34 hours in Vienna

Europe, Uncategorized

As of Tuesday I hadn’t been out of the country since December last year. Me. Mary Mandefield; travel addict had not used her battered, overused passport in nearly 3 months. Fiercely unacceptable.

My sister has been swanning around Germany for a few weeks on a Tina Turner tribute tour (that’s a lot of T’s) and Chloe and I had been looking at flights to go and see one of her shows in April with not much luck. Most of the venues were in small towns far from airports and trains to the various places seemed to cost more than the actual flight. Long. In the mean time, G suggested I head to Vienna to see the show there and in the same trip I could spend time with my cousins and aunty and uncle who happened to live there. Good shout G. What else do you do when you’re pretty much unemployed and cheap Easyjet flights are calling your name?? I booked flights the next evening.
A week later and I’m packing my bags to go. I changed my euros at the post office (how do thy always manage to get you buy more than you intended?!), sorted out my hair (currently rocking some very home made looking Senegalese twists), rummaged through wardrobes to track down tights and headscarves that G had asked for, shopped for chewing gum and porridge for Gs friends and managed to fit all this and my clothes into a tiny wheelie case.
Flying from Gatwick is my family’s pet hate. Whenever any of us are looking to leave the country dad is quick to bellow ‘as long as you don’t go from Gatwick!’. Yeah yeah it’s a pain to get to. We get it Kev! Because I was working Monday evening, had to be back for a training course on Thursday morning and Georgie was performing on Tuesday night, I didn’t have much wiggle room in terms of flights. So I booked a flight from Gatwick on Tuesday morning and sorted a train from St. Albans at 5am so no one had to drive me for more than 10 minutes. After 3 hours sleep I was up and dropped off at St. Albans station. With tickets in hand I turned towards the departures board. Cancelled. All of them. Literally every train was cancelled and 2 lucky ones that remained (not going to my destination mind you) were delayed by over an hour. Argh, dad had already left and was on his way to work in Oxford. I didn’t have another choice but to phone him and luckily he agreed to come pick me up and drive me to the airport. I couldn’t even ask him to drive me to London because all the trains from there were cancelled too. The drive was dull and rainy but I’m very lucky he could take me and only moan about me booking flights from Gatwick a couple of times… Thanks paps!

Checking in, boarding and the flight were all pretty standard and I reached Vienna at 11ish. I’ve done this a few times where I arrive at my destination and expect whoevers picking me up to be waiting at arrivals for me. Nahhh, Georgie and Marcia were nowhere to be seen. So I kinda shuffled to Macdonalds to get a sprite and saw a text from G to say they were on their way. I stepped outside to see where I could meet them and the cold hit me like an icy truck. And I’d left my gloves in the bottom of my suitcase. Cool.
After a while of Marcia driving around not having a clue where I was, we eventually found each other. Georgie explained how they’d gone shopping, showing me her new sunglasses from mango that now I really want. But have nowhere to wear.

We drove through town and stopped at Vapianos for lunch. Vapianos is one of my fave restaurants because if you’re super picky like me you can tailor make your meal and not have to worry about finding a rogue mushroom in your risotto that you really didn’t want. If you haven’t been before, basically you get given a card to which they charge your meal to and you pay off when you leave. They have little stations for pizza, pasta and salad and you watch the chefs making the food I front of you from scratch. I went for a salmon carbonara which was so yum but mega filling and Marcia and I ended up taking ours home in some fancy Vapiano Tupperware.   
We went for some quick cosmetic shopping before we went home. My cousin Li was there to greet us, we never used to see each other much but now we’re older we’re obviously quite happy to get a 2 hour flight for a quick visit. So the last time I’d seen her was last summer before I went to Kenya. G unpacked my case and put my stuff into hers because she wanted to swap suitcases. I took a nap on the sofa whilst watching Austrias version of ‘say yes to the dress’ which is so cheap and tacky. They make the brides balance on a teeny plastic stool to show off their dresses to their friends. I woke up to my other cousin Bo coming home from school. I don’t think he realised I was coming ‘Mary what are you doing here!?’. We had pasta for dinner and rushed out to the theatre across town to see the show Georgies performing in; Tina Turner the Rock Legend. The theatre was so much bigger than expected and the audience was a casual 2000 people!?  

 Our seats were great and the first half of the performance was really good. There was a live band, 2 narrators, 2 backing singers, 3 dancers and of course Tina. The cast were mainly German; one singer was a semi finalist on The Voice waheyyyy, the saxophonist was American and obviously Georgie and the other 2 dancers are from the UK.   
The second half was just as energetic and by the end the whole audience were on their feet singing along to ‘simply the best’ and subsequently that song is still stuck in my head 24 hours later. My favourite part was when it appeared on the screen behind them ‘lifss not about the journey. It’s about the desTINAtion’ looooool very punny. After the show you could meet the stars of the show and get autographs. 

  Obviously we had to get Georgie’s and some photos. Marcia and the fam left to go home whilst I waited around for Georgie to change and take off her make up. While I was sitting in the foyer there was a group still hanging around getting photos with Tina. One woman held her hand, looked straight into her eyes and passionately sang the whole chorus of ‘simply the best’ before trailing off and getting visibly emotional. ‘I am crying because I’m just so happy to be here with my idol’ she probably said next (my understanding of the German language is limited so you have to give me room to improvise) and she launched herself onto Tina hugging and kissing her. Calm down gal, she’s not the ACTUAL Tina Turner. 
Georgie lead us onto the tour bus (look at me. Hanging on a tour bus. Who am I) and we travelled to the hotel where the cast were staying that night. It was very fancy and I loaded up on sweets from reception (imagine Ross with the pine cones) and made use of the lush shower with giant shower head. Georgie headed to reception to get some water and a toothbrush for me but didn’t return for a solid 45 minutes. She came back apologising telling me about how the guy on reception was also a performer and was talking about working with Brian Friedman, Sisqo and whoever else. If you didn’t know already, dancers like to talk.   
We both had such a good nights sleep because hotel beds trump all other beds. In the morning we watched 2 Broke Girls in German and took a walk down the road to buy tissues and more water. Rock n roll. After a solid 3 course breakfast and nabbing some muesli and fruit for the road (G not me) I waved G off on the tour bus as she was off to her next destination and I waited in the foyer for my aunty Marcia to meet me. She works at the UN which happened to be a 2 minute walk away; I could’ve met her in there but security are scary and I’d undoubtedly get lost. 
‘Ive found a job for you!’ She’d text me. In the car on the way to the shopping centre she told me about a 3 month digital executive job a Oxfam I should apply for but the annoying thing was that the deadline was tonight. ‘Lets go shopping then you can apply when we get home’. Deal. We went to Burgerista for lunch and shared a lush bacon and cheese burger with chunky chips and drank very Pinterest worthy pink lemonade. A mooch around the supermarket, h&m, Zara, mango and kiko resulted in us having a fair few bags to take back to the car.       
Dickhead drivers seem to be out and about all over Europe this week (I feel like everyone I’ve shared the road with back home lately has serious commitment problems when it comes to driving like a normal person?!) and some old lady frantically weaves past us in the car park then a guy followed and sped straight through our car and the car in front. With 2 kids in the back looking frantic and angry at us because we physically couldn’t move to get out his way. Hey world, let’s take a moment from all the serious issues going on and focus on using our indicators, not cutting each other up and generally driving properly ugghhhh. Global development starts with the simplest changes!
Li was home when we got back and kindly let me use her laptop. An updated CV, cover letter, references, a skills questionnaire and more details filled in and I’d finally completed the application. Fingers crossed now eh.
Bo came home, Marcia bought the dog home and we sat on the floor chatting for a bit before we headed to their nearest train station. I bought a BaumKuchen (Baum = tree. kuchen = cake. The thing is it’s made on is wooden, geddit?!) from a little cart outside the train station. It’s basically dough twisted around a thick rolling pin and heated until golden brown and a bit crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside yum. Mine was then coated in melted chocolate (shokolade) and rolled in cinnamon (zimt). They put it in a little paper bag but obviously the outside is all chocolatey so it’s a bit of a mess to eat really. But really freaking delicious.   
My train to the airport was super speedy and the whole journey has been lovely and uneventful. Mainly because it’s a very quiet Wednesday evening. 
Oh I forgot, before I got to the my gate some salesman from a cosmetic shop in duty free called me over. I’d resisted buying make up and perfume so far and was feeling smug about it, so wasn’t intending on purchasing this random lotion he seemed to be waving in my face. But I was mega ahead of schedule and it was too awkward to now turn and walk away. ‘Hello gorgeous lady, ugh you are so beautiful. Argh yaaaas come and see what amazing product I have for you today!’ ‘Yeah I don’t have money to spend on cosmetics sorry hun’ ‘nooooo darrrling you don’t need to buy I just want to speak to you’ to be fair to him, it was so quiet in the airport that he probably did just want an excuse to speak to someone. ‘So tell me about your job in modelling world!’ ‘Yeah, I’m not a model’ ‘WHAT. Darling why? Is it because you’re too busy with your boyfriend?’ ‘I don’t have a boyfriend’ ‘UGHHH it might be because you’re not using this product’… Maybe he’s right on the money, he’s found out where millions have been going wrong. 
He slathered lotions onto my hand spread serums on my wrist all the while speaking at a million words a minute about how fab I was and how sexy my British accent was. And in the next sentence telling me about his beautiful girlfriend in Korea. ‘Maybe you could be girlfriend number 2?’ Maybe not. But you can’t knock a guy for trying. When I insisted I wasn’t buying this product he told me I could leave after I gave him 2 kisses. Nah thanks. ‘One kiss and a hug?’. Surprisingly no. ‘Ok, just a hug then’, stop chatting rubbish and get me some free samples. He excitedly ran off and bought out a box of Toffifee. I don’t want your confectionary babes, I gots to get a flight!
I went and settled at my gate, they soon started evacuating us because there was a minor bomb threat. Well they’d found an unattended suitcase, I think an old man eventually realised he’d just forgotten to wheel it along with him and we could go back to waiting for the flight. The flight was standard. Pretty empty so I have room to spread out and get told off by the flight attendant for not putting my phone on flight mode. Does it even need to go on flight mode if it doesn’t have a sim?! Is it radiating any kind of waves? Meh, dunno. 
I’ll land soon. Get a train home and hopefully be in bed by 1am. Sorry for the rambly post – basically, I had a very chilled 2 days in Vienna and enjoyed seeing G perform. Reading this I reckon some of you think I’m very un cultured and should’ve spent more time enjoying Austrias finest sights. Bear in mind I’ve been to Vienna about a trillion times; it’s beaut but the weather is miserable and I’d rather chill with my family than trudge around a museum I’ve been to before. 
Bye Austria, hiya UK. Tomorrow I’m heading into Central London to start my 2 days of training to be a ONE charity youth ambassador! As you all should know, I love me a bit of charity work and this seems to be a really interesting scheme so I’m buzzing to get started and meet everyone else. I think there’s a round 50 of us, training at the Groucho club and staying in a hotel near Kings Cross. A photographer from The Guardian will be there along with some great guest speakers so you’ll be sure to get an equally long blog post this weekend explaining how it all went. March is shaping up to be a good’un. 
Mary x 

  P.s. Vielen dank Marcia, Bernd, Bo and Li for hosting me, feeding me and carting me around! Ich liebe dich lots and lots