I never thought that I would go to a convention in Croatia, but as this April there was not only their usual SferaKon, but this event had been upgraded by the Eurocon. It was also my first Eurocon, but I loved the idea and wanted to give a try!
But: Why did I not go before? Croatia is lovely country and in April its Mediterranean charme is already at its best. There are cheap tickets available for a modern and comfortable bus that goes from Vienna (my home city) to Zagreb in five hours. I already had a much longer way to conventions in Germany where the destination seemed to be much less „exotic“ in my mind.
I was not in the official con-hotel, as I was seeking for a cheaper accommodation. The hostel we found was quite nice, in case you ignored that the interior designer was obviously colour-blind as the wall was painted grass-green and the hangings were pink and orange. Therefore we later realized that the people who had rooms on the same floor were also visitors of the Eurocon. (From Slovakia and Czech Republic – we saw these lovely people again at Parcon.)
I must confess: At first I had simply been totally disorientated. It was not easy to find the venue of the convention, especially as I did not check out first that the conventions was not only on one place.
So we came there late, but fortunately we made it to the opening. After different countries introduced their fandom – it was very interesting, especially as every delegate made his or her own presentation in his or her own style, there was the opening speech. It was in a pleasant length, introducing the special guests (Charles Stross, Dmitry Gluhkovsky, Darko Macan, Tim Powers and Cheryl Morgan) and closing with the words, that drinks are provided and one should talk to as many from as many different countries as possible.
Free drinks at a convention? – I never experienced that, but I love the idea!
And no, the entrance fee was not expensive. 30 Euro for four days, including a con bag with two anthologies inside … so what?
I was really a kind of strange, overdressed waiters serving drinks to us … that is not the imagination you usually have of nerds. But obviously science-fiction is really celebrated at the Eurocon!
Unfortunately there was no one there I knew, so I was a kind of shy in this situation that reminded me of speed-dating. I think I better hanged a shield around my neck with „I am Austrian!“, because if anyone was really talk to people from as many countries as possible, there was only a little chance to catch someone from my country – there were just two of us hanging around together …
But in fact the other fans there behaved so warmly, that I soon became more self-confident!
On the next day the convention was at another location – the technical university. This was more the style I have been used to before. On fair stands they offered con-shirts and Croatian fanzines, young artists offered jewellery for nerds, a Slovenian group auf authors gave their best and the Germans had their Confact, a kind of convention zine, written on a really old laptop and printed at the event. This was the first time I saw some people I have known before at other conventions.
The real icebreakers were in fact the group of USS. Croatia who were very excited that someone else had been around in Star Trek uniform and immediately gathered around us.
Socializing is always great, but still: What is a convention without panels? – I must confess that I have just seen a small excerpt of all the variety, but I loved everything I attended.
I saw the panel with Dmitry Gluhkovsky on his Metro-universe, a discussion on free online-publishing and a discussion on steampunk.
What I really loved was in fact that this was not one of the cons for just a day, where a lot of people already leave in the afternoon. In four days, also doing something with other fans is quite possible. On the first day, there was, as I already mentioned, the opening ceremony. Then there was a party in brewery – great! On the third day was a huge party in a club. The forth day they offered a free guided tour, but we unfortunately had our bus back before.
I am so glad that I decided to attend the Eurocon in Zagreb! The Croatians were gorgeous hosts and everyone was so kind – not only the fans, but also average people on the street. They were all quite relaxed, not even wondered about things like manga cosplay and Star Trek uniforms. I experienced different situations already before, so I really appreciate this.
But best of all was that it broadened my horizon and opened a totally new world for me. Europe is huge and full of fans. Let’s talk and work together!