Eurocon 2000

by Jim Walker

A short, subjective report...


To get straight to the point, anyone from Britain going to Poland for a Eurocon is inevitably going to compare it with the legendarily disorganised Eurocon in Krakow in 1991. I was there in 1991 and although we had a very good time in the beautiful city of Krakow the Convention as such appeared to be a non-event.

So what about Gydinia this year? Well there really was a Convention with some 600 attendees, mostly Polish of course, with films, panels, computor games, art show and live role playing games in the woods offsite. Almost everything I wanted to go to took place on time in the advertised place. There were some rather earnest Eurofandomy panels and some items were translated into English. My only quibbles with the organisation were that it would have been helpful for the programme to show which items would be available in English and for there to be a more obvious bar as a focus.

The non-Polish contingent seemed rather thin on the ground, there was only one German, no French (but two Belgians), three Norwegians but a fair number from Eastern Europe. Most of the usual suspects were there, Aahvid Engholm from Sweden, Frank Beckers from Belgium, Pascal Docummon from Switzerland and Bridget Wilkinson , Martin Hoare, Paul Dormer, Ken Slater, Martin Easterbrook and Margaret Austin from the UK not forgetting Alex Vasilkovsky from the Ukraine.

The Romanians were late arriving as they had had their money stolen on a train in Hungary. Nothing was learned about plans for the 2001 Eurocon except that unfortunately there didnít seem much enthusiasm for going there among the Westerners.

The competition for staging the 2002 Eurocon was won convincingly by a small town in the Czech Republic against the Jersey Eastercon ably represented by Martin Hoare. Sadly he could not overcome the prejudice against Jersey caused by the relative prices of beer. The Czech small town, which is 100km km east of Prague, seemed to have rather limited facilities but will not of course have Prague prices. Day trips to Prague will be available. Their bid document was good and only a late change of venue prevented them making a computor graphics presentation.

As for Gydinia itself, it is a modern port which also functions as a seaside resort for Polish families. The town is undistinguished but the waterfront was very pleasant with a beach, historic ships, bars, ice cream, etc.

The real tourist destination is Gdansk, 30 minutes train ride down the coast. This is the old Hanseatic port of Danzig which was in the middle of itís annual two week Amber Market. A lot of restoration has been done since I first saw it in 1988 and the extensive Old Town area is beautiful, in the same league as Krakow or Bruges including the number of visitors.

To complete the travelogue, after Poland I went on to the Baltic States. Vilnius in Lithuania is a very fine eighteenth century city, Riga in Latvia is trying hard but Tallinn in Estonia is a medieval jewel. There are extensive city walls and many old buildings - for my money itís the new Prague.

Here endeth the Report.




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