Yesterday, we made the requisite pilgrimage to the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. It’s an indisputable tourist trap, made even more depressing by the need of most 13- to 30-year-old male visitors to have a photo of themselves groping her. The statue itself is located at the edge of the city, not far from a big army base. As we were winding through the area, halfheartedly looking for the Mermaid, we stumbled on a beautiful church in the midst of military and tourists. It was a gothic-style church, with one tall spire, a white and grey exterior, and several stained glass windows. My love of stained glass knows few bounds, so I decided to go inside. Having tired of church-sightseeing, B remained in the adjacent Churchill Park.
It turned out that it was the only Anglican Church in Denmark, whose construction was shepherded by Princess Alexandra, the Russian-born wife of one of the more recent Christian-named Danish kings. As I walked into the entryway, I saw a man handing out tourist guides to each visitor. He had versions in several dozen languages, and he seemed to be entertaining himself by guessing which guide was appropriate for each person. Rather than ask entrants where they were from, he would open with, ‘Are you from…?,’ filling in the country of his prognostication. He would intone each guess in a deep, natively-British voice, and he generally made several salvos before acceding to asking
When it was my turn, he sized me up fairly quickly. I was wearing fitted jeans, a grey pullover hoodie, my black cross-body purse, black flats, basic jewelry, and no makeup. Any guesses on where he thought I was from? I think that hoodies – especially without zippers – scream ‘American,’ but apparently not in this case. And what self-respecting European would ever leave the house without makeup? However, I assume he focused on my very dark, fairly long hair, because he only had one guess for my country of origin: ‘Are you from Spain?’
Bad omen for our visit to Spain: looks like the disbelief when I say I speak no Spanish will continue. Just like at home.