The Black Side of the Snow
Excuses for Not Going to WDC VII
by Larry Peery
Sure, anybody can come up with excuses, rationalizations, justifications,
reasons, or just plain "cop-outs" for not going to WDC VII. Let's consider
some of them.
- "It's Too Far."
From where? In terms of mileage it isn't much further from the east coast
of the States to Gothenburg than it is to any other continental city. In
terms of travel time, it doesn't take much longer to fly to Gothenburg than
it does to any other European non-gateway airport. From the west coast of
the States it shouldn't take much more real travel time to get to Gothenburg
than it did to get to Paris, Birmingham, Toronto, or Chapel Hill. And once
you get there, everything is within walking distance. If you want to travel
around within the Three Kingdoms Triangle, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm
are all within 300 or so miles with good air, rail, and bus links between
- "It's Too Expensive."
By whose standards? Scandinavians usually make more than Americans for the
same work, but their taxes are far higher. One tax that will hurt Americans is
the VAT -- around 20% -- which is included in the price of everything. Another
surprise is the automatic inclusion of service in hotel and restaurant charges,
so that will raise your basic bill another 15%. However, both of these
items are already included in the quoted price, so the price marked is
the price you pay. There are no "hidden extras."
Basically, you will have two choices. First, if you want to maintain your
current standard of living in Scandinavia you will have to pay more than you
would in the States, probably on the order of 35-50%. Second, if you want to
lower your standard of living (e.g., staying in a hostel instead of a hotel,
eating a big lunch instead of a big dinner, avoiding expensive alcohol --
it's called "going native") a bit, you'll find prices more in line with
your current standards. These lower standards do not, however, imply any
lowering of either health or safety standards. Those will remain high at any
Do keep in mind, however, as a low season traveller you'll find lower costs
on many things, a better selection, and discounts not available during high
season. Be sure to look into discounts before you leave home, however,
because many are not offered in Scandinavia.
- "The Weather Will be Rotten."
Not necessarily; but it will be changing, from Winter to Spring to be exact.
So, some days will be wintry and some may be nicer. I wouldn't expect
a lot of snow, but I expect lots of clouds and perhaps fog. It may also get
cold, but it will be a dry cold. It definitely won't be "southern California"
beachwear weather, but if you are from the American midwest or upper east
coast you shouldn't be uncomfortable.
Still, to avoid major weather related disappointments be sure you have
indoor activities planned as a back-up for your outside ones.
- "I Don't Know the Language."
This is a non-issue; since almost all Scandinavians speak English quite
well. In some cases better than Americans. How is that? Because they
actually study it in school, assimilate it from their television and movies,
and use it in their travels a lot. However, before you go make at least a bit
of an effort to learn a few simple useful phrases of Swedish such as "Danes
s are rotten soccer players, don't you think?" or "Give him the bill!"
- "Scandinavians Aren't Friendly."
Wrong. The Danes are very friendly, and with the the amount of beer they
consume they ought to be. The Norwegians are friendly, especially in winter,
as long as you don't bring up the subject of whales. The Swedes have a
saying, "We are like a bottle of catsup. First there is nothing. Second there
is nothing. And then there is everything."
Also keep in mind that WDC VII is being held during Easter week; which is
a major holiday for Scandinavia. So many of them will be off work and
The big cities should be relatively empty of the locals. The people
le of Gothenburg are considered the friendliest in Sweden so that, combined
with a mostly empty Stockholm (if you go there), should make for a nice trip.
- "I Don't Know Anybody There."
No? And if you don't go, you probably never will. Actually, you probably
have met a couple of Scandinavians: Mrs. Olsen, of coffee ad fame; Lawrence
Welk, the Champagne Music King; and Walter Cronkite, of "That's The Way It
Was." You will find that the Scandinavian Dippers are a diverse and varied
lot, like every other national Diplomacy hobby. Once you have met them you'll
realize that there are very real differences between the Norwegian, Swedish,
Finnish, and Danish Dippers. And, with Diplomacy as your starting point,
you'll have no problem getting to know them better.
- "Everything Will Be Shut Down Because It's the Off-Season."
It's true. Many major attractions of interest to foreign visitors do shut
down in the wintertime. However, winter attractions open up. The dividing
line between opening and closing seems to be mid-April. In a lose-lose
situation you'll find that the winter attractions have already closed and the
e summer attractions have not yet opened! However, in late March don't expect
to see Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen open, the Gota Canal boats running,
or some of the more scenic natural wonders in all their glory. On the other
hand, the indoor cultural stuff will be going full blast, so take advantage
of that. There are some truly world class cultural and artistic
institutions in the Three Kingdoms Triangle, so take advantage of them.
In many cases the prices for tickets will be less than you would pay at home
for inferior attractions. And, based on my experiences in other parts of
Europe during the off-season, if you show up at some place you really want to
see, even if its closed, someone might just let you in for a sneak peek!
One nice part of travelling during the low season is that there will be far
fewer tourists and crowds than there would be during the summer.
- "The Days Will Be Too Short!"
Other than the Con itself, which will probably be pretty much non-stop from
Friday morning until Sunday evening, most things of interest to a tourist
in Scandinavia during late March seem to run from 0900 until about 1500;
which pretty much matches the daylight hours. That won't matter much in the
cities, but if you plan to do any cross-country driving, it is something
to keep in mind.
- "But What About the Black Snow, Reindeer, Moose, and Polar Bears?"
You'll find them at the nearest IKEA store, in aisle 12, right between the
American Indians and rappers display.
- "I Don't Know How to Get More Information."
- Yes you do. Just send e-mail to me,
or to Per Westling or
It's that easy. Naturally, as a member of the U.S. contingent,
I hope you do it soon, because March is just around the corner.
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