Innovation + CBS: Sleepless in Scandinavia

We packed so much into our time in Scandinavia that it’s hard to know where to begin. As can happen if you’re not careful, one day seeps into the next and memories become misplaced. But that’s the great thing about Chazen trips: the intensity is incessant without being particularly uncomfortable, meaning every minute is accounted for. And we made the most of our time, mixing company visits with cultural events, indulging touristic impulses and making believe we were residents.

The truth is, the culture isn’t all that much different from New York’s – though maybe the Scandinavians wear more red pants (a trend I’m sure we’re not too far behind on). And because of that, these countries are exceedingly easy to travel to. The natives speak better English than the Americans do, and everyone is helpful and nice and deeply in love with and proud of their country.

And the food, the food, the food. This being the Innovation + Business Club, our group overlapped heavily with the Gourmet Club on campus, and it seemed like everyday we were swapping stories about the incredible restaurants we were finding. Everywhere we went in Copenhagen and Stockholm was worth it, but a few that stand out are, in Copenhagen, Radio, Koefoed, Manfreds and Geist (we went twice, the second time just for the “air on air on air tiramisu”) and, in Stockholm, Fem Sma Hus, B.A.R., Pontus and Bakfickan, behind the opera house and well worth two trips for the meatballs. (Sincerely, they’re out of this world.) As for bars, don’t pass up Ruby in Copenhagen, or Fisk Bar, even though you have to walk through the dodgy red-light district. And in Stockholm, we couldn’t seem to get enough of Riche (both sides).

My favorite restaurants were Koefoed and Fem Sma Hus, where, under the ancient vaulted ceilings we ate cured salmon topped with cucumber and cauliflower and mustard sauce, utterly smooth, and where I rediscovered Swedish deserts, which I had been dreaming of since I first visited the country ten years before. Let’s just say it was as smooth as I remember. Sweden may be famous for its meatballs, and, based on what we had at Bakfickan, it should be. But it seems they do ice cream like no other country can. I can hardly wait to go back for more.

Of course, I won’t have the benefit, then, of traveling with my classmates. Anyone with more time left at CBS should consider adding a Chazen trip to their to-do list. One of the beauties of being at CBS is that the hit rate is so remarkably high – in my four semesters, I haven’t really met anybody I couldn’t almost immediately get along with. As is often true even outside of business school, getting outside your regular environment is the best way to catalyze lasting relationships. Such is the case with our trip to Scandinavia. When I first saw the roster of travelers, I was excited by the fact that I had only superficial relationships with any of them. What a great way to get to know new people, I thought. And I was right: I walked the streets of Copenhagen and Stockholm with these people for a week, and I hope to keep in touch with them forever. I see them in the hallway now and it’s as if we went through something together, but I know that’s just me being romantic.

I feel blessed to have spent the nine days in Copenhagen and Stockholm under the aegis of our three organizers, Rachel, Zak and Laura. It’s clear how much work went into planning this trip, and how much effort it took to wrangle it all together. I know I’m not alone in thinking we are supremely lucky to have them as our organizers – thanks to them, everything has been wonderful, from our company visits to our meals and hotels. We owe them our deepest gratitude.

One final point, for those who may follow us to Scandinavia: No matter how persistently you ask, bartenders will not put Ace of Base on the speakers. But they will play Abba.

Thanks for reading. ~Brandon Wall

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