You have probably read about it here, or here, or here already, but I love going to Eurofurence. It is the oldest currently-running furry convention in the world, predating Anthrocon by two full years. It is usually held in Germany but periodically skips around to other European nations. This was my fourth straight year attending, and every year that I have gone they have outdone themselves. This year, Eurofurence XI, was no exception.
The flight out was quite comfortable. I was traveling with the artist Gideon, who is a dear friend to me. I had a first-class seat but Gideon was trapped in the very rear of the aircraft. All of my attempts prior to the flight to get him into First Class with me had met with failure, so I instead employed a little social engineering on the plane itself. I will not go into details, but in the future if anyone asks, Gideon is the "executive vice president of Anthrocon Inc." You can read his version of the story here.
I took my little digital camera with me (and by "my" I mean "my employer's") so I was able to take a crapload of pictures (and by "a crapload" I mean "more than 300"). I spent the whole flight home plus many evenings afterward adding little captions to them and adjusting the light levels (Germany is very cloudy at this time of year) and shrinking them for easy web viewing.
The location of the convention was the city of Nürnberg (Nuremberg, to us Americans). Eurofurence adds another award to their growing list of accomplishments: "The Most Kickass Venue" trophy. They held it this year in a castle. A CASTLE! We arrived, and I said to Gideon, "Holy shit, Dude, we're in a castle!" and he was like, "Whoa! It really IS a castle!" and I was like "It's a real castle!" and he was like "And we're in it!" and I was like "OMG, we really are!" and he was like "And it's a castle!" and I was like "Holy shit!" and he was like "Yeah!" We were in the portion of the castle that used to be the stables. They really treated their horses well back then: the building was eight stories high and big enough to contain an entire youth hostel (Jugendheberge Nürnberg).
Eurofurence has also snatched away from Anthrocon an award that the latter has held for a long time: the "Dammit, the elevator broke and now everyone has to take the stairs!" cup. I hope that the reader will forgive me for figuratively jumping up and down and shouting "Neener neener boo boo!" to my esteemed hosts. Indeed, the castle was constructed in the 11th century, and after some extensive renovation generously provided by the Royal Air Force in 1945, a little elevator was installed in the stable building. This elevator was approximately the size of two standard telephone booths. With more than 300 furries trying to get their luggage to any one of seven upper floors, and then riding up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down all day, it was only a matter of time before it broke down. Welcome to my world, folks!
Frankly, I was impressed that it lasted as long as it did.
So whereas Anthrocon became known as "Staircon" in 2001, I now dub Eurofurence "Stairmastercon." That is because not only did one have to negotiate multiple flights of narrow Medieval staircases to get to one's room, but the castle itself sits on a hill that is approximately 153,000 feet above sea level, while the town of Nürnberg itself is located in the Marianas Trench. The angle of the hillside is just shy of ninety degrees, and hence going down into town requires simply falling from the battlements (parachutes are provided by the hostel) whereas returning requires climbing gear and oxygen bottles. My legs got more of a workout than I give them in my daily exercise regimen. It is no wonder that the Germans always win the gold medal in the long jump in the Olympics.
Still, it was worth the climb (and the fall). I made many sorties down into town accompanied at various times by Gideon, by "2" the Ranting Gryphon, by Timothy Albee, or with random friendly European furries whose company I treasured. In fact, I spent more time exploring the town and eating bratwurst (for which Nürnberg is famous) and drinking lovely local wine (known as "Frankenwein") and ordering ice cream (I actually managed to do that in German and was very proud of myself) and just admiring the sights than I did attending any of the daytime events at the convention. For that I am a little sorry since I am sure I missed some extremely fine programming, but the lure of such a charming and vibrant town was too strong for me to resist. Our room on the sixth floor even had a balcony that overlooked the town.
I learned some important things:
I had some lovely experiences, the memories of which I will treasure for years:
I wish I could have stayed longer. I am grateful to (and miss) my Eurofur friends who made this such a special trip for me. Thanks go to Cheetah ("the PRODUCER"!), Tani, BBF, Jaryic, Nightfox, Luwe, Fairlight, Lynard, Akeela....and everyone else that my poor old brain can't quite name right at this moment, but who are nonetheless dear to me and whom I am greatly looking forward to seeing next year.
A note about the pictures: All are in JPG format, and all are 600x800. They are meant to be viewed on a monitor that is set at 1024x768 resolution or better. If you do not know how to do that, right-click on your desktop, click [properties], then [settings], and look at "Screen area." It might also be helpful to close some of the menus at the top of the browser screen (Netscape and I.E.) so that the full picture is shown, without the need to scroll to see all of it. I've put a handy "jump list" at the bottom if things start to get too boring.
With a nine hour airplane flight home, I had plenty of time to caption all of the pictures and to try to adjust the brightness and contrast to make up for my incredibly inept photography skills. For those pictures that do not please the viewer, I shall apologize in advance.