesterday and today I've had to do a few hours of work, but am basically now free. In fact, I spent some time already exploring downtown Copenhagen.
This morning--despite the rain, overcast skies and only 6 hours of sunlight--I still had a fabulous time walking around the city and I am a big fan of Scandinavia and of Denmark. Copenhagen is beautiful and I love so many things about it:
- very appealing, classy architecture (I'll put in some pictures below from what I saw today)
- inviting, lit candles in nearly all shop windows and on the tables in all the numerous cafes I saw; (Scandinavians do a great job at making life pleasant and "cozy"--their word for this is "hygge"-- and all of the workspaces/desks I could see in various offices near the street had big windows, cool Ikea-style wood desks, etc., walls painted a pleasant color--unlike the grey cubes and uniformly grey walls where I work)
- many, many bicycles being ridden everywhere; the rain didn't stop people from biking all over;
- a "rule-based" culture; e.g., litter is essentially nonexistent and no one walks through a crosswalk except w/ a green light;
- good, balanced lifestyles: since everyone walks & bikes all over, I didn't see one overweight "youngish" person (just a few who were over 50) and it was amazing how trim people are; also, people aren't working late as far as I could tell and many were clearing out after 4pm (this is what happened in the Sony Ericsson building yesterday). And of course, they take 2 months of vacation or so a year! Things are on a smaller scale (from cars to housing to salaries) but everything is quality and cosy and pleasant.
Overall, I think Americans could learn a lot from Europeans and Scandinavians in particular. This place of course is not paradise (60% tax rates are pretty painful). But health care is taken care of, and everyone gets to enjoy the beautiful city and excellent infrastructure that the tax dollars fund. I could definitely live here and Ivy has always been a fan of Scandinavia and one of her college majors was Norwegian. Maybe that's where we'll visit next.