BABELON - ISSUE FIVE

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BABELON 5

Well, I thought of doing all sorts of puns related to the title, like BearbylOn 5, with Captain Bearidan, Mr Bearibaldi, and the like, but the creative juices couldn't sustain that sort of thing for more than half a paragraph, so this ish is more or less the usual sort of thing.

The "usual sort of thing" this time being my trip to Sweden...but first a few words of thanks to all those heroic types who contributed greatly to the smooth running of Intuition, by providing part of the marzipan mountain for me to meditate (and nibble) on during my off-shift moments of relaxation ;) Mucho gracias!!!

Ralf was the first person at the con to give me a stash of marzipan, but preceded in time by Erik, who had turned up to help load the van at my place (a hero!!) and brought various bits and pieces with him (devoured in post-con feeding frenzy!!).

Other contributors to whom I am indebted for a chocolate or marzipan rush are Vince (Belgian chocs), Herman (Odense for comparison purposes, but it looks so huge it will take me a while to feel frenzied enough to go wild on it), Johannes (various bits of Norwegian choc), Janne (two bars of 70% choc, well chomped now!), Juergen (a marzipan relief pack), Ariane (a marzipan egg), Fran (white choc bears), and probably others I've forgotten in post con death mode - anyway to all of them a huge "thanks!!" as I chomp in dedicated euro-comparison mode through this mountain - which the bears are currently guarding with their usual (lack of) efficiency. The bears themselves were given a Snack by Bjorn, which they deeply appreciate!!:)

Oh, and Marcia gave me toothpaste - rosehip flavour ;)

While Mike was being me, he also got given marzipan...

Sad news followed later in July, when I heard out of the blue from Ariane's parents that she had passed away - at such a young age it was a really unexpected and sobering shock. What can you say, except that she will be greatly missed by her friends.

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Anyway, I'm glad I never committed to a regular schedule for BabelOn, as it's inevitably always later than I intend. This time by several months, seeing as how first off my time was taken up doing stuff for Intuition (or more properly, by getting other people to do stuff, delegation is all!), then actual Real Life went into overdrive mode and stayed there... Eventually that had to end, as term ended. Felt really weird having nothing to do after a couple of months of 10-hour days every day, but I think I'll get used to it!! :)

Well, I thought I'd learn a bit of Swedish in time for my trip to Sweden, but this never happened - but the time I got round to Lesson One it was two days ahead of the trip. I just hope everyone really _does_ speak English!

THURSDAY

Mike and I are met at Stockholm airport by Wolf and Janne, who drove us to their block of flats. I was actually quite impressed with these flats - the outsides were nothing special, but the insides were really spacious and airy, with lots of walls that would be ideal for multitudinous bookcases. Very nice.

Mike would be staying with Wolf, while I was staying with Janne and Monika, so he went off to dump his stuff before returning, when we all got on with convivial conversation, and watched some TV. Though I don't have more than one word of Swedish (Tack! means thanks!), the news appeared to be much the same stuff as here, except all the presenters had brilliant white teeth. Really dazzling teeth, blinding in fact.

After which was the Xfiles, in English with Swedish subtitles. Over the course of the week I saw quite a number of programmes which were in English with Swedish subtitles. Quite the opposite to here, where you're lucky if you see a foreign film advertised to be on at some ungodly hour of the morning once a month, and then it's always something really useless that you wouldn't want to watch in English, so why do they think you'd want to watch it in another language?

FRIDAY

By the time I emerged, both Janne and Monika had gone out already to work, so I foraged in the fridge for brekkers, after which Mike arrived, and we both headed off to town to do a bit of touristing.

We got a train from the local station, and attempted to pay the conductor (there was neither a ticket office nor a ticket machine at the station), but he told us to buy the cheap rate strip tickets when we got to the other end, and wouldn't take our money.

On the way back we had purchased those strip tickets - 20 sections to a strip, and you get them stamped by the conductor, one for each zone plus one extra, as appropriate to your journey. In our case we were going through 3 zones, so they were stamped 4 sections down.

We then walked through a peculiarly vile set of tunnels to get to the Old Town part of Stockholm and set off on a fruitless search for the Tourist Information office. Fruitless, mainly because we were both too dead to make any sense of the map. Still this didn't stop us finding the SF bookshop, the Royal Palace and various other bits and pieces.

One of the first places we stopped was a cake shop, where I had an apple and cinammon cake, and Mike had a mocca chocolate cake, at which he exclaimed "I want to have this cake's babies!!!" I think he might have liked it :)

The Royal Palace wasn't so hot - at least, it's gift shop wasn't. I had hoped to pig out on postcards and the like, but couldn't find anything I really fancied splashing out on :( We didn't see round the Palace itself, intending to do that later on, but that never happened. Next time, maybe.

We also had a look around a shop selling Mexican crafts, which is one of my interests, but everything was so expensive, that I only bought an el cheapo touristy set of panpipes. Pity.

Then we had a stop in a bar, as Mike said his beer-gland was calling to him. As we were recovering from our strenuous hike, we were pleasantly surprised by the advent of a marching band parading outside our restaurant - very dashing types - who then stopped to play several military airs.

After this, it was time to find some food, and though we might have liked to try Swedish cuisine, we didn't see any likely spots, so we ended up in a pizzeria (looks like Herman was right about that!), where Mike had a vegetarian pizza and I had plaice and chips. We come all this way, and have the same as at home - aargh! We had become the type of tourists I most despise!!

We then went to the SF bookshop, which was quite impressive - it was mainly English language books, with a small section of Swedish books, and another section for videos. I bought a number of books that I'd been looking for, as did Mike and Bjorn later that week. The prices were comparable to what I'd pay here, with American imports being about the same, and UK imports being a bit more expensive.

Suddenly we bumped into one of the guys we knew from Eastercons - Anders, purveyor of the Weird Red Stuff - who chatted with us for a while then directed us how to get to a nearby ice-cream parlour, which turned out to be exceptionally oinkish :) Mike had hazelnut and pistachio icecreams in a huge cone, while I had blueberry, advocaat, and saffron/honey flavours. Yum!!!! Excellent stuff!

Then it's onward to find Mike somewhere to satisfy his raging beergland, which turns out to be a Greek bar. As usual I have mineral water, which is not nearly so interesting, but there you go...

Finally, it's time to wend our way back to meet Wolf at 6 o'clock, as we will be going on to Navigator, the con which Wolf is helping run, and where Mike is FGOH. Anders tells us this small relaxacon has been referred to as Smurfcon, because of the number of smoffy Swedes and smoffy foreigners turning up to it. Wonder who he could mean?? :)

We have spent the entire day in Stockholm without any grasp of the language whatsover, but it has been really easy, because everyone does speak fluent English, rather like Holland really in that respect.

In Wolf's flat Mike made me coffee while Wolf laboured to build and debuild a polystyrene mountain in between the continuous ringing of the phone. We later discovered the polystyrene was meant to be building materials for the "Build your own spaceship" contest, except Wolf had only got enough for one wannabee space ship builder... him!!! Fix!!! :)

At the community centre where the con was being held, various fans were setting up and socialising. Bjorn arrived some time later, and then went off in search of Swedish cuisine - a Big Mac! Meanwhile Mike was being introduced to the intricacies of Frozen Methane Hockey, which is a table top game of ice hockey, but apparently used to have it's own fannish league, wherein all the teams had fannish themes eg being named after the moons of Jupiter, and so forth.

Mike has a go at it. He is not wildly talented. However his talents dwarf mine, so I insist I will only play by British Rules - I have just made these up, and they consist of me being allowed to win by using my hands to place the puck in my opponent's goal. My Swedish opponent also gleefully takes to British Rules, which causes some hilarity among the spectators! :)

Bjorn had decided to bribe me with choc, not entirely sure why, but it was very pleasant - he had a mixed bag of chocs which were very well received by the company, and I managed to get most of the marzipan ones, what a surprise!!

Then it was homeward through the maze of paths, and I went in search of Janne's flat while the others trooped on to Wolfie's place. After silently trying the key in the lock, and quietly struggling with it for a while, I effected my stealthy entry. Not however as quietly as I'd hoped, as Janne appeared going "urhhh!" After which I attempted probably with equal success to tiptoe quietly to my room...

SATURDAY

Eventually emerging from my coccoon at some ungodly hour like ten o'clock, I went in search of brekkie, and discovered that yet again I have slept in so late that everyone else had given up and gone already.

After a while it occurred to me to wonder about navigating the maze to find the consite - maybe that's why the con is called Navigator? I decide to see if Mike and co could possibly still be hanging around, so walk over to Wolfie's place. Luckily these people are even more supreme sloths than me, and are only just contemplating the idea of waking up. Their first act is to provide me with coffee - ahead of themselves - these are not only noble types, they obviously have a keen sense of self-preservation! :)

The rest of the day passed in a blur. Memorable highlights included the pentathlon: Mike and Maths as GOH's were matched against each other in a series of games:

The Frozen Methane Hockey, which Mike lost convincingly, the speed drinking contest, which he also lost, with the froth bubbling the wrong way up through his nose... but then he caught up somewhat by winning the Pac Man game, which was shown on a film screen so we could all see it, and he evened the score with the Synchronised Drinking Contest:

Each GOH had a team, and had to go away to devise a routine, which would be judged on artistic interpretation, synchronicity, and silliness. Mike was handicapped by having two non-drinkers in his team, but won anyway on sheer silliness. His team's routine involved a twirly dance with a Blue Danube hum. Janne's comment on seeing the practise was "does the phrase Complete Nutters mean anything to you?" :)

The fifth and final event was supposed to be on the Sunday, but Maths never showed, he was feeling unwell. It was supposed to be rounders with frisbees...

Then there was a kantele performance by two women, who had been learning the instrument since they were three. It's the Finnish national instrument, invented or improved by the folk hero Vainomen two thousand years ago. It looked like a cross between a harp and a piano.

After which we had the Fankett, which was beef, with tomatoes, mushrooms, salad, and potatoes. The rest of the evening was spent in smoffing over North European conventions and the like, or else just joking and laughing - it was a relaxacon after all!

Getting back to Janne's flat later, I managed not to wake the household this time...

SUNDAY

I went round to Wolfie's flat to meet the guys again just as they were getting up. Later on I would be moving my stuff in, as Wolfie's wife was going off to Moscow, so it would be more convenient for me, Mike and Bjorn who would be going off together on Monday. But just now it was total confusion as Wolfie couldn't find his trousers. He was sure he hadn't undressed in front of the other guys, and he had searched everywhere else. Later it transpired his wife had packed them to take to Moscow with her. They have only just moved into this flat this week, which is why they can't find anything...

We wandered along to the consite a while later, and the entire day consisted of sitting around chatting with whoever happened to be there. Then we all adjourned for some typical Swedish cuisine - to the nearest pizza parlour. I am beginning to wonder if Swedes have a cuisine :)

The day ended with the Dead Fish Party at Wolfie's flat, which was dead handy as we didn't have to go anywhere for it, and could collapse afterward without having to leave :)

MONDAY

Eventually surfacing, Bjorn, Mike, and I decide to head off to Stockholm, and see the Vasa Museum and so forth. The Vasa Museum is reached by means of a ferry, and we are lucky enough to catch one more or less straight away.

The Vasa is a ship which sank in the 1600's and has been recovered, and is in the process of restoration to it's original glory. It's much bigger than the Mary Rose, and in considerably better shape - for one thing it's almost complete, whereas the Mary Rose is only half a ship. The museum is on five floors, and we go up the top and start working our way down. Though it's impressive and though I usually am dead keen on this sort of thing, today I just can't relate to it. And I don't buy anything in the gift shop either...this is almost unheard-of for me, since I am the type of person who actually likes gift shops ;)

We head off across a bridge to the mainland part of Stockholm in search of food. Eventually we decide on somewhere touristy that does rolls and stuff, while we recover from all this walking. "Wimpy Brits" Bjorn doesn't so much mutter as crow triumphantly as he skips merrily along while we crawl zombie-like in his wake ;)

Eventually we find the Tourist Office, as Mike wants to know where there are some bookshops that he might find Moomintroll books in. Though we duly locate various bookshops, none of them have anything that isn't already in print in the UK, and most of them don't have much of a paperback stock anyway. Hardbacks yes, but not paperbacks.

Onwards to the old town, where we introduce Bjorn to the cake and coffee place we found earlier, which is very pleasant, before adjourning to the SF bookshop, where the guys go wild on a bookbuying spree.... There we meet Anders who has offered to show us to some pub which does typical Swedish food, and various whiskys. Anders has a pot of mussels so huge you could feed six on it, Bjorn has a rack of ribs, Mike has a burger, and I have various fishy things in batter.

Then back home once more...

TUESDAY

Bjorn has had to leave to catch his plane, Mike and I do nothing for virtually the whole day - have to perfect this wimpishness you know! Until it's time to go to town to get a train. This time it's slightly more complicated as we intend to go to Uppsala, so we take the local train to Stockholm, change to the Underground, then find the Central Station. We've been able to use our strip tickets on the Underground, and since we'd travelled within a certain time limit of using the ticket on the local train, we didn't need to pay any extra at all. When we got to the central station we went in search of somewhere to sit down for a while, and ended up in a nice hotel bar which did food as well as drink, so Mike had a club sandwhich while I had diced potatoes and ham with an egg on top, followed by the most gorgeous ice-cream and hot choc sauce - yum!! :):):)

Then we went back to the Central Station and bought railway tickets to Uppsala, and met Anders there, as he'd decided to come to Uppsala too. It was the evening that the Uppsala fans have their regular meeting, and they were a very fannish lot indeed. Much convivial chat followed, and I finally got my claws into some shrimps. Very chtuloid stuff, as they had lots of tentacles and such like which had to be ripped off before eating - Mike looked heartily glad he was at the other end of the table, and not next to this dissection exhibition!

All too soon it was time to get the train back to Stockholm and homewards to Wolfie's. The next day we would be flying home, and it had all passed far too swiftly!!!

The only drawback of the whole trip is that Sweden has authorised a bear cull, and this seems to have been universally applied - not only have we not seen any real bears, there are also no signs of any toyshops or teddy bears, so I am totally frustrated in my desires to add a Swedish teddy bear badge to my collection, let alone any nice personable Swedish teddies to add to Scarface's minions :( Humph!!! :(

Perhaps this is the time to mention Mike's attempt at buying a teddy for me on one occasion previously - he had decided the best way to approach this was to test each bear individually, by picking it up and bashing it against his forehead. When he went to pay for the bear he finally picked there was a queue at the checkout, who all took one look at him and melted away, so he didn't have to wait at all. The assistant seemed to be regarding him rather strangely too, but at least he was served immediately!! :)

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Meanwhile, work on the first BEC proceeds apace. Attentive readers will already know that Bjorn and his merry crew have got sponsorship to support them running a convention in 2000 in Bergen, Norway, called Reconnaissance. Now this particular con is the very first BEC (Big European Con), hopefully the first of a series that will travel around Europe. Contact details for them are included at the end of everything.

Anyway, here's a few words from Bjorn:

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THE SAD LIFE OF A CON CHAIR

By Bjorn Tore Sund

"Could you write something about ReConnaissance for the next issue of Babel-On?" she said. Our British agent, that is. You know, Fiona Anderson, the TPDWDOG who publishes this zine. So here I am again, at a bit of a loss as to what to say that isn't already in one of our progress reports, or how to say something that _is_ in a progress report in a new and interesting way. I'm not terribly clever when it comes to this sort of thing, but you have to keep your foreign agents happy so they'll pull in your numbers for you.

Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with the fact, ReConnaissance will be the first in the Big European Con series. Bergen, Norway, March 31 to April 2, 2000. I am Chair. Which means I have no idea what's really going on, except that everyone keeps telling me that it is. I take their word for it, and get along with my own job, which seems to mostly consist of walking round telling everyone how terribly clever we are. It's all the same, really, whether you're trying to get someone to buy a membership, buy an advertisement, or finance a Guest of Honour for you. Smile, shake the body-part they extend in your direction, and go for their wallet. Why do I always get these sorts of jobs?

Next weekend there's a committee meeting. You know, where I get to hear all the other committee members tell me that yes, they _are_ doing their job, whereupon I'm to tell them how terribly clever they are. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. And it's one of the others who bakes the cake for the meeting, so I really shouldn't be complaining. Being Chair has some advantages. People get to tell me what I can't do.

Basically, the convention is moving along wonderfully. The head of programme keeps talking to people, has recruited one GOH (Norwegian writer Willy Ustad) already, and has a couple more lined up (No, I'm not telling before we have a confirmation, but one is Norwegian and the other is British. Ops is struggling with recruitment right now, but the work that needs to be done at this stage is being done. And we're getting the occasional member, in tune with us telling people we meet at cons how wonderfully clever we are. It would probably have helped if we could give them fliers and folders and show them posters and things, but we can't. Not at the moment. We lost our head of publications, and did without one, effectively, for about three months. Got a new one now, and he's been recruited because he's terribly clever at publications and promotions. Heck, we've even got a publications department these days, so who knows, there may be publications appearing at a con near you one of these days. But we still need volunteers and lots more members, so if anyone wants to be characterised as "terribly clever" by me, here's your chance.

But in short, apart from the simple existential questions, we're happy with the development. In particular, the attitude of the people at the hotel is fun to see. The liaison they've assigned to deal with us at first thought us a bit strange. Then she decided to read SF "to prepare". Now she's reading SF, period. Terribly clever lady, that. And people call _us_ weird. Assimilating mundanes has been done before, but it usually takes more than renting function space at their work-place. Doesn't it?

Anyway, as I write this, 1999 is rapidly approaching. Ok, it's only October, but still. 1999 feels very close. And 1999 is the year we have to do everything we didn't do in 1998. Like recruit an Ops department with various related groups, and decide what it's supposed to do. Put out nifty folders and fliers at Scandinavian and international conventions. Recruit members in large numbers, as opposed to quite satisfying numbers. And I have to think of a way to get that damned British agent off my back so I can concentrate on getting that con run.

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(Fiona) Well, for anyone who hasn't met me, I'm a sweet gentle type, and Bjorn characterising me as that "Damned British Agent" makes me feel I should have a number - though I'd always preferred the Blofeld role to the Bond role, more interesting, with more minions, but there you go :)

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Other developments on the European scene include the very first ESE, to be held in Darmstadt, Germany, also in the year 2000. Now an ESE is a curious beastie - the initials stand for European Smoffing Event, and the concom is highly international - a Norwegian Chair (Bjorn Tore Sund), a couple of damned Brits (myself and Mike Cheater), and a German (Ralf Grosser) - and the people who've offered to help out on it so far are also very international in composition - the others currently involved with the convention are; Udo Emmerich (Germany), Jan van't Ent (Netherlands), Juergen Marzi (Germany), Karin Lagesen (Norway), Johan Anglemark (Sweden), Kevin Standlee (USA), Sissel Borgen (Norway), Erik Scheuermann (Germany), Herman Ellingsen (Norway), and Martin Easterbrook (another damned Brit)

An ESE is really a chance for conrunners from all over Europe to get together to swap ideas and experiences, and to get to know each other better too. Also it's a chance for a bit of fun! After all, why do anything unless it's also going to be fun? (The S in ESE, standing for "smoffing", is just slang for talking about conrunning)

Anyway, here's a report about the proposed venue: ------------------------------------------------------------

TALES FROM A SMALL TOWN WITH A BLOODY HUGE SHOPPING CENTRE

Well, site visits are usually fairly standard stuff not meriting a mention in anyone's fanzine, but this was rather different:

The site visit in question was to a town in Germany in preparation for the ESE we intend to run in July 28-30, 2000. Yours truly (not German at all, honest Guv!) was along, since we have an international committee, and so the site has to fulfil a host of different expectations quite apart from whatever the normal German expectations might be....

The site is a small hotel in Darmstadt, a dormitory town for people commuting to work in Frankfurt, and with an American military base on it's outskirts - hence everyone's who's doing business is used to dealing in English, and even the ticket machines for the buses are in six languages, and once you've selected your particular language the instructions take you through everything you need to do to get a ticket - which you must do before boarding a bus or a tram, as you can't buy tickets on board. On some of the buses and trams, the names of all stops are indicated by an electronic sign flashing up, to make it easy to cope.

On the Saturday four of us went to look round the hotel's facilities and function space, and on the Tuesday I had a meeting with the manager, with Ralf along to interpret if needed - and he wasn't, which was surprising to me, seeing as I'm usually criticised for the machine-gun speed of my speech ;)

Quite apart from the function space, which fulfils our modest requirements, we were pleased to notice the abundance of sofas littering the place - ideal for groups to sit around smoffing as the mood takes them. And to make Mike happy, the bar would be open as long as people were drinking - no licensing hours like the UK.

The hotel is two minutes walk from a shopping centre that would gladden Margaret's heart - and I once gave her the title of Shopping For Europe because of her undoubted dedication in that direction. It has huge department stores, indoor shopping malls, indoor eating malls, outdoor pedestrianised shopping streets with all sorts of stuff - ranging from the obvious to the deeply weird and including such delights as shops selling American Indian tourist schmuck. Heaven just to browse such an assortment of stuff!

But back to eating - and when have I ever written about a trip that didn't include eating? There are a number of different types of ethnic restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel - including an arabian one as well as the more standard types. There are any number of cake shops which double as cafes with a really oinkish range of cakes and stuff. There is also the aforementioned indoor eating mall, which has about ten different sorts of different fast foods of different nationalities as well as various delicatessen stalls too.

One of our criteria when looking for a site was that it had to have something extremely cheap in the way of accommodation, and not just a suitable hotel. So we didn't definitely decide on Darmstadt until we'd checked that it had a youth hostel - it's situated on the other side of the town, and is about 20 minutes walk from the hotel, and also on a direct bus route from the railway station. It's on the edge of a lake and has an outdoor swimming pool beside it.

We tested out the distance from the hotel, by walking it ourselves, to be absolutely certain it was within reasonable walking distance. There was a cafe and a bar on the way to the youth hostel, where we had lunch on the way back - the cafe also incorporated a bar and is apparently full of students in the evenings because its cheap. Ralf had a pizza while I had something disgustingly healthy, with rice, salad and meatballs.

There are two routes possible to walk to the hotel - along a busy main road, (which is also the bus route from the station), or through a park. The park was scenic, but I wouldn't do it at night - particularly since the bridge you use to enter the park is apparently the main night-time shopping place for drug dealing. Dodgy. The main road however, avoids that druggy area entirely, and the volume of traffic using it made it seem safe enough to me (and no-one does paranoid better than me!)

Anyway, having checked out the facilities, we then checked out the toursity things in the town - which are almost all in walking distance of the main square (the Luisenplatz). There are museums, castle, art galleries, and a steam tram, which you can do a tour of the town on, but it only runs at weekends in summer.

The castle museum wasnt a medieval castle but more one of these 17th century things that had been restored - we got taken round, just the two of us by a guide for a tour which lasted an hour, for DM 3.50 which seemed incredible to me - you'd never get that type of service in the UK. We got locked in and out of every room by the guide, and it was quite well over the top :)

We also visited the Russian church, which is a tiny but over decorated affair. Behind it is an art gallery - we didnt look at the art, but we did sample the food in the gallery's cafe, and I ordered a seafood salad which turned out to be somewhat more interestingly challenging than I had expected as it was smothered in baby octopuses with tiny tentacles everywhere...The sauce was to die for, so the octupuses got downed faster than Id anticipated, having gone into rather shock-horror mode on being confronted by them and their multitudinous tentacles ;)

Getting to the hotel from the railway station is straightforward - there is a bus service from the station to the city square, which is about 2 minutes walk from the hotel. And you can see the city square (called the Luisenplatz) from the train station. Its about 5 minutes on the bus or 15 minutes to walk it. You have to pay for the bus or tram or whatever before you get on it, at a machine at the bus stop, which you can set to any of 6 different languages to get the instructions - English, French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, and of course German. You can buy a single ticket for DM 2.20, a day ticket for DM5 or a group ticket for DM7.50 for several people.

To get to Darmstadt, you can either take an express bus from Frankfurt airport right to the city centre, where you are two minutes walk from the hotel when you alight, or you can go by train to Frankfurt mainstation, and then catch another train from there to Darmstadt itself, after which you get the bus to the city centre as above. The express bus takes about 25 minutes, and the train takes slightly longer - actually I'm not exactly sure how much longer (*), because I had the most vile flight across, ending up being delayed by 2 and a half hours and getting out of Frankfurt airport only after midnight, instead of nine thirty as I'd intended, meaning the express bus no longer ran that late, and the trains weren't so frequent, etc, etc. The trip from Frankfurt by train to Darmstadt apparently includes busfare from Darmstadt station to the city centre too.

(*) Ralf tells me it's actually about an hour by train from Frankfurt airport to Darmstadt, if you get a good connection via Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.

Some buses and trams have some disabled access, where either the floor is lower to make it easier to get on and off with a wheelchair, or some can lower and raise the floor entirely. The hotel is entered either by stairs, or by a lift, but the lift is quite small, and I think people with wheelchairs would have some difficulty in using it, which may be a problem for some of our attendees. There were also some steps inside the hotel once you'd made it via the lift to the main reception area. The steps were either up or down to the hotel bedroom corridors, whereas the restaurant and function space are all on the same floor as the main reception area.

Our reason for picking Germany for the ESE - when we have a committee with a Norwegian Chair, a couple of Brits, a German, and helpers of various nationalities - is that we had decided from the start we needed to pick somewhere that would be accessible to most Europeans, wherever they were coming from. Darmstadt itself has the advantages of being accessible via Frankfurt, which has a large international presence, and being convenient for people to make all sorts of side trips from, should they decide to make a little holiday around the dates of the convention itself. Anyway, the trip convinced me the hotel was suitable for our purposes, there was also a Youth Hostel in the locality, and the town itself would be a pleasant enough spot that people could do things in for a nice break.

Oh, yes, and I picked up some of the Christmas marzipan at the airport - which seemed to be much the same as usual, just in a Christmassy box ;) ----------------------------------------------------------------

CONTACT DETAILS FOR RECONNAISSANCE, March 31- April 2, 2000

ReConnaissance
PO Box 1195
N-5001 Bergen
Norway

Jrgen Marzi
Scharnhorststr. 27
56073 Koblenz Germany
jmarzi@home.ivm.de
fax +49+261-40 30 476

Larry van der Putte
Kotter 5
1186 WH Amstelveen
The Netherlands
vdputte@simplex.nl

Johan Anglemark
Eddagatan 4a
SE-753 32 Upsala
Sweden
johan.anglemark@bahnhof.se

Wolf von Witting
Lakegatan 8
S-133 41 Saltsjbaden
Sweden
wolf@it.kth.se

Fiona Anderson
129 Colgrave Road,
Stratford
London E15 1EA
UK
fiona@intersec.demon.co.uk
Cheques should be made payable to "Reconnaissance"
Attending membership is GBP 20
Supporting is GBP 5 until Easter 1999.
Children aged 12 or less have free attendance, above that age pay
normal prices. Soft toys ignored. (*)

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CONTACT DETAILS FOR THE ESE, July 28-30, 2000, Darmstadt, Germany

Fiona Anderson 129 Colegrave Road Stratford London E15 1EA UK fiona@intersec.demon.co.uk Cheques should be made payable to "European Conventions" Attending membership is GBP 7 until Trinity, and goes up thereafter. There is no supporting rate, nor any other rates, you can only purchase Attending memberships. Foreign members, except German members, should contact me direct if they want to pay by bank transfer, for details. Eurocheques will be fine too, as long as they're made out in pounds.

Seeing as the ESE will be held in Germany on this occasion, German members will be able to pay (in DM) direct into our German committee member's account especially opened for this purpose, and should contact Ralf for details:

Ralf Grosser
Martinstrasse 52
64285 Darmstadt
Germany
rgrosserda@aol.com

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(*) how could anyone ignore Scarface??? ;) -- Fiona Anderson *WARNING* you have entered a Tact Free Zone http://www.intersec.demon.co.uk/tactfree/

-- Fiona Anderson *WARNING* you have entered a Tact Free Zone http://www.intersec.demon.co.uk/tactfree/