What was supposed to be a day off turned out to be something else entirely. After waking up and spending some time on the internet, reading emails etc I needed to go to take a quick visit to the Press Center to sort out a logistics problem our delegation needed help with. They’ve got all these nice goodie bags for all accredited press (almost all countries have) and they needed some info on how best to bring them into the venue and distributing them. Since the security of the arena is so rigid (airport security) a bunch of boxes filled with bags with stuff (approx. 2000 bags altogether) can’t just be taken through any entrance but must be checked in through the Logistics Center there everything needs to be scanned and cleared by sniffer dogs before proceeding within the arena.
Whilst waiting for the staff at the Press Center Service Desk to get me this information and the contact details for the person in charge with whom I was supposed to talk to I sat down in the Press Center for a bit googling and gathering tips for our Australian delegation on where to enjoy the best Swedish Fika in town. They’re planning to do a social media feature later this week and I found a dozen alternatives for them to choose from, ranging from String to Vetekatten depending on what they’re after. My bet is they’re gonna choose Café Rival at Mariatorget thanks to the connection with former ABBA members Björn and Benny (since Aussies are generally huge ABBA fans) – I’ll guess we’ll find out later on…
Sitting and working at the Press Center and the Eurovision Bubble is so much more motivating than on your own back home. Everywhere are people you know with whom you share this special love for this event, and from time to time footage from the ongoing rehearsals are shown on big screens for everybody to watch. While being there I was able to watch the rehearsals from Norway, Georgia, Albania and Belgium on the screens, as well as plenty other artists in the flesh doing interviews or chatting with each other, including the two most likely winners according to the present odds, France’s Amir and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev. I just love being able to experience this world for real!
Leaving the arena, with a box full of programs and maps for the Chinese delegation, I had no interest of staying home taking an early night so I met up with some of my Delegation Host colleagues at Euro Fan Café/EuroClub for, what I thought, a quick chat and some food. As time quickly went by while sharing stories, memories and our mutual passion for this crazy contest more of us joined during the evening and I ended up staying for five and a half hours with these lovely and amazing people.
I must say, of all the things I’ve experienced so far during this adventure, this evening with you guys is my absolute favorite. I haven’t laughed this much or this hard for a long time – if ever! From feeling quite alone with my Eurovision obsession in my previous network of friends I have now found a whole bunch of awesome soulmates. And even though not the whole group are as nerdy as some of us I know you’ll forgive us when we’re getting too deep into the facts and trivia and that truly means a lot. Julle, Peeter, Åsa, Therese, Liza, Luca, Enis – I’m so greatful for whatever force that brought us together. For me, you are the essence of the Eurovision slogan #cometogether and I truly feel I’ve found new friends to last a lifetime – Love you guys ❤ (No, I didn’t drink anything but water…)
On my way home I passed the new NK window display unveiled yesterday. In six windows they’ve made a tribute to the six Swedish winners over the years, and it’s really well done I must say. If you have a chance to walk by it before May 22nd, do it!
So, what’s happened in the arena so far? Well, all the acts participating in the semifinals have now gone through their 1st rehearsals and tomorrow 2nd rehearsals will be on the agenda for all acts of the 1st semifinal. What’s interesting to see when the rehearsals are on is what happens to the polls and odds trying to predict the outcome of the contest. After each day’s rehearsals the journalists in the Press Center always do the daily press poll giving points to the best performances of the day. After the first round of rehearsals, according to these polls Armenia, Russia, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Estonia will qualify from the first semifinal and Ukraine, Israel, Australia, Serbia, Belgium, Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Belarus and Poland will make it through from the second.
In the betting lists Russia and France is still in the lead (France haven’t had their 1st rehearsal yet though and nobody’s seen what this will look like onstage and a good or bad staging can make all the difference so we’re eager to see what French Amir will bring to the stage…) but some participants have climbed this list like crazy since rehearsals started, mainly Ukraine who’s now in third place pushing down Australia and Sweden to fourth and fifth respectively… Let’s see if this list will change after tomorrow when France and Spain enter the arena for their 1st rehearsals.