The entrance to Tivoli - one of the world's oldest amusement parks - on a Friday night in December.

Julehygge

Charlene general

Copenhagen, Denmark

Every time I come back to Denmark, friends here (and in Sweden) will say “welcome home.”

It gives me the warm fuzzies.

This light, seriously – sunset vibes at Torvehallerne in mid afternoon. Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov 2018

Denmark isn’t technically home, although I’ve spent a lot of time here over the past half decade. I’ve never lived here, nor had the visa to do so. But if home is where the heart is, then Denmark certainly qualifies. My better half is Danish after all, so between his family and the friends I’ve had the pleasure of making over the years, it’s been a place that part of me is so comfortable in, since I stepped into this country for the first time in 2013.

Can you argue with this light? Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov 2018.

I landed in Copenhagen in the middle of November, grateful for all of the things that make this city not Singapore: its seasonal cold, its quiet, its availability of personal space, its laid-back-ness, and its light. But it’s so much more, of course. That golden, slanted light that turns everything it touches beautiful… when it breaks through the winter clouds blanket, anyway.

Nope, can’t argue with light like that. Or the way it makes my brand new Fujinon 18mm F2 flare like crazy.

I’ve hungered for this light. I associate it with all things hyggelig: Flemming, his amazing family, and all the time I’ve spent here, rich with welcome and connection. Little compares to the utter freedom of life on the road, but it can be incredibly isolating, and Denmark has been an antidote to that. I speak, of course, as someone who has a built-in connection because of Flemming, and is only a visitor; it’s all good, not having to deal with the realities of everyday life, no matter where you are. But we all need rose tinted memories, and mine are Danish. Because even when sadness permeates the veil, being around Flemming family means being surrounded by those who love with little reserve. That is so rare in my world.

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I’ve not spent much time in Copenhagen over the last couple of years, and certainly not around Christmas. There are  presently Christmas markets all over the city. Having never encountered any Christmas market before, I’m finding all of this incredibly charming.

Christmas markets, Copenhagen. Denmark, Nov 2018

These wells of yuletide warmth are too hyggelig for words, even in a season which fellow photographer and Fuji ambassador Sonia Ziegler described joyously today as “all hygge.” We’re all familiar with belonging, safety, comfort, restfulness and conviviality that make for feelings of cosiness, but Danes snagged the copyright, and gave it a moniker that’s even fun to say out loud. And it’s off the charts at Christmas time, the most important season in the Scandinavian (or Nordic? Northern European?) calendar.

I’ve spent more time out of doors than I thought I would. The cold took a bit of getting used to after months at the equator. Being sick for the first week and a bit, I was also extra cold. But in desperation, this tea drinker discovered the magic of coffee: half a cup before leaving the house cranked the old metabolism and kept me warm for hours on end… I’m starting to understand why the Nordics and their neighbours top global coffee consumption! I have coffee (and thermal underwear, sixteen layers of clothing and a big, warm woolen scarf so thoughtfully gifted to me by Flemming’s sister) to thank for being able to rediscover Copenhagen on foot again.

But really though, it’s really about the little things. Waking up to the one I love everyday, and enjoying small, ordinary moments because we’re together. We part again too soon, to travel divergent paths. All I’m doing is trying to brand these days onto my brain.

The lakes from Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge) in the afternoon.

* all images brought to you by my brand new X-T3