Falling in Love with Denmark

October 11, 2020

If someone told me that I would enjoy biking alongside traffic about a month ago, I would have scoffed at them. In fact, I did—during the numerous orientations I attended before landing on Danish soil, I was told time and time again, how much I would come to love biking around the city…

My history with biking is a bit of a complicated one. I learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels rather late in life, and kind of by accident. My home in Denver sat on a slight hill that appeared flat to the naked eye, but to a pair of wheels, it’s downhill from there. At first, I would walk my bike to the end of the street, also the top of the incline, and ride down with my feet on the pedals. Eventually, I became confident enough to pedal downhill until I began to try pedaling uphill. Since the incline wasn’t too steep, I didn’t have many troubles. Thus, my biking career began at age 10.

I didn’t bike much after elementary school, and not actively again until I began college. According to my social circles, everyone biked around campus. So, I saved up a bike fund from my waitressing job and purchased a beautiful red bike, who I loving called Rouge, as soon as I arrived on campus. My father taught me, briefly, how to ride again in a parking lot nearby, and soon enough I was zooming around campus.

Me and Rouge ❤

Sadly, after sophomore year, I sold her off since I did not bike around as much due to living in a dorm/house closer to the main campus. Sometimes, I would spot her locked up around campus, so I am glad someone else is getting some use out of her.

By the time I arrived in Denmark, I was not so keen on riding a bike and I put off renting my bike (included along with my Commuter Card) for over a week until I went riding with my hmom and little brother.

I had expressed to my hmom that I would like some gouda cheese (I mean, who wouldn’t?) and she told me we could bike to the Fakta just around the way. At first I was skeptical. Bike? Me? In the street with other cars? Uh, no thanks.

But I sucked up my fear and borrowed one of their bikes and followed behind. At first, I was terribly nervous when a car would pass since I was rather wobbly and I feared that I would veer a tad too close to a passing vehicle. Having just arrived to Denmark at the time, I wasn’t really keen on trying out my health insurance so early. However, I somehow managed to not only keep up with my hmom but to make it to Fakta and back in one windblown piece. From then on, I just knew I had to rent my bike out.

Despite riding my bike off and on since I brought it home, I did not use it to ride to the station, or for any real utility besides going for a ride or a quick run to the store. Today, I decided that I wanted to visit Føtex for some kalkunbacon and figured this would be a great time to see how well I know the way by road (rather than cutting through the cathedral courtyard). All was going well until I hit a hill. I tried so hard to pedal up that hill, while trying to not look winded and out of shape, but eventually the hill got the best of me and I hopped off. As I walked my bike up the hill, I watched a much older man take on the hill with ease, as if it were any other flat surface. I felt terribly embarrassed.

After a bit of research, and fiddling with my bike, I discovered that my bicycle had three gears! I hopped on again, still on the incline but much less steep and tried out a different gear—Oh! The newfound ease was a relief! Now, I sped about, not fearing the traffic on my right or ups and downs of the road. I felt like a true biker, much more confident in my riding skills.

Once I finished up at Føtex and started for home, I encountered a technical difficulty. My favorite black maxi skirt, the one my mother bought for me during her visit in Dallas some years ago, got caught in the gear! I could brake just fine, but I couldn’t pedal forward since it had lodged the gear so badly. In the end, much to my dismay, I had to cut the dress. A lovely lady came to my aid and tried her hardest to dislodge my skirt without cutting it but soon the reality was clear: the skirt had to go if I wanted to be free.

Snip Snip! And it was gone.

I slipped into the skirt I just so happened to buy while at Føtex and thanked the kind lady profusely as she handed me my freed piece of fabric and went along her way. And I went along mine.

***

Even as I continued on with my day, I kept thinking about how fun it was to ride my bike, now that I could ride anywhere. If anything, I wanted to test just how much better my riding was. Eventually, I gave in to myself and set out again, without much direction. I rode the roudabout way to Fakta (rather than cutting through the neighborhood) and continued down along Møllehusvej following my bus route. At Vestergade, or at least I though it was Vestergade, I cut a left and rode through the neighborhood. Soon, I came upon the main street and I saw a sign for the havn and decided to direct my course in that direction.

Even though I thought I was following a sign, I believe I must have misread it, for I found myself closer to the cathedral than the havn. I did not mind it, for it was tolling to signify evening services.

I returned from the way I came and eventually found the roundabout which led to the havn. Rather than riding through the crowds, I hopped off my bike once I arrived and walked it into the havn. I found a comfy bench to rest on, overlooking the fjord, and watched the birds and ducks.

Watching the birds and the boats.

By this time, the day was beginning to end, and the light just barely peaked above the clouds. In fact, it was at this moment, gazing at the clouds, that I realized that I had fallen in love. Where I am from in the States, there is no body of water near me, let alone of this magnitude. I’d have to visit a whole different state to find an harbor, and now I am living lest than 7 minutes on pedals away from one. Truly I am grateful.

Listening to the Beatles, I soaked in the setting sun, and reflected.

Certainly, I will have to visit this place again. And next time, I will bring a pen and some paper. In this place, the poetry writes itself.

Harbors and bikes, that’s what Denmark means to me.

Published by K. Perry Ojoawo

I am a sprouting writer from Denver, Colorado in the USA. Currently, I reside in Roskilde, Denmark as I study food anthropology, European art and cinema, the Danish language, and improving my skills as a writer through travel writing. I am also a volunteer student blogger for DIS Copenhagen.

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