Anyone who lives or works in the Ocean City area and especially those who operate a business in the community have a unique perspective on tourism. That’s what makes traveling from one tourist destination to another so interesting. Given that I am still suffering from a touch of jet lag from a seven-day trip to Denmark, this column will stray a bit from local ramblings and instead focus on some unique aspects of my trip because truthfully my brain is still in Europe. (Note: These thoughts were essentially put down on paper in between lunch and dinner on an eight-hour flight across the world on Tuesday.)
– Most visitors to Ocean City dream of a week of weather with sun and no rain. That’s what we got in Denmark. The skies were clear and the daytime temperatures were in the upper-80s, which is unheard of for that part of the world. A normal day temperature in Denmark is the low-60s. The only drawback to the wonderful weather was air-conditioning is not prevalent in the restaurants, hotels, buses or trains because they never need it.
– In most restaurants and cafes, it was amazing to see how few people it took for them to operate. Most of the restaurants featured a waiter, who served as the host, bartender and bus person, and a chef, who prepared all the courses, washed the dishes and all the back of the house stuff. Granted most of the places we dined were small cafes, it was impressive to see the staff handle it.
– Unlike in the United States where coins are essentially viewed as meaningless by most people, they matter in Denmark. The currency is the Kroner and nearly all of the Danish carry change purses because the coins are worth looking after. For example, one of the smallest coins in Denmark is worth about $4 here.
– Being a tourist is great. In some ways, I understand why locals often wonder if some visitors check their common sense at the bridge before coming to the resort. When you are on vacation, you are not as sharp as you might be normally. You just are not as aware about your surroundings. For instance, one morning while purchasing two lattes from a coffee shop for my wife and I, the register read 144 DKK (Denmark’s currency), which is about $26. I thought nothing of the fact that’s a ridiculous price to pay and tried to give that amount to the lady at the register. She smiled kindly and said that was not my order in her best polite English. My order actually came to 68 DKK, about $12.
– In Denmark during the summer, the sun rises shortly after 4 a.m. and sets about 10 p.m. It does not get completely dark until after midnight. When I was a kid, my parents often told me be home by dark. That general rule would seem to not work in Denmark.
– Bikes rule in Denmark, especially Copenhagen where there are large, dedicated bike lanes everywhere. It’s safe to say there are more bikes used for transportation in Copenhagen than vehicles, and the public infrastructure helps mold that culture because it makes it extremely safe and facile.
– Similar to Ocean City in early June, much of the help was being trained while we were there. Whether it was a café, hotel or restaurant, most of the employees were still trying to learn their jobs and it tested the patience. No matter their experience at their respective jobs, they knew English well as they are taught the language starting in the fourth grade.
– Europe, in general, has not followed the United States’ strong restrictions on smoking. Denmark is no exception, for the most part, as most public places allow smoking just about anywhere. However, one thing that’s interesting is the country has a strong law about posting smoking warnings because cartons contain strong language in large point. Messages like “Smoking Kills,” “Smoking Is Highly Addictive,” “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer” and “Smoking Can Kill Children” are posted directly alongside the Marlboro logo and in many cases are larger than the actual brand name.