This summer the Eurocon 2014 took place in Dublin and I was there!
First of all I´d like to mention that I liked the number of visitors exactly how it was. There was a good atmosphere everywhere, I have met a lot of people whom I already knew, but also made new friends. I was especially surprised that there were quite many guests even from the USA and from Australia. Finally the event was also well-organized.
This time I decided for the con hotel. Of course this was nice, especially as I had company at any time of the day just walking down the lobby – even before and after the convention, but of course it was quite expensive. But I haven´t seen any other accommodation nearby at a reasonable price per night, and I did not want to stay in some sort of suburb or anything like that. Dublin itself was most likely the most expensive city I have ever been – gosh, I thought prices are high here in Austria compared to other countries, but no – Ireland is worse! Even the supermarkets … Therefore I considered the membership fee for a three-day-event quite moderate. But I have anyway paid for it back at the last Eurocon in Kiev.
The opening ceremony set place on the evening of the first day. There had been program before. Directly after the opening ceremony was the meeting of the European Science Fiction Society. The ESFS has existed since 1972 and had been founded on the very first Eurocon.
Therefore the meetings are a kind of ceremonial. The first meeting included a presentation of all countries of Europe represented by at least one delegate. (Two are allowed.)
As for me, I was again the very first, due to the lack of people from Andorra – and yes, it is in alphabetical order and I am Austrian. I was glad for this, as I could make my little power point with my country´s nominees for the ESFS-Award and then relax and listen to the other presentation. Beside the content it is really interesting to watch the delegates as they are all quite different kinds of persons.
Afterwards I was rewarding myself at the cake party. There were different variations of cakes, all looked so delicious and the ones I tried also tasted like that! – And no, no extra payment required.
During my time in Dublin I visited some panels. One was “Conrunning – How the Sausage is made”. In fact it was a nice panel, but sitting in a chair circle reminded me of a self-helping group. And to be frank, I did not understand the thing with the sausage. (Probably an insider or a filthy joke?)
And I attended an auction that raised money for fanfunds like the GUFF. They not only had quite charming merchandize, they auctioneers were quite entertaining.
My personal highlight was the party on Saturday. Therefore they decorated the big hall. Different countries, especially the host and such who are planning to host future Euro- and Worldcons brought drinks from their home. So I tried Finnish beer for the first time of my life and – huh! – provided by a half-naked Fin. Sounds like a big party, doesn´t it? – And just believe me, it was!
Unfortunately they just had the permit for the party for a limited time, so the tough ones like me (and believe me, one has to be tough to drink Vodka with Ukrainian friends!) went on to the hotel bar. But then suddenly they had us order last drinks and then closed up immediately after. So we were some people with drinks and no bar … although I haven´t planned, I spontaneously offered to use my room. I did not have much to offer, just three cans of beer from the supermarket, but finally most of us had their drinks anyway. But the joy did not last long, until someone from the hotel knocked on the door. I think they were advised to prevent the so called in-room-parties which seem to be quite common among science-fiction fans – a tradition that tends to disappear due to more and more regulations. We did not have any music and we were not that loud. But anyway, I was glad that my guests were very well-behaved and disappeared without arguing.
Sunday … oh well, Sunday. I must confess I had a severe hangover. I finally managed to get to at least the panel of Andrzej Sapkowski, one of the guests of honour. For me it was quite a surprise that the famous fantasy author did not answer the questions of the auditorium like it was expected, e.g. a very long question led to a plain: “No”. – I do not consider him without charm, but I guess it is rather the one of a grumpy cat. And – I would meet him later on again, but I´m going to tell this later on.
All too soon there was the closing ceremony. They gave away the Golden Blaster Awards first, a kind of movie awards. Afterwards, of course, the ESFS-Awards! – As someone from a small country and a lonely delegate (I was most likely the only one from my country at all) I was quite satisfied that I could bring at least an Encouragement Award home – for a young author who wrote a novel with the title Hard Boiled that sets place in a dystopian Vienna of the future.
Although the Eurocon was over at that time, there were still many fans around. I stayed another day and asked different people for company at a sightseeing trip through the city – and finally, me, the Austrian, ended up with the charming company of three Australians!
We booked a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off-bus and our highlight was of course the visit at the Guinness Storehouse!
Afterwards we attended the Dead Dog Party at a traditional Irish pub. I tried my first original stew in my life and was impressed by the number of brands of beer they offered. – But I had to go to bed early that evening due to my flight very early in the morning.
I checked out between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning! – I noticed a man in the lobby that looked somewhat familiar to me. So I asked him if he had been a guest of Eurocon as well. He said yes, but gave me a weird gaze. But I decided not to be irritated by this too much and asked if he will get the bus to airport as well. – No, but he has ordered a taxi and I am invited to join. Great! A free ride! (I suggested to share the fare, but he refused.) – But well, after a while and asking more questions to him, I suddenly realized: This man was not anybody I just met, it was the guest of honour, Andrzej Sapkowski! Oh my God!
Well, but let’s make it short: I finally got to the airport more than just in time and had a safe flight to Bratislava and finally made it back by bus to Vienna.