Thursday, 5 May 2011

FedCon XX: New place, New Beginnings

There is something inspiring in meeting a person -in this case Star Trek The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton- and listen to him talk about his stories and his blog. It made me realize I also do have a blog, which is currently sadly empty. Time, therefore, to start using it for what it was meant.

We met Wil at the 20th edition of the European SciFi convention FedCon, of old a gathering of Star Trek fans but nowadays more into the general SciFi genre. Recently it has grown considerably and therefore it has moved to a new location: from the cosy and comfortable Maritim hotel in Bonn to the state of the art and awe-inspiring Martitim in Düsseldorf. This new place it great, though at first one has to overcome an awkward feeling: it feels a bit as an extension of the adjacent airport.

We arrived on a Wednesday and as usual we stepped right into the preconvention buzz: things being built up, things being hanged, merchandise being unpacked and it is always fun to step inside and watch this, careful of course not to be in anyone's way. We were also a bit concerned as this was the first FedCon the hotel staff had to deal with. No matter how many conventions one runs, FedCon is just a bit different, has it's own problems.
That night we had scheduled a special Reunion Dinner with some friends, sixteen in number, who were also early-bird arrivals. First thing after check-in was a run to the elected restaurant to make a reservation, to make sure we had enough seats. No problem, it was written into the big book and off we went, into the dealer's room for the usual pre-convention browsing of stuff. And we were not disappointed, and some great autographs (Harrison Ford as Han Solo! Matthew Fox in LOST!, Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine!) went home with us.

Of course it is fun to kill time just sitting somewhere and let the people pass you by, often interrupted by enthousiastic cheers, waving of hands and a hug or two...

Evening falls and it is time for the Reunion Dinner, so we head for the restaurant. It feels as if the number of persons expected has doubled in the meantime, so I just take it easy and see what happens...and then the Maitre'D tells us that “there has been a mistake with the reservation, there's no place for you in our inn”...eeh, what? She explains that the restaurant is fully booked (by the FedCon staff, as we find out later), but she let's us in and leaves us. To come back after five minutes to tell us that we can't stay here but there's a table for us in the adjacent bistro, and we will get the menus from this restaurant. I could have kissed the lady for her problem-solving skills. We pack up and –indeed- there's more of us waiting in the bistro.

It becomes an animated and quite international party: Dutch, Belgians, Americans, Scottish and the occasional Swedish. It in fact becomes so animated that the maitre'd of the bistro (which is a lot more uppity than the down-to-earth homecooking restaurant we originally wanted) asks us to turn it down a bit as there are still some business people around. If this is how FedCon XX starts, where wil it end? Well, we'll find out tomorrow.

One thing is sure: I now have the utmost confidence in the hotel staff to deal with the organised craziness that is FedCon. No matter what crisis...

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