You probably have heard about Solvang. It is a Danish city in the middle of California’s Santa Ynez Valley (close to Santa Barbara).
Yes, you may have negative connotations about Disneyfied places like this. After all, you can find the following in Solvang:
- Danish architecture
- A replica of the Little Mermaid Statue
- A bust of Hans Christian Andersen
- A replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower
- Stores selling Danish dishes and sweets
- A giant clog (shoe)
But let me tell you something, Solvang is different. On 1911, a group of Danes (some of them educators) escaping the harsh Midwestern winters, founded the town on a land grant. They wanted to maintain their heritage and spread Danish culture. And, you know what? They have accomplished their goal. In 2011, Solvang celebrated its 100th anniversary. The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. Museums showcase history, art and culture. Folk traditions are celebrated during annual festivals. World famous plays are presented at the open air theater. Even the Queen of Denmark has visited the city!!! If the town is good enough for the royals, I guess we mere mortals can enjoy its many offerings.
I have to admit my knowledge about Danish culture is minimal. Solvang helped me to immerse myself (at least a little bit) thru the veins of a beautiful country. I ate a smorgasbord. I tried cookies and pastries. I saw the windmills moving to the rhythm of the wind. The visit has piqued my interest for all things Danish. Who knows? Maybe I can visit the actual European country one day.
For now, I will not bore you will more details of how fascinated I ended up with Denmark after visiting Solvang. Here are some pictures showing why this town is a must for Old World lovers. Ahhh, and by the way, Solvang means “sunny meadows” in Danish. That is the perfect name for a town which can make visitors so happy.
Have you visited Solvang? Let me know in the comments section below.
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