Thursday, January 25, 2007

IFFR Getting There

On my way to Rotterdam for the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), left the house early in the morning to catch the 8:30 am flight to Chicago, then to Brussels. I arrived at 8:00 in the morning the next day, Rotterdam time. The time change is 9 hours, so either I arrived at 11:00 pm Seattle time or I left at 5:30 pm Rotterdam time. Either way, I got 4 to 5 hours of sleep, which seems like it was pretty good.

Upon arriving in Brussels, I met up with Northwest Film Forum program director Adam Sekuler, who is also a programmer for experimental films at SIFF. We traveled to the airport together (thank you, Heidi), but he transferred in New York to Brussels when I transferred in Chicago. We arrived in Brussels within 10 minutes of each other.

After getting our bags, it was time to figure out how to get to Rotterdam. The easy part was buying a train ticket to Rotterdam from the airport, costing a mere 25 Euros. Then nothing was marked with anything that was on our tickets, so we asked and were directed to track 1, to Brussels-North. We got off there and looked for any mention of Rotterdam, but no luck, so we asked again and they said take the train to Amsterdam. Of course. We found that, and when we got on that train the conductress told us we’d be changing trains at Antwerp-Berchem. Why not, eh? Once there, we had a straight shot through the farmland and the green scenery to Rotterdam.

Once we got to Rotterdam, things didn’t quite fall into place like I’m used to. We find the Metro station, and there’s ticket purchasing machines that we interact with, but none of them have the names of either of the stations that we need to get to. A helpful Metro employee sees our confusion, asks if we have any Euro coins (not enough) and brings us up to the separate Metro ticket counter. They don’t take credit cards, but I changed some money over, and we buy our tickets. The Metro woman explains that, before I enter, I need to fold the ticket after number one so it time stamps onto the second strip because I’m only going one zone. Adam needs to fold after the two and stamp the time onto number three because he’s going two zones. Make sense? Not to me, neither. Maybe if I could read Dutch it would make more sense.

We split up and agree to meet at “de Doelen,” the festival’s headquarters. I check into the EuroHotel, only to discover that the room is the size of a single occupancy dorm room: Twin bed, desk, wooden armoire thing standing in for a closet, nightstand, TV. What makes it better than a dorm room is the fact that there’s a bathroom and shower included. Ah well, all the more reason to stay out and see more movies.

I meet Adam at my Metro stop (my hotel is on one off those crazy, old-European angled streets that doesn’t feel like it’s on the same plane of existence as the rest of the city, and too hard to explain how to get to at this point) and we decide to walk to “de Doelen.” We walk to the next big intersection and take a right. Just like my map says. But apparently we didn’t go “right” enough. We get a little lost, but it’s a nice day, and we find our way back to the festival headquarters.

And you know what? When it comes right down to it, the Rotterdam weather has been quite nice today, sunny and in the low 40s. And somehow everything that’s green, like the grass and the leaves that are still on trees, everything is extra green. Very pretty.

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