I always feel so fortunate to live in a place that is centrally located to some of my other favorite places. Case in point: Solvang. In an episode of Modern Family Clare refers to a "little Dutch town up North" from where they live in Southern California. Every time I see this episode I yell, "It's Danish!" at the TV. Because Solvang (though technically they don't mention it by name) is a Danish town. Think Chinatown in San Francisco or Olvera Street in LA, only a little bit more Disney.
When you visit Solvang you are whisked by horse-drawn trolley back in time to Old World Denmark. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by Danish architecture, Danish people, Danish food. I spend so much time creating themed things that sometimes I forget that Solvang isn't a themed Danish town, but a living breathing Danish town that wasn't created by a design firm as an attraction, but by a community celebrating their heritage.
I visit Solvang several times a year, but one of my favorite times to go (tied with Danish Days in September) is during Christmastime. Not only is everything decorated with twinkle lights and traditional Scandinavian ornamentation, but each year local businesses participate in a tree decorating contest. You haven't experienced Christmas until you've seen a tree covered in tiny pans filled with aebelskivers (pancake balls).
So this week I packed up Trixie and her stroller (the first time I saw a dog stroller was in Solvang and I found in ridiculous - I was so naïve) and set out with my Mom and brother for a little Day Trip. We found a great parking spot in a little courtyard behind some shops and made a beeline for our first Solvang Must See - The Book Loft. It's been a long time since I've bought brand new books from a bookstore, since most of my books come from the library or local used bookstore now, so I was positively giddy as I browsed the shop, having given myself permission to buy whatever I wanted.
We spent at least a half an hour perusing titles, reading back covers, and flipping through pages. I left with a book on Forest Bathing, a book on Tiny Pleasures by two Scandinavian writer/artists, an Edgar Allen Poe Candle (cardamom, absinthe, and sandalwood) to go along with the Ralph Waldo Emerson Candle I bought last year at a bookstore in Monterey (cedar and wild fern), a used copy of House at Pooh Corner, and a book called American Cozy. I'm kind of obsessed with the Hygge movement and this books was supposed to be the American version of that (update: it wasn't - do not recommend).
On this visit a skipped the Hans Christian Andersen Museum upstairs because I couldn't bring Trixie, but Erik went up and I always encourage everyone to take a peek.
After leaving the bookstore we walked up and down the two main shopping streets and, of course stopped at the Solvang Pretzel factory for amazingly soft and buttery pretzels with bright orange cheese spread that can't possibly come from nature but tastes like heaven. Then, full of pretzels (and fudge) we popped into a couple of souvenir shops and rounded out the day by buying socks. What, you don't buy socks as souvenirs? Okay, I don't either although now that I'm thinking about it, that's not a bad idea. But this time I bought a pair of thick, cozy socks in a colorful Scandi pattern that I hoped to wear while sipping tea and reading American Cozy (update: I did).
Happy and satisfied we drove the short 30 miles home. What a wonderful winter outing.
P.S. While I don't recommend American Cozy (seriously, it was just a book about organizing which is not hygge) I do recommend that you read Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge.
"Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to treat life as art."