As lawyers many of us work too hard, have too much stress and don’t focus enough on our wellness. One way to invest in our wellness is to take “real” vacations versus “fake” vacations so that we have time to unplug from work, give our brains an opportunity to recharge and spend quality time with family and friends.
My family and I just returned from a terrific two week vacation in the beautiful Scandinavian cities of Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden. Although I typically write about the intersection of technology, business and the law in this blog, I am taking a detour to write a trip report about our “holiday” in these incredible Northern European cities. Here’s some thoughts on Copenhagen and Stockholm:
Bicycles, Bicycles, Bicycles
Suffice to say that I felt I was at the Tour de France in these two cities as I have never seen so many bicycles in my life. In fact, I could not get the Queen song Bicycle Race out of my head. People were riding bicycles everywhere and incredibly these cities are so well designed to accommodate cars, bicycles and pedestrians (and increasingly scooters) with wide and appropriate lanes for a seamless and orderly flow of traffic – which is a bit different between the interplay of motorists and bicyclists in my city of Chicago. Perhaps one of the reasons why many people in these cities seem to be in such great physical shape is because so many are riding their bicycles to get around.
These cities are also starting to see the California influence of electric-powered scooters – and there seemed to be more scooters in Stockholm than Copenhagen. It will be interesting to see how the scooters and bikes get along in the near future – perhaps they will have a relationship similar to skiers and snowboarders? In any event, I was not bold enough to ride a scooter as I was afraid I would fall and break something.
Great Mass Transit
Each of these cities had very impressive and very clean transit systems to get around town and outside the city. While we flew from Copenhagen to Stockholm, in hindsight we probably could have just taken the fast train – especially since our hotels were close to their respective central stations. I wish the United States had transit and train systems that are on par with most of Europe.
These cities are also very family friendly and my seven year old son had a great time. Copenhagen and Stockholm are well-known for their amusement parks – which reminded me of the “vintage” Playland Park in Rye, New York that I used to go to as a kid growing up in the NYC area. The amusement park in Copenhagen is named Tivoli Gardens and we went there three times with my son – which was way too much for me – but not for my son. There was even a Tom Jones concert the final time we attended – which was a bit bizarre as he was a big deal when my parents were young. The name of the amusement park in Stockholm is Grona Lund and fortunately we attended that park only once. In my opinion Tivoli Gardens was better than Grona Lund as it was a much larger venue and much more aesthetically appealing. Going on the rollercoaster rides with my son at these parks probably took a few months off of my life.
During a rainy day in Copenhagen we also took our son to an incredible aquarium located on the outskirts of Copenhagen (via the train) called Den Bla Planet and the National Museum of Denmark has a terrific children’s museum. Also of course the birthplace of Lego is in Denmark and if you have small kids no visit to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to the Lego store in Copenhagen – where they even have some fake facial recognition.
There are also several kid friendly things to do in Stockholm. Some of our favorite activities involved going to Skansen – the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden and the Vasa Museum – home of a well-preserved 17th Century ship.
An insightful person once observed that the “days are long and the years are short.” This is especially true in Copenhagen and Stockholm during the summer as it did not get dark until 10pm or so while we were there. The beauty of this is that you can sleep in, rest up and still have plenty of time to explore.
One of the reasons we traveled to these Nordic cities during the Summer was to escape the heat and humidity of the Windy City. I’m a huge fan of early Fall/late Spring weather so the summer climates in these cities – including their fresh air – were perfect for me.
Each of these cities have nice day trips which provides an escape from their respective urban areas. In Copenhagen we took the train to a very pleasant town called Roskilde and felt like we went back in time to the Vikings era. In Stockholm we took a boat for a great day trip to Fjäderholmarna – Stockholm’s closest archipelago island.
I try to go for a 5+ mile run three times a week – including when I’m on a vacation/travel for work. I continued my jogging regimen while in Copenhagen and Stockholm, these cities are very running friendly and I found some running routes online. My favorite route in Copenhagen was near our hotel and around The Lakes (which was almost 4 miles in length around the lakes) and my favorite route in Stockholm was around the island of Kungsholmen – which is home to their City Hall and the venue of the annual Nobel prize banquet.
Interlocking NY Yankees Logos Everywhere
As some of you may know I’m an avid New York Yankees baseball fan so it was pure joy to see so many people wearing caps or having backpacks with the traditional interlocking NY New York Yankees logo. While I’m not sure if the folks wearing those hats or backpacks know much about the storied history of the greatest sports franchise on earth (and the Yankees even played a series in London against the Boston Red Sox while we were there and swept them), in my opinion the extensive footprint of these caps and backpacks throughout Copenhagen and Stockholm underscores the range, depth and power of the vaunted New York Yankees brand. As an aside, I saw exactly just three lost souls wearing Red Sox hats while I was there.
Copenhagen versus Stockholm: My Verdict
Both cities were absolutely terrific, I highly recommend visiting them and I think it’s hard to say that one is technically “better” than the other. However unlike “neutral” Sweden, I will pick a side and choose Stockholm to visit again over Copenhagen largely because I found Stockholm to be a unique combination of a city and a country environment that is spread out along an archipelago. Plus Sweden is the home of ABBA – one of my favorite groups of all time – and they have a great ABBA Museum in Stockholm.