I got back to Malmö in the morning, made my way to Malin’s place and promptly collapsed on the bed – but not for long. We had a lunch date with Marie at the special, top secret sushi place where I got the best present of my trip – a jar of salt licorice candy (no, that’s not the special part) with a custom label, words by Malin, art by Marie. It’s awesome! And it will hold a special place on my mantle for years to come, candy still tucked safely inside because, let’s face it, unless you grew up with the stuff, salt licorice is some of the nastiest gunk on the planet. We were joined at lunch by Martin, an engineer (and part time aspiring magician) who has helped Malin with props. He had just started his holiday and so had some time off.
In fact, Martin and I decided to hang out for a bit that night and hit the opening festivities of the Malmö festival – an annual street fair/music fest/craft show which takes place all
over town. So we walked and talked (we also visited the science fiction bookshop so I could get a new book) and took pictures. I said good night fairly early, though, since I had to pack for my flight to Reykjavik the next day as well as finish grading papers.
That next day came early and was trying to figure out how I was going to get everything into my backpack. There were times it didn’t look like it would all fit, but eventually, it got there. In the morning, I also called my friend Ida (you remember her from the post way back in June entitled “Where Were We…” ) who was back in Copenhagen. See, she had gone home to Ecuador for a bit and just happened to be back when I was there and she had asked if we could get together. So when I called her, we arranged to meet in Copenhagen at 6:30. Quite cryptically she said “come hungry.”
So I finally got everything into the pack, hoisted it on my back, and caught a ride to the train station with Malin and Sonny. It was nice to be able to say good-bye to both of them (we thought Sonny might be working). They are such a great couple and they made me feel so welcome and at home during
all my time in Malmö. I can honestly say my journey would not have nearly as successful if it hadn’t been for Malin and Sonny (and Marie – Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgggh)! Anyway, they dropped me off, I jumped a train and headed off to meet Ida (remember, it’s pronounced with the short “I” sound – Eeda). I was running a few minutes late so I went still carrying my pack. We met in front of Tivoli Gardens and Ida immediately suggested what I had been thinking, that we walk back across the street and deposit my bag in a locker for the evening. Not only was it more practical, but she made some reference to the fact that it just wouldn’t do to bring my 24.7 kilo pack to where we were going for dinner. And as I would find out, she was right!
After dropping my pack, we headed back into the city proper. There was a Pride Fest concert going on in the square and I followed Ida through the throngs of thongs. When I asked where we were going, she said I’d see. We did, however, have a bit of a walk ahead of us. On the walk, we caught up on where we’d been, what we’d been doing (mostly me, because she had gone back to work) and what was next. Finally, we got to a harbor and the view was spectacular. Remember how I said I was proud of myself for not seeing the Little Mermaid while I was in Copenhagen? Guess what? That’s exactly where Ida brought me and that mermaid, she ain’t so little.
She sits high in the middle of the harbor, staring plaintively out over the ocean, waiting for her love to come back. It really is a beautiful piece. I stared for a second before Ida said “Come on, we have a boat to catch.” She explained that she had wanted to surprise me and so had called in a favor and pulled some strings and fibbed slightly about my American reporter credentials, but she managed to get us a table for dinner in one of the most exclusive restaurants in Copenhagen – Hans – located in the head of the Little Mermaid!
We had to take a small ferry boat to get out there, a trip of mere minutes – which was a shame because the boat was so nice and well appointed. I found out later, if there’s a back up at the restaurant or if you’re very early, they’ll serve cocktails on the boat and turn it into a pre-dinner cruise. But we were on-time and our table was waiting so no cruising for us. Next time, if there is one. So the boat drops us off at a dock which is hidden from the dry side of the view, and we are directed into a faux cave. From inside, things look bigger than you’d think – you can’t see where the statue joins with the rock which betrays the fabrication of the whole thing. Unfortunately, and I’ve complained about this before, but there was no elevator, so, after checking in at the base, we had to climb the 80 or so stairs to the top.
When we finally reached the main floor, the restaurant was spectacular. It was dimly lit with the majority of light coming in from the two large windows which corresponded to the Mermaid’s eyes. As the sun set, though, the ambient lighting took over, just bright enough to see but not so bright as to diminish the lights of the city outside. It’s a very romantic setting. Honestly, made me sad Ida and I are just friends (but thankful she called in her favor for me rather than her boyfriend who was coming in the next week). We were seated at a table slightly to the side of the windows (you can’t ask for everything, right?) and shown the menus. Evidently Hans (named for Hans Christian Andersen, the writer of The Little Mermaid tale) is known for its meat-like seafood. If that doesn’t make sense, think of it this way… they don’t do traditional seafood. The fish on the menu isn’t done in filets. Instead, they only work with thick, solid cuts of fish. So the tuna, which I had, is a tuna steak, prepared with beef like spices and a sauce which has to be tasted to be believed. Honestly, this was the best meal I had in my entire trip (figures it would happen on my last night on the mainland, huh?). Ida, who is a vegetarian, had a sampler plate which also was amazing (yes I tried some – but I was still glad I had the tuna). I didn’t particularly care for the mixed veggies, but the mashed potatoes had some sort of base taste I’ve never had before. We asked and the waiter told us it was because they use a blend of yak milk instead of cow milk to make it fluffier (No, I don’t know where they get the yak milk, either).
After the main course was digested, we decided to have desert. Yes, they had tiramisu on the menu, but I just couldn’t order it. The place was too cool to have something like that so instead we decided to split ‘The Philopher’s Stone.’ We were both full and while I would have liked to have tried ‘The Red Shoes,’ the description of which included powdered espresso beans and candied ginger, just seemed a bit too much (and can you tell all the desserts were named for H.C. Andersen tales? The Tiramisu was actually called ‘The Tinder Box’). Of course, what we did order was no slouch. It was a hand churned ice cream (the flavor wasn’t exactly vanilla, it was richer and there was something underneath it I couldn’t indentify, but that’s as close as I’m gonna get) served with a chocolate infused biscotti like cookie. Except the cookie wasn’t hard, it had a soft middle which didn’t exactly taste like chocolate. I’m not doing a good job of explaining it, but it was amazing. Even better was the presentation – It was served in a bowl, with the cookie “standing at attention” and underneath it was a dry ice mist to give off the feeling of a cold Danish morning. Just spectacular!
By this time it was getting late and I had a flight to catch, so we couldn’t stay to enjoy any more of the ambience or after dinner drinks. We made our way down stairs, caught the ferry back to land and headed for the airport (looking back at The Mermaid, you could see a glint in the eyes where the restaurant is, but it was shielded so well you couldn’t see anything going on behind those eyes).
At the airport, Ida walked me as far as she could, to the alarmingly empty security checkpoint, where we said good bye. I boarded the plane, taking an aisle seat and rested for the three hour flight to Keflavik, the main Icelandic
airport about 40 kilometers from Reykjavik, where I had a “guest house” booked.
My trip was coming to an end – two and a half days to go before heading back to Vegas. But I was planning to make the most of them.