The Happiest People – Copenhagen

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Story and Photos by Nancy Kirkpatrick

Copenhagen, Denmark. The fifth and last port-of-call of our 15 day trans-Atlantic crossing of Disney’s cruise ship, The Magic.

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The morning dawns sunny, cool, but comfortable. We disembark in this largest city in Scandinavia. Denmark boasts the oldest monarchy in the world and claims to have the happiest people. Taxes are high, but its citizens are provided with health care, free education and monthly stipends for university students.

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Our destination is Dragoer, a quaint fishing village just south of the capital. But first a photo stop at the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen’s harbor. The bronze and granite sculpture was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be with a young, handsome prince on land. We add our clicks to the more than 5 million snaps taken every year. And are urged by our guide to read the real story, which she cautions is quite different from the Disney version.

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We proceed through the city, our guide pointing out palaces, museums, bigger than life art sculptures. There is a distinct blend of old and new architecture, giving the city an intriguing air. Firmly planted in history, culture and tradition, while embracing the progressive, clean and sophisticated. It is a vibrant, moving city. Most residents own one car; all of them own bicycles.

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We arrive at Dragoer. Quiet, quaint, pretty. The harbor is small. No longer in its heyday, but still vibrant with color. The blue sky and photographer’s clouds adding just the right background for visual delight. This quiet spot, this color, the salt air. Perfection.

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The collection of yellow painted cottages with straw roofs were built between 1720-1890. They are well loved homes now and well kept. There is pride of history here. We wander, take more pictures, meet at the hotel for a Danish pastry, coffee and tea. What a treat for even this pastry skeptic! Light and not too sweet, I am converted – but only if baked by the Danes!

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