Happiness is Copenhagen
What makes this city the world’s best place to live? Robert Kiener travelled there to find out.
This should be interesting. The lord mayor of Copenhagen is due any minute. We’re about to set off on a one-hour interview and bicycle tour of Denmark’s capital city.
It’s a clear day – not a cloud in the Delft-blue sky – but chilly, so I’m content to wait for the lord mayor, 54-year-old Frank Jensen, atop my bicycle outside his offices at the ornate City Hall, the Rådhus. Across the street is the Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe’s most famous and – at four-million-plus visitors a year – one of the most popular, amusement parks.
As I wait, I watch stylishly dressed Danes earnestly biking down Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard, the city’s main thoroughfare, named after the nation’s literary luminary. Among the bikers I spot women wearing high heels and men in suits. Nearby, tourists climb onto the lap of a larger-than-life bronze statue of the 19th-century writer and snap selfies.
“Hello,” says Jensen as he bikes over to me from cobblestoned Longangstraede. “I’ve just come from a meeting with our prime minister.” I am impressed. No limousine with police outriders for this lord mayor; a three-speed bike will do nicely.
“Follow me,” he says as we steer our bikes into the bicycles-only lane on Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard. “There’s a lot I want to show you.”
for years I’ve BEEN hearing and reading about the city as, well, a modern-day Utopia. It is, for example, often referred to as “The World’s Most Livable City”, “The World’s Happiest City”, and one of the world’s top two most-bicycle-friendly cities. Oh, and let’s not forget “Europe’s Greenest City”, “Europe’s Best Town for Foodies” and “Europe’s Design Capital”.
The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper called it “Oh-so-cool Copenhagen”. USA Today claimed, “It’s not hard to be happy in Copenhagen.” The UK’s Guardian (a newspaper not usually given to gushing) gushed, “Copenhagen really is wonderful.”
Can Copenhagen live up to such high expectations? I’ve come to the city to find out for myself. My first stop: this bike tour with the lord mayor.