1 Getting to Austria

I know, I know. TEFL came up again and I dropped right off the WordPress radar. There are reasons for that, like Austria takes priority over keeping my blog up to date (which I assume you understand), but also because TEFL is slightly more mentally consuming than plastering, unemployment, working in a factory or landscape gardening. Still, I have some stories I can share:

I flew out to Vienna on 27th January. I woke up at 3am (and no, I haven’t made that up; there actually is a 3am) to make a flight at 7.30am. We got onto the plane, and it barely made it to the UK’s east coast before we (all the passengers, the air crew and I) heard an announcement:

“Can a member of the cabin crew please come to the cockpit immediately?!

“Immediately”? I’m not scared of flying, and I continued to read Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl. I was more concerned with how adult an adult book Roald Dahl, the celebrated children’s author, could write: adultery, nameless sex, aggression and psychosis inducing Viagra, suicide (graphic, it made me uneasy) and the sheer heartlessness of all his characters. However, the word “immediately” set the entire plane abuzz with panic. No one wanted there to need to be that much urgency when they are in a pressurised metal tube thousands of feet in the air travelling several hundred miles an hour. I understand that.

The pilot eventually announced that the landing gear wasn’t retracting, which it should do. So we turned round. We travelled a complete circle back to London Heathrow and we waited. And we waited. And then the Emergency Services (fire brigade) turned up… and I pondered to myself whether perhaps I should have panicked a little more in the pressurised tube hurtling through the upper atmosphere. And we waited. I could have had a lie in.

Half way through my book the pilot announces that they have found a different plane for us to make the journey in. I couldn’t believe my luck, in 23 years I have never just found a plane. The new plane parked up right next to our broken plane; there were literally two wing-lengths between the two planes; basically no distance at all; less than 100 meters. So we took a bus from one plane to another.

The new plane was actually an old plane, i.e. the insides were a little grubbier and a little more beaten up. I wondered (nay, hoped!) that we would be compensated with a bigger breakfast. But no such luck: a croissant and a coffee. Anyway, this old plane was the plane that could, and it flew us to Vienna. The whole rhythm of the day was starting to improve. As a group (because I travelled with my EiA group) we found our luggage in record time, we gathered into our travel groups effortlessly, those who needed to made a trip to the toilet did, quick register and we lost a person. Oh, who needs rhythm anyway? Some people had seen him about, but now he was nowhere to be seen. His luggage wasn’t on the carousel. He’d gone. We lost him.

Our group, minus one, pottered off to the Vienna Metro system to start our journey to Eisenstadt (“they’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard”). Eisenstadt is The Unfindable City. It’s not on the Metro Maps, trains don’t announce the Eisenstadt stop, and despite the fact that Eisenstadt is a regional capital, there are at least 2 changes between Vienna and it. But because it’s not on the map, it takes a lot more than that.

I finished Switch Bitch (which I started on this same journey) and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t benefit from trigger warnings. Then I had a little sleep on the Metro. Then we took two taxis to the Hotel Burgenland. Nice place, wonderful staff, swimming pool and a sauna. But unlike what I had gotten very used to in Southeast Asia, no free Wi-Fi. The lost man had made it to the hotel faster than us, something he seemed pleasantly smug about. That’s a good thing, because one would understand if actually he was lost and scared.

Welcome to Austria. Teaching tomorrow.

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