It was our last night of an 18 day tour of Sweden and Denmark. We were tired after our bus and canal tour, but wanted to experience what there was to do (namely “eat”) in Copenhagen before we flew out the next morning. We asked the young lady at the front desk for a local seafood restaurant recommendation. She suggested Kodbyens Fiskebar (don’t ask me to say it out loud).
We took the trusty preprinted map of the city where she’d so nicely outlined our route and hit the bricks. We walked a few blocks before we realized it wasn’t the best of neighborhoods. We found ourselves doing what we’d promised we wouldn’t do, and continued to walk through what looked to be a questionable area. We were encouraged by the little outdoor cafes dotted the streets trying to lure us in, but continued to follow our trusted map. We kept going, not doing a good job of looking like tourists that didn’t know what the heck they were doing.
A few silent prayers later, we found the restaurant which was in the middle of what seemed to be an outdoor food court in American terms. The past 18 days, we’d noticed how the Swedes and Danes appreciated the outdoors. It was 60 degrees or so and everyone but us was in short sleeves or sleeveless clothing. They sat outside in adirondack chairs as if at the beach. Men sat around with no shirts pretending it was 90 degrees instead of 60.
The atmosphere was festive and contagious. We sat down and ordered something to drink and drank in the sights as well. Throughout our visit, I noticed that the servers did not try to usher us away from our table as we completed our meal. In the USA, as soon as you take your last bite, the server gets chatty, becomes your new best friend, and the bill shows up. He/she wants to turn that table to make another tip. In Sweden and Denmark, we found dining to be much more relaxing. No pushing us out the door.
We had just ordered our meal when our server asked permission to seat another couple at our large picnic table. We’d found this to be a common practice and agreed to the company. As a result, we met a lovely young couple and learned even more about the culture. We discovered that they rarely tip servers in restaurants as their gratuity is included in the price. Who knew? No wonder they didn’t push us out the door. Early on, one server told us we’d left too much of a tip and gave us some of it back. One would think that would have been enough of a clue to make me Google tipping in Scandinavia, but no, it turned out I was, indeed, clueless.
But here’s the best tip yet and I did manage to figure this one out for myself. Enjoy the outdoors, even when it’s cold (did I just say that?). Now, that’s a stretch for me because as soon as the cool air shows up, the arthritis in my hands reminds me it’s still there and goose bumps show up uninvited. If I don’t have a trip to a warmer climate in the works, the planning begins.
You have my permission to remind me of this tip on that dreaded day when my flip flops find themselves back in the closet. Chances are, I’ll forget I wrote this and you’ll see a blog about my summer shoes crying to escape the shadows of my closet sometime in late October.
All reminders will be welcomed, but more than likely ignored.