Friday, November 14, 2008

the Little Mermaid

When growing up, I was reared by a lot of fairy tales. One of the most tragic, which as a child I had trouble understanding is definitely Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

This story of love between a mermaid (granted half a human) and her prince ended with the supreme sacrifice of the heroine throwing and dissolving herself to the sea, dejected and unrequited. And then of course, we get bombarded by so many other feel-good versions, most notably the Disney cartoon of late. Let there be no mistake though, this tale is not the happiest one to comfort an impressionable child who wanted stories to end with a happily ever after.

When I got the chance to travel to Denmark several years ago, I knew that I just had to visit the famous statue of the Little Mermaid by the rock at Churchill Park. The statue was cast in 1913 by Edward Eriksen who fashioned the mermaid from the likeness of his wife, Eline Eriksen.

The statue has always been on the news and for the wrong reasons. It seems that it begets mischief. It has been defaced, beheaded, stolen and carted away several times. Like a fairy tale though, the statue always make a comeback, for it already is a beloved part of the city of Copenhagen.

Getting to the statue alone was not difficult. Maps are everywhere in Copenhagen and there are directional signs to the Copenhagen harborside. People are always drawn by her too, so all I had to do was follow a trail of tourists who obviously were heading the same way.

As first impressions come, the statue is quite small in stature, not even life-size. It sits at the shore on a rock and since the tide was not high, it can be accessed easily by anyone during my visit. (Be wary, the boulders are slippery!). Alas, getting an alone time with “her” is no mean task. There are just so many admirers who would like to pose beside the mermaid.

The Little Mermaid closeup
I was using a point and shoot then and I could not zoom the mermaid up close. Note the hand of a tourist posing by her.

The photos where in I got her “solo” was managed with some difficulty. Luckily, there is only one trail to access the statue so when a visitor leaves the coveted spot, the mermaid can be had alone for a few seconds just before the next poser comes close.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

As the sun sank in Copenhagen, people began fanning out and soon too, I had to leave. It seems that always, the Little Mermaid will be alone.

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