Furrstein: a furry convention at Hauenštejn Castle, Czechia
Our journey starts near Frankfurt am Main's main train station, where I pick up a friend. We head to Czechia, buying a vignette at the Czech border; arriving at Hauenštejn Castle, near the German border, after a four-hour drive.
This is it! A medieval castle, some parts of it still in restoration; furries with all their luggage waving to us and welcoming and greeting us in excitement. They are just as excited as we are.
All who wanted to participate in the games were lead to the chapel to be sorted into houses, as in Harry Potter; each fur is called one by one to the front, the famous speaking hat placed upon their heads. They had super sound with a Bluetooth mobile speaker, including radio-connected microphone.
It's my turn, the hat screams something in Czech, I get told by a person next to me, he said for myself.
"Juliolej!" "Get me down!" "Get me down!"
That friendly Czech furry next to me translated for me – every single thing the hat said for all participants. Wow, super cool.
I feel immersed. Even though they're speaking Czech, a language I don't understand. It doesn't matter. You get your translation and it's great.
It's dark at night – 22:00; ten o'clock. We only have our phones and the Lumos spell on them. Every house is sent out with a 10-15 minute delay, so you don't catch what the others find.
- Do not cross the bridge.
- Do not go uphill or downhill.
- Take a picture of all creatures that you find; a creature is a laminated photo that is pinned to the trees, branches, rocks, wherever.
This really is an adventure – we only have two phones, so not a lot of light. We wander around and find most if not all creatures, sometimes we find a Hogwarts teacher: "You just got yourself detention". Really cool game, especially in the dark at night.
A chess field is marked on the ground by ropes, just enough space for a person to stand in. Three houses on each side are grouped together to build a team in this game. One player from each team is chosen to play the actual game on a chessboard next to the Live Chess field.
The next day each house had to play various team games: archery, throwing balls to smash bottles, transferring eggs with oversized chopsticks, finding keys in the dark, using a rubber worm (plastic/elastic) to knock down plastic cups…
At the end we had to ask each Harry Potter-styled teacher who they were judging by their looks and if guessed right, they'd give out a small paper with a hint written on it, a letter in the Runic alphabet. (A full Runic alphabet and its corresponding Latin letters are in each room that we sleep in.)
With the correct word – I think it was "Mourek", usually a name for a tomcat; a generic male cat's name – we're allowed to visit the teacher called Umbridge, who resides atop the castle's tower. She isn't very popular among fans. Walking up there after having gone everywhere else in the castle is super exhausting.
To my surprise, my team (or "house") Juliolej is placed second of six. I got a T-shirt and a portrait of the teacher Gilderoy Lockhart as a prize. If the Harry Potter feeling hadn't gotten me yet, it definitely had now!!!
The next day there was a lot of time for interacting with the "non-furry" visitors of the castle in fursuit:
When's the group photo?
Oh, my English is very bad, it's after sokolni.
He calls his orga friend on the radio, who tells me in English what I want to know. This is amazing!