Our members have been telling us about their best Eurovision travel stories. Have a browse through the stories below and learn more about other members of our club. A big thank you to those who chose to share their stories.
We have received the first entry to our lonely planet competition – from SOPHIE LLOYD
Stockholm 2016 was my first time to Eurovision and I had such a great weekend. I traveled with my boyfriend Harry and my friends Abi and Sam. We went to the jury final on the Friday night and although that was clearly the main highlight, one of the most memorable times was on the Friday afternoon when we had just arrived and went to meet our friends Beth and Stuart for a drink. They live in Hong Kong so we hadn’t seen them for a while and they were perched out on a pontoon on the water with a whole group of people drinking rose and sitting in the sun. Stockholm looked so beautiful. Everyone we met was also going to Eurovision and we were all so excited and looking forward to the show. It really showed the best of Eurovision – bringing people together from all around the world and the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones!
Our second entry comes from Armin Duttle from Switzerland. The visit of the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev Ukraine happened at the end of my holiday in the Ukraine. Because I have a penfriend friend in Ukraine, I thought it would be nice to combine a visit to him and Eurovision,I got tickets for the Friday evening dress rehearsal for both of us (I bought the tickets from a colleague of my penfriend). The tickets for the finale were too expensive, so we had to settle for the Friday night show. My penfriend does not live in Kiev so one day before the Friday show, we came to Kiev. Of course we visited the place around the arena, where the ESC would happen. There was so many flags and posters everywhere to see in the streets of the center of the city, especially around the ( now famous ) Maiden square. The dress rehearsal show was great and happened without problems. The real highlight of the evening was the appearance of the Klitschko brothers! We stayed near the venue and were able to walk to the flat after the show.
This is from Andreas Vienna in Austria.
Well the anticipation for my LARA FABIAN concert – which I booked already back in November 2015 – for June 3rd, 2016 was badly damaged with all the bad news about terror from Paris, then riots, then strikes, etc. Just 2 days before the concert the air controllers announces a strike over the weekend so I cancelled my hotel. Only the next day at 8:30 I heard that this was postponed and so I booked a hotel again and flew early morning to Paris.
At that moment I did not even realised about the floods of the Seine, the main river that runs throw the city of PARIS. Luckily I arrived safe, luckily I was able to get to the city with the airport-bus and luckily no strike at the metro.
So I was able to enjoy the LARA FABIAN concert in full at the sold out venue Palais des Congress. She sang nearly the complete track list from her new album MA VIE DANS LA TIENNE and also some of her greatest hits from the last 20 years like JE T’AIME, I WILL LOVE AGAIN, IMMORTELLE and J’Y CROIS ENCORE. The big surprise of the event was a medley of songs from the Swedish supergroup ABBA including Dancing Queen, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! a man after midnight and The Winner Takes It All.
The next day I had a long walk from Notre Dame till the Eiffel tower along the Seine to see the damage the flood has caused. Several bridges were half way hidden by water and some even closed. That led me again to ABBA, one of their songs is called OUR LAST SUMMER with lines like “walk along the Seine, round the Notre Dame … we sat down in the grass by the Eiffel Tower”. Very funny
My trip to Eurovision 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia – Roy van der Merwe
2008 has been my only ever visit to a country inside the old Yugoslavia and I really had been looking forward to visit such a country. It was also the Eurovision with one of the biggest highlights and also some of the worst nightmares possible.
As normal Morten booked the hotel for us and it was one of the most interesting hotels – located very central but across a MacDonalds who had weeks before our arrival been burned down during their war. I however did not feel scared for one moment, I was especially impressed by the Serbian youth, they were really nice, friendly, helpful and eager to meet international visitors.
One of the two horrors about my trip revolved around foreign currency. Most people know South Africa has foreign currency control and you are allowed to get foreign currency only a month prior to your departure. I went to my bank and asked what currency I should take for Serbia. Obviously they did not have their money and I had to pick between UK ponds, US dollars or Euro. The bank said the safest would be TRAVELLER’S CHEQUES in AMERICAN DOLLARS. So that is what I picked. Imagine my shock when it turned out that SERBIA does not exchange AMERICAN EXPRESS traveller’s queues and I was stuck the entire Eurovision without money. Luckily Morten helped me – he loves shoes and I bought some expensive shoes for him on my credit card in exchange for money to use day to day.
The second horror involved our hotel. One afternoon it looked like rain so I told Morten I think I would go back to the hotel before the rain. I arrived in our room literally seconds before a water pipe burst in the bathroom and it started to flood our room. I spent 30 minutes trying to get all our luggage (and especially our precious promo singles) out of the room and into the passage. Once I had everything out of the room, I ran 4-5 floors down the stairs to call for help at reception. They finally managed to stop the water but by that time, our room was more than a meter in water. They took me and all the luggage to another room and once I got there, I just fell on the bed, totally exhausted. Meanwhile Morten came home, got his key to our room from reception and came up to our room. As he opened the door (by that time they had cleaned all the water) all he found was a totally empty room. He thought we had a robbery in our room. He ran down to reception and then was told about what happened and they took him to the new room where he found me sleeping on one bed with all the luggage on the floor.
But besides those two incidents, Eurovision was great, I loved especially Latvia’s entry and was really impressed with the way Serbia organized it and their disciplined volunteers.
The Journey to Eurovision
by Niall Drennan
June comes around, time to start
Earn your points, play your part
Vote, write, comment, create
Watch the deadlines, don’t be late
July or August, the host city unveiled
Time to start planning, everything detailed
Choose a hotel, book your flight
All is organised, just need to sit tight
November is here, the kids turn on stage
It’s Junior Eurovision, singers of a young age
A few weeks later, your code is sent
Buy the fan package, money well spent
January to March, national finals begin
Review all the entries, predict who will win
Rank each country, decide who is best
Who are the favourites and who is a mess
May is here, time to get going
Travel to the host city, excitement is showing
Check out the Village, attend the red carpet
Meet and greet and take selfies with artists
Dance at Euroclub, every night without fail
La La Love, Opa, She’s a Fairytale
Bed at dawn, a few hours sleep
Up early for sightseeing, Repeat, Repeat
Attend the semi’s, predict who goes through
Oh San Marino, you still have no clue
Good Evening Europe, it’s Grand Final time
Flags everywhere, the show is sublime
Europe start voting, the results come in
26 countries, which one will win
Votes are announced, the winner’s reprise
Was it predicted or perhaps a surprise
Depart the next day, pack up all your gear
Farewell to friends, see you next year
P.E.D. kicks in, back to the mundane
But not long to wait until we start over again
My first Eurovision Song Contest: Stockhölm 2016 by Enrique Lopez de Vallejo
I am a follower of the ESC since I was a child. But I have always followed it from a distance, from “my living room”. Internet and new technologies allow us to get very close to the details surrounding ESC but, after several years of all kind of difficulties, I decided to fulfill my dream.
This special journey began in January, when the Spanish broadcaster announced when and where would be chosen Spanish entry. I managed to attend the show and I could see the special atmosphere accompanies all related to ESC.
Just then I set my mind to go to Stockhölm. It was a bit late because I didn’t belong to any official fan club and, as is well known, there are a lot of difficulties to get tickets. After having contacted OGAE Row I received all the help I didn’t get from the fan club of my country. I got a mail telling me that a member of OGAE ROW, due to work commitments, couldn’t attend and how I could buy his package.
After several weeks of making arrangements, at long last, I arrived in Stockhölm. I traveled alone but, from the beginning, I could check it would be a great time. I never felt lonely. In fact, I met the first eurofan when I was trying to open my room door at the hotel. Two strangers, from Germany and Spain, who spent the evening and lived the first semi-final dress rehearsal show together, as if they knew each other for a long time.
That was the beginning of a few unforgettable days, exploring a beautiful city, meeting new people from all around the world and enjoying the ESC events. And it could say that I have “Stockholm Syndrome ” (if I may make the joke): memories come flooding in and trapping me since I got back to my routine and it is a rare day that I do not find myself humming a song of this year. I guess it is due to a long-awaited desire for going and living it. Or because it has been one of the few really good things that I have enjoyed in the recent past. I am therefore convinced this will be a turning point in my life.
My first Eurovision experience by Beth Hackley currently living in Hong Kong
After being fans for years, the stars finally aligned this year which meant that my husband Stuart and I were able to go to our first Eurovision!
I had never been to Scandinavia before, and Stockholm was the perfect host city for my first Eurovision experience, not least, because Sweden is the home of ABBA (and who doesn’t love ABBA)!
Of course, being in Stockholm, a visit to the ABBA museum was high on our list of tourist activities. We decided to catch the ferry to the museum so we could delight in the beautiful weather and the stunning sights of Stockholm on the way.
The ABBA museum was absolutely wonderful – so well curated and such an extensive collection of ABBA memorabilia from around the world. Speaking of which, we were delighted to run into Roy at the “Ring Ring” exhibit, fresh from delivering his cache of ABBA collectables from South Africa – where we snapped this amazing photo!
When people ask me what my first Eurovision experience was like, I tell them that it was like the Olympics – the same great vibe, friendly people and electric atmosphere in the air.
I can’t wait for Ukraine in 2017!
In the Land of Fire – By Edward Till
I’ve watched Eurovision since I was very young and it was always an annual highpoint, but over the years there have been a few times when something truly extraordinary came out of the contest. One of the most notable was going to Baku in 2012.
My partner and I had already been to Athens and Düsseldorf, but nothing could compare us for what was going to happen in a crazy week spent on the shores of the distant Caspian Sea. My memory is filled with so many colourful images that it’s hard to pinpoint a single event, but I can only describe the whole experience as magical. The city came alive with Eurovision and international fans were made to feel so welcome as we wandered around in the hot sunshine.
We were part of the UK contingent, one of the largest groups of fans there but small enough that we continued to bump into each other throughout the week. It was actually like being back at University and we have built enduring friendships from the week. When we came together, particularly in our fancy dress, we became celebrities. Everyone wanted a photo with us and we obliged our public!
We did more than that though. We engaged with locals in a way that I have never done before or since. Many people there had rarely met foreigners before, let alone a bunch of crazy Eurovision fans. I am convinced we did some good, and in return we gained a perspective on a very distant corner of the world including some of the controversies of that region.
If ever there was an example of Eurovision bringing people together, it was that amazing week in the Caucuses. Since then, the contest has headed back to the more familiar climbs of Western Europe. While this has been great fun, I hope that Ukraine next year once again can bring something different and unexpected to our favourite week of the year.
Sun, music & friends – By Sascha Stolp
Before this year, I’ve always considered Malmö 2013 as my favourite Eurovision. But could never figure out why. Yes the sun was shining (surprisingly) and the Eurovision spirit was everywhere you went in the city. But it also had some of the biggest negatives, like the standing area positioned in the back behind a lot of cameras and that big bridge meaning we actually didn’t get very good views. And Baku the year before was so magical and I made so many great new friends, so why wasn’t that my favourite?
I realised that the reason Malmö was my favourite is that it was the first contest I went to where I already had a big Eurovision friendship group from the moment I arrived. You couldn’t walk past the Euro Fan Cafe without being stopped by someone for a chat. You couldn’t walk through any of the town squares without running into people you knew. You’d sign up for a tour boat of the canals (a boat which just happened to play Eurovision power ballads while gently floating through the city) and you already knew half the boat before the tour began (and knew the other half by the end of the tour).
This was the Eurovision where I felt like an important part of a community. A community which was brought together by a love of music, regardless of where you were from or which song you were supporting. Before Malmö, Eurovision had been something I had attended and enjoyed. Now Eurovision was something I was a part of.
How We Nearly Missed Eurovision by Stuart McNaughton
My heart sank as I read the email from SAS. With just three weeks to go before Eurovision week in Stockholm, my flight from Malta to Stockholm (via Rome) had been changed, so that instead of a 6 hour flight, we would end up with a 13 hour flight via Copenhagen.
Given that we had booked the flights already seven months earlier, I lost my cool because this 13 hour connection meant that we would miss the first Jury show as our flight wouldn’t arrive until after 10pm. I forwarded the email to Niall, my friend in Australia, assuming he had the same issue because we were meeting up in Malta and then travelling Stockholm together.
It emerged he had the same issue, and that’s when I started to worry: would we get there? Would we have to buy more flights? How much would they cost with just three weeks to go? After some whatsapp chat, we agreed that it was best that I called SAS from London so I’m patiently waiting to be put through to an SAS Agent.
Sven finally comes on the line, speaking perfect English. There’s me on the line, blubbering, hollering, begging Sven to check the connections, to see if there’s an alternative to the 13 hour total journey time. No, explained Sven. The problem is due to an aircraft being taken out of service from Malta to Rome, therefore missing your connection to Stockholm. I understood this, I told him, but then I started to explain that I had booked these flights so long ago and to get this information so late in the day was so bad.
In the meantime, Niall was looking at alternative flights with other airlines: the cost was too high, the connection was too bad, or even worse than what SAS were coming back with. It was only at this time I realised how isolated Malta clearly was.
Sven provided an alternative route, which was only 15 minutes shorter than the 13 hour route. This is when I lost my temper. “Sven,” I said. “I didn’t want to have to tell you this, but the reason why I must get to Stockholm earlier is because I am part of the Maltese delegation for this year’s Eurovision.”
I heard tapping in the background, and Sven finally spoke: “Can I call you back? I may be able to do something, Mr. Stuart.” Hmph, I thought. My name isn’t Mr. Stuart, but let’s focus on the issue here: getting to Eurovision. I gave him my mobile number and, about an hour later, I get a call from a Danish number. I answer the call and it’s good and bad news: we still won’t get there in time for the jury show, but our flight time has been reduce to six hours with a flight via Frankfurt.
I was relieved, and thanked Sven. While the show had to go on, we would be arriving fashionably late, as members of the so-called Maltese delegation.
Stockholm 2016 by Ronny Addamo
I didn’t think anything could top my Eurovision experience of 2015 in Vienna. It was my first year as a part of the OGAE ROW family, and wow, what an experience it was. So many friendly new people to enjoy my euro passion with.
My 2016 trip didn’t have the best start. Our flight was delayed landing in Doha, Qatar. With only a tiny 40 minute window of time to run from one end of the expansive airport to the other, disorganised security area, and drowsy from the 14 hour flight, things looked grim. However we managed to just make the flight. This stroke of luck carried on with us from that moment on,
Upon reaching Stockholm we quickly dumped our bags, ran into people we knew, and started enjoying some live performancesin euro village. Then euro fan cafe. That remained pretty much what we did the entire week, when not at Eurovision itself. We organised a fan meet within the club at a lovely cafe, meeting some 23 members of our fan club. We also visited the Hard Rock Cafe for wiwijams concert, visited the abba museum with the club and had many boozy nights with our fellow members. There's nothing I love more than meeting new people and I can’t count the number of new friends I made through that week. I can’t mention enough just how lucky I feel for being part of such a friendly and inclusive club.
Inclusive is the word I use when describing my experience at Eurovision this year. Stockholm, amalgamating the euro club and cafe was a stroke of genius. Everyone was welcome and the artists themselves wandered around the crowd with us, it was magic! I hope future years follow this lead.
Looking Back At Baku by Nikke Allen of the United Kingdom
Baku. I’d never visited Azerbaijan before and really had little idea what to expect. However, I went with an open mind, ready to make friends and embrace every experience – and I was rewarded by the most glorious two weeks, of which Eurovision really was the icing on the cake!
I remember Flag Square on a baking hot morning, queuing for our accreditation. The friendliness and helpfulness of all the young volunteers, so eager and happy to talk with you. I learned their names, what their favorites were, watched them experience having Eurovision in their own country, and made lots of friends, in particular a girl called Nargiz, who sat with me at the shows and showed me around Baku.
My memories are still so bright and colourful and happy…
Jedward basically taking over their own press conference and throwing popcorn everywhere. By the end of that day they had won over most of the young volunteers in the press centre, who were by then wearing the paper “Jedheads”
Ukraine running off the stage and up the walkway at the end of their song at the semi final. At the corner of the walkway where Nargiz and I were seated, the dancers took off their wristbands and threw them to the crowd – Nargiz and I got one each. It’s quite a thrill to have something that was actually worn on the ESC stage!
The Hump blowing a kiss to Nargiz and I as he walked down the walkway after performing at the final, because we were waving my large UK flag I’d given to Nargiz as a friendship bond between our two countries. It’s now displayed on the wall in her bedroom.
Also getting blown kisses by Kurt Calleja of Malta and Zeljko of Serbia as they walked to the Green Room. And waved to by the Grannies. Having Jedward cartwheel along the walkway right in front of you as they went to join the other qualifiers onstage is quite something!
Sitting chatting with Lys Assia in the lounge of our hotel. Asking her what her favourite song was this year, and she replying Albania and Macedonia. Being allowed to cuddle her cute and tiny little dog she had brought with her. Meeting the first winner of Eurovision and actually there being time to sit and chat together at leisure was a highlight and something I will never forget.
As for Baku itself…
An Azeri woman reporter who had interviewed me the day before, bringing me a pale pink damask rose from her garden in Baku. The scent was heaven, the beauty of it incomparable set against the rush and bustle of the press center. I wish I could have preserved it somehow. I should have pressed it between the pages of a book. But I took a photo of it and can still recall the scent.
The Caspian Sea. Right outside the door of the Crystal Hall, the Caspian Sea had a mood all of its own and I was utterly captivated by it as each day it changed. I will never forget how, on hot sunny Day 2, it was azure and looked as though it was scattered with diamonds as far as the eye could see. The next day it was a mystical ultramarine; the day after it was a lively teal; for two consecutive windy days in the second week it was a choppy storm-grey – and one glorious night as I rode along the promontory in my London taxi cab at 2 a.m, it was a star-less and moody inky-black, silently rippling. On the very last day at the press center, the day of the final, it was like a millpond, barely wrinkling on the surface, quiet and content as though it knew the Big Day had finally arrived . The Caspian Sea had so many colours and moods that fascinated me and each had a beauty all its own. But I shall never forget Day 2 when it was azure and scattered with diamonds.
The rides in the taxi back to my hotel early in the morning/late at night through the still crowded traffic streets of Baku. Cars tooting their horns, policemen directing traffic, buses packed with people. A bus pulling up beside the taxi with literally two inches space between us. After the fifth or sixth time of that happening, I stopped freaking out and wanting to drive the taxi for the taxi-driver! The taxi drivers didn’t speak English and didn’t attempt conversation, so I was left to my own thoughts and impressions in the back of the taxi, just watching everything and everyone as we crawled onwards towards the hotel. It often took a good 20 minutes to get there because of the traffic.
I inadvertently looked into cars that pulled alongside us and caught snapshots of private families lives without meaning to. Seeing arguments, conversations, laughter. Swish cars driven by yuppies, family cars with a whole host of dark-eyed children staring back at me, and on several occasions hanging half out the windows or standing on the front seat – horrible accidents waiting to happen should their father brake suddenly. Groups of young men parading around in their car, liking to see and be seen. The cars reminded me how dusty Baku was – as so many of them had a noticeable film of dust on them.
Parents walking around the Bulvar with their kids at 2 a.m. .Everything in the city lit up, including the Maiden Tower, which had designs projected upon its side. I remember going past it once to see an Egyptian design with camels projected onto it. It was awesome.
The workforce in Baku. The workforce never seemed to stop. They were building all along the roads – kerbstones being hewn and shaped and fitted, pavements relined, elegant white and beige marble-like residences on the verge of opening, with hedges being planted. Further out towards Bayril and the Crystal Hall Area, the building went on even more apace, as you saw the sides of buildings being scaffolded and workmen stopping at 2 a.m to sit and have something to eat. Women in headscarves sweeping gutters with long twiggy brooms, day and night. Baku, although dusty, was so clean. No dropped litter. The Bulvar and the Fountain Square’s paving slabs gleamed. As did the paving of the Crystal Hall area.
And the workforce worked on throughout the night at the Crystal Hall during the two weeks in the race to get the surroundings finished before the big night. I saw them every night, sometimes two and three in the morning as the taxi took me on a convoluted route round the promentary up to Flag Square and beyond. Workmen and women – busy planting trees, shrubs, flowers. Others turfing a huge area, which was completed the next morning when I rode past it. Others fixing a solitary broken paving slab in the middle of this huge paved walkway to the Crystal Hall.
And the whole Crystal Hall area was like a fairyland when lit-up at night. The Hall itself sparkled with thousands of small lights, its moving beams lit up the sky. On Grand Final night, after the show, I kept seeing what I thought were specks of glitter dancing in the light beams in the sky – and then I realised they were hundreds of moths, attracted to the light beams and dancing there, and the light was glittering off their wings. Really truly beautiful. I wonder if anyone else saw that and realised what it was. It was magical.
And that really sums up my two weeks in Baku, in this fascinating, complicated, hospitable, beautiful land of Azerbaijan. Magical!
WORST AND BEST EUROVISION by Kyle Woods from the United States of America
As a disclaimer, since I’m participating in judging the competition, I will withdraw myself from eligibility for the prize, but it’s still fun to write a short note.
My best and worst Eurovision experiences…hmm…where to start. I have been to six Eurovisions now, starting in Düsseldorf and continuing through Stockholm.
Let’s start with the worst experience to get it out of the way. It was probably Copenhagen. The whole show felt cheap and poorly run. Having the show on a tiny island out of town accentuated transportation problems and really made me feel unwelcome in the city. Plus the Danes were homicidal with their bicycles. But let’s not dwell on the negative!
But I think my favorite experience from a travel perspective was, somewhat surprisingly, Malmo in 2013. The city was so small that I was constantly running into people I knew. Other cities like Vienna and Stockholm perhaps had more to offer in terms of things to see and do, but Malmo had its own charm and offered much more in terms of interactions with other fans.
I think my favorite thing I did in Malmo was a little river boat tour. It was just a cruise through the canals, and nothing particularly special. However, we happened to be there on the day they were doing a Balkan Music Party. You may not know that I spent a good portion of my life living in the Balkans (primarily in Croatia) so that music and those languages feel like home to me. I was also with a couple fans who live in Switzerland but are originally from Croatia, Serbia, and Kosovo. So it was a Balkan group on this little Balkan music cruise, and we just had a blast. We sang and danced and made utter fools of ourselves, rocking with Riva and longing for Dzuli.
It was a simple diversion, but it put a sort of stamp of approval on that whole Eurovision week, which was spent in many small memorable moments.
Globen B.E and Globen A.E by Sevket Yigit from the United States of America
It is 2009. We are in Stockholm for a week for vacation. Scandinavia has always been one of the places we wanted to visit and here we are in the capital of Scandinavia. We keep seeing Globen on the horizon crouching like an alien ship at the far end of Gotgatan in Sodermalm. We decide to pay a visit to this architectural marvel. It is a chilly April day walking over the bridge connecting Tunnelbana to the white globe which now looks more grey than white as we get closer. Everything looks deserted and quiet, not much of an energy in this neighborhood at this time of the year. The visit starts with a quick video presentation in the SkyView lobby (by the way, only thing I remember from this presentation is the famous “Welcome Europe “greeting delivered by the Swedish girl in the opening act of ESC 2000) Then we proceed to the slow climb with the SkyView elevator up to the top. The view is nothing but disappointing. I remember standing up in the air in vast grayness and see residential buildings all around. Is that all? Did I pay all that just to see Swedish suburban homes and project apartments? And we can’t even go inside the arena? Bummer. I am mad.
It is 2016. We are back to Stockholm and we will be in Globen arena not once but four times. Walking over the same bridge connecting the subway station to the arena again for the first semifinal, we hear the songs of this year playing as a welcoming gesture to the guests. There are people selling flags and earplugs (ha ha, no thanks! my eardrums are ready for the high notes). Someone hands me a free Austrian flag. It must be Eurovision serendipity because Zoe with her song “Loin d’ici” is my favorite.
During our four visits to Globen, it is a chain of amusing moments we experience with other people. Here are some, noteworthy of mentioning:
Security is tight this year in an anticipation of a possible terror attack. We are already used to living in these difficult times in USA and happy to see Sweden is taking this seriously. Going through the security, a girl approaches to me and asks me if she can check me. I say “Yes”. In many parts of the world, being checked by the opposite sex can be a big no no but in a very liberal country like Sweden where gender boundaries are completely eliminated who cares really. She gives me a thorough exam including my ass cheeks getting their share of delicate touch. Of course I am clear and I say “ Thank you, I didn’t know the ticket came with the free deep tissue Swedish massage.” It is all laughters afterwards.
It is the first semifinal that we are standing next to the pedestal on the right where Mans and Petra come every now then and do their presentations. I get a glimpse of smile from Mans while snapping a photo of him. Petra is having hard time to climb up and down the stairs with high heels biting her lips with distress but back to her normal smiley face when the camera light is on. We immediately become friends with the security guy by the pedestal and spend most of our time chatting with him. We say “Thank you for keeping everything safe and in order” to the security guy before we leave and he says which I think must be Swedish politeness “ Thank you for being responsible and making my job easy”. Ha ha..Did I really have a choice of being naughty?
It is the second semifinal I am seated next to a father and a teenager son who came all the way from a small village near Gothenburg to see their favorite which is no surprise Norway. Working with kids everyday at my job, I immediately click with the young boy. He is so passionate about Eurovision. He pokes me every couple of minutes to express his feelings and show his knowledge : “ Look at the dome, it is beautiful isn’t it?” “ Do you know Agnete is actually a Sami?” This goes on and on. I feel happy that a bright new Eurovision fan generation is blooming already.
On the final night, we decide to hang out in the Globen lobby for a while and visit some of the exhibits. There is an SVT exhibit and they are giving a free subscription if we get into a draw after answering some Eurovision related questions. It must be easy peasy you would think. The girl at the exhibit gives us the questions. One question is “ How many times did Sweden win ESC?” So I start counting all the Swedish winners starting from Herreys to Mans. I can see the girl’s raised eyebrows and the grin on her face. I know I am doing something wrong and not getting the answer correct. I keep reciting the winners several times forgetting ABBA each time. When I finally get it, it is a big explosion of laughters.
For me, timeline is divided into two as Globen B.E (before Eurovision) and Globen A.E (after Eurovision) now. The vast grayness and emptiness of Globen 2009 has now become a spectrum of colors and sounds in Globen 2016 with different timbres of human touch. The togetherness, laughs, chuckles, love and banter we shared under this globe has now made everything complete.
Thank you for your time by Luc Spencer-Gardner from Australia
I have been to 4 Eurovision Song Contests over the past 5 years. The last two of these, Vienna and Stockholm, have been as a member of OGAE Rest of World. My absolute favourite event to this date has to be this year, Stockholm 2016. While it may sound cliché, this year Sweden really put on a show. The purpose built “Euroclub/Euro Fan Café” provided a haven for us die-hard Eurovision fans, and by having both in the one venue, this made it easier to coordinate friends and fellow fan club members to meet with throughout the week. But this was only one aspect. Putting all the fans, delegations, press accredited persons, and the artists themselves in the one place made for the most integrated event. Meeting people from fan clubs and media services throughout the whole of Europe was delightful, making many new friends and contacts. Having the artists on site also allowed for impromptu stage performances, and random chance meetings. Our very first night in Stockholm, we ran into the extremely engaging and charming Serhat, representing San Marino, and he was the loveliest man. At 5am on Thursday morning, as the Wednesday night was coming to an end, we ran into two of the band members from Cyprus. We spent a casual hour chatting and quite literally howling (at the sun however, not the moon). We also met the band from Georgia, who I am a huge favourite of. I literally ran into (my sincerest apologies again) Iveta from Armenia walking through the Euroclub. We met and found many more of the artists throughout the entire week, at various events, and it was an absolutely unreal experience to be so close to them, and engaging in conversation. The integration of the fans, delegations and press personnel this year was superb.
A quick note, we also availed ourselves to the fellow fan members in ROW and other fan clubs, and planned several meetings to ensure that the whole of our club and those from other clubs were able to integrate also.
I could not fault a thing this year. The show, the hosts, the technology, the integration, and the fans. Thank you for making 2016 Eurovision the best event yet!
Stockholm – super special by Michaela Sowden from Australia
Very little could have surpassed Copenhagen 2014 for me. I mean Conchita winning was my height of my longstanding following of Eurovision. Just amazing! Then to go to Vienna in 2015 was brilliant. How could anything get better?
My expectations of Sweden was up there. It was once again a family affair with number two son, his girlfriend and number two daughter. We were meeting up in Stockholm, after a brief get together in my original home town of Klagenfurt, Austria.
My first high arrived before leaving for Stockholm. I received the news that my fan accreditation had come through. I was on cloud nine! Such a coveted trophy, one that was not expected. My mood was set.
Arriving in Stockholm was traumatic, for the first time in years, me a seasoned traveller had not booked a seat on the train to Stockholm from Copenhagen. What was I thinking? We managed to get on the train. Asked the conductor about seats, and were told we had could have a seat til one and a half hours out of Stockholm. Then we would have to stand., which wouldn’t have been so bad, as the luggage was safe and secure, and my plan was to visit the dining car. Hmm, did not go down to well with Elle. So off we hopped onto the next train, three hours out of Stockholm, at a train station that was not user friendly. Finally found the next train to Stockholm, to be told that there were no seats at all. With some swift negotiating, some very desperate expressions on our face, and stating we would be happy to stand all the way to Stockholm, with some visits to the Dining car, the conductor softened and let us on. Yes we had to pay for seats, OK in the dining car and had to promise to move around, but hey we were again on our way to Stockholm! We eventually found somewhere to store our luggage, after Elle as punishment for her bad advice rearranged the luggage area. We spent the whole time in the dining car, with occasional movement around the train separately, ( he never said he had to move around together) eating and drinking our way to Stockholm. We arrived late but still managed to meet up with some really great people that afternoon.
Love Sweden! Thoroughly enjoyed the ABBA Museum. One memory that will stay with me was my rendition of Diggy loo in Swedish, a language I have no knowledge of, thankfully though being saved by a fellow fan.
The red carpet was phenomenal, and I had to endure the wrath of Elle, as that coveted selfie of her and Måns did not happen due to camera malfunction. There were so many opportunities to run into the stars and get a selfie. I gave a few koala away, one to a very grateful Eneda from Albania.
Oh, the press center was just fantastic. I loved manning that fan desk for three hours, even if I was alone! I had fun talking to all the press and to get their opinions.
The people I met up with are just the best in the world!
Would I do this again? Of course, the Eurovision bug has bitten me, once a fan, always a fan.
My best experience of travel was to attend the Eurovision Song Contest. When my passion for travel combined with my love of Eurovision, I was very excited. This is my short story about my best travel experience to Stockholm in 2016 for Eurovision.
It all started by not needing to get a visa to get into Europe (Peruvians and Colombians no longer need to get Schengen visa). For months I checked all the travel sites (kayak, Expedia, booking.com and TripAdvisor) so that I could get the best flight deal. Finally, I got a great price with KLM.
The next important task was accommodation and tickets. These were much easier and less stressful due to the great community of people at OGAE Rest of the World. Everyone was great and I was able to make great friends before I even got to Stockholm. I also made sure that I got trade, insurance. You never what could happen.
When the day finally arrived I was so excited going to the airport. I didn't care how long I would spend waiting to board the plane or how many hours flight it would be, my excitement was being kept alive by knowing I was going to Eurovision. It was amazing to sleep on the plane and then suddenly wake up in another hemisphere. When I was on the plane I was talking to lots of people. They all asked me "what brings me to Europe". I said to them "Eurovision" and they looked shocked. They said you travel so far for Eurovision! What about the museums and the culture. I said yes of course I will see this but I am most excited about Eurovision.
Being in Stockholm was great because I got to meet so many people from all over the world and we were talking about all of our love of Eurovision. It was truly magic for be to travel to Stockholm and I felt a little sad on the Friday before the grand final, I know that Eurovision will finish soon and so will my vacation. I realised that these two things I love and I will do them both again cause I love them.
I am now getting prepared for travel to Ukraine next year. I am very excited as this time I would like to spend more time there to take more pictures and know more about the country. I am even thinking I might write my own blog.
See you all in May 2017 in the Ukraine
My First Eurovision 2013, Malmo Sweden - Marcus Davey
I would like to share my experience of my first Eurovision. It also corresponds with my first ever trip to Europe.
I decided late to go to Eurovision 2013 in Malmo Sweden. I actually booked my accommodation whilst I was away on another Holiday (earlier that year). With accommodation booked and leave orgnaised I was ready to go. I had decided to fly from Sydney to Dubai and then Copenhagen and then catch the train to Malmo. On the day of departure, I arrived at the airport early to find that the flight was full and that I might not get on (because I work for an airline all my travel is not confirmed and very stressful). I had back up plans to fly out of Melbourne (but I was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t have to do that). The flight closed and I was given the last seat on the plane and I was on the way. I arrived in Dubai at midnight and had to wait for 6 hours for my flight to Copenhagen. The 6 hours flew past and I was on my way to Copenhagen. I arrived at about 1pm (having traveled 28hrs) and was so excited. I had decided to stay in Copenhagen for a few days and explored the beautiful Danish city. Being in Europe for the first time I was excited to see the culture and difference from my home in Australia.
I left Copenhagen and caught the train to Malmo (I remember asking the Danish station master if I needed to show my passport crossing into Sweden – to which he laughed at me and said no). It was a very short trip and on the way the train passed the arena. I remember being so excited about seeing. I arrived at Malmo station and saw the huge disco ball. That was my first experience of Eurovision. I knew that this was going to be a great holiday. As I was not part of OGAE yet, I slowly met other fans throughout the week. I found Rest of the World and realized it was a great family to be part of.
I explored Malmö and found it to be a lovely city. Although the weather was quite interesting (one day I had 4 layers of clothes on, another day I went to the beach in 30 degree heat!!!!!), I explored the beautiful architecture and very old buildings. For my first time in Europe and also my first Eurovision I couldn’t have asked for a better place.
I’ve now been to 4 song contests and I’m really excited to hear the result of the city to be chosen for the Ukraine and look forward to seeing all the OGAE Rest of the World friends who are considering travelling to the Ukraine.
By Dennis W Flores
“Who is that man in a tuxedo?” my jet-lagged sister asked me.
“THAT’S VIKTOR FRISK!” I replied excitedly as if the 36 hours of staying awake upon arriving in Stockholm on the day of the Red Carpet have just washed away. She looked back at me with a blank stare. “Viktor Frisk of Samir & Viktor…from Melodifestivalen…you know “Groupie,” I explained.
“Oh…” she said with another indifferent response.
Stockholm Tjugohundrosexton. Ever since I truly became a dedicated Eurovision fan and fell in love with the show leading up to the 2012 contest, I became a “Loreen Kid” and became obsessed with Eurovision and everything Swedish. Needless to say, although I wasn’t rooting for Måns inside the Wiener Stadthalle the year before, I was excited to finally having a reason to travel to my dream country to see my second Eurovision in person. The differences for me between Vienna 2015 and Stockholm was as Kaliopi would say, “Crno i belo”.
Throughout the whole week, Stockholm provided many ways that made the entire week fantastiskt.
The Red Carpet
Having lost out again to the limited F1 Accreditations, I was disheartened that I wouldn’t have the full Eurovision experience I wanted, but was excited that there were some perks with F2 Accreditation some of which were complete surprises. After eating a nice dinner at The Hairy Pig Deli in Gamla Stan and enjoying the evening sunlight on the way towards the Royal Palace, my sister and I decided to see how close we could get to the Red Carpet. Attending last year in Vienna without any sort of accreditation, I was relegated to a generic fan section across the street from the Rathaus. But when it became known that our F2 badges allowed us entry into the fan section of the Red Carpet, we were reenergized. Being able to meet and take “Groupies” with the artists started off the trip on a high note.
Other Eurovision Themed Events
With so many events to pick from, it was hard to find any time to sleep. Although I felt that Vienna’s Eurovillage was better than Stockholm’s, the entire city of Stockholm planned so many events in so little time! One unofficial event that we attended was Wiwibloggs special event at the Hard Rock Café, the #Wiwijam. Advertising a variety of artists from past Eurovision contests and some from Melodi Grand Prix and Melodifestivalen, Wiwibloggs hosted an intimate concert/meet & greet for fans for free. Their event was on the same day as the Semi Final 2 Dress Rehearsal, and I decided to attend both events to have a very Eurovision-full day. By the end of the night, my phone ran out of memory with all of the pictures and videos I took.
Eurovision Live from Globen
I found the entire arena experience more enjoyable in Stockholm than in Vienna. Sure, the songs in Vienna were better in my opinion, but I felt less drained leaving Globen each night. First of which, the queueing outside the arena: in Vienna it was a free-for-all. Everyone started out in one big line outside of the security gates then the gates would open into two lines for the standing seats to be followed by another hour of waiting. After surviving the next waiting period and the constant line-cutting, it was a mad dash to the very end of the next corridor to get a good standing place. In Stockholm, there were three separate entrances, followed by specific numbered doors. The security gates were smaller to discourage line cutting and having wide and shallow steps made it difficult to run down to the standing area. Fortunately, I was able to get a good standing spot each night either right at the front of the stage floor or right by the B-Stage.
Everything about my trip to Stockholm was phenomenal and memorable. Sunlight from 4:30 until 21:00 with only two nights that were cold and windy? Couldn’t be more perfect.