Friday, July 14, 2006


I did something yesterday that makes me feel like I've cheated. Maybe because I broke a promise I should have kept or went against the plan I had mapped out. Not that I was particularly obligated to not do this or had signed some sort of guarantee saying that I wouldn’t do this, but it does feel as if I cheated. I rushed into something that was quick, easy and unsatisfying. I didn’t even have a chance to break a sweat before I got to my destination.

Of course, I'm talking about catching a train rather than riding my bike, so get your mind out of the gutter.

Here’s the story: I contacted a whole bunch of people between Linz and Vienna in the hope I could get a place to stay. I’ve been organising my accommodation about 2 weeks in advance so far, just so my hosts have time to consider my And for a week, all I got back was “sorry. I’m in New York” or “it’s not a good time” or just plain old nothing. Then on Wednesday I received half an invite from Dominik to stay in Saint Polten, which is about 140km from Linz. Why it was half an invite was I could only come on the condition that I join Dominik in a tent for the weekend at the Nuke music festival. At the same time I received his email, I got an invite to go to Amsetten, about 80km from Linz, but only from Saturday. This meant 2 more days in Linz. I had already been to the Arts Electronica museum (highly recommended), but I hadn’t tried Hitler’s favourite cake yet, so I was torn.

I didn’t have much time to make my choice, so I went with the more adventurous path. I quickly packed my stuff, said my hurried goodbyes and left Martyna and Fernando’s place, in the hope I would make the 1:31pm train to St Polten. However, on the way to the train station, the joint between my bike and the trailer broke, and ate up any remaining time I had left. I arrived at the station just as my desired train was leaving and felt a little bummed. All worked out ok, because the next train to leave for St Polten, was a slightly slower but drastically cheaper alternative local train. It did involved two rather clumsy transfers at stations, getting the “Schnell, Schnell” treatment from the conductors whilst trying to find the right carriage for the bike and vending machines that only accept 50 Euro cent coins, but I got there in the end.

Once I arrived in St Polten, I was greeted at the station by Dominik, who whisked me out of the station and back to his flat to dump my stuff. He had a photo pass hanging from his neck for the Nuke festival and I asked him what he was shooting with, assuming he had a wizbang Digital SLR I would get tech lust for. He pulled a little 2 megapixel point and shoot out of his pocket and I immediately offered him my much loved D60 for the job. For some reason I said; “Don’t send a man into battle with a spoon”, the meaning of which being lost by even the best English speaker. I gave him a crash course in how to operate the camera, giving him the 50mm prime for the best low light results. He explained where his tent was and took off to catch the Frames, who were playing quite early. I took a shower in his sanitation box, finding the little jets on the walls to be more like needles than a soothing water massage.

I ventured to the festival site, hoping to get in without having to spring for a 40Euro ticket. I had a ticket stub from one of Dominik’s friends, but when I presented it at the gates the security guys pointed out that it was missing the vital piece that would get me in. I was fine with having to return to the flat to figure out how to operate the TV, but a group of girls behind me in the line piped up and said that they may have a magical leftover free ticket. All I had to pay was 3 Euro for the privilege - which was a compulsory donation to the local kids hospital – and I was in. I followed the signs to the campsite and at the same moment I realised I had left Dominik’s map with directions back at the flat, I bumped into him with one of his friends. I explained my good fortune with the ticket. I asked him how the camera was working out, and he started waxing lyrical about its super powers and how he has now made up his mind to finally buy one.

We got to Dominik’s camp site, which was odd in itself, as he only lived 3km from the festival. He said that he preferred camping at the festival site and hanging out with his friends over returning to his flat each night, as this was part of the whole experience. Fair enough. I was handed a beer and told to sit down and drink. A friend of Dominik’s arrived and presented me with a bottle of Fosters, in an attempt to console any homesickness I might have. “I heard a kangaroo was coming to stay”. I pointed out that while I was grateful for his effort, no one in Australia actually drinks Fosters, that the label says “Australia’s Famous Beer” and not “Favourite Beer” and that even though it says “Imported” on the bottle, it had only come from France. I thanked him all the same and put the Fosters to one side, enjoying a can of a cheap and tasty local brew.

I ventured into the venue and caught a bit of Adam Green, who seems to be one of those “acts of the moment” here in Austria. His ironic crooning sounded a bit too much like a group of IMOL gents at a karaoke night, so I ventured outside to grab another beer from the boot of one of Dominik’s friend’s car. Here I explained what a mullet haircut is and the concept of a bogan. I did learn the Austrian equivalent, but the beer has robbed me of those memories. Heading back towards the venue to catch the Strokes, Dominik offered me his photo pass saying that I knew my way around the camera better than he did and was more likely to get some better shots. Anyway, he had been looking forward to the show for a while and said that he preferred to be in the mosh pit for the first three songs rather than worrying about aperture and iso speeds. What a nice guy. The photos weren’t really that good, but I had fun taking them.

The Strokes seemed a little bored with it all, but it was all good. Their songs are catchy and easy to sing along to. Plus, this is St Polten’s first music festival ever, so the kids were lapping it up anyway they could. I had fun jumping around like an idiot and singing along to the bits of the songs I knew. Afterwards we went back to the campsite and sat around chatting about random stuff until about 2am. I found that being an Australian here in Austria is quite a novelty and I got to have a few laughs with some people who have visited oz and had Vegemite thrust upon them on arrival. When I asked why Austrian want to go to Australia, all the answers included some sort of reference to surfing and beaches.

I feel a bit bad that I left Linz so quickly, as Martyna and Fernando were top people and we had just got to that comfortable conversation and beer drinking stage of our Hospitality Club relationship. I have a feeling though that we will see each other again as they are looking to do their own world trip in the next couple of years. If you’re reading this guys, thanks for the accommodation and the smiles.

1 comment:

shit happens said...

sorry for the fosters-try ;) but when you people are eating vegemite I thought you'd drink fosters too..
see ya tomorrow!