Europe at its best
The very first BookCrossing Euregio-Meetingby owlet
January 2, 2005
Maastricht, the Netherlands. As you might know, Maastricht is located in the south of
the Netherlands and is very close to the German and Belgium borders; Luxembourg is a mere two hour ride away. The idea to have a Euregio-Meeting with German, Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg BookCrossers was therefore a logical one and came up during a meetup in Aachen, Germany. German BookCrosser pinardelrio and I decided to organize it.
We started by posting the idea in several fora and sending PMs to all the BookCrossers of the countries in the Euregio, also the inactive ones. While we expected about 20 to 30 persons, the response was overwhelming. More than 80 persons responded! This meant it would be quite a challenge to find a café able and willing to harbour all these bookcrazy people, specially in the December month when so many events are organized and gatherings take place. After a few refusals and fearing for the worst, I finally found the perfect location in the new and modern neighbourhood Céramique; cafe Ipanema in the Bonnefanten Museum, with the striking tower resembling a silver bullet, designed by the famous Italian architect Aldo Rossi, as shown below.
As the day came nearer, we grew more impatient and nervous (being the first time for me to organize such an event, I was feeling quite insecure; did I choose the right location, would the partipicants show up or would there be too many people, not enough books, would it rain or snow, thus ruining the mass release after the meeting, etc… I hardly slept the night before).
When the day finally arrived, we had almost 60 people on the "we're coming"-list and 10 on the "I'm not sure yet"-list. Because of the badges we made, we were able to count afterwards that about 45 people showed up, which made it a huge success in my book! People from near and afar (even from the USA, because rubyblue's sister chocic was on vacation in Europe!!) came pouring in and started dropping over a 100 books on two big round tables. Because the location was quite spacious, they could chat with each other seated around round tables or read quietly in a corner, as a few of them did. The conversations were very Babylonic, held in English, German, Dutch and French.
To our big surprise, even a reporter of a regional newspaper showed up! I did notify some press, but received no answer and this was a newspaper I didn't notify. He was very enthusiastic and amused by all the books and the people willing to travel up to 4 hours in the train to meet other booklovers and swap books with "strangers". The result of his interview was a very nice and positive article about BookCrossing in which he truly captured the spirit of the site and the community. He even took a book to release, which -unfortunately- hasn't been journaled yet.
After a few hours and a lot of (book) talk, the remaining party decided to gather all the books still on the tables, put them in protecting bags and walk to the historic centre of Maastricht, leaving a BookCrossing trail of books behind. The group had fun taking photos of the released books, wedged on sculptures or in the horns of a deer at the Christmas Fair.
We separated in two groups and my group concluded the evening settling outside (!) for dinner, because no restaurant could accomodate 11 people. Luckily, the terrace was heated and only our toes were frozen.
All in all, this first BookCrossing Euregio-Meeting was really nice and we'll definitely organize a new one next year, only then in Aachen and the year after that hopefully in Liège, Belgium!! We hope to welcome more Belgian and Luxembourg participants then,
because the delegation of these two countries was unfortunately limited to one person each this time :-)
I want to thank pinardelrio for organizing the event with me and all the partipicants for coming all the way to Maastricht and making the meeting such a huge success! I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did and that the next meetings will be as big a success.