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Somehow I knew beforehand that this convention would become something really special when I registered for my ticket on September 7th, 2009. Nobody knew at that time whether there would be a 6th season and since I had only discovered the show in April of 2009 I thought this might be the last opportunity to see the actors live and in full colour.
Somehow it is funny how fan discovers a TV show. In my case I zapped through the channels of my British Pay-TV on the search for something that might interest me when I ended up on a channel where just a TV show had started and where I read the name Kim Manners. As a big X Files fan I got curious and I continued watching. Thus my very first Supernatural episode was Wishful Thinking. While I was watching and already enjoyed how offbeat this episode was one of the actors looked very familiar but I could not remember where I had seen that face before. It took a couple of days until my brain came up with the solution: Jensen Ackles and Dark Angel. It was this being different (the Duchovny remark helped also) and the talk between the brothers at the end that got me even more curious. Thus I learnt that this was already season four. Quickly I ordered the first two seasons on DVD. The third I had to be shipped from Spain since German television was, as so often, centuries behind. The fourth season I ordered from the UK and the fifth you do not want to know.
The first thing I noticed with the Jus in Bello organization committee was how professional they reacted towards questions and ticket orders. Emails were replied to instantly. Ticket orders were confirmed instantly as well as the reception of payment. I instantly was on good terms with Daniela. I do know that the organization of such an event can be a nightmare and this was not a professional company but fans who wanted to get this con going for other fans; and this also for the very first time. I had an extremely good feeling about all this!
What followed was months to get to know each other on the Jus in Bello Forum. What I noticed was that for many fans with tickets it would be their first convention of their life. This can backfire since the expectations and hopes are quite often very high. Fan easily day dreams about what might happen at such an event and often gets disappointed when those illusions are not fulfilled. I also noticed how nicely we treated each other. Once more I had an extremely good feeling about this convention!
On March 29th at 11:15 it was time for me to hop into my car to drive through half of Germany, Switzerland (including the Gotthard Tunnel (the pass is sadly closed at this time of year) and made it shortly behind Milan where I followed the very first sign screaming bed at 21.30. At that point I did not care how that bed might look like, main thing it was a bed. It was a Holiday Inn at the motorway. Round about 900 km (559.2 Miles) down, 566 km (351.7 Miles) should follow the following day.
I had driven through the Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. I should have taken on this trip a bit earlier. The landscape, especially at the Abruzzi, is awesome. Thus I made mental notes for a later, more expansive holiday trip to Italy.
On March 30th I checked into the Hilton hotel at the airport around 15:30. Too dead to go downtown Rome I decided to have dinner at the hotel itself. What a funny experiment. There weren’t many people and I ended up with three waiters I could flirt with – half in Italian, half in English and half in hand and feet talk. Up to now I still don’t know what I did but everyone smiled at me and I felt like being home already.
On March 31st I skipped breakfast in order to catch the free shuttle bus at 08:00 to get to Rome which I conquered sightseeing-wise on foot until 17:30. There will be more stories about the nice incidents that happened at my Rome report which will be online at a later date. Only so much: I received an invitation to Naples, had lunch at a pure Italian occupied restaurant, an US American wanted to marry me (sorry, but my freedom and independence is holy to me), an Italian woman wished heaven on earth for me and having a good time at Rome at a bus stop and I had quite an interesting talk to an American family who lives in Dubai.
On April 1st I had planned on doing Rome at night when I met my very first fan at early afternoon on my way to the train at the airport. I climbed the stairs; she came down, pointed at my T-Shirt and said in English that she liked the Shirt. I answered in English and she was like thank god someone who speaks English. Thus I met Linda from Northern Ireland who was the first time abroad and slightly nervous about discovering the surroundings on her own. I asked her whether she wanted to join me whereas Rome itself was a bit too much for her. Thus we took the train one stop down from the airport to the big mall. The drive was funny, was cheap and the nice ticket counter guy said in Italian that the train would depart from platform tre (3). The train also arrived quite quickly and we didn’t know whether we were supposed to devalue the tickets or not. I looked at the train driver, showed him my ticket and shrugged. He saw our dilemma and made hand signs yes, we should devalue the tickets. Linda got a bit nervous then. Thus we boarded the train not exactly knowing whether it was the right one or not. I reassured Linda in saying see what could be the worst outcome? Well, we land at the wrong train station and there is no mall. Quick solution would be to take the next train back and try another one. Linda still was sceptic.
I was told beforehand that the train would stop directly within the mall but it stopped outside. Thus we were standing at the platform and looked around until a friendly Italian mad a sure gesture pointing to the other side of the platform on my question for the Mercato. Thus we found the Mall and time flew by with having a chat and coffee and tea. All too soon it was evening and we decided to return to the hotel to have dinner there. We were awaited by Renate who I met in October 2009 at Ring*Con and where I am responsible for having planted the Supernatural bug. Thus our little triumvirate enjoyed dinner and I postponed my Rome by night excursion to another holiday.
April 2nd: The big day should start with registering. I had booked the Roman Holiday tour and while I observed the colourful hustle it was somewhat unclear what the Roman Holiday people should do. Signs pointed to what ticket need to be registered where and one sign said: RH, please wait. I needed some time before it registered that RH stood for Roman Holiday. Oh well, I’m so not a morning person. A short while later somebody responsible for us showed up. It took a while before all the Photo Ops and tickets were exchanged into the real ones but then off we went to the bus.
The bus vibrated with anticipation before the actors boarded but when Misha, Richard and Traci showed up it was utterly silent. Everyone did as if nothing had happened. A simple good morning here and there; that was it. The actors took free seats and Daniela explained once more that the location of our excursion was not to be reported due to security measurements. I think nobody on the bus would have come up with the idea to do something like that. This was a unique opportunity and nobody wanted to mess it up.
Our destination was Ostia Antica, once named Ostia as the original harbour city of the antique Rome and probably its first colony. The ruins of the city lie 23 km southwest of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber. The name Ostia comes from the Latin word os "the mouth" respectively ostium "the entry", with which the mouth of the river Tiber is meant. When we exited the bus I rather nervously unpacked my camera. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a professional zoom lens. The camera is quite intimidating because it is big and looks professional although I am neither a paparazzi nor a journalist. I'm not even a professional photographer, just a passionate perfectionist. The hour of the camera came in form of a group shot, the first one on the cobblestone path to the ruins. Everybody lined up directly in front of the sun - bad, really bad because of backlighting and with backlighting faces turn out to be dark. It took a while to move everyone to the other direction and it was Misha who laconically said to look to that direction while pointing at me and the camera. Thus the first group photo was taken. Some more we did at the amphitheatre at a later time.
NOTE: Before I drown in requests by email, yes I will offer the original sized version of the group shots for those who attended the Roman Holiday tour. Please be patient just a bit longer. I am at programming it.
Were the fans all shy and reserved at the beginning and didn’t get in contact with the actors the situation relaxed after a while. Fans started to interact as well as the actors. I took only a few pictures of the actors during the guided tour. It did not feel right. The tour was done by Angela, who was quite nervous about her English. I did not have any trouble in understanding her at all but that might be because I had an Italian boss ages ago while working for an American company. Rodolfo Lanziani who I won’t forget ever since we were not only a good working team but we also liked each other (in a platonic way).
There was a feeling of instant connection to Traci from my side who roamed the ruins with a smile and dreamy gaze, someone who was absolutely happy to be at that point of time at that location. With Richard I could talk camera since he also carried a Canon. I steered clear of Misha though. I need a feel for people and thus I needed a bit more time to warm up to the situation and get a connection to him. Here are the photos I took of the actors:
And here are some of the photos I took of Ostia Antica. The beautiful mosaic floor fascinated me:
All too soon time had flown by and we were on our way back to the bus. I talked for quite some time to Julie who had trouble with her back. Well, she is tall and her shoes were not so suitable for the cobblestone paths at Ostia Antica. She wanted to visit Rome during the afternoon and I told her to wear other shoes which she wanted to do. All the while she seemed familiar to me. But it took a while longer before it clicked. But this I tell later.
Richard along with his sister sat behind me on our way back to the hotel. She had real trouble getting a phone line outside of Italy. In the meantime I had a mini faut pas. I forgot all about the diet coke bottle I had put into the pocket of my jacket on which I promptly sat. Well, what should I say, my jacket became quite wet, so did me jeans. In a rather hasty movement I rescued myself from the remainder in the bottle making a funny face, which made Richard laugh out loud.
When we arrived at the hotel Misha was about to exit the bus right in front of me and here it happened that my mouth was quicker than my brain (damn, I had been so good controlling myself). There were quite a few fans in front of the hotel and in the lobby and I yelled: "RUN", whereas Misha’s head flew around and he started to grin.
The weekend hat started superbly and it should continue exactly like that.
I just realise that it took me 4 hours to write up this little of text and I still have so much more to tell. So I herewith decide to start uploading and fill the text up over the next couple of days. Otherwise the fans will wait for aeons for the pictures I took. The pictures do all work and can be found on the right hand side in the galleries. More anecdotes of the weekend will follow and there is really good stuff coming your way.
There is something I would like to tell you right now. All, truly all of the actors were super nice, fan open and approachable and yes, even the big names. The entire group of the Jus in Bello staff, including head organization always had an open ear and eye for anything and everyone. Problems were solved in a so friendly and pleasant manner that it was almost eerie. You could feel that they wanted you feel welcomed. Their hospitability went beyond the realms of reality.
This con had heart and soul, was very intimate and emotional. It will be hard to top this experience. Yet a Jib2 is already announced for the year 2011. Bravo girls! And I will be on board. I have already ordered my ticket. If you should be interested in buying a ticket, check out the Jus in Bello website.