I know I should be writing about the convention, but the last few days have been such a blur that I don´t know if I can even remember what I did and who I met. I was going to just write a few highlights, but there´s so many I don´t know where to start: meeting so many famous bookcrossers (I would list them, but I´m sure to forget someone vitally important); partying with the Irish, London, and Anti-podian contingents; getting Scott and Matt to strip in front of a room full of drooling women; seeing a sneak preview of the future of bookcrossing; finally getting to thank Skyring properly for all his work and generosity in getting us to London; learning about a whole load of new authors (whose books I´m going to have to buy now… life is tough! ;-)); our presentation being so warmly received (and so many people saying they´re seriously tempted to come to Christchurch); seeing the streets littered with books after our impromptu release walk on Saturday afternoon… the list goes on.
I will try and write a proper account later, once it´s all had time to sink in.
My cold has not improved, so I´m having a lazy day today, trying to recover a bit before I hit the road again. I came in to work with Atenea-Nike this morning, so I could use her internet connection, and have spent a very productive morning finally catching up on all the journal entries and release notes for the last few days, and even browsing the forums a bit. The plan was to then go for a wander around Vitoria this afternoon and do a bit of sightseeing, but I´m struggling to stay awake, so I think the sensible thing to do will be to go back to their place after lunch and have a sleep for the rest of the afternoon. I´m a bit disappointed I won´t get to explore Vitoria, but I´ve got a lot of travelling ahead of me, so I really do have to be sensible and get some rest.
The plans for tomorrow have changed a bit too. Originally, Atenea-Nike was going to drive me to Bilbao to catch my plane back to London, but the horribly early check-in time would mean we´d have to leave here about 5 am. So she´s instead booked me a room in a hostel in Bilbao for tonight, and I´m going to catch the bus over there after dinner this evening, and then in the morning I can catch another bus to the airport. I´m a wee bit nervous about having to cope on my own and speaking Spanish (I´ve been kind of understanding what people are saying, provided they speak slowly enough, but I can´t remember enough to be able to speak it myself), but I´m sure I´ll survive.
At least I got to look around Bilbao yesterday with A-N. It´s a gorgeous city, full of old buildings with elaborate wrought-iron balconies (photos really will follow sometime soon!), and (most exciting for me, as a linguist), bilingual road signs in Basque and Spanish. We walked round the outside of the Gugenheim, but didn´t go in (I´m not interested enough in modern art to want to pay to see it!) – a very impressive looking building, but I suspect they have similar problems to the Sydney Opera House when it comes to cleaning it.
We also had a meetup with a few of the Bilbao bookcrossers. I was almost asleep on my feet (having been awake for nearly 40 hours by then), but vaguely managed to follow the conversation, and A-N translated for me whenever I started looking too confused. She also did a great job of simultaneous translation when I showed them the 2009 presentation, not only translating the words on the slides, but also converting the pounds into euros!
I´ve also had the chance to sample all sorts of traditional Spanish food – we ate lunch in a tapas bar yesterday (except it´s not called tapas here in the north, it´s got a different name that I can´t remember now), and even tried such delicacies as goose liver (not bad) and octopus (not good). When we got to Vitoria in the evening, A-N´s girlfriend cooked us a meal of fried eggs, red peppers, and a selection of local meats – all very tasty, though I don´t think I could eat very much of the meats, as they all had rich tastes that could become overwhelming pretty easily. And for breakfast we had cake! Apparently that´s the normal breakfast food here. Strange country!
Anyway, it´s almost 2, and time for A-N´s lunch break, so I´d better finish here. Who knows where the next report will be from…
A very bunged-up futurecat.