Games, games, games

Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
Trip End Nov 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Gaestehaus Essen

Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sheila & I are fans of strategy board games. Germany is the source of many of these games, and the annual convention where most new games are released, Spiel, is held in Essen. Since our trip placed us roughly in Essen at roughly the right time, we decided to go to Spiel.

The convention is held over the course of four days at Messe Essen, the convention center. The event is spread across a series of enormous halls and is packed with thousands of people. It was a lot of busy fun, with opportunities to play new games and to meet game designers and to spend lots of money on boxes full of cardboard and plastic bits. We went all four days, and did all of that. It's well worth going, if you're a gamer.

Essen is not much of a tourist destination on its own, and at the heart of the old industrial Ruhr region of Germany, visions of the US Rust Belt swam in my head and I really didn't expect much out of the place. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to discover a very nice city. It has a nice pedestrianized center city, good restaurants, some nice architecture, good transport...I enjoyed being there rather than just tolerating it.

This was my first time in Germany, and I liked it more than I expected to. I thought it would be a fine place, but I found the people to be almost uniformly friendly and welcoming and the places to be well-thought-out and attractive.

We stayed at a little guesthouse hidden away in an odd corner of forest just a few hundred meters from Messe. It was a good deal and a pleasant place to be. The proprietor is a gregariously friendly guy, and we were quite happy with our stay. Free parking as well, if you have a car.
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