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Albany-Bound: My Visit to the State Capital

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I recently visited a typical American family in Albany, who I’ve gotten to know through my Rotary club in Denmark.

The eldest daughter, Elissa, greeted me at the bus terminal using Danish phrases and waving the Danish flag (also known as Dannebrog) that she picked up when she was interning in Denmark last year. She drove us to the Empire State Plaza, a complex of several state government buildings in downtown Albany. We walked around and chatted while we looked at the interesting architecture including the arts venue, The Egg, where many musicians have performed.

Since the British burned down Kingston in 1797, Albany has been the permanent capital of New York State. I learned that Albany is the center of all governmental decisions, and people from all over the state flock to the capital for business purposes. Banking, retail, non-profit organizations, railroads, and international trade are also situated here!

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After our stroll at the Plaza, we drove towards the suburb of Bethlehem (named after the biblical town), where my company resides. When we arrived, I was greeted with a classic American barbecue feast (including the obligatory sweet corn of course) and pie for dessert. When living mostly out of take-out and quick meals, having a real dinner for once was much-needed.

Staying with an American family made me realize how open and welcoming Americans are, and I miss that in Danish culture. Not to say that Danes aren’t welcoming, but they are often perceived as more reserved and sometimes even cold. Some Europeans say: the colder the weather, the colder the people!

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The next day, we went for a little hike in Thacher State Park, 25 minutes away from Albany. The park provides hikers a panoramic view of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. And if you’re lucky, you can even see downtown Albany behind the fog.

The nature is one of New York’s best assets in my opinion. New York has mountains, the Hudson River, lakes, waterfalls, and many recreation spots Danes could only wish for in flat-surfaced Denmark. The City may be the state’s biggest tourist attraction, but the surrounding natural parks are just as striking and definitely worth visiting.

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