It’s been a few days since we came back from the 1st European Geocoinfest in Cologne and so the memories of this great event are still quite fresh in my mind. On the whole, I must say we had an absolute fantastic time, although it was quite strenuous at times.
Not only was it the first Geocoin Mega-Event we ever visited, but also a long delayed opportunity for 3 sisters, who live in different parts of the world to meet up again. And so we did! One came over from Ireland, one from the very top of Germany and me from the south of Germany. We stayed at a very modern Hostel in the middle of town, which turned out to be a good choice. The rooms were very modern, clean and breakfast was great. The only downside was that it was quite noisy at night – nightlife in Cologne must be fun and parking costs in any parking house in Cologne are horrendous – but we managed.
A big storm had been announced that day and so no one was sure if the venue in the park outside would not be changed in the last minute. However, all went well and the storm passed Cologne. The few drops of rain that did come hardly had any impact. We arrived late for the Welcome-Event. My first impressions from the event and from Cologne in general were that the people there are very open, easy going and quite funny! For example, we had some dinner in town, and when the bill came, the porter said, with a smirk in his face “Well, that will be 700 Euro”! Then it started to rain, and asked if we wouldn’t like to leave! What a cheek! But he was extremely funny. We didn’t stay too long at the Welcome-Event as the day itself had been quite strenuous just getting there. The food was great, the people nice and all very helpful. The only little disaster that happened on that day, was that one of my sisters lost her much loved Claddagh Coin, probably at the Welcome-Event – so, if anyone ever finds it, please contact us.
We got up early, met for breakfast and went downtown to have a look at the city and do some caching till the event start later that evening. Of course we had to visit the Dome, knowing that there was an Earthcache and a virtual to be done there. One of the tasks of the Earthcache was to measure out a block of sandstone. When we got to where it was supposed to be, we found a beggar sitting in front of the stone. Immediately he told us that this was the right place and that if we wanted he could tell us the correct dimensions of the stone. Well, we didn’t hesitate and thankfully accepted his offer and of course making it worth his while. Never seen such an enterprising beggar – good luck to him, is all that I can say. Later, at the event, we much enjoyed a small talk given by Annie and Tom from Groundspeak. You can see a short video of the talk in the “media files” section here. Annie had brought the first ever trackable Geocoin from Moun10bike with her and so we got to see it live with our own eyes. That certainly made our day.
The event started early at 10.30 in the morning. We were there at 10 am and the place was already filled with Cachers waiting to get into the Palladium. Parking was no Problem, but the way back to the Palladium took some time, as we couldn’t just pass the many Travelbugs on the Cacher cars. This was the day when all the Cacher and Coin shops and GPS manufacturers etc. were present with their stands in the big hall. There was a lot to look at, but the hall was so filled during most of the morning, that we could only manage 15 minutes at a time in the hall. Luckily there were where some stands outside too and we had more so the opportunity to meet and chat to other Cachers.
I don’t remember how we got into conversation with the Scotsman, but I guess it was probably his Scottish Kilt which made him so noticeable and a pleasure for the eye. He was such a sweet soul, it’s hard to describe. My sister, the one coming from Ireland was of course delighted to meet up with a “nearly” countryman. He showed and told us all about his huge coin collection, and we admired some of his really beautiful Thistle coins, some of which he had with him, to trade. Unfortunately, we didn’t really have anything interesting to trade with us, at least nothing comparable. He must have noticed the disappointment in my sister’s eyes, and amazingly gave my sister a present of one of his coins. However, the story goes on … and I really still can’t believe it, even when thinking of it now. As previously told, my other sister had lost her Claddagh coin on the Friday, and later during Sunday we met up with our Scotsman again and my sister, the one that had lost her coin, told him about her loss – yeah, you guessed it – he gave her one of his coins, an even more precious one, to make up for her loss. Honestly, this is not normal, he was just so kind. Jeff (Brave Defender), how can we every thank you? If you ever come to Germany again, visit us, stay with us, whatever you want, we will be your servants :)
Last but not least, I have to tell you about the Pirate and the Frog. No, they don’t have anything in common, except that I believe that they both love Geocaching. We were outside having a smoke (should I mention that?) and all of a sudden saw a Frog jumping around, a pretty big Frog. Yeah, it was "Signal the Frog" from Groudspeak. How on earth did he get through German customs at the airport? He must have bribed someone! Anyways, of course we lined up to have our photo taken with him and he wasn’t squishy, just sweet.
Back inside, looking for a drink, all of a sudden a huge, bulgy, and honest to God extremely real Pirate past our ways! Nope, we hadn’t been drinking Alcohol, he was for real. So now you know, among the German Cacher community we do have Pirate-Cachers, but don’t be afraid, they won’t steal all your coins – on the contrary we were allowed to discover him as a Travelbug. Thanks Werner (Warin!), for dressing up and giving us the laugh.
So, all in all, it was an unforgettable Event, one that will be in our memories for a long time to come.