EUROPE CONTINUED, WITH PHOTOS
You can find the photos from our full trip here. But they don't tell the whole story, because a lot of it is in video form. Brussels, I'm afraid, we shot no footage of--we were too busy drinking beer--and a full report on Finncon will have to wait for another few days (including the sauna!), although the photos do tell much of the story (including our visit with Leena Krohn!). Too much to summarize here. As for Romania, Horia Ursu has an account here that he has promised to translate into English, and we're working on a Romanian Road Trip video. My sentiments here still apply. Just lovely wonderful people who we bonded with immediately.
Below you'll also find more on France, Germany, and the Czech Republic, although time constraints are making me have to shorten my accounts.
See the cheese story first if you haven't already...
In France, City of Saints & Madmen wasn't coming out until September, so we were there mostly to meet my editor Sebastien Guillot, along with a cavalcade of friends, some of whom I'd worked on in Machiavellian fashion to get to arrive in Paris around the same time as me. In addition, Mike & Linda Moorcock now spend their summers in Paris, so we were looking forward to seeing them again, as well.
Adventurous, we traveled from the airport by subway, all the way across Paris to Malakoff, the little neighborhood south of Paris where we would be staying with my editor. In so doing, we got a nice cross-section of the city's population (and the dour, grafitti'd area leading into the city), and a contrasting view of beggars. In Lisbon, almost every beggar had some disfigurement. In Paris, every beggar was fat and aggressive--getting on the subway train and basically yelling, "Give me your money!" (In Prague, as we would discover, beggars sat in a kneeling position, holding a cup out in front of their bowed heads.)
"Welcome to the Sahara," Sebastien said when we finally met in the subway station, and he wasn't kidding. Paris had been in the middle of a heat wave, and it wasn't going to get better any time soon. The heat was stifling, made any movement a careful thought ahead of time. Sebastien's tasteful and economical apartment was nicely furnished with two young cats, who had a penchant for occupying the long, empty flower pot near an open window leading to a three-story plunge. They looked really cute there, but precarious as well. We soon met Alex, Sebastien's girlfriend, a children books editor. Ann and I hit it off with them right away--just such lovely people, with a great sense of humor.
That first night, we had dinner with Sebastien, Alex, and the artist who did the cover design for the French edition of City of Saints. It was our first experience with food in Paris, and I have to say that we didn't have a bad experience with food while there. Every meal we had was wonderful. The corner pub near Sebastien's flat, for example, had the most amazing salads. And everyone was nice. There's that cliché still mentioned in guidebooks about Paris--the waiters will be snooty, people will be irritable if you can't speak French. But we didn't really experience that. Paris seemed welcoming, beautiful, and filled from top to bottom with stunning scenery and a multitude of cafes.
The second day in Paris, Sebastien took us to Verseilles, on possibly the hottest day in Europe for us. Verseilles is staggering for its vast size and on that day, we were literally staggering from the heat, pouring water over our heads, buying ice cream, fanning ourselves. It was a great bonding experience and it was very kind of Sebastien to take us there. Some of the video we shot will probably wind up in various short films. The opera house in particular was pretty amazing.
The next few days we hooked up with Mike and Linda Moorcock, Emma Taylor & Neil Williamson, Paulette Werger & Eric Schaller, John Coulthart, David Moles, my sister Elizabeth and my mom, Penelope. Sebastien was there for some of it. You can find the photos of some of our adventures on Flicker.
Basically, it was a lot of talking and walking and going to the Grand Pavilion and other places, great dinners and lunches. Cafes. Ann, John, and I went to the Museum of Erotica, which was a bit of a let down in some ways. We also went to an insane museum of lost technology, which really was pretty amazing.
During one memorable episode, I wound up panhandling using Mike M's hat. I can't quite remember how that happened, except I think I'd had a beer and had been given the choice of dancing or panhandling by Mike. I chose panhandling, although the one guy I approached looked at me disdainfully and gave me nothing.
We also have video of Sebastien being interviewed about his Interstices line, of which City of Saints & Madmen is part. That'll go up later.
Oh yes--and John Coulthart blogged about the prize we awarded while in Paris...
Also, David Moles blogged about his two days in Paris. I have to say, he was very patient with all of my family's marching around...
For now, I think Hannes did such a fantastic job of telling about our trip that all I can say is read the entries (here and here and here) and it was just a pleasure to stay with Hannes and Sara and see the bookstore, Otherworlds. Hannes and Sara, like all of my editors, are hard-working, dedicated, ambitious people. They have an amazing library, too. We had a great time in Berlin, although we have few photos because we took mostly video. Hopefully, we'll have time to put together something video-wise about Berlin. The pool playing the last night was especially fun!
I think this entry still sums it up best, but we are working on a "Where's Svankmejer" video because I think the visuals of Prague deserve it. Martin Sust, my editor, I must say, is one of the hardest working people I've ever met. He's doing a Czech edition of F&SF and soon of Asimov's, in addition to all of his other editorial projects--and he's not even 30 yet.
Also gotta love this Prague 360. And some Czech launch photos.