What is an EJC?

The European Juggling Convention (EJC) is the largest juggling convention in the world. I mention it a lot and decided to explain it a bit. The EJC has been running since 1978, when it was held in Brighton and had only 11 attendees. Last year the 40th EJC was held in Lublin, Poland, and roughly 3000 people attended. Every year it welcomes circus people, not just jugglers, from all over the world. For the last ten years attendance has been between 1200-7200 (usually depending on how central it is).

The green space at EJC 2017 Lublin, Poland.

A sign suggesting you enjoy your coffee rather than taking it to go in a disposable cup.

Every year the EJC is held in a different European city. Independent teams, guided by the European Juggling Association, bring their proposals forward to the General Assembly of jugglers who vote on locations. These teams then voluntarily give up their time to organise an EJC including shows, venues, discussions with local councils, advertising and much more.

Currently the EJC is nine days, including arrival and departure days. Camping is included in the price of your ticket (though some people book accommodation, and some do both). Tickets are available online from four-to-seven months in advance and are sold in “Phases”. The earlier you buy, the cheaper your ticket is and it helps the EJC team in booking things. Arrival and departure days being the exceptions (but not always), there are workshops from 9am ’til 8pm (and more) which are voluntarily led by attendees, a major evening show (or two, if it’s an especially big EJC), and a renegade.

You can find a handy guide on what to pack for the EJC, compiled by the team of the 2014 EJC held in Millstreet, Ireland, here!

Standing ovation in circus tent

A renegade is a late-night show for jugglers, like open mic. Anyone can get up and do a trick, and it isn’t necessarily circus-related. If the crowd likes your trick you win a shot of alcohol or sweets.

A sculpture built of juggling clubs.While the days have some structure to them, which is worth keeping an eye on especially at your first EJC, there are lots of other things people like to do; juggling outside, touring locally, eating and drinking, building sculptures, making other art, napping, swimming, academic discussions, video projects… It is still vacation time and the EJC is a very open and welcoming environment which is a chance to live freely without having to do too much.

The EJC is open to everyone – EVEN if you can’t juggle [yet]. If you enjoy fun and shows, it’s a great way to spend a week and a bit late July/early August. The 2018 EJC will be held in the Atlantic Ocean in São Miguel, an Azores Island of Portugal, July 28th to 5th of August. If you have any specific questions you will find lots of information on their website, Facebook and the EJA Twitter. You can also find lots of groups on Facebook, some even for specific countries. Each European country also has its own country contact/representative who’s job it is to provide you with information about the EJC!

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Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 7: Travelling to Zagreb, Croatia

To get to Zagreb from Dresden involved many train trips. I boarded a train to Wien, Austria about 9pm, Tuesday August 9th, and arrived there about 7am the next day.

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I’d had my interrail ticket taken upon boarding and had it returned to me, along with a chocolate croissant and a coffee (I’d been asked upon boarding did I like orange juice or coffee).

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My temporary travelling companions, two Danish people I’d shared the compartment with, parted ways. I checked I was on the right platform, made the most of the station Wi-Fi, and then boarded a train to Celje, Slovenia.

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My new temporary travelling companions were a couple from Belfast, who were travelling to Slovenia. Went between chatting with them, napping, playing a card game and wandering around the car. Later two older Austrian people joined us and gave out about our luggage arrangements.

Arrived in Celje a bit late.

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But made the next train; on to Đurmanec! Got checked by border control twice on this tiny two-carriage train, one of whom seemed somewhat suspicious of a lone Irish person travelling on small local trains to Zagreb.

Arrived in Đurmanec – and hit the language barrier hard. There was a lot of miming and pointing involved in telling me my next train would be here soon for Zabok.

Another small local train. I was the only one on it for the first few stops, travelling through the Croatian countryside. Then arrived in Zabok and straight onto the last train of the day for Zagreb. I was joined by a German person for this journey who happily entertained me and my poor German.

Arrived in Zagreb around 5pm! Here I was staying with a penpal I had met five years previously. We’d been in and out of contact through letters, Facebook and LinkedIn. They were in work when I arrived so I took some time to catch up via Wi-Fi. I also tried to use the bathroom in the station but sadly got shouted at for not knowing the currency correctly.

Got through to my pen-pal and got to their house after a few stops on the tram. We were both pretty tired so went to bed early after catching up.

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The next day, Thursday 11th of August, started with getting slightly lost and ending up at Jordanovac. Eventually found the number 9 tram and went a few stops and found my way again.

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Found the Dolac market and Zagreb cathedral.

Then casually followed a tour group from the cathedral to the Naive Art Gallery.

Then found the Botanical gardens which was the highlight of Zagreb for me.

Sat in front of the gallery in the green space and looked up a vegetarian place to eat.

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The internet recommended Zrno, which did good falafel and great pudding.

Friday was my last day in Zagreb. My penpal was also packed that morning to go on holidays in Budapest. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous that day so I stayed in my penpal’s apartment and tried to eat some of the food I’d been told to bring (as it would only go off while they were away), read Sandman and packed.

At 6pm I got the tram back to the train station and sat out in the green ’til it got buggy. I went inside the train station and soon had some stranger talking to me, trying to convince me to go on holidays with them and trying to buy me a drink.

I bought some books from the book stall in the station and sat down for a while to read, and got talking to someone from Poland. They were amused to hear that the biggest juggling convention in the world would be in Poland the following year.

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We boarded the train to Beograd, Serbia, late at night. My temporary companions in sleep were a German family of four.

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Travelling: 28th of July-24th of August – Part 9; Berlin, Germany (and Dublin, Ireland)

Friday the 14th

Before getting to Berlin I had to survive the 12-hour train journey from Budapest, Hungary. Like most long journeys, the first half was fine. The next quarter was okay. The last three hours were excruciating. I reckon I managed it only thanks to a very interesting individual who entertained me with stories of their life for about two hours. They had gotten on about half way through my now journey. They were from China, studied in Ireland, married a German person (who still lived in Germany), but worked in Czech Republic.

I arrived into Berlin at almost 11pm (after having been delayed for some reason) and I’d never been so happy to find myself in Berlin Hauptbahnhopf. I quickly made my way to the Hackendahl bar where my friend Aaron, who I was to stay with, was. They were finished serving food but let me order something anyway when they heard I’d been travelling all day!

My time in Berlin was very relaxed. I’d been there quite a few times before so I didn’t feel the need to do anything touristy or see anything. I spent a lot of time meeting up with people, juggling, and going to English comedy clubs (of which there are many in Berlin).

Saturday the 15th
The bank card dilemma:
I’d had a problem with my bank card in Budapest, Hungary, which AIB had been unable to resolve for me. I got no further with this issue in Berlin. I explained the situation [anew each time I rang AIB] and the eventually told me they could send me “emergency cash” which meant my own money from my account and sending it by Western Union. GREAT!
Except it would take them 48 hours to do that. So I essentially gave up and had to contact a family member and asked them to send money via Western Union (which took about an hour in real time).

Sunday the 16th
I contacted some of the jugglers I knew in Berlin, some of which I’d only met at the European Juggling Convention a week before. One of them suggested Victoria Park to me, which was conveniently near the Katakomben, a popular juggler-training space. I headed over, did a bit of juggling, then went onto the Katakomben where I met two Irish jugglers. I knew one of them, who was also visiting Berlin and staying with the other. The juggler I didn’t know invited me to their house for dinner!

Monday 17th
I met another friend, Fabian, in Ostkreuz. Another juggler, who had been doing his EVS at my youth circus club earlier that year! We then met up with Tom, who was currently doing his EVS in Shake, Cabuwazi, another youth circus. We wandered around and eventually ended up by the water in Treptower Park.

 

We then went to find the bar where Tom was doing some stand-up comedy that night! We were early so we went to another bar beforehand, where I ordered my first bier (it had to be Berliner Kindl). It turned out that another juggler we knew also did English stand-up in Berlin. The bar the stand-up night was meant to happen in turned out to be delayed opening, so most of the comedy night took place outside! It was a nice night out so everyone still stayed to watch.

There’s a lot of jugglers in Berlin, in case that wasn’t already apparent. So it shouldn’t be surprising when I say there was some juggling happening in the house when I returned that evening (the house of four people had three jugglers, previously four).

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Tuesday, the 18th
I went with Aaron and another one of the people in the house to a new juggling hall nearby.

Wednesday the 19th.
Aaron and I went to check out a Magic out a new Magic Museum in Berlin. We were both super excited, but it turned out to be more about mysticism and spirituality than magic. So we were a bit disappointed. But there was a magician at the end which made up for much of it. We then went to a disappointing hummus bar.

We passed by Tacheles, an art squat that had closed since I’d last visited, which made me pretty sad.

Thursday the 20th
I packed up my stuff and travelled from Aaron&co’s house to Tom’s house. All the other EVS people had left so he was living on his own now. I managed to take the longest route possible to his house by deciding to go all by tram, and  ended up waiting almost an hour on a very particular tram, when I could’ve made the journey much shorter by just taking the S-Bahn.

The last three days of my time in Berlin were juggling and seeing English stand-up comedy. On my final night I decided to go out with Aaron and Tom. We started at 8pm and continued until 5am when I had to return to Tom’s to collect my stuff and go to the airport. I had a very exciting time in the airport while I wasn’t fully sober and forgot to move my two pen-knives from my back-pack to my check-in luggage. I flew from first from Berlin to Düsseldorf.

I had a few hours to spend in Düsseldorf before returning to Dublin, Ireland. I spotted  Tesla car and picked up some biscuits for the people I was spending the night with in Dublin.

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I was sad to travel back and as we got closer to Ireland the clouds got steadily greyer.

Naturally it was raining in Dublin. And it took an hour and forty minutes for a bus, simply going from the airport to the city centre, to appear. However after a shower and a few hours to adjust to everyone speaking English again I travelled down the next day to Galway quite pleased.