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Name: Melissa

About Me

Countries Visited (not including Turnarounds): Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, North Korea, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vatican City

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London | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne

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Saturday, May 28, 2011
So I’m going to ask all of you to indulge with me for just one post. I try to keep my Eurovision stuff here to a minimum, it is a Flight Attendant blog after all, but I know some of you were asking what I’ve been up to all week and why I haven’t been posting for three weeks, and this should explain why. Many of you know that I’ve been in Dusseldorf all week for the Eurovision Song Contest. I bid for leave specifically to attend this event, and this is the first time that I’ve done so and been available to attend the final. Last year I was given the bid 2 days out of the final so was stuck at home in Dubai watching it from the internet after attending the two semi finals - an anti-climax to an amazing week if there was one. But this year I got the leave I wanted, and not only that, I also scored myself Fan Accreditation.

In previous years, this was the pass to get if you weren't a member of the Press or a Country's delegation. As I'm Australian, it's a special case - each country's delegation gives out 10 passes a year to members from their OGAE club, and since Australia doesn't have an OGAE club we have to apply directly through the European Broadcasting Union if we want accreditation. And if you're a frequent viewer of the contest you may have noticed an increase in Australian flags in amongst the crowd - there was even an inflatable Kangaroo in the crowd last year in Oslo, so the EBU loves the Aussies so much and the exposure they give back in their home country they have no problem approving their Fan nor Press Accreditations. And to know that I was possibly one of only 10 people to be blessed with a Fan pass from the International Delegation made me feel just a little bit special.

Usually I take Lufthansa when I want to travel to throughout Europe, as they let me buy Business Class standby tickets, but since LH were one of the sponsors of this year's contest, I knew there was no way on earth I'd get a spare seat on their aircraft, so I had to sacrifice my Annual Leave ticket with my airline just to make it there and back within my leave time. Another Christmas without my family this year I'd be sacrificing, but oh well, what to do.
About an hour after landing in Dusseldorf I found myself with an invite to the San Marino party, so I picked up my pass, headed onward to the Main Press Centre, read through what I had access to and what I didn't have access to, and found out that Jedward were having their press conference in 15 minutes. Had a look at the manual, saw that I had access, then tried to get inside and a security guard stopped me. "Press only." Oh poo. Wandered over to the lounge for free coffee (!) and tried to at least watch the upload from youtube. Sadly the free Wifi that was promised wasn't working either. Double poo. With nothing really left to do I headed to the arena, and so happy that the pass actually gave me access somewhere for a change. And who else was there but Blue?

Their LED screens weren't behaving. They didn't want to work, and when they did work they were out of sync. I wish they never had them to be honest and just concentrated on their vocals, which really did need some work. Russia's Alex had the same LED effect and the same result - hovering around mid table in the final.

Lena Meyer-Landrut, the first German since 1982 to win (The first winner since German reunification) and the first returning champion since 1958. I quite liked her song, more than Satellite which gave her the win, but with no chorus, no crescendo and no big ending it was going to be a hard for her. She's definitely sexed up her image since last year, so she was one of the few artists that had the straight men's vote going for her this year.

The Spanish entrant, Lucia Perez. I hated this song when I first heard it, then I saw it on stage, and how much energy it had and how fun it was, and now I love it. Plus the chorus choreography is super easy, even a few blocks in the audience were dancing along.

So it was off to the San Marino party, which was invite only (no pass access again - someone later remarked that the F pass really stood for the F**k-All pass as that's what it really entitled you to...) and thank goodness I had an invite, because it was free everything! Free food, all of it genuinely Sammarinese, and best off all free booze!

Many acts from this year's contest decided to make an appearence, including Aurela Gace, Paradise Oskar, Alexey Vorobov, Loucas Yiorkas, Magdalena Tul, and even Alexander Rybak! But of course the star of the show was Senit, who put on an amazing show, and even sang some old Eurovision classics. A great way to start my trip, aside from losing my 2 month old iPod Touch in the back of a taxi whilst trying to pull up my hotel details from my email. That wasn't good.

The next day wasn't especially eventful, during the day I watched the First Semi Final dress rehearsals, which made everyone re-think their 10 qualifiers, and it also dawned on everyone how bad the hosts were going to be for the show. I don't think it was the host's fault to be honest, they had to make do with some horrible script writing. None of their jokes or gags went down in the arena too well. It might have appeared differently on TV, I'm not sure.

This year's hosts on the monitor.

That night was the Israeli party, complete with an appearance from Dana International, however after learning from the San Marino party (party started at 7pm, she didn't appear until 9pm) I didn't rock up to the Israeli party until midnight, by which stage she only performed 2 songs when I turned up. And in a massive contrast to the San Marino party, NOTHING was free. Queues to get in were insane, and whilst the venue was great, it was hard to move around and enjoy.

The next morning I set off for Brussels - I had to make a trip there. Train from Dusseldorf to Cologne, then another train to Brussels. Same way back again. I worked the route out on the internet, and if I did it right then I would only be away from Dusseldorf for 7 hrs, so I set off very early in the morning to do so. Only the train from Dusselfdorf to Cologne was 90 minutes instead of 20 minutes, and I missed further connections. So by the time I reached my hotel room in Dusseldorf for my tickets the doors were already closed at the arena. :'(

I decided to head to the press centre anyway, at least to watch the contest with some people I knew and to drink my free Peppermint tea whilst doing so. I was gutted, but I had mentally prepared for the possibility whilst on the Thalys from Brussels to Cologne (the kind people at the ticket office had upgraded me because one of the trains I had taken was late.) It wasn't until one of the Vodafone workers in the press centre tried to get me into the arena, then being denied again, that I lost it. I guess it serves me right for being so stubborn.

So in the press centre there were teams from all over Europe covering the contest, and the biggest contingent was from Russia, who all went mental when Alexey made it through to the final. But the biggest surprise for everyone was when Lithuania went through. It was destined for semi-final purgatory, but had a great draw, and stood out as one of the few real ballads in the semi, so seeing them get through and Poland and Norway not getting through was a bit of a let down.

Second Semi Dress rehearsals were scheduled for the next day, and everyone's mood perked up for this, as it was considered to be the stronger semi final of the two. There were two acts here that blew me away.

First one was Ukraine, who along with Mika Newton singing what in my opinion was a mediocre song, featured Kseniya Siminova, a sand artist who won Ukraine's got talent with her live works of art. In the arena it was just jaw dropping to watch it all live, you totally didn't know Mika was there on stage with her massive feather shoulder pads. It was beautiful to watch.

The second stand out performance were, surprisingly, Jedward. Those two boys, high on red cordial and hairspray fumes (to quote Grahame Norton) were just full of boundless energy wherever they went. As they came on stage, they were doing one-armed cartwheels and constantly jumping about. The very first press conference they did has now become legendary. Whether you love them or hate them, they were a great sight at Eurovision and didd a great job at livening up some dull days at the press centre.

Later that night the invites went round the press centre again, and this time it was the Russian party, and not only did the Russian Delegation already have a reputation for hosting great parties (ie. Free Booze), Alex was also turning out to be the Playboy of Eurovision, making out with everything that moved in Dusseldorf. So everyone wanted to be there just to see what would happen.

Axle aka. Paradise Oskar and Alex trying to rap with him. I didn't think it was all that good but the crowd loved it!

Ell and Nikki, the future winners of the ESC.

Sjonni's Friends. I wouldn't mind friends like these :-)

Me with Emmy. I look like I just rolled out of bed and she looks super fresh.

Amaury! Glad you could make an appearance.

So second semi-final time, which also meant the second annual Australian Eurovision meet-up, which was christened Ausseldorf a week earlier. For the second year in a row I made the official Eurovision website but it was great meeting up with some friends again after meeting them in Oslo from last year.

Euroclub absolutely packed. The Finnish meet-and-greet was held at the same time as the Aussie meet-and-greet, so Quartier Boheme made quite a bit of money that day...

My buddies from last year's Aus-lo meet up.

Someone's been working hard at home with the Sharpie markers.

Me and Darrin, from Sydney, who I haven't seen since Oslo a year ago. This is my favorite photo of the whole week :-D

Someone from a radio station back home (I think it was ABC radio) asked me what my favorite Eurovision song was. I said it was 'Hold Me Now' by Johnny Logan. He asked me to sing it for him. I said I'd rather sing in Serbian for him. So here I am, singing Molitva :-)

Crazy Swedes.

Crazy Irish Leprechauns.

Stadium for Semi 2 filling up.

A few of the Dutch contigent. There were heaps of them here, quite easily explained by the very short 2hr non stop train ride from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf. Judging by the look on their faces they all knew that 3JS weren't going to make it, though I thought that a LAST placing in the second semi was a tad harsh and undeserved.

My friend Paul was pulled up onto the stage during the warm up. Whilst it didn't make the show airing we've been told it will make it onto the Blu-Ray DVD extras. This incident has sprouted a lot of "I knew Aussie Paul before he was famous" statements from the rest of us in the Aussie posse.

The outfit this guy was wearing was amazing. Flowered vest - only at Eurovision. It looked like the LED had regurgitated the Swiss graphic from Semi-Final 1 onto his top. He was supporting Denmark, who I thought had an amazing entry. So glad they got through...

Despite paying top dollar for my ticket, I couldn't get any nice shots of the performances :-( We had this one girl, rooting for Jedward from the looks of her get up, that absolutely refused to sit down for any of the performances, including the ballads. It took about 40 people to abuse her before she had some sense and sat down so the rest of us didn't have to stand as well.

Did we have time to recover from Semi Final 2? No way! It was the Grand Final Dress Rehearsal up next!

The boys in red and sky high quiffs.

Amaury Vassili. As you can see I have no idea how to keep a camera straight...

Ell and Nikki and wind machine effects.

Slovenia's Maja Keuc. I LOVED this song, but thought it was much better in the Slovenian language. And look at those boots!

Sjonni's Friends, performing Coming Home.

Serbia's Nina performing the 60's influenced Caroban

Later that night I had tickets for the Euroboat, and after looking at the ad and having it recommended to me I booked the ticket in advance. But most of my friends were at the Jury final, and even after paying for the ticket on the boat, seeing that we had to pay for everything else on the boat, and how crap the vibe was on the vote, me and the other girls decided to give the Euroboat the flick. We left it not even 3 minutes before it departed the docks. Best 25 Euros I've ever wasted.

So onto the day of the final, and after a decent sleep in it was time to head to Euroclub again to meet with everyone before the trek to the arena, and there were a few characters...

I think this guy was from the UK.

A Verka Seduchka costume! Love the headgear...

We arrived at the arena, and there was a plethora of cocktail bars. The queues to get in were insane - far more than the semi finals, and not only that there were people flogging finals tickets outside the U-bahn and entry points. Good to know for future years that if tickets are sold out its always possible to get them on the day. I also know of Mark and Bethany, the Aussie honeymoon couple, who managed to score OAGE fan tickets very close to the stage because some fans who had already requested the tickets couldn't make it to Dusseldorf for whatever reason. They were at Eurocafe at the right moment and scored excellent seats. Good to keep in mind for next year :-)

I was very fortunate to get a seat behind the control area. Yes there were a few poles and cabled microphones blocking my view, but whenever there was something on stage I was unable to see (and this happened quite a bit) I just had to look at the monitor in front of me.

Amaury on the monitor.

The show was great! I enjoyed myself so much, and so glad that I finally managed to watch the final in person after missing out in Oslo. The opening rendition of Satellite was really well done, but the interval act was so incredibly boring, I wish I'd left my seat for a pretzel and another drink instead of staying in and watching Jan Delay. Worst interval act in years.
The voting was interesting, and had a few surprises and some expected happenings. The best fun was hearing everyone boo Cyprus when they gave their 12 points to Greece - The sweetheart deal has been happening for as long as I can remember (since before 2002!) and doesn't look like being broken any time soon. Ireland giving 10 points to the Lithuanian entry was a massive surprise too, it was a painful song for me to hear and I thought there were far better songs in this years contest that would appeal to the Irish audience. But after about 25 countries awarded their points it was looking pretty obvious that Azerbaijan had won and that we'd all be booking tickets to Baku next year.

I don't know what to say really about the winner. I think it's a good song, but not a winning song by any means. If they'd won last year with Safura's Drip Drop, then I would have been very happy, it was a brilliant song that Safura, sadly, performed badly on the night with a horrible draw. Italy getting 2nd was a huge surprise, abeit a happy surprise, and the UK down in 11th was very undeserved in my opinion. After the Jury/Televote results were released a few days ago you can see why some countries placed where they did.

So that wraps up my insane week of Europop. I really enjoyed myself, even though I was totally drained of energy by the end. I'm already looking at ways I can go to Baku for next year's contest, but at the moment its not looking good as I will have to give up my passport for 2 weeks to get the visa processed which is just not possible in my current job. We'll see.

Some images courtesy of D. Redgate, G. Webb and B. Conn

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Sunday, May 01, 2011
Greeting from my favorite breakfast hangout in Johannesburg - Tashas!

And I can tell you I'm really glad to be here after doing the unthinkable - No Show for a flight. Five years of working hard to keep a great personal record has now gone down the drain due to a small misjudgement of one day.

I know how it happened. After swapping onto the Perth flight I'd reduced my days off after the BKK-SYD from 2 days to one day, and since the Perth trip took up the same number of roster days as my original London trip I thought I had increased my number of days off afterwards from 2 to 3. It was really an increase from 1 day off to 2. Confused yet? I don't blame you.

So on my 'third day off' I saw my batch mate post on Facebook how stoked he was at getting such a great May roster, and immediately I went to the crew portal to see what the Scheduling Gods had granted me. To my horror I saw that instead of the trip number for Johannesburg the next day, I had instead AB/CU/CU. AB means Absent, CU means "Can Use", which are essentially short term reserve days. My stomach went into knots - not only was I no-show for the flight, it was a flight I actually liked! No breakfast at Tashas, no 50dh slab of Prime Rib with Baked Potato, Creamed Spinach and Gin and Tonic! It wasn't as if I no-showed for a Red-Eye Male turnaround.... Worse still was that I realised I no-showed a whopping 3 hours after the flight took off - much too late to put on the uniform and 'sign in' at work and then feign lateness.

I wrote to my manager after calling the office, and because it was a total no-show for the flight, and not just an absent for being late, I was now facing a verbal warning. Me? A Verbal Warning? But that only happens to the Zinc-clubbing set, not to me! He said that I didn't have much to worry about, just to be good for the next 6 months, but still, anything can happen in 6 months. Who knows if a passenger is having a stroppy day, sees my name badge and want to include my name in a complaint form without telling me?!? Then the verbal warning turns into a written warning and that changes everything...

So yes, a little stressed right now, and even though I had another Johannesburg flight straight after the one I missed, it still bothers me. Not really a nice way to spend Easter.

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