Scandinavia 2016: Day 3 – A Succession of Epiphanies

In 2016 we are leading 4 high school summer trips. You can read all about our Global Innovators trips or get in touch to ask us any questions about the programs. Our 2016 Scandinavia trip “Getting Americans on the Bicycle” focuses on innovation, start-ups and community in cities around the world. During the trip, students take turns writing a daily blog post to describe their project process and exploration, follow along here. Greetings from Sweden!  Today was our third day of the Scandinavia trip and was action packed from breakfast to lights out!  We kick started our morning with breakfast downstairs and then walked to our favorite café, Espresso House, in old town Malmö.  Once there, we paired off to explore the old town for a rousing photo activity.  We then popped over to the train station to pick up some take away lunch.  Surprisingly, the Central Station offers a wide variety of options in the form of numerous stalls, which all comprise a ‘mini’ market.  There was everything from Asian to pastries to a supermarket to salad, and to the crowd favorite, Subway.

After that, we walked through the pristine city of Malmö.  The architecture, especially in the Western Harbor where there is much new construction, is modern, yet still bears remnants of the city’s industrial past.  After a short while, we arrived at the Bicycle Kitchen where we were greeted warmly by two young Swedish girls working at the shop.  The Bicycle Kitchen is a small bike garage available to the public and is a place where people can go to fix their bikes, find spare parts and simply tinker.

Sanna, one of the Swedish girls, showed us how to break down bicycles and remove the parts off of bikes that were too old and too rusty to be functional.  After our successful scavenge of salvageable parts, we took a break for lunch.  With little time to spare in our busy schedule, we hurriedly made our way over to the train station where we headed on our way to Copenhagen for the afternoon.  Once there, we explored the city and made our way over to the Square of Israel where a multitude of bike messengers had congregated.

It just so happened that we were in Copenhagen when the European Cycle Messenger Championships were taking taking place.  Before we made our way over to one of the smaller races, we stopped for a fika (a Swedish coffee break complete with coffee and pastries).  We watched the criterion, a bike race teaming with adrenaline and road rash, and are happy to report that our favorite cyclist, who we dubbed “Purple Guy” came in second!  Huzzah!  Another activity we partook in was interviewing some of the cyclists and talking to them about our project.  One quite useful tidbit of information they stressed was that they are notbicyclists, they are cyclists, which is now something I think we all will keep in mind for the future ;).

We finished up our day with dinner at Copenhagen Street Food, an empty warehouse packed with various international food stalls and crowded with hundreds of locals and tourists alike.  And of course, the ambiance would not have been complete without a random disco cow hanging from the ceiling above.  We caught a bus to the train station, and on the train ride home, we ended our day by judging the photos from the activity earlier in the day.  Congratulations Everson and Eva who celebrated their photo contest win!

Overall, I think the day didn’t just have one breakthrough, but a succession of epiphanies.  For example, we learned that the concept of the Bicycle Kitchen originates from the U.S., specifically San Francisco.  That was a fascinating piece of information to learn because we thought a city that is bike-centric, like Copenhagen, would have been the original inventors.

Additionally, it was intriguing talking about bicycling, or, I should say cycling, with the bike messengers, as they provided us with a new lens in which to view our project.  They described how Copenhagen is one of the safest cities to cycle in, however, there are still improvements that must be made.  We also learned that cars are bicyclists worse enemy and seem to view bicyclists as second-class citizens because they supposedly don’t have enough money to afford a vehicle.  These stigmas, terms, perspectives, and stereotypes are all important in laying a strong foundation for our project.  It is imperative for us to know about all aspects of cycling in Scandinavia in order for us to make the needed changes in the U.S.

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