February 1, 2016

For the past two years, I’ve escaped all things winter by living in Hawaii. There were a lot of things I missed about winter, but honestly, I was glad to be away from the cold. I forgot how magical winter can be and how much I actually love winter.

Who is that girl sitting outside in the cold and how is she possibly enjoying it?! Allow me to tell you the story of how Denmark taught me to love winter (hint: wine helps).

The Two Year Honeymoon (21 of 34)

When we found out that Nick could take time off in between his job in Hawaii and Connecticut, the first thing we thought was that we should take a trip somewhere. Nick’s sister, Shannon, lives in Morocco, and we decided to meet somewhere in Europe, somewhere with lots of Christmas decorations and lots of things to do in winter. We researched a bunch of cities in Europe, but it didn’t take us long to decide on Copenhagen as the perfect winter holiday. We swapped our flip flops for snow boots and threw ourselves into winter in Denmark. We just had traveled 13 time zones, but we managed to adjust and quickly got into the Christmas spirit.

The Two Year Honeymoon winter (1 of 4)

The first think that I immediately felt in Denmark – besides the cold – was something that is very important in Danish culture, hygge. I think that the word hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga,” is best described as a feeling of warmth, coziness, of being surrounded by people you love. It doesn’t just mean getting out of the cold. It’s the culture, the way of life, the attitude that I think has helped Denmark to consistently be named one of the happiest countries in the world. Sitting in a cafe for hours, reading a book by the fire, or drinking mulled wine with friends can all be described as hygge. The things I loved most about Denmark were all very hygge – welcoming and cozy coffee shops, warm drinks, lunches that lasted hours, heated outdoor cafes, late nights spent eating popcorn and watching movies, and time with people I love.

The Two Year Honeymoon (29 of 34)

In Denmark, outdoor cafes are open all winter long. Instead of hiding from winter, the Danes use outdoor heaters to warm up their outdoor cafes. They leave out blankets for you to use, and they get creative with the hot drinks. It was so refreshing to see this take on winter – to see people not hiding from winter, but adapting to it and embracing it. People were having fun being outside in the cold. Crazy, right?!

The Two Year Honeymoon (6 of 34)

But the Danes don’t just sit at cafes all winter long. They open up their famous amusement park, Tivoli, for 6 weeks in the wintertime to celebrate Christmas. With delicious restaurants both inside and outside, beautiful decorations, stalls making mulled wine and hot chocolate and popping popcorn, shops selling ornaments and Christmas gnomes, it is everything I love about winter, all combined into one place. Nick, Shannon, and I spent hours walking around and even eating outside in temperatures I used to cry at.

The Two Year Honeymoon (11 of 34)The Two Year Honeymoon (13 of 34)

The best night I had in Denmark was with Nick and Shannon in Tivoli. We walked around Tivoli, drank spiked hot chocolate, and then settled at an outdoor cafe to share a bottle of wine and pizza. It was cold outside, but under the heaters, with our hats and scarves, drinking wine, I was cozy.

The Two Year Honeymoon (20 of 34)The Two Year Honeymoon (32 of 34)The Two Year Honeymoon winter (3 of 4)

Another night, we sat outside, drinking ice cold beer and eating fish and chips, warmed under the heaters. Who have I become?

The Two Year Honeymoon (9 of 34)

Dinners lasted for hours, with no one bringing us a bill until we asked for it. Life was slow. We were relaxed. Some of my best memories from the trip are moments like these:

The Two Year Honeymoon winter (4 of 4)

Winter drinks might just be the best part of winter, something that I just forgot about living in Hawaii. The best hot chocolate I ever have had in my life made me love being cold, just so that I could enjoy my hot chocolate even more.

The Two Year Honeymoon (15 of 34)

In Denmark, I had mulled wine, or glogg, for the first time. Although I prefer wine to glogg, sometimes you just need a hot wine to warm you up.

The Two Year Honeymoon (28 of 34)

Heaters under the table? Complimentary warm ginger shots to get the chill out of your bones? It doesn’t get much better in the thick of winter:

The Two Year Honeymoon (25 of 34) The Two Year Honeymoon (26 of 34)

Copenhagen is known for its many cyclists. There are huge bike lanes – the city seems like it has been laid out more for cyclists than for cars or even for pedestriansI was amazed to people riding their bikes in the bitter cold all over the city. So we layered up, rented bikes, and got to ride around the city. What better way to show winter who is boss than to embrace it?!

The Two Year Honeymoon (8 of 34)

What I also really loved about Copenhagen was those Christmas markets! Seriously, how adorable is this? We had to buy a gnome and an ornament.

The Two Year Honeymoon (34 of 34)

The most important thing that Denmark taught me that it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you are with people you love. The whole point of our trip was for Nick, Shannon, and me to be together. Living on opposite sides of the world has made that really hard, but we made it happen. Whether we were sitting in a cafe spending our mornings drinking coffee or out exploring museums, all that really mattered was that we were together.

The Two Year Honeymoon (19 of 34)

Finally, Denmark taught me to take it slow and just enjoy winter. Usually when I am traveling, I have this intense feeling of urgency, like I need to do everything on my list, like I need to see all. of. the. sights. Our trip was so last minute and we had so much going on with the move that we had done minimal research before our trip. With no itinerary and no plans, the three of us spent our days wandering and just enjoying the moment. We also got to see some beautiful castles, visit museums with beautiful works, find some amazing restaurants, and we even went to see the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. At night we would get popcorn from 7-Eleven and watch Christmas movies. And isn’t that what the winter holidays are all about?

More about Denmark to come soon! What’s your favorite thing to do in winter?!

Linking up with Emma Angie Jessi, and Kaelene for the February Travel Linkup. This month’s theme is We want to know what you adore. Come join the fun!

– Carolann

30 responses to “How Denmark taught me to love winter.”

  1. Jenn says:

    Looks like a fantastic trip. As much as I don’t like winter, I actually don’t mind traveling when it’s cold. My favorite trip to NYC was when it was cold.

    • Carolann says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one! I used to plan my trips around warm weather, but this trip totally has me rethinking that strategy. There is something about traveling that makes winter magical! I think it allows you to just slow down and enjoy vacation. It also breaks up the monotony of winter, I think.

  2. I’m seriously impressed that you ate outside! I basically hate winter and am very much fed up of the cold already, but this made me consider all the cosy things that winter brings. And cosy is good! So thank you!

    • Carolann says:

      I used to hate winter too Rachel! But Denmark really made me stop and think about how important it is to go with the flow and enjoy the seasons. I hope you get to enjoy some cozy things!

  3. Angie Silver says:

    Such a lovely post, when I think of holidays I always think of hot weather and the beach but cold countries are so beautiful too. xx

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much, Angie! A few years ago I went to Alaska, and while it was cold, it was breathtaking. I love the warmth but I think sometimes the cold is worth it!

  4. Kaelene says:

    I love the “cosy” theme of the Scandinavian countries, it really does help make the winter months more enjoyable!

    • Carolann says:

      Yes it certainly does! We could certainly use a higher dose of that coziness here in Connecticut where I’m currently living. Until then I will have to channel the Scandinavian countries!

  5. Jeannie says:

    Hi Carolann,

    I found your site through the link up. I love that you can appreciate the cold even though you are living in such a warm place! Scandinavia really does have that adorable factor during the holidays 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      Hi Jeannie! Thanks for coming by – I love this linkup and getting to meet so many fun bloggers. I’m so glad I got to experience winter in Denmark and appreciate their winter!

  6. “wine helps” haha! You speak the truth.

    • Carolann says:

      Hahaha! You know it! Also, Chelsea, I think you and I were reading/commenting on each other’s blogs at the exact same time this morning!

  7. Christy says:

    I’m SO jealous! Copenhagen is at the top of my list and I was so jealous of your trip! Looks like an amazing time! I hope you continue channeling that Denmark spirit through your winter in CT!

    • Carolann says:

      I didn’t realize it’s at the top of your list! I’ll go back anytime!! 😉

      Winter in CT is cold but I’m channeling Denmark’s spirit and Hawaii’s sunshine to get through!!

  8. Love this post! I have been to Copenhagen but only in the summer – I’m so glad it’s just as awesome in winter. You have inspired me to revisit it in the cold 🙂

  9. Caitlin says:

    Looks like such a great trip! I’m not a huge fan of the cold but I agree with you 100% – wine helps!

    xx, Caitlin

  10. I love this post! you’ve made me realise that I absolutely must experience Copenhagen in winter. I love the idea of wrapping up under a blanket and sitting outside in the cafes and I especially love the idea of taking things slow. I’m all for slowing down and experiencing a place when I’m travelling.

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much! I used to be all about seeing every single thing as fast as I can, but I have since come to enjoy doing less and just soaking in the essence of a place. I think slow is the way to go when traveling! You might see less but I think you will experience, enjoy, and learn more. I hope you get to go to Copenhagen in the winter and enjoy the coziness!

  11. Emma says:

    I’ve peen putting off visiting Copenhagen to avoid the cold somehow, but if the hygge is that good…!

  12. Christmas gnomes? There are Christmas gnomes?! I need a Christmas gnome, some hot chocolate and wine and a totallly hygge evening bedazzling that gnome. XD

    • Carolann says:

      Frankie, yes there are Christmas gnomes, and, of course, I bought not one but two! I am contemplating keeping them out all year long!

  13. Sophie says:

    Ooh, I love this post! What a stark difference from Hawaii! It’s given me a serious urge to visit Denmark now though. I mean, blankets, hot chocolate, cosiness – and a spot of city-cycling to work off all that food and drink – what’s not to like? 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      I was a bit worried about jumping from beaches and sun to winter, but the Danes really know how to do winter right! Denmark totally changed my perspective on winter.

  14. kari says:

    I spent one Christmas in Germany, where my brother was stationed in the Army, and absolutely adored our snowy, small-town setting for the holidays. From Christmas bazaars to prolific Santa decor, it was enchanting. Denmark sounds similarly idyllic.

    • Carolann says:

      I’ve heard that Germany is simply dreamy at Christmastime! I love that you got to to visit your brother. Oh Europe in winter, there is just nothing like it!

  15. Hi Carolann! I love this post (found through Travel Link) as I’ve been meaning to go to Denmark for a while so will wait until Christmas time to do it right! This year we went to Stockholm and sounds like it’s a similar vibe. xx

  16. […] was borderline devastating. I couldn’t be too upset, though, because Nick and I were on our way to Europe to visit his sister, and then we went to New York to spend Christmas with my family. But soon after the holidays were […]

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