Welcome to Estonia and Estcon, the national Estonian science fiction convention arranged since 1998. It’s a relaxing, comfortable convention when the Baltic summer is at its best. “Small” but cosy and full of opportunities to make new acquaintances in a vacation environment in a summer resort in southern Estonia, while engaging in your guilty pleasures of science fiction and fantasy.
Foreign attendees to Estcon would be really appreciated, because it’s a chance for YOU to get a grip of Estonian fandom, and for US to get a grip of you! And that would be really exciting.
The site is Saarjärve camping in South Estonia, which has a main convention house situated in a beautiful environment, by a small lake for swimming, a sauna and other things.
Taking a car is a favourite. Have a look at this Google map. It’s ca 60 km from Tartu, 240 km from Tallinn, 260 km from Riga.
You may also ask someone with an empty car to pick you up from Tallinn or Tartu and share costs. You can ask the committee for car connection contacts at any time. If you don’t leave it to the very last day, you will not be left behind.
You can also use public transport and and let us know you need to be picked up at the nearest bus or train stop.
For planning a bus trip, use www.peatus.ee or bussireisid.ee Tallinn central bus station = Tallinna bussijaam. The closest local stop in Partsi (formerly Partsi kauplus). You will have to change buses on the way. You can buy tickets from the station or from the driver, cash only.
For planning a train trip, use www.edel.ee The closest you can get is Polva (Põlva). Some trains go Tallinn to Põlva direct, some to Tartu only and then you need to change. First class tickets are sold online, otherwise all tickets are sold on the train, cash only.
Ask for help if you run into trouble planning your trip.
The site is fairly secluded, in the middle of the forest. The closest house is across the lake. It’s in a pine forest, with blueberries. The lake is very swimmable, but the water has a brown tint from peat so take a shower afterwards. Beware of mosquitoes in the evening.
The main building has bedrooms on both floors, with rooms for 4 and 5. WC (but also some outdoor toilets) and showers (with hot water) are on the first floor. There’s also a furnished kitchen.
The number of beds is limited and first registered (and paid), first served.
No private rooms for two, sorry. The committee will allocate rooms – if you have a request to stay with someone, say so. You’re given your room number when you arrive and pick up your name tag.
The sauna is in a separate house with a room of six beds upstairs. The sauna stands by the lake, it’s good and heated with wood, for both Friday and Saturday nights.
You can pitch your own tent in the forest or set up a bedroll in the attic or a corner, for free.
FOOD & DRINK
The house has a kitchen you can use to cook your own meals. There is also a fridge, but competition for fridge space is tight.
We offer organised breakfast: cereal + yoghurt, bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, coffee, tea – eat as much as you can (for just 2.50 EUR).
We also offer organised lunch (soup, main dish of pork or chicken, dessert, a drink) on Saturday, but this is brought in by catering so you need to register and pay upfront a few days beforehand. The whole thing is just 9 EUR,
Dinner on Fri and Sat is up to you – usually people grill meat and sausages over the fire. The firewood is local, everything else you need to bring along – like if you want to use coal.
The closest shops are 12 km away, in the town of Polva, shops close at 10 PM. Selver and Säästumarket are next to each other. No shop or bar at the convention site.
Note that Estonia has just changed its currency to the Euro, so your Euros are good. All shops accept card payments.
Drinking alcohol is OK so long as you’re an adult and don’t get aggressive or stupid when drunk. In Estonia, alcohol is not sold between 10 PM and 10 AM, so stock up accordingly. If you come by boat, you can buy your drinks tax-free on the way, but in general alcohol is cheaper in Estonia than in Sweden or Finland even with taxes – though foreigners may want to buy special brands of liquor only available on the ferries.
Most fans speak (and read books in) either English or Russian or both. Most fans from North Estonia also speak (or understand) Finnish – South Estonians, not so much. Anyway, people are friendly and we can’t imagine language being a problem.
Around 80 people last year, some of them only for Saturday. But we are hoping for increased attendance this year. We have fans, writers, publishers, translators, all sorts of folks. The male-female ratio is roughly half and half. Some of these people are old enough they have their teenagers along. If you want to take a kid along, fine by us, so long as you keep an eye on what he/she does and take responsibility.
Everyone gets a name tag, so you don’t have to spend too much time asking for names.
We have some lectures and panels, three to four per day. Guest of Honour is Tiit Tarlap, a local Estonian science fiction author. You can suggest a lecture (given by you), too. You are also welcome to suggest films, that you may bring along yourself: we want to tell the fans about films they might never find on their own but what they should definitely look up (and watch).
Most of the programme will be in Estonian (some foreign lectures will be in English) but attending is of course voluntary and there will be plenty of people who can do translation, if you ask nicely. There will be other activities – you can e.g. browse the second-hand book and DVD fair (user-to-user, you may bring your stuff to sell), play board games (you can bring your own games), try a hand at D&D, live action role playing, watch films (in English or with English subtitles), enjoy the lake, forest, volleyball or take a nap. The programme will be finalised in July.
The site as no Internet connection as such, but attendees will have Internet connection devices with them to share with others. You may also use your own 3G connection (beware of roaming costs if you are from abroad).
The whole fantastic event consts just 20 EUR to attend (kids under 11 – free, youngsters 12-17 – 6 EUR), 6 EUR for two nights in a bed, 2.50 EUR per breakfast, 9 EUR for lunch (vegetable soup, pork shnitzel or chicken fillet, fruit salad, a drink).
Registration beforehand is necessary if you want to get a hot lunch on Saturday and sleep in a bed. Otherwise you can just show up, pay, get a name tag and that’s it.
You can make your own eating arrangements and set up a tent or bedroll for free and pay for attendance only, if the total sounds too much for you.
We expect Estonians to register via the website, but instead of setting up an interface in English we will take foreign registrations by e-mail. This makes is easier for everyone as we expect you will have some additional questions.
We’ll have more information up as it becomes available. You can help us spot holes by asking questions.
Estcon has a Facebook group – it’s in Estonian, but you’re welcome to join the discussion in English.
Contact Liisa Vesik for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile +3756687913
Ahrvid Engholm, from Sweden, who has attended previously and is planning to attend this time as well, has kindly agreed to be a contact person for Scandinavians. email@example.com