Thoughts and ramblings of an ageing, music loving, Sci-Fi geek…

A little German adventure & other stories

Hi everyone (if there’s anyone still out there). Its been a while. One of those times when life gets in the way and sucks out any inspiration and motivation for things to write about but I’ve just had a great trip away and a birthday and it’s re-energized me a bit, so time for a catch up.

On a personal level I’ve almost stopped taking the medication I was prescribed. Been reducing it slowly under GP guidance and now only taking it on a really bad day but those are far fewer. I am still seeing my counsellor but more to help gain the confidence to move forward, I’ve started running again and now another birthday has come and gone but with the promise of positive change hanging in the air which I will grasp.

Partly this positivity has been the result of my first trip to Germany (other than a very brief stopover at Munich airport once on the way to Austria) and my first convention outside of the UK – Fedcon in Dusseldorf. After thoroughly enjoying it last year my friends Bunny and Michael, who run the awesome Visionary Trek website (please go visit), invited me to go with them this year and I was very happy to accept as it sounded like they had a great time and what the hell, it’s time I got to visit more places plus it would be good to spend time with them and a much needed break from work after all my previous issues.

I get nervous going to new places or new events when I don’t know how things work and probably bugged my friends about things more than I should have in the run up but I knew going with people who already know the ropes would be great and as the various guests were announced it was looking like a pretty damn good lineup too. Although light on Star Trek guests there were still plenty for me including Tricia Helfer and James Callis from Battlestar Galactica who are rare in the UK and Sean Young from Blade Runner who is also very rare along with a few others.

Unfortunately as is always the case, a few had to cancel but it was still an amazing event and with fewer guests to meet it meant we had time to do other things too. My friends were great at explaining the layout, where to go and how it would all work. The flight over was good too. I quite like flying so that wasn’t an issue and with the event hotel literally being next to the airport (about a 2 minute walk) and our own hotel about a 10-15 minute walk further on, it was all very conveniently located.

And looking the other way from the stairs you can see at the far end of the previous photo.

Main hall of the hotel where registration took place.

As this isn’t really a review blog I’ll let others cover the details of what happened each day, what was said in panels etc but my thoughts are these. Although it was a busy schedule it all ran very well, there was a relaxed feel to everything and no crew members shouting at you but just calmly asking you to keep moving in the queues etc. Not at all like many UK events where you really do feel like cattle being herded around.

The person on the registration desk was very funny asking about how UK postcodes worked and we got our autograph vouchers while it was pretty quiet although unlike other events I’ve been to photoshoots are paid for as you walk in to the room. This surprised me as how do they know what the demand will be? But it all seemed to work out fine. Again, all very laid back and a much nicer experience than I’m used to.

I admit my German is pretty non-existent but almost everything was duplicated in English and most people knew enough English or I got to recognise a few German words that it was quite easy to figure things out, even in the shops, although I did cause much amusement one day trying to hand over an extra 2 euro instead of 2 cents in the supermarket. Also the Google Translate app on my phone proved helpful at times.

There were numerous fun panels and here’s a few photos (Grant Bowler – Defiance; James Callis & Tricia Helfer – Battlestar Galactica; Sean Young – Bladerunner; David Nykl & David Hewlett – Stargate Atlantis; Edward James Olmos – Battlestar Galactica, Bladerunner, lots of others):

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There were some good dealer rooms that weren’t too crowded and the autograph session must have been the most relaxed one I’ve ever done. We got ours on the Sunday which was quieter anyway and it was so easy to move between each guest you needed. Some had queues but none were that long and some you could just walk up to. I didn’t realise some would allow photos while they signed but all were a delight to talk to. It was a particular thrill to discuss Blade Runner with Sean Young.

A selection of the fabulous autographs I got.

A selection of the fabulous autographs I got. Tricia Helfer, Grant Bowler, James Callis, James & Tricia on a BSG bluray sleeve and Sean Young.

The whole thing actually felt more like a holiday with friends and activities than any event I’ve been to before. Which is partly what I was hoping for but still a surprise. All my photos from the event are here.

Saturday night in the bar

Saturday night bar

I said there was also time for other things and apart from eating (German food is cheap and we mostly self-catered buying from a local shop or the various eateries at the airport which were good value) and spending time in the bar (I think we staggered back to our hotel at about 4.30am Sunday morning) I was also taken on my first geocaching adventure. And it was a bit of one.

You can find out more info on geocaching here but roughly the idea is that rather than just go out for a walk, you go out to find a hidden item. This could be in a tree, in a field, behind a brick in a wall, all kinds of places. So we all set off following a GPS app on a phone to try and find one that was near the hotel.

A very well hidden cache

A very well hidden cache

I’ve questioned the point of this in the past as what’s wrong with just a nice walk? But once we got to the relevant spot it was actually quite fun rummaging around in the undergrowth, climbing down to the nearby river to see if it was hidden near there, looking under rocks, searching for anything that seemed out of place or unnatural. It did become a bit frustrating after a while as this one was very well hidden but it was eventually found attached to a fence behind a hedge. Yay, success!!

It was great to have the time to do something different other than just convention stuff and really helped add to the holiday feel. I may even install the app and see if there are any near my home, I’m sure there are.

But all too soon it was time to come home. I completely lost track of what day it was which is a good thing and felt like it really had been much more than just a convention. Although we weren’t able to get into the main center of Dusseldorf to explore more we weren’t just stuck in the event hotel either, so that was great. Good times with good company and hopefully the start of a much better year than the one just gone.

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