I arrived in Skive, Denmark, shortly after my luggage arrived in Paris, France. The airline company politely informed me it was my fault that my bags had been put on the wrong plane, and I argued that it couldn’t possibly be my fault, since I didn’t work for them. Either way, it did little to change the fact that I had no clothes besides what I was wearing — a t-shirt and jeans — and it was 13 degrees below zero.
I got there on Valentine’s Day, which was nice, but it was also the weekend, which meant the stores were closed and I wouldn’t be able to buy any clothes to keep me warm. Skive is a little fishing town in the north of Denmark, with a population of approximately 20,000. What the townspeople of Skive lack in numbers, they compensate in spirit, and every building, lamppost, and tree in sight was adorned with some kind of Valentine’s Day-themed decoration. Skive has a surprising amount of public art installations and statues — including cement monkeys on the lampposts, and a series of roundabout centerpieces known as the 11 Stars — all of which were similarly incorporated into the Valentine’s Day festivities. I had barely set foot in the main square before I was stopped by a young woman who gave me a handful of what I enthusiastically believed to be candy. I was chewing through the first wrapper when I realized they were, in fact, condoms. The two girls I was with thought it was cute but apparently not cute enough.
Eventually, I managed to locate the only shop in town open for the weekend. Unfortunately, they sold nothing but secondhand women’s clothes. I bought and immediately put on a pair of stockings, purple velvet gloves, and a flower-patterned ski-hat, and lost my dignity somewhere in the process. Considering how cold it was, it seemed like a fair exchange at the time.
The town itself is beautiful, if frustratingly remote. Knowing I wouldn’t be staying there long made it easier to enjoy everything quaint and picturesque about Skive, even their McDonald’s. The architecture is infused with the typically cold-but-cozy Scandinavian charm, and most of the buildings looked like churches, even though the actual church resembled a post office more than anything else.
I walked around town a few times, amused by the unusual amount of tanning salons — it was hard not to smirk at the Danes walking out of them, smiling and bright orange. I ended my brief tour by sitting next to an outdoors ice-skating rink with a paper cup full of steaming hot chocolate and watching the couples and children skate by. It was a pleasant scene until I remembered I was a foreigner dressed in women’s hand-me-downs and had a pocket full of condoms. Suddenly, the ice rink seemed like the wrong place to be.