For many, today this means Valentine’s day, but in the Gallagher household, this means the lead up to Gallifrey One, the premier annual Doctor Who convention that takes place in the LAX Marriott Hotel. This will be my 6th year attending (not including my facetimed from France experience!), and if you have gone or attempted to get tickets for this, you know how lucky that is.
This year, I’m coming at the prep and thought process for this event differently than I have before. The hotel is fairy close to home so while I could go out and retrieve anything I accidentally leave behind quite easily, this is always a pain; in this light, I’m not talking about checking and double checking on all your gear, including fittings.
Since experiencing the magnitude that was Boston Comic Com. and the shifts in schedules, shifts in lines, crowd control, and so many things happening all at once that you just miss out, I’ve begun to appreciate planning ahead so much more (as if I didn’t already, right?).
So, this week (besides binge watching a bit of DW Series 1) I will be going over the online schedule and picking all my time slots – and time to grab a bite or two to eat! – and plotting out my budget. This online schedule has a customizable option I will definitely be checking out asap!
If you do have tickets, be aware that there is a new ‘no videotaping panels’ rule – pictures are great but, because people have been posting whole panels rather than clips, there is no unofficial filming. Still, if this ruins your weekend, remember you are lucky to be there!
So, wear your Union Jack with pride, take my hand, and (as always): Run!
As I wrap up my nerd-tastic week following Gallifrey One, the annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles, I feel it is only fitting to revisit another geek-centric trip I recently conducted: a quick day trip to the Doctor Who mecca: Cardiff, Wales.
If you haven’t been, this is in no way an exaggeration.
The amount of questions which started with “As you may or may not know, Doctor Who fans regularly make pilgrimages to Cardiff…” And if you are a Doctor Who fan, this is a trip you will truly want to make.
A few years ago, during Matt’s time as the eleventh Doctor, I was able to go to BBC’s walk through show and exhibition- The BBC’s Doctor Who Experience – which was great fun for fans of all ages.
But for our older fans (well, fine, the young one’s too), the tour has stepped up its game. As the twelfth Doctor has taken over our screens, Capaldi has taken over Doctor Who Experience, making it a darker and much more sarcastic ride through all your favorite monsters.
I won’t write much more than this here as I don’t want any spoilers slipping out, just get here and trust me.
As a fan of fashion and cosplay, I am also a huge fan of the museum half of the tour which is currently flooded with Clara Oswald costumes. This is the half where you can take as many pictures as you want and get great cosplay ideas – trust me the pictures and first hand viewing helps – for a variety of characters.
And again, for us older fans (and this time I mean it!), find and watch Torchwood then give yourself some time to wander the varied locations across Cardiff Bay, especially Ianto’s memorial wall. This is one stop we hit every visit as the memorial changes constantly – as a fan, it really is quite the experience.
If you are interested in the other Doctor Who experiences – the unofficial kind like filming locations – there are a million and one lists of Who universe locals to search out, however, you will need a car to get to many. For some ideas check out my other Doctor Who posts where I detail other locations.
So last week I said I’d start recounting my trip from the beginning and we’re continuing here: my first night in Paris.
Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a night worth mentioning, except to note the manners of my hostel roommates while throwing my hat in the arena of discussing behavior and etiquette in hostels.
But then, the night took a turn.
While I was spending my first weekend of reading week in Paris, my family in Los Angeles we’re spending there Valentine’s weekend in the LAX Marriott attending the Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One.
As a fellow fan of the show, my family was bringing my official series one script book (9 is my doctor!) around to the attendees for them to sign. Two of these actors were John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) and Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato).
Through the wonder of technology, my mom was able to connect us through the Google Hangouts app and I was able to chat with these actors about my trip in an extremely unique encounter.
John Barrowman launched himself in a string of questions in French which I didn’t understand until I was able to explain that I was visiting Paris but living in London. And if you know anything about Barrowman, what transpired next will be of no surprise.
While he signed my book, he talked about the things I should go out and do while I was in the city (and when John Barrowman gives you advice, it’s going to be an adventure). One of his main points of contention was to pay attention to where actual French people were and where they were eating and to avoid going to the tourist based establishments as they wouldn’t really give you a taste of Paris—at least, the real Paris.
His other advice was to look at the gay districts of Paris and basically wander and play and generally explore. The call was quick so I didn’t get the exact names of the gay clubs and areas he listed but after a quick look I was able to figure out the basics.
One area was Montmartre which also houses Sacre-Coeur and a great view of the city. I was basically instructed to wander the area and take it all in—not just the landmarks a book guide would point out to me. While I’m not sure if this is the clubbing area that John was describing (to be explained in a moment), the area is beautiful and if you don’t mind the climb (or climbs as you weave yourself through the district area), everything from the views to the street art to the buildings are well worth the effort.
The other area I discovered was the younger, “hipper” district (which I can see being an area where the shenanigans john described might occur) of La Marais. This is a great place to wander around and I think would be an interesting area to work and live in. it was very artsy filled with boutiques and small art galleries and shops where (I really witnessed this) the owners will lock up midday to go grab lunch and make their way back later leaving nothing but a back soon sign.
While I wasn’t in either of these districts at a time when the nightlife was buzzing, john described scenes wherein the party goes all night and into the morning and it’s common to see patrons stripped down to nearly nothing and just enjoying themselves. I wasn’t able to explore this side of Paris on this pass—there was a concern, among others, about being a single female venturing alone into the city at night—accompanied by others at some point, these areas and experiences are something I look forward to seeking out.
Shortly after getting off of chat with John (which I will never get tired of writing) after good nature teasing about my missing Gallifrey and best wishes on my travels, I found myself in an equally lively chat with Naoko.
While she did not give me places to go, we chatted for a while about my plans for reading week and she very teasingly (yet, with great authority) told me to not listen to John (in the sense of me staying out of trouble) and to remember to study!
While my first night in Paris didn’t involve much going out into the city or adventure in the traditional sense (I was knackered by the time I got to the hostel from the day of travel anyway), it was most definitely a very unique fan experience and a travel story that I will not be forgetting.
These kind of things, even if not part of the traditional ways of exploring a city, allows you to gain new perspectives on your travels and makes each trip a unique adventure worthy of sharing.
Plus, it was just so cool!
So to wrap up this week, be open to anything, even if they seem odd or unexpected and thank you so much, family, John and Naoko.