OK, time to get back to travel. Not present day travel as yet (I’ve abandoned thoughts of visiting Alaska, and am thinking of heading back to South America), but carrying on the Look Back Series I started before the renovations got under way last year.
After limping around Budapest, hobbling around Vienna, and resting up some in Graz I headed west to the Austrian Alps. I was aiming for Innsbruck, but the train trip from Graz was long enough and slow enough I decided to stop off for a couple of nights on the way. I chose Kufstein because I was thinking of hiking, but luckily it turned out to be a good rest stop.
I shared my compartment on the train with two young women, one traveling all the way to the Swiss border to visit her boyfriend in Bregenz, the other, a piano student, going home to North Italy (Sud-Tirol) to spend the upcoming All Saints’ Day holiday with her family. The piano student planned to stay on in Graz after graduation, and I remembered that the woman on the train from Vienna had mentioned that a lot of Germans were doing the same thing.
The journey was enlivened by conversation with the women, and with the elderly Austrian man who shared my table in the restaurant car, and by the scenery, which got progressively more mountainous the further west we traveled. And the further west we went the further behind schedule we were, finally reaching Wörgl 30 minutes late, and after my connecting train had left. However, I knew that the Wörgl-Kufstein leg was on the main line to Germany, and didn’t stress out. I spent the twenty minute wait talking with a woman from the Kitzbühel tourist office, who was upset to learn that I hadn’t even considered staying there because I thought it too expensive.
My river-side hotel, the Auracher Löchl, was tucked beneath a steep hill crowned by a well-preserved castle, and just a short limp across a bridge from the train station. My very comfortable single faced the river, and I ate breakfast (killer buffet with squeeze-your-own orange juice and boil-your-own eggs) and two delicious dinners (at half-board rates) in the hotel restaurant just across a pedestrian passageway.
I made it up to the castle courtesy of a little funicular railway, finding the view more interesting than the castle. Aside from wandering around town and admiring several decorated buildings, my only other sightseeing was a visit (by bus) to the Riedel factory on the outskirts of town. I drink a fair amount of wine, and had been highly skeptical when I first heard the theory that the taste of wine could be affected by the shape of the glass. Sounded like a great sales technique, but could it really be true? Well, yes. A few taste tests were all it took to convince me, and I now own two sets of Riedel glasses.
I have to say, once you’ve seen one glass factory, no need to visit another. I had taken the VIP tour of the Edinburgh Crystal factory back in 2004, during which I actually got to briefly blow and cut glass, and just watching from the balcony at Riedel didn’t measure up. Nor was their Sinnfonie “experience” particularly interesting for someone already a convert. Of course, there was always the shop, with deals like eight glasses for the price of six.… (But I figured the savings would be eaten up by the shipping charges. And did I really need eight more glasses?)