Oktoberfest beckons, but I have another mission before I can drink my friends combined body weight in German beer. Over the last month I have been editing together a five minute video teaser of our show and the highlights of our trip. From over 11,000 minutes of video tape I pieced together our last 8 months and created a promotional video of sorts. A video to tempt the TV stations back home and let them know what is about to hit them.
Taz and I boarded a train to Vienna to meet up with our Australian contact, a gentleman operating as our Executive Producer (EP). His job; To pitch our series to the main networks and get their mouths watering for some ‘Backpackers’ action.
We arrive in Vienna and after hours of searching for the hotel where our EP was staying, we finally met up. The tiny Sony Vaio notebook sat on the hotel desk and the screen faded from black, five minutes later the video was met with applause and excited remarks from both our EP and his colleagues. After 8 months solid work and play on the road it was a huge relief to see it received so well. When you are constantly pointing a camera and thinking about travel from a video point of view it seems to become part of you, and for that reason our experience is very different to that of other travelers. You find yourself thinking that you have been watching something on tape, when in fact it was a memory from yesterday, vice versa or both combined. Therefore it’s extremely difficult to comprehend whether what you are doing is compelling, exciting or containing the right content. This was my first window to what outsiders thought of our project.
That night we celebrated with a great number of beers followed by a good night sleep.
In the morning Taz and I had a quick self guided tour of Vienna. Wien as it is locally known is a town which relates itself with the masters of Classical and Baroque tunes. Such greats as Johan Strauss and Mozart have belted out tunes in the concert halls of this very grand city. Lining the streets are men and women dressed in period costume complete with very ratty looking white curly wigs. The shops house souvenirs of all descriptions, especially outstanding in these windows are the Mozart Chocolates, complete with tacky portrait and pistachio filling. However beyond all this wonderment lies the beckoning beer halls of Munich. Taz and I decided to venture closer toward the festive fun detouring via Salzburg; the home of “The Sound of Music”. Here we find some amazing scenery, but we have not time to venture into the hills or visit the many attractions at offer. Instead we traipse around the streets window shopping.
Again with the Mozart Chocolates everywhere. One shop completely devoted to this tacky little product. We were later to find out that it was Mozart’s father who used his son’s name to create a chocolaty product that is famous even today and still sells ridiculously well. After sampling the chocolaty goodness we find ourselves in a traditional Austrian restaurant sampling some fine beer and a plate each of Schnitzel. Meanwhile back in Munich at Oktoberfest Jag and Lee had become separated from Angela, Sarah and the rest. As a result they had no mobile phone, no beer or bus money and no way to find the group. Taz and I returned to the campsite for an early night to fuel our batteries and relax our guzzling muscles ready to drink like there was no tomorrow.
And we did. During the next two days we found ourselves sitting in a tent with Jag, Lee and Angela, knocking back litre steins of fine lager and wheatbeer. Day turned to night and to day and then night again. Soon enough we were(for used of a better word), sloshed.
As the German oompa bands try hard to cover 80s favourites, it becomes harder to walk. With aching arms from lifting the heavy steins, we decide it may be a good idea to leave. There are delays getting back on the busy trains and soon we begin to sober up. The trains are packed from shoulder to shoulder, something like the tomato fight without the tomatoes. It’s so busy that I don’t notice someone unzipping my camera belt and taking my camera. Along with it go the photos, vision and interviews we taped that night. Absolutely devastated would be a light way of describing my feelings that morning when I awoke. Just as devastating was the wait and difficultly of making a police report to the sole German police officer on duty. She took my report whilst attending to anyone else who entered the station.
The day before we had visited the Dachau Nazi Detention camp in the suburbs of Munich. This was a stark comparison to the party atmosphere of Oktoberfest. I felt proud that many Australians had made it a priority to visit and silently pay their respects. The camp is dark and the stories horrifying. I’d like to say it was nice to be able to see how the world has changed, but with all the conflict and fighting going on, the only thing I am glad of is that we are traveling and opening our minds to other cultures and history. That aside I find it uncomfortable being in a place where such atrocities were carried out. To make matters worse the day after the camera is stolen we are forced to return and re-shoot the Dachua camp vision that was on the stolen camera.
We began with three cameras and now there were two. It felt as if a friend had been taken from us. We had spent more time with these cameras than with anyone or anything along the trip.….. One camera had been stolen and it would not be the last…