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lupestripe

lupestripe / 39 / Male / Pudsey, UK

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A fluffy pink husky called Lupestripe. If it's pink, this puppy will love it!

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Gdakon 2015

on 17 July 2015 at 15:33:52 MDT

I thought it would be hard to beat our con experience at Rusfurrence in 2013 but Gdakon ran it pretty close. I've always said I prefer smaller cons and this one proved my point as with around 140 attendees, it was far easier to meet people, both old friends and new. Our experience was undoubtedly enhanced by the presence of the Russians, whose partying ways and general shenanigans made our stay in Moscow so enjoyable two years ago, and it was fantastic to see them again, particularly at the room parties, which were frequent.

Indeed another point was proven at Gdakon - cons are far better when you know people there - while the three of us staying together (Wolfie plus Taneli) did make it feel more of a holiday. With the Amber Hotel just a 20 minute walk from the centre of Gdansk, it made touring rather simple, meaning when there was a gap in the schedule, we could go off and do our own thing. As is often the case with smaller cons, the schedule wasn't particularly extensive, giving us ample time to go exploring and facilitating my view that I tend to choose cons these days based on their location above anything else. In fact we probably spent around half our time at the con and half our time exploring, making for a nice balanced trip.

The times at the con were largely geared towards room parties although the opening day BBQ on Thursday was a huge success as it enabled us to get to meet some furs we had never met before. The snausage was exquisite - traditional Polish, plump and tender - while there was free beer all evening with a help yourself tap for convenience. This made it very easy to talk to people while we all marvelled at the intricate fire dancing and drumming performances which accompanied the food, being situated in a little grassy area next to the BBQ outside the main floor. Later on, there was karaoke which was actually done rather well, and we got in on the action as the Russians were going through their full repertoire. Wolfie in particular really got into the swing of things and was singing away, aided by the free flowing drink. The tap had long run out by this point, so we were resorting to the beer we had bought from Carrefour over the road, where there always seemed to be a mean dog tied up outside who spent the duration barking at us. He was interested in Wolfie's crisps though, and got a nuzzle out of him for that. He barked at me though and that made the puppy sad.

The range of Polish beer on offer was one of the surprises although a lot of it seems very similar mass-marketed pilsner type stuff. There is a developing craft scene though and at least one microbrewery, Browar Piwna on the aptly named Ulica Piwna in the heart of the city. We discovered this place as part of the guided tour of Gdansk which was organised by the con on the Wednesday. This wasn't advertised and we were quite lucky to discover it - a crisis at work necessitated a phone call which I took outside on the hallway, where I bumped into a Russian fur who told me about it. The tour was conducted by a fur who was an official guide in his professional career so it all went quite well, with around 25 furs heading towards the old town to see the sights. I've always said that cons should offer something like this, if only to encourage reticent furs away from the hotel. We walked into the city and on the way, some furs stopped to buy an MLP magazine while I was amused by the dog magazine with the word Pies for the title - puppy doesn't like the sound of puppy pies. Also the main women's weekly here is called Tina, something I also found amusing for no particular reason.

Our first stop was the Fortu Gory Gradowej, from where you could see a stunning panorama of the old city and the docks at it's northern point, with huge steel cranes plunging into the water. Here there is a large brown metal cross which overlooks the city, which I think commemorates the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Gdansk, which took place in 997 AD. The cityscape was rather grand too as we surveyed it from its south-western fringe, where a fort has been placed for at least 400 years. Through a series of 12 bunkers, inside which are a variety of scenes, we explored the history of the fortress from the seventeenth century to the present day. This area had always been a busy thoroughfare into the city but the danger from a Swedish invasion made them fortify the area. The exhibition also dealt with the military engineering and cartography of the time before detailing the effects of the sieges on the city in 1734 (in the war of the Polish succession), 1807 and 1813 (the latter two when Napoleon came and left). Modern history was also covered, detailing the barracks built by the Prussians in the late nineteenth century and the role of the fort during the Second World War, when the Germans occupied the area. During the communist era, a jamming system was installed here aimed at blocking the broadcasts from Radio Free Europe. Walking over the crenellations and looking into the bunkers, with the barracks contained in the middle of the formed circle, made for an interesting experience and a nice introduction to the city.

Our next stop was along one of the main streets, Ulica Dluga, which culminates in the long thin square of Dlugi Targ. Considered one of the most attractive streets in the city, they are lined with Baroque style houses not dissimilar to those in Amsterdam with their narrow tall frontages of intricate colour and design. These were the homes of the city's wealthiest citizens but now have largely been converted into restaurants, with the streets drinking avenues which were once used for parades, ceremonies and public executions, with aristocratic prisoners being killed on Dlugi Targ. Royal processions started in 1457 while the Main City's most important buildings, particularly the impressive and imposing Main Town Hall, are situated here. Much of Dlugi Targ was destroyed in the Second World War but the houses with their stepper terraces were faithfully reconstructed, creating a square with an astonishing amount of colour. This cannot be said of Ulica Dluga as only the most important buildings here were reconstructed. At its centre is the Fountain of Neptune, which was installed in 1633, with the God of the Sea understandably having an important place in this major Baltic seaport (indeed on the wall of the houses facing the hotel there is a giant dark blue mural to Neptune). The streets are flanked at either end by two gates - the Golden Gate and the Green Gate. The former was built in 1612-14, designed by Abraham van den Blocke, and was our principal access point into the city. Styled like a traditional triumphant Roman archway in Mannerist style, it is surmounted by allegorical sculptures in quite intricate fashion, highlighting the golden age of the city. These were carved by Piotr Ringering in 1648 but had to be reconstructed after World War Two. The statues depict peace, freedom, prosperity, glory, prudence, piety, justice and harmony while inscriptions in Latin and German detail the importance of civic virtue. At the other end sits the Green Gate, a Mannerist building which was the official residence of the Polish kings when they visited the city. Designed by Johann Kramer and built between 1564 and 1568, this palace like building has an intricate pinnacled roof. This is situated next to a canal upon which currently sits a large boat called Onyx, which cannot proceed further upstream due to the presence of a bridge. We walked around this area before heading onto Ulica Piwna which runs parallel to the Dluga streets and is where the majority of the restaurants are situated.

Our final stop on our mini-tour was the Church of St Mary (Kosciol Mariacki) which is the largest medieval brick-built church in Europe. Taking 150 years to complete, work began in 1343, with the long nave the final thing to be completed. It was a Protestant church up until its destruction in 1945, after which it was rebuilt albeit with a rather plain white interior which is rather stunning in such a large space. There is also a beautiful stained glass window at one end, built in 1963 and with deep vivid coloured glass and scenes from the Bible depicted in raindrops. The highlight of the church is undoubtedly the astronomical clock, made by Hans Durunger between 1464 and 1470. It shows the hour, days, dates of moveable feasts and phases of the moon and is quite complex to read. We also saw a significant number of memorial tablets to local families and internal furnishings in a range of styles, particularly Mannerist, Baroque and Gothic. After an extensive wander around the church, there was a desire to visit a pub, with a few conveniently placed just up the road.

Founded in 2012, Browar Piwna is a fantastic micro pub, with five of their regularly rotating beers available (three on tap and two in bottle). However, this wasn't the highlight of our time here, with the food being absolutely stunning. The whole group of 25 furs came here for a little tipple but most of them left soon afterwards, wanting to get back to the hotel to catch the tail end of dinner, which was only served from 4-6pm. This meant only Wolfie, Taneli and I remained despite some Russians initially offering to stay with us. We had ordered food though and wanted to try a few beers before heading back to the hotel, with nothing scheduled for the evening anyway (the con ran from Thursday evening to Saturday evening, just two days, but there was an early arrival and late departure option). Suffice to say the food was stunning. Lard on bread, warm black pudding served with bread and a meat and cheese platter which was an excellent example of fresh local Polish produce. The black pudding in particular was the finest I have ever tasted, real melt in the mouth stuff while the lard too was a fine example of quality local cuisine. Indeed, we have found all of the food in Poland to be of the highest quality and I was shocked by just how good it is - I don't remember it being this good when I visited the country back in 2003 and 2005.

Feeling a little bloated after the food, we decided to head back to the hotel, where we met up with the Russian furs who were having a party. Our good friend Kamsirius's room was next door to ours on the third floor which was convenient, although being inflatable fans, there was an awful lot of balloon popping going on, which we could hear through the walls. Indeed they had bought eight packets of 16" diameter balloons which they blew up sort an electric blower at industrial speed. We had a few inflatable parties as a result, which were great fun, with fursuits in particular invited to join the fun. This is what I did on Friday evening interspersed with dancing at the first of two discos in the main hall, which was so hot that it became prohibitive quite quickly. The doors had to be shut and the Fursuit lounge wasn't particularly cool, meaning I was out of suit almost as quickly as I was in it. This is what I tend to find at cons though - I always go with the intention of suiting loads and then I get dragged into the social aspect and end up suiting hardly at all. I did suit a little in the end, on Friday night and most of Saturday afternoon for the Fursuit walk (which I'll detail later) but in the end this was another drinking and largely social con. Nothing wrong with that of course. Anyway, inflation and popping was a common theme and I did a lot of this in and out of suit while on the Wednesday evening we also had a flashmob style party in the landing of the third floor, which we filled with balloons. This lasted a good half hour before we were told to move on, but it was fun while it lasted. Aside from this, a lot of time was spent next door in Kam's room where we chatted with all of the Russians and I stole numerous dark chocolate and strawberry flavoured chocolate drops, the latter of which were pink. I introduced Taneli to the Russians too, which went very well, and they were the go to people whenever we were in the hotel as they were such fun. I'm looking forward to renewing their acquaintance at EF.

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    Hoping to use Weasyl a little more going forward, although my stories are probably more likely to appear first on SoFurry. Will see how it rolls though :)