Friday, 9 March 2018

All-inclusive Relaxation

After snow in Spain I wasn’t expecting any sunshine in Portugal either. Weather forecast promised constant rain and heavy wind for the whole weekend. In this case, it was just one more good reason to stay indoors and play board games. That’s what LeiriaCon is all about.
Me and Paulo.

Because of the broken car we had to quickly do changes for the weekend. We emailed Paulo, one of the organisers of LeiriaCon, that we would need accommodation instead of a big parking place. I packed clothes for all of us, but It was a bit tricky because we only have one small suitcase with us. Väinö packed his stuff to his school bag.

We checked the fridge and emptied the trash bin of our caravan and moved game boxes from our car to the rental car. It was Thursday morning, LeiriaCon was starting in Portugal, and we had 800 kilometers to drive. Nevertheless, without the caravan, we should make it there for the evening.

Fire & Water

The rental car was also a VW van, but it lacked many of the nice features we had installed to our car - like navigator. Fortunately we have a good navigation app downloaded to Timo’s phone. Only tricky part during the way was the Portuguese road toll system. I highly recommend travellers to check different payment options beforehand.

When we were closing Leiria, the scenery turned spooky. We were driving thru the areas that had large forest fires in 2017. Black, charred trees stood silently on both sides of the road. In the heavy rain we were driving, it was difficult to imagine the draught and hotness there must have been just a bit over half a year ago.

All of a sudden the Atlantic ocean was again in front of us. High, whitecap waves crashed to a long beach. Wind was gathering small dynes of sand to a sidewalk. Right there, by the beach, was the Hotel Cristal Vieira Resort Praia & Spa where LeiriaCon was held.

Dress Code: Lipstick

Starters, main course and deserts. Drinks included. I love LeiriaCon!
We made it just in time for dinner. Unlike in normal fairs and many other conventions, in LeiriaCon you can get all-inclusive participation: accommodation, all meals and 24 hours in a day for board gaming. What an excellent concept and very welcome change for fair days without any food!

We carried our stuff to the hotel room and I wanted to quickly change clothes. I was still wearing the same outfit I had dressed for yesterday’s driving day: comfy, grey college pants, long woollen socks (it was so cold!) and sweatshirt. I unpacked from the small suitcase a new shirt and trousers for Timo, clean shirt and socks for me and… well, that was it. Several shirts, socks and underwear, but NO trousers for me.

I clearly remembered thinking of packing my jeans. But obviously that thought was never accomplished. I’m sure at least all female readers can imagine my feelings at that moment. Timo comforted me: “Come on, this is a relaxed convention for board game nerds, nobody cares what you are wearing.” There was nothing I could do for the situation, so I just combed my hair, put on some lipstick and went for a dinner.

Friends For Life and Laundry

Frank, Mauro and another game I liked and lost.
They liked Darwinning! I'm sure you will, too. Pledge now!
The rainy days of LeiriaCon were filled with good food (especially the deserts…), nice people and hours of board games. We, of course, played Darwinning with many Portuguese groups and promoted our Kickstarter campaign, but we had time to test other games also. Väinö learned to play Ex Libris with Inka and Markus Brand. Yet another proof of his much improved English skills. Sven and Frank from Happyshops had several prototypes with them. I enjoyed playing all of them, even though I lost most of my games. This was the first time I had a chance to give feedback of other designers games and give ideas for the future development.

The atmosphere was really relaxed and positive. Nobody mentioned my grey college pants. Nevertheless, on Friday after siesta I sneaked out to the quiet, rainy beach village to look for a clothing store. Most of the stores were closed due the low season, but I found one store with handcrafts and clothes. There were only one type of trousers available: black college pants. I bought those and knitting needles for Väinö. He must knit mittens for school and I forgot to take the needles from home.

Early Sunday evening, when the event was about to end and I had lost two rounds of Azul, I took an hour of my own time. The spa offered a relaxation massage, and after all the events of previous weeks I really needed one. I also needed some quietness and time alone. During the past month and a half that we have been on tour, I have met more people than I usually meet during a whole year. I have seen three oceans and climbed higher than I have ever been. There have been moments and experiences I will never forget.

This tour is also about networking. I have got many new Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. But what I really liked about LeiriaCon, is that there you can really get to KNOW new people. It is not only changing business cards.

How do you know you have made new friends? Well, they invite you for a visit and offer to loan their washing machine.

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