Ok so, to be completely honest...I begin this blog post without really knowing what I'm going to write about...or any idea of how what I end up saying might relate to design or hand lettering, or how it might be of interest to any of my potential or existing clients that stumble onto this blog. What I do know is that I feel incredibly compelled to tell the world that Copenhagen's Little Mermaid, actually, is, little. [And also, that as we checked into our Copenhagen hotel...Cate Blanchett checked out. Incidentally, our hotel room also turned out to be actually, very, little...and all I could think during our luckily brief 3 nights there was...I bet her's wasn't. Of course I tried not to stare...and then that thing happened that happens when you try not to stare...I stared.]
There's a voice in your head that's like...be cool, she's just a celebrity, NBD, give the receptionist your credit card and look intriguingly at the chandeliers. And then there's the other voice that's like WWWWAAAAIIIIITTTTT. IS THAT CATE??? THE CATE??? OH MY GOD IT IS THE CATE. So you succumb to the screaming latter one and you stare. For the record, staring at The Cate totally made up for the rather useless experience of staring at The Mermaid. But back to the mermaid.
To be fair, the long 35-minute uphill cycle we took to see her on one of Scandinavia's unusually hot days may have been somewhat to blame. As was the fact that it was our last day and I would've much, much rather sat in a bar drinking modestly poured and overpriced glasses of fine French wine, or walking around design stores fondling objects of desire.
Like these HAY Binders:
Or these HAY Binder Clips:
Or this, incredible Georg Jensen Silver "Crash" Tray, recreated in stainless steel by Verner Panton. Verner was cool.
Ok, tied some design into the post, good. Sadly, none of these objects are now in my possession...because instead of spending our last day going back for all the things I'd earmarked, we fell for that infamous tourist FOMO-bullshit of, "I can't say I've been to Copenhagen and not seen The Little Mermaid." So here's the thing. YOU TOTALLY CAN. And, you're welcome.
It's not even really about her being small. Lots of famous sculptures or paintings that tourists flock to see are small. The Mona Lisa is small...Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory" is small (the one with the melting clocks, yeah), lots of things are small. But their size becomes somewhat irrelevant in the context of the colossal breadth and depth of history, interpretation, and influence that surrounds them. So I thought...ok, maybe there's some great story behind this chick...and I wandered over to the plaque in front of her to read it.
Basically, The Little Mermaid is a fairytale (yes, the same Disney one you're thinking of), that was originally written by the great (and go figure, Danish) H. C. Andersen. He also wrote ""The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and many other fairytales our childhoods were universally marked by. (He also wrote other things but you can read about those on Wikipedia here.)
So I'm like, ok cool...statue related to famous Danish author becomes famous Danish landmark - that makes sense. I start to wonder if mermaids are real, or were real, and used to hang out here, so someone made a statue of them, now that they no longer do. Or I'm imagining how the statue mysteriously appeared out of the water one day (and no one has ever found out how or why), and then old H.C. walked by it and was inspired to write one of the best fairytales of all time. But that's not what happened. Instead it was the other way around. A brewer...so, not a king, not a queen, not a prince or famous artist...but a brewer, was so inspired by the story that he commissioned the sculpture and donated it to the city of Copenhagen. That's it. There was no war, no age-old myth, no inter-nation gift-giving ceremony, no mystery or history to it. And yet there are hundreds of people standing around her and climbing down the rocks to pose for photographs...and then (as if that weren't enough), buying miniature versions to take home. The Original Little Mermaid! Buy here! Anyway...I. Don't. Get. It.
To end on a happier note though, as all fairytales do...here are ten things you SHOULD do in Copenhagen.
1. Book a table at Llama.
One of Copenhagen's latest (and countless) uber-trendy and mouthwatering restaurants...the incredible tiling alone makes the visit worthwhile, and I would've posted my own photos except that they're a little dark and blurry post delicious-cocktails-expertly-mixed-by-cute-shy-long-haired-Dane. As for the food and presentation...well...wow. Probably the best restaurant I've been to in a while <insert disclaimer that all superlatives herein mentioned may or may not have been inspired by the cocktails>.
2. Walk the cocktails off with a visit to the Botanical & King's Gardens. There are few places in the world that make me happier than a good bookstore and a good botanical garden. Exhibit A below. There aren't a lot of places like this: places that make you want to skip.
3. If you like that dress...pop into COS. Not necessarily a Danish store...but if I'm ever in a city that has it, I like to go in, at least twice. The bag's from Amsterdam...so perhaps I'll do another totally biased travelogue post on that.
4. I know I sort of moaned about it earlier...but, get on a bike. The Danes love their bikes almost as much as the Dutch do. And well, walking can get exhausting, whilst skipping isn't considered socially acceptable beyond the garden gates. Now for a little mandatory musical interlude, because this song was ringing in my head the entire time.
Biiiii-cycle! Biiii-cycle! Love Queen.
5. Now you're sort of ready to eat again. Head on over to Copenhagen's so-called "Meatpacking District," less polished than New York's, but with far better food. We ate at Fiskebar...but did stop at a couple of other places in the 'hood for a drink along the way. Order...everything. Get someone else to pay.
6. If you want to stay where The Cate stays, check into SP34. Buuuuuut...opt for one of the bigger rooms or suites. Ours was teeny-tiny! Anyway, the rest of it was pretty!
7. Shop again! The Danes are as famous for their design as they have of late become for their food. So be sure to check out HAY, mentioned above...and the amazing Ilums Bolighus...Appointed by Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark, no less. Copenhagen is famed for having the longest pedestrian street in Europe so you can easily check out both these stores on Strøget. Get there early, before the tourists do. But not before 10...nothing's open! Everyone's tired from riding their biiiiii-cycle!
8. If you're up for some less high-street shopping, head across one of the city's many bridges and wander around Ravnsborggade, Sankt Hans Gade, and Elmegade streets. Lots of unique little boutiques and antique shops and of course, cute little places to stop for a glass of wine or cheese plate too. Just um, make sure there's no massive music festival called "Distortion" going on...or you'll wander into a million teenagers high on beer&Bieber. Ok, maybe they weren't teenagers, but I felt really, really old in that crowd.
9. Christiania. How do I explain this? Basically the Danes have a little neighborhood they call a "Freetown" where, I gathered, you're free to do whatever you want. From the few minutes I spent in there, I saw that you're free to be a hippie or at least dress like one, you're free to buy or sell drugs, and you're free to take all your clothes off and urinate on a wall. Yep, saw that. Only spent a few minutes in there mainly because I felt we looked a little too preppy and that someone might mistake us for the enemy.
10. In case you had any doubts, we're eating again. Man, they are just SUCH foodies! And I consider myself a foodie so when I say that I really mean it. Like even if you go to what appears to be a simple market and opt for some simple picnic-style raw fish, bread and cheese...the fish is perfectly cured, the bread is a hot baguette handed to you by a Frenchman, and the cheese is Brillat-Savarin. The. Best. Cheese. In. The. World. That's a fact. If you haven't tried it...get your hands on some now.
We went to this one, called Torvehallerne...but I believe Copenhagen has no shortage of great food markets. Do your research. And don't see The Little Mermaid. The food, the design, and the architecture are fairytale enough.
Oh alright, here. Consider your sight, seen.
Did I mention we saw Cate Blanchett?