6 countries in 3 weeks, Oxfam on tour gets to grip with Europe!
These last few weeks have taken me the length and breadth of Europe. I have met Oxfam volunteers from 5 of Oxfam affiliate’s; Oxfam Intermon, Oxfam France, Oxfam Italia, Oxfam Germany and Oxfam Great Britain. I have travelled 6 different countries and sometimes I’ve been in two different countries within 24 hours. Am I a super hero? No I’m was on tour with Coldplay.
In the last few weeks I have seen Coldplay fans in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and England and each one of those countries brought a new eye opener and experience for me, brace yourself for the next few minutes you are going to experience these things with me.
On arrival to the first venue in Portugal, the tour book stated the venue would hold 43,000 people that night. I didn’t think much of it, surely there wasn’t much difference between 16,000 – 43,000 people?! I was most defiantly wrong!! Standing outside the arena waiting for the volunteers to arrive I sat and took in the noise and movement that such an amount of people have. From that point I instantly knew that this tour was going to be a whole different ball game.
In Spain I wandered around Altetico Madrid’s dressing rooms and experienced what some would call tropical showers. Such showers I was not prepared for in my English style shorts and flip-flops! But Spanish fans didn’t care, they showed me what being a true fan was about, standing all night in the rain, silencing it’s fall on the stadium with their cheers and versions of “nobody said it was easy”.
Nice was the city where I had my first taste of French onion soup! Which sparked my addiction to find soup that tastes as spectacular. Canned soup just doesn’t beat it! It was also the city where the wristband boys and myself found xylo men statues in the centre square. Each one of them changing in sequence and lighting up the night sky. If you haven’t already people, go and see these statues.
Turin was the date when the ‘Coldplay cloud’, that had followed us from Porto through to Nice, started to part. The crew started became instantly happy, the truck drivers pulled out their picnic tables and set up a ‘bronzing camp’ (Rachel’s new word. The definition of bronzing camp – where Brits set up a sunbathing lounge complete with sun lotion swapping and cold cans of juice). Turin was also the city of surprises, when on arrival I was shocked into silence as the main Piazza opened up into a huge space, fenced off by beautiful classical buildings and outdoor eateries where people we laughing and eating just like a designer sunglasses advert. It was heaven. On sitting to eat I realised I had actually walked into a holiday concert where their own local star was performing and I was sat right in the middle of thousands of people. It was bliss.
Next was Switzerland, where I had the amazing opportunity of meeting a partner that Oxfam works with, the Clean Clothes Campaign. Such a meeting provided me with a deepening of my Oxfam knowledge and how we deliver our programmes. To top this, when I thought I couldn’t, I even got to try some Swiss patisserie in the shape of a vanilla slice! Yum!
From Switzerland we were on route home, I must admit it was strange going to bed in Switzerland to wake up in France, cross the channel on the ferry and then go back to sleep again to wake up finally in Coventry. They truly are submarine drives where I spend my time drawing in my travel journal, listening to new albums and watching a lot of cartoons to past the hours. This is the time I spent catching up on writing postcards I bought three countries ago and never posted, (they are still sat undelivered on my desk at home, sorry Mum).
This tour was very different to my first one in the US because it spanned such a mixtures of experiences. I really didn’t think I could fit some much culture, memories and people into three weeks. So as a way to finish, here are my best moments from the Europe tour:
- Racing up and down the arena on scooters, these venues are big places they need toy scooters to get around, well that’s my excuse
- Filming volunteer’s dressed up as peas and carrots, rocking out to Coldplay tunes
- Taking photos of my American colleague next to every fountain and quaint lamp post in Madrid
- Paddling in French sea on Nice’s seafront before our morning pick up call
- Being featured in a French newspaper
- Eating ‘real’ Italian pizza in Turin, sat in the stadium’s car park watching the trucks load out of the venue
- Watching the wristbands move like a neon ocean in Zurich
- Meeting a variety of Oxfam Great Britain volunteers in London
- Watching an American crew member have a conversation with a Geordie (person who lives in the Newcastle area) and knowing that they didn’t understand a word they were saying due to their accent, but nodding in politeness
- Arriving in my home town’s (Manchester) football stadium where I spent a lot of time with my Dad only to be arriving this time with the Coldplay crew
All that in three weeks, phew, now I’m sat at home in London packing my suitcase again to head back to the states for some East side adventures and I can’t wait. See you across the pond, Rachel.