mardi 19 mars 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

One of the perks of living in Copenhagen is the possibility of weekend travel all over Europe. Of course you can take weekend trips from Bordeaux, but you are more restricted in your choice of destination. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a direct flight from Bordeaux to anywhere in Europe east of Basel. There are so many places I can go to from Copenhagen for the weekend.

We came back from Berlin yesterday after enjoying a weekend there with my wedding witness. She is very proud to be Berliner (rightfully so!) and asked me which city I preferred, Copenhagen or Berlin.

I spent the weekend mulling over it, going back and forth over the pros and cons. I think I have my answer, but I continue to be pulled back and forth over which city I prefer.

So which city would I prefer to live in, Berlin or Copenhagen?

Berliner Dom and the Fernsehturm in Berlin. Author of photo: Den Nation.

What do I like about Berlin?

1. The prices. Hands down, Berlin is cheaper than Copenhagen. I can't imagine how expensive it must be for Berliners coming to visit Copenhagen. Of course the salaries are higher in Denmark, but the taxes are higher on everything so if I buy food in Copenhagen it better be good for the price I am paying. If I buy mediocre food in Berlin it would hurt less as there are less taxes to pay, thus prices are a lot lower.

2. The food. It's better in Berlin in my opinion. There is more variety and choice. You can have variety and choice in Denmark too if you pay the price. There are so many different types of restaurants to choose from (and more varied ethnic restaurants) in Berlin and more imported products available.

3. The energy. Berlin is so alive. There is always something going on at all times. Last weekend there was a giant pillow fight in the streets of Berlin. There is an electric buzz in Berlin, an unstoppable energy, a drive, a vibe. It is such a dynamic city which is continually going forward. Copenhagen is kind of sleepy compared to Berlin.

4. The history. Berlin is a walking museum. For a history buff like me, I spent hours standing and walking around Berlin reading information posts. And it's all free. I am not a "traditional" museum person, but I love interactive displays.

5. The German language. I would love to learn German. Not to many native English speakers wish to learn German, but I really regret not learning when I had the chance a few years ago. I do like learning Danish and get a kick out of learning a language spoken by only 5 million people, but German is so useful in Europe. I like the sound of the language and it is easier to pronounce than Danish, although Danish grammar is much easier than German. German is a language that I can easily practice while living in France while Danish is not.

Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish royal family. Author of photo: Den Nation.

So what could I possibly say to top that?

1. The type of person I am is better suited to Copenhagen. There are a lot of alternative people in Berlin. I have never smoked, have never been drunk, I hate clubbing and dislike dancing, have never died my hair, I don't have colourful clothing, and I don't have tattoos. I wear simple clothing; my wardrobe consists of basic tops and bottoms that are easy to pair together. I do like to wear skirts every now and then, but they are simple as well. There is nothing alternative about me.

I am more introvert than extrovert and want nothing more than a good evening at home snuggling with my husband or in the company of a small group of friends in a café or a restaurant. I am not saying that it's bad to smoke or like clubbing, etc., just that it's not me. So yes, sleepy Copenhagen it is for me. I appreciate the quietness and Danish hygge.

2. Danish hygge. What is Danish hygge? There is no direct translation in English, but the best way to describe it would be "a cozy feeling". Candles or soft lighting, furniture that is simple but looks inviting, blankets in cafés, and an architecture that allows for a lot of natural lighting. I love going to cafés to experience Danish hygge.

3. Danish cafés. There really is a division between cafés and bars and I like that. I love going to cafés to experience Danish hygge. I think that blankets in cafés are so cute. I just want to stay for hours and hours.

4. The cycling. There are cyclists in Berlin, but nothing can top Copenhagen (except Amsterdam maybe). I love being able to cycle everywhere and love the wonderful cycle paths in Copenhagen.

5. A classical city. Compared to modern Berlin, Copenhagen has a classical feeling to it. I do like modern architecture, but I appreciate classical architecture even more. I guess I should say that when I am talking about classical architecture I mean anything that isn't modern. So I am talking about old European architecture. As I consider myself a "classical" type of person, I feel more at home in Copenhagen.

6. Copenhagen has a small city feel to it. I feel more protected in Copenhagen, like I'm being cocooned. The city centre is easily navigable by foot and it's easy and fast to get from point A to B. I sometimes felt overwhelmed in Berlin. Yes, I am definitely a small city type of person.

So who is the winner?

I think Copenhagen. After I had written my little blurb about Berlin I wasn't sure at all, but now that I have written about Copenhagen I have a better idea once again.

Does this mean that I would never want to live in Berlin? No way! If my husband has the opportunity to work in Berlin (we are in Denmark thanks to his work), I wouldn't hesitate. I love learning about European culture, history and languages and I admit to knowing very little about Germany, the German language and Germans. Here's to hoping...

9 commentaires:

  1. Both cities sound interesting, but based on the cozy feeling, I'd go with Copenhagen, too! Thanks for your comment on my blog. I'm glad to hear you're a non-ironer, too!

    1. Hi Mil, thanks for coming over and reading my blog!

      I just love, love, love the cozy feeling in Copenhagen. I love low lighting in cafés. It's funny that I like Danish design so much because I am not drawn to trendy and modern places in France, but the Danes have a way of combining the modern with the old that makes it so inviting.

      I better go and dust the cobwebs off of my ironing board!

  2. I haven't been to either so I can't compare but your analysis is interesting because that's kind of how I imagine Berlin and Copenhagen to be. I am sorry though, I am really not into either language. I speak Spanish, bit of Portuguese, I speak Mandarin... but I am completely useless when it comes to German and related languages. No interest in it either.

    Oh and... I have never been drunk! I know, shocking from a French :-D (I do smoke cigarettes though!)

    1. Don't worry, not a lot of people want to learn Danish or German! I get a kick out of learning less popular European languages. Anyway, you learnt Chinese! I would never dare do that. It doesn't interest me at all and would take way too long so I can see how you would feel the same about German and Danish.

      I shock people when I tell them that I have never been drunk. When I was 25 and under and I used to tell people that, they used to pressure me to get drunk with them, telling me, "I'm going to get you so drunk and then you'll see!" Nope, they never got me! I'm so glad that now that I'm 30 people are just amazed when I tell them and all that talk about going out and getting smashed is over.

  3. This was so interesting to read! I've not been to either city, but based on your descriptions, I'd definitely have to say I'd feel at home in Copenhagen, too. Enjoy it while you are there!

    1. I'm glad you liked reading about my observations/viewpoints. There are so many things that I want to do during my time in Copenhagen - the list is getter longer and longer!

  4. I would be totally torn between superior Berlin food and lovely Copenhagen cosy!! I can't choose!

    1. Well, I thought the food was better in Berlin. I have Danish friends who weren't so impressed with the food in Berlin. I am led to great places because I have German friends in Berlin. However, I have Danish friends telling me great places to eat at in Copenhagen as well, so I think that my food observations are not biased.

  5. Oh, I'm waiting for this since you announced to make a Berlin guide. We go to Berlin at least once a year and we will check out all your lovely tips next time - thank you so much for sharing!! It all sounds great!
    Please visit