Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Europe 2009: Preparation (background, planning, tickets, etc.)

I started planning this trip 18 months or so ago.  I had competed in the 2006 OutGames in Montréal (in country line dance), and I wanted to take another trip to Europe following the trip to Ireland in February/March 2008 (see earlier blog entries), so the 2009 OutGames in Copenhagen seemed like the deal.  Of course, what good leatherman wants to go to just Copenhagen, when Paris and Amsterdam and Brussels and Hamburg and Berlin beckon?

For my birthday last summer, my mother gave me a chunk of money to use for this.  I slowly put the schedule together over several months: the Copenhagen competition days were to be midweek, so I could do the weekend before in one city and the weekend after in a second.  Amsterdam and Berlin were the obvious targets for both a leather experience and for reasonable proximity to Copenhagen.  The weekend after the competition was Pride in both Amsterdam and Copenhagen, so I opted for Amsterdam the weekend before and Berlin the weekend after.  (Yes, that’s right, I avoided Pride celebrations — better hotel rates and more availability, fewer swarms of people, and even a better chance at getting laid.)  That eventually firmed up into fly Thursday, Amsterdam for Friday–Monday, Copenhagen for Tuesday–Thursday, and Berlin for Friday–Sunday, flying back on Monday.

I initially looked at rail travel within Europe, since it was such a good option last year from Killarney to Dublin.  Early on, I saw a good deal for and overnight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen (via Berlin and Malmö, Sweden), but by the time I was ready to purchase, that was gone and rail tickets were in the €200 range— way too expensive (doube the airfare for that leg!).  So I got a SAS leg to Copenhagen, and an airberlin flight to Berlin.  (In retrospect, I realize that RyanAir and easyJet weren’t on the travel sites I visited, so I wonder if I could have got cheaper options?  Well, no point in wondering now.)  One of my other options to Copenhagen would have taken me through Riga, in Latvia, which would have been an interesting additional country to check off my list, but the SAS leg was about $50 cheaper.

SLM Copenhagen (Scandinavian Leather Men) was scheduled to host an Out In Leather program at the OutGames, including a Mr. Leather OutGames contest on Thursday.  Appear in leather and do a 3 minute presentation (“fantasy” to those in the States); max of 8 contestants, with everyone getting at least €40 of porn, and the top two getting €500 and €2000 leather packages.  What do I have to lose, eh?  So I scripted and recorded and edited a leather retelling of Pinocchio (“When he told a lie, his ahem nose would grow”).  (Maybe I’ll post the MP3 later, especially if it gets a good reception.)

Of course, after I had all this planned and some of the travel details purchased, they released the specific schedules.  Leather contest is Thursday at 10 pm.  Line dance competition is Thursday… 8-10 pm.  Aieee.  Assuming it doesn’t run the full two hours, the contest location is a 5 minute cab ride, so it will be tight, but I should be able to make it.  The SLM contact says it will actually start at about 10:15, and the line dance awards are supposed to be done at 9:45.  Rrrr…

Updated on February 1, 2010

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