By Svenja Franke-Bruhn, Annelore Palac & Helen Johnston
Since the beginning of the year the Vienna Pink Dragons have seen many dramatic changes like so many other clubs around the world. In January and February we were still out on the water paddling in combined sessions with the Vienna Dragons, while others walked or biked around the Alte Donau. This was followed by the newly introduced team lunch, which proved to also be a great way to introduce our newbies to our group. Who could foresee that these would be the last physical get-together’s for a long time? Our last paddle was actually on the 28.2.20. Our boat “Nina” sits on the ground on the now closed club during lockdown waiting for the repairs after the damage she experienced in a storm earlier in the year.
Still we can contribute some reports as several of us have been traveling when it was still possible.
In February one of our newer paddlers went to Sicily. Here is Annelore’s report:
Meeting up with “Pinkies” in Sicily
One of the great things about being a member of the global Pink Dragon teams is the camaraderie one can have at home and with groups in other locations. In February, before the pandemic exploded in Italy, we spent a week in Sicily during which we celebrated my birthday and our wedding anniversary. Our contact in Catania, Erica Motta, was delighted to be in touch with a member of the Vienna Pink Dragons and we managed to meet up early on for a coffee in Catania’s stunning central piazza and then later for an exquisite pizza in a very typical Sicilian trattoria. With tips from Erica we explored Catania – a surprisingly interesting city, with great food! – and, took trips around Etna and along the coast, including to the legendary city of Siracusa. But one of the highlights of our trip was the late Friday afternoon boat outing with “Il filo della Vita” which Erica invited me join: not only did everyone have great fun, but paddling across Catania bay, with the spires of Catania and a smoky Mount Etna in the background and everyone joining in a chorus of “Azzurro", will be one of my enduring memories of a wonderful week, made so much more special by pinkie camaraderie. Mille grazie, Erica!
It turned out that we got out of Catania just in time – just before Italy went into total lockdown. We have been in touch with Erica since and she is fine, despite the much stricter lockdown restrictions all of Italy has to adhere to.
Not meeting up as planned with “Pinkies” in NZ and OZ
I (Svenja) left Austria on a long planned home leave for New Zealand on the 1.3.20. Upon arrival in Sydney we learned that one of our paddlers had been diagnosed with the virus unbeknownst to her at the time when she was at the club. As a result almost the whole team present on the 28.2.20 had to go into quarantine/self isolation/self observation depending on the distance with this paddler. The best news for now is that our pink paddling sister is well again, but of course the following weeks have been quite challenging for her.
For myself it meant that all our travel plans came to an immediate halt, as we had to cancel the planned trip to New Zealand. I could not paddle in the Wellington Festival on the 7.3.20 nor visit Lake Karapiro in preparation for the enrollment of our team for 2022, nor meet and great the pink BCS teams on the 14.3.20 for the Auckland Regional Championships at Lake Pupuke, Auckland.
Respectively I could also not paddle as originally planned with Pittwater Pinks or other teams in Sydney. Even the planned reunion lunch with the paddling friends from Sarasota and other times had to be cancelled at short notice. Everything changed very fast from the 15.3.20 in Sydney, when our self-isolation period finally ended. We just made it out of Australia in a slightly more adventurous way than we had anticipated after saying good bye to our daughter living and studying in lockdown in Sydney.
So no paddle photos from my side. Just one wearing my team shirt alone with zillions of flies…
Meeting up with “Pinkies” in Perth, Western Australia and Devonport, Tasmania, Australia
Helen, our vice president, was a bit luckier in regards to her travel down under. Here is her report:
I was also lucky enough to travel prior to the lockdown to my home country Australia. Although the trip was mainly for family reasons, I was fortunate enough to spend two wonderful mornings with local Pink teams. Both were incredibly welcoming and displayed the usual Pinkies enthusiasm, camaraderie and love of life.
The Amazons in Perth train on the beautiful Swan River and had 2 boats out training the morning I was there. The Dragons Abreast team in Devonport, Tasmania (the amusingly named Nipples on Ripples) also trains in an absolutely beautiful spot, the Mersey River.
I am so glad I got the opportunity to get out on the water when I did, with such wonderful people.
While Helen and I were in Australia we learned of the passing of our dear Vienna Pink Dragon, Lidia at age 39, our youngest team member who traveled with us to Florence, 2018. We had both visited her at the hospice before we left and knew we had to expect the sad news any day while being overseas. You can find a report on Lidia on our Facebook page.
Lidia is deeply missed and to have now lost three Vienna Pink Dragons members since May 2018 as such a young team, is not easy. The funeral ceremony for Lidia was cut down to five people due to the new regulations so no paddle arch was possible as we did for Sabine or a flower ceremony in the boat as for Nina - that day in September 2018 was actually the last time Lidia paddled.
We will remember and honor her as a team later in the year.