My time in Vienna didn’t get off to the best of starts. Having flown in from London via Düsseldorf, the airline had apparently decided I didn’t need my luggage and left it in Germany.
Before setting off on my trip around Europe in Summer 2015, I spent weeks looking at backpacks and packing cubes, reading packing lists and travel blogs, and trying to figure out how on earth I was going to pack all of my stuff into the tiny 35 litre backpack I had eventually ended up with. By the time I left the UK, I was pretty attached to that backpack! So when I arrived in Vienna and my bag didn’t, it felt like some kind of omen. This trip was going to be a disaster.
As I stepped out of the airport, it only got worse. It was almost 40°C and I was stuck in jeans, a long sleeved top and hiking boots. Add to that the fact that the train station at Vienna airport is like a rabbit warren, and that when I finally found a ticket machine it didn’t take notes… By the time I arrived at the hostel I was a sweaty, grumpy mess!
When I checked in though, I was told that missing bags usually arrive at the hostel around 10pm on the same day. With that news, and a refreshing (if soapless) shower, things were looking up! So I pulled myself up my by bootstraps (not entirely out of choice; all my other shoes were chilling in Germany), and spent the night at Wurstelprater with a guy I met in my dorm.
Set in the Weiner Prater public park, Wurstelprater is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. A couple of glasses of wine and a fairground ride later, I’d cheered right up! In the knowledge that I would soon be reunited with my beloved backpack, I headed back to the hostel feeling pretty good.
Only when we got there, it hadn’t arrived. Yet. I had faith. I decided the only appropriate thing to do would be to hit the hostel bar and carry on drinking… Cut forward a few hours and I still had no backpack, but had acquired a pair of swimming trunks from the guy in my room. And so I spent my first night in Europe sleeping in a bra and a stranger’s trunks. As you do. Cheers Chris.
The next 24 hours pretty much consisted of me wandering around Vienna in woefully inappropriate clothing, cursing the near 40°C heat and desperately trying to find a pair of shorts and some flip flops that didn’t cost a whole day’s budget. By the time evening came around, I was feeling a little sorry for myself!
Not wanting the day to be a total bust, I decided to indulge in my one true love: food. And in Vienna, that had to mean schnitzel! Breaded, fried, and with a pretty high breadcrumb: meat ratio, it was the perfect comfort food… Come at me carbs!
When I got back to the hostel and my backpack still hadn’t arrived, a quick drink at the bar quickly deteriorated into a mess of free sympathy drinks from the hostel staff. Because who needs luggage when you have tequila, right? And as I sat in the bar drinking, with the kind of instant friends you only seem to make in hostels, I realised that losing my backpack hadn’t stopped me from having a good time at all.
Sure, I could have done with some soap, clean underwear and a pair of pyjamas that first night, but instead I had a fun travel story, a whole lot of free alcohol, and a belly full of food I probably wouldn’t have splurged on otherwise. I realised that as long as I could find the story; as long as I could find something to look back on that would make me laugh, or smile, nothing that happened on this trip would be a disaster.
Still, when a guy from the front desk came into the bar at around midnight and asked me if my bag was pink, I’m pretty sure I just screamed in his face and ran to the luggage room. Clean clothes! Hugs all round! Free celebratory shots!
I’m not sure what happened after that, but I woke up to a headache and 24 drunken selfies.
Has your luggage ever gone missing? Share your story in the comment section!