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How Denmark Inspires

58 of the Most Charming, Wildly Pinnable Pictures Ever (Hint: They're in Denmark!)

By Nancy Jo Iacoi


This past summer, I was invited to visit some dear friends in Denmark. As a photo editor living in New York City, this was a unique opportunity to visit the Danish countryside. My friends had recently purchased a home in a small area called Vig. Pronounced “Vee,” it’s a 90-minute drive north of Copenhagen. And while I did visit the city, I spent most of my three weeks in Denmark driving on small roads dotted with farms and wheat fields—one beautiful vista after another. How beautiful? Here are my pictures that show the many ways I found Denmark so inspiring.

Small cars, wooden boats, and most of all bikes populate the streets and canals of the beautiful city of Copenhagen. It’s all about the bike in Denmark. It seems to be the Danes’ main source of transportation during summer months. Stylish women in dresses glide along effortlessly and the bikes themselves look like carefree cruisers. 

COPENHAGEN, SAVOR AND SHOP

Bar’Vin is tucked into an alleyway amidst a slew of chain stores in an unlikely neighborhood in downtown Copenhagen. Owner Nils Thyge, a sommelier, opened this small eatery. His expertise is in pairing delicious wine with fantastic fresh food. The style of Danish cuisine served here seemed to be farm-to-table with a Mediterranean influence. We feasted on fresh shrimp with herbed aioli, grilled sardines in olive oil with lemon and hot pepper, and a perfectly cooked côte de boeuf. The dessert was a Danish classic in the summer months called koldskåi. It’s a cold buttermilk soup that can be served as breakfast or as a dessert—like Nils did, with strawberries, croutons, and vanilla ice cream.  

A café called Granola, in the Værnedamsvej neighborhood, is a fantastic place for breakfast or for hanging out with a coffee (they also serve lunch and dinner). There are some well-curated shops nearby with everything from gardening tools to clothing to vintage furniture. The people-watching is also fun here. Danes have a terrific and understated style that transcends age. 

DAY TRIPPING

Odden Fisk (“fisk” is the Danish word for “fish”) market is in a small harbor town in Sjællands Odde, on a long peninsula on the northwest coast of Zealand. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Copenhagen. As soon as you walk into the space, you are engulfed by the woodsy smell of smoked fish. Tall rolling racks of row upon row of freshly smoked seafood fill the room. I was blown away by the showcase of fresh fish and shellfish on ice, though the line of people waiting to order was even longer then the display case. 

Across the street from Odden Fisk is a delicious seafood restaurant called Den Gyldne Hane, specializing in (guess what?) seafood! The Danes like their fish, and this place has everything. My friend and I ordered a tasting platter that included gravlax, smoked salmon and mussels, as well as a pickled herring plate with all the fixin’s. Each bite had its own delicious texture and flavor. Now I’m inspired to make my own gravlax.
 

One of our day trips was to a charming vineyard called Ørnberg Vin [http://www.oernberg-vin.dk], owned by Niels Esbjerg Jensen and Anders Eriksen Ørnberg. Their goal is making quality wine with a Danish character. The vineyard is on a southern slope of land in one of Denmark's warmest and sunniest areas, Sealand's Point. Niels was kind enough to share his wines before he had to get back to work. My favorite was the Ørnberg Mynster.  

Niels’s wife keeps a modest but fruitful organic garden and farm stand. The vegetables were absolutely beautiful (and delicious). As with many of the farm stands we visited, payment operates on the honor system. 

I spent a good amount of time on the shore along the north coast near Vig, about an hour northwest of Copenhagen. One of my favorite beaches was Ellinge Lyng. To get there you have to walk for 15 minutes on a path that takes you across a sheep field, through a marsh and the dunes. And then the beach comes into view. While in the countryside I shot a lot of landscapes out the window as we drove. The sunshine, blue skies, and endless fields were a constant source of calm and inspiration. Beauty all around! 

HISTORY AND ART

A local friend joined us on a trip to Roskilde to see the Roskilde Cathedral. This awe-inspiring Lutheran church of Denmark was constructed between the 12th and 13th centuries. It has been the main burial site for Danish royalty since the 15th century. I was completely taken in by the detailed carvings in wood, stone, and marble. As you wend your way through the different rooms and levels, you start to see the ornate sarcophagi in various burial chapels both in and outside the cathedral. As you walk along, the sarcophagi become increasingly modern, including a small model replica of the future casket for the current queen, which looks like a giant pill capsule made of glass. Over the centuries, burial sections have been added to the main building, incorporating both Gothic and Romanesque architectural features.  

I got a little obsessed with the cathedral details. 

One of my favorite day trips was to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, directly on the shore of Øresund Sound in Humlebæk, 22 miles north of Copenhagen. It is the perfect blend of architecture and landscape. I felt as if I had been transported to a private garden with views.  

The collection, of contemporary and modern art dating back to World War II, was just as impressive. Artists in the collection include Lichtenstein, Warhol, Kiefer, Giacometti, Picasso, Klein, and Rauschenberg, to name a few. The gift shop and restaurant were both fantastic. This is worth a full day if you’re up for viewing at your leisure with breaks in between to visit the beach, have a delicious lunch at the cafeteria with a Calder lawn sculpture in full view, or nap on the grass in the beautifully manicured sculpture garden. Perfect! 

FAVORITE FOOD MOMENTS

1. The Danish breakfast of Paleo bread (all nuts and seeds) with butter, cucumbers and tomatoes.
2. The butter. No words.
3. Danish traditional Christmas dish of roast pork with crackling crust called flæskesteg. Friends were kind enough to make it for me as a special treat out of season.
4. Fresh strawberries. Again, no words. 

MORE FAVORITE THINGS

1. Flea markets. They kind of popped up along the roads like yard sales. Oh, the treasures I found!
2. Tuborg Gold beer. Delicious on draft.
3. Roadside raspberry picking. My kind of fast food.
4. Fresh flowers everywhere. 


— Nancy Jo Iacoi has been a photo editor for Esquire, Premiere and Rolling Stone, among other publications. These days, in addition to consulting for The Atlantic magazine, she takes iPhone pictures wherever she goes. Follow Iacoi on Instagram: @njiacoi.

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