So this was the big one. The most epic journey we’d ever embarked on as a band. 1000 miles there and 1000 miles back through 6 countries for 1 single gig and we were going to do it all in our trusty van.
We broke down in Dover. The AA man told us we had a cracked Manifold. He said it wouldn’t damage the van to carry on but that the crack would prevent the pressure build up required to activate the turbo. If you’re not a mechanic this basically means ‘dudes, your very long journey just got a lot longer’. We didn’t really notice the problem in Belgium because the power only disappeared when you went up-hill. When we got to Germany however something else that was bad happened inside the engine and we suddenly sounded like a tractor. We slowed to as little as 30mph on really steep hills, which is quite terrifying on roads with no speed limits and lots of new Audi’s with Germans in them.
6 countries and 24 hours later we rattled up to the front door of our hostel now sounding like a heavy artillery vehicle. We could have kissed the doorman when he handed us a bucket full of cold ones and our spirits were lifted somewhat. After a few beers and laughs it was 5:30am so we parked the van and went to bed. We had arrived!
When we woke up the van was gone. We didn’t know where it had gone but it was very much not there. We stood in the street staring at the space it had been for some time but this didn’t seem to be helping so we went to the hostel reception to ask them if they new where it was. They didn’t but said it had probably been towed. They made a call and confirmed that it had. This was very sad. We really needed that van for two reasons. Firstly, it had all of our instruments in it and we had a gig that evening. Secondly, we were 1000 miles from home and none of us particularly wanted to live in Austria. We booked a taxi to take us to the compound so we could speak to the people who had stolen our vehicle. We agreed a rate with the taxi man and an hour later arrived at a grim looking car park surrounded by razor wire. Sadly it turned out that the taxi man was a lair and a thief and who charged us a lot more then we’d agreed. It was about then that I started to get a headache.
It turned out the ‘people’ who ran the compound weren’t very nice. They told us we couldn’t have our van because we didn’t have the correct paperwork. We told them we could email it over from England but they said that they don’t accept emails and we’d have to fax it. We told them that unfortunately we didn’t have access to a fax machine because it wasn’t 19 fucking 80 and they reiterated that we couldn’t have our van back. I have never hit a woman before but at that moment I really really wanted to. After 3 hours, £25 worth of phone calls and 250 Euro’s to release the van they finally gave us our keys back. The van now sounded like a space rocket. The headache worsened.
Despite our twat nav being a twat and hitting Friday night bank holiday traffic the catalogue of disasters ended there. The cavalry was waiting for us at the venue; a couple of guys from a local garage who fixed our van for 150 Euro’s. After we’d sunk a few beers we sound checked and then sunk a few more for good measure. By this point the headaches had subsided and the gig was a success. Needless to say we all enjoyed a very well earned drunken evening out eating sausages with cheese in and chatting with the charming people of Vienna. We all woke up with more headaches, feasted on bread and ham, drank coffee, got back in the van and drove 1000 miles home.
So that was that. We drove, we saw, we floundered, we overcame and we learnt a few valuable lessons along the way. We would certainly recommend Vienna but you might do well to fly there!