From Dubai to Baku
Melissa Bayly is originally from Australia, she works for Emirates airlines and lives in Dubai in the UAE. She is making daily blogs from Baku. Her interest started in the contest ten years ago. She explains "It started in 2002, I was watching a documentary in the build up to the contest held in Estonia. I watched the contest that year and then kept on watching year after year. I finally got up the courage to go to the Oslo edition in 2010, this is my third and now I don't ever see a year when I won't go!."
It is quite difficult for Melissa to watch the contest in Dubai, she adds "There is very little coverage in Dubai, in the years when I haven't been I have watched here on Eurovision.tv actually, or sometimes my friends can pick it up on satellite television, in the past, we have watched at a friends place on Serbian television, and thrown a party."
Many Eurovision songs recorded by South African artists
Roy Van Der Merwe each year attends the Eurovision Song Contest, and since 1995 has been promoting and getting songs recorded in the Afrikaans language from the contest in his homeland of South Africa.
Roy told us about the biggest Eurovision cover hit in South Africa, adding "The biggest hit we covered was Iceland 1991, the song Nina. It was recorded by an artist called Bles Bridges. It sold over 125,000 copies in South Africa. Unfortunately he died in a car accident in the early 2000's but each year Iceland always ask me if we are going to do another song, but we have yet to find anyone to cover them as well as Bles Bridges."
Roy went on to predict which songs he thought could be the most successful in South Africa from this years competition. He said "I think the song from Litesound of Belarus, it's 100% South African style. Another one is the Swedish song, but we would need to find a more middle of the road way of arranging that one."
First fan travelling from New Zealand to Eurovision
Sophie Wilson is the only fan who has travelled from New Zealand to this years Eurovision Song Contest as part of the OGAE International fan club. She hails from Auckland, and explained how her love for Europe's Favourite TV Show began. "I have been a fan only very recently since 2007. The contest is not broadcast at all in New Zealand. I came across it online and then realised it's the competition that brought us Abba and Celine Dion. I just love the variety of acts and diversity of the songs."
It took 25 hours of flying for Sophie to get to Baku, on four different flights!. When she saw the First Semi-Final show yesterday, Sophie talked about which act impressed her the most and said "The Russian grannies came over best of all, being there and seeing what they did live on stage, I was going crazy myself in the hall!."
There is no fan base in New Zealand that Sophie is aware of as of yet, but she is intending to meet with the Australian fans in Baku this week.
Crazy Australian Eurovision parties
Belinda Conn works for the Australian government and is from Canberra, Australia. She is here together with her friend Paul Bostock, who hails from Brisbane. Paul says "I work in a supermarket, and it's our quietest time of the year so it's great for me that coincides with Eurovision." Paul is here in Baku working for the ESC Insight website.
During the weekend of the Eurovision Song Contest, there are many parties which go on, Belinda told us "I've held a few parties in my time back in Australia, where everyone has to dress up in their favourite countries national costume. A friend of mine is holding a party this weekend where everyone has to take some food from a competing country!."
Paul told us about his journey to Baku, saying "It only took 18 hours flying time, one non stop flight which is making most of the British jealous as they took two or three flights! It's actually the shortest flight to Eurovision we could possibly have from Australia." Paul considers Russia, Ireland, Norway and Denmark to all have chances of winning, especially if they qualify and are drawn late in the running order. Belinda thinks Denmark or Italy could do it.
Belinda is on a four month round the world trip, and has managed a bit of a Eurovision Song Contest pilgrimage in the last weeks. She explaied "I was in Jedward's home town last weekend actually, that was fun and I saw Nina Zilli perform in Italy before coming here, it's been great to do these things."
Four flights travelling from the USA to Baku!
Samantha Ross has travelled from the USA to be here this year. She is also working for ESC Insight website, where she is largely responsible for interviewing the artists. Samantha lives in St Paul, Minnesota. She told us "It took four flights to get here, I flew from Minneapolis to New York, then New York to London, London to Istanbul and finally Istanbul to Baku, now that's dedication for you!." Emma Backfish is also American, but is currently living in Brighton in the United Kingdom. Her work in Baku is largely for the ESC Xtra website where she has been reporting on the rehearsals since the first day. When commenting on the situation for fans in the USA Emma adds "We pretty much all know each other, it's a small community."
It is not possible to watch the Eurovision Song Contest live in the USA, but Samantha says of this "It is my personal mission to get Eurovision shown on American television!"
From a personal point of view, Emma would have liked to see Iceland or Austria win the competition, and she admits to being very disappointed that Austria's Trackshittaz didn't make the Final. Samantha thinks that the competition is very open, but rates Italy, Sweden and Germany as having a great chance.