Cats and Dogs

One of the danger zones in Europe (cities I colour, red) in terms of finding fresh milk at midnight is Paris. Luckily, I have a habit of grabbing the spare milk from the flight from the galley, Liz hands it to me as we ‘deplane’, a word I shake my head at each time I reluctantly use it, it having etched its way into my meagre vocabulary.
Back to the morning..our first three city day in a while starts in Vienna. We seem to have been here a while now and it feels like the right time to be checking out. The hotel chose this morning to test their inner stairwell fire safety system which blasts air through the core of the building so as to prevent potential fire from spreading inward. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed such high velocity fans in action. All the inner doors were closed, the elevators put out of action whilst they switched them on. For hours. You had to be careful opening doors as they would really slam shut due to extensive pressure difference. The sound was quite unnerving as air whistled under every door in the building. Outside the weather has finally turned once more and it’s raining cats and dogs. We queue up at the front desk to pay our extras bills and off we trundle once more to Vienna GA terminal. The plane is waiting and Liz is onboard ready to serve up our light salad lunches. Most of us are ravenous since visits to the gym these days are de rigueur. I opt for a light Greek salad and cannot resist a very small slice of dark sourdough bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic. Sipping San Pellagrino from the bottle, we descend almost as soon as we reach 30,000 ft and drop gracefully through the cloud layer which has seemingly covered all of Southern Germany and Austria today. As we drop below the cloud, we see that it’s raining here too but that does little to diminish the beauty of this Alpine landscape.
A couple of plane panoramas. The countryside and the Range Rover convoy being led by a follow-me BUS?
Here we see the Red Bull hanger (apparently), Jim and Mike share a joke on the bus to the plane in Vienna, Manfred Frank whose company ‘Stars and Cars’ cater for our driving requirements…and a star-cloth.
Salzburg is a small, sleepy town when compared with most of our destinations. It’s a very old town first settled in by the Celts in the 5th century BC. It’s name means ‘Salt Castle’ and is derived from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach River, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century, as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers.
9 minutes after landing we were at the venue, sniffing out catering in a pre-show ritual which results in a bowl of soup, The soup today was Paprica, Beef and potato and was an example of re-use of the goulash from two days ago. Chris told me that it tasted so good because it had marinated for the two days. It DID taste good. Here’s a glimpse of the crackling and some delicious shallots.
Ambience mics at the front of stage…
We sound checked, readied our stage shirts and ate dinner. Today’s menu was typically frustrating as the choice between Thai Chicken Curry, Roast Pork with mega crackling, Delicious pasta and Dorado in a prawn broth with ridiculously huge shrimp. I opted for  a small portion of the Dorado which was sublime. The temptation is to stuff your face as the food is so good from these guys but that ends badly as it affects the show too much so the band has to exercise maximum restraint.
After another fabulous show, we left the venue with the audience screaming for more and were on board the plane once again within ten minutes. I always check the late night plane menu before we go to the gig and I was armed with the knowledge that Wiener Schnitzel was on board. Thankfully, I just had enough room in my ever expanding stomach for a few bites. I couldn’t stop and committed myself to yet more gym work tomorrow in Paris. 90 minutes later we touch down at Le Bourget airport and with minimal security walk through a set of doors to Bernie’s waiting team. He takes us around the infamous peripherique and we get our first glimpses of local Parisian deranged driving styles and witness a near-collision right in front of us. Soon we are being handed our key envelopes by Tour Manager Tim and finding our rooms at the Mandarin, another new hotel. Soon there’s a knock on the door and it’s Pete delivering the bags by hand he usually leaves this late night chore to the hotel. He tells me “we’ll be here all night if I don’t do it myself”. Clearly the bellmen at the Mandarin weren’t up to Pete’s pace. Welcome back to Paris.