As I've been blogging our trip, I feel like there's an essential quality of Copenhagen I've failed to convey here. I kept getting flashbacks to other cities - the island skies are England; the classic architecture reminds me a bit of Paris, but without its formality and fustiness. The charming squares are Roman or Florentine. Randy confirms my suggestion of Amsterdam, although I never been there. I got flashes of Austin, Texas and San Francisco in the pocket pleasures of luxurious parks and cute shops. The appreciation for both clean modern design and child-like whimsy evokes Japan. But there's an unapologetic pleasure in comfort and company that seems at odds with what I think of as typical Scandinavian austerity and is perhaps uniquely Danish.
At Valbyparken, I saw an unfamiliar structure with open walls and a steeply high roof of dark shingles. Once inside, I saw the benches ringed around a fire pit and the hole in the roof. I saw other smaller versions of this in the backyards of houses next to the canals and I could imagine the heat and light on snowy nights. Bonfire culture is big in Denmark. So is that of the cafes, where coffee drinkers hang out in the late September chill, wrapped in blankets printed with the restaurant's name and warmed by overhead heat lamps. I can find nothing of Lars Von Trier's anguish here, but the life-affirming portions of Swede Ingmar Bergman's films come to mind - the happy celebrations of Wild Strawberries and Fanny and Alexander.