i was quite serious when i said that some of the best vacationing bits for me involve taking trains from place to place. in retrospect, i think trains (and unfortunate injuries) are two of the major themes of my travels.
this time around, i have pre-injured myself, somewhat, as many of you know, just be quite honestly being so out of shape. i have been hitting it pretty hard at the gym the past six months and feel less winded walking around the last ten days or so, but the grinding knee joints and swollen feet are minimizing any happiness i can feel about my increased cardiovascular endurance. as my mom and i have discussed, it is always something when one is overweight, and that is why i am counting down the time until i get the surgery next year - and also looking forward to getting back home so i can resume swimming alot at the gym, as that seemed to be doing me some good.
but enough of this negativity...i am going to tell you about the kick-ass, tri-country, four-transfer train trip i took yesterday. i got up early enough at the hotel in innsbruck to eat a hearty breakfast, which honestly does me quite well as far as keeping going on the rest of the day. if i do not eat breakfast, i feel lethargic, so it was good to load up on eggs and bacon and strudel and more strudel. and fruit, too.
the first train headed west from innsbruck at 9:30 a.m. we entered a tunnel near the bottom of the olympic ski-jumping hill, and i could see that some wise guy had put a cemetery right by there. i wondered if the ski jumpers could see that during their aerial flights, and, if so, what thez thought of it.
the flatness of eastern austria gave way gradually to rolling hills, a kind of alps-lite if you will. as i discussed michael jackson`s life and times with people on the train, the mountains grew larger and the background got greener. we sped through lush valleys, carpeted up to the treeline, with nice little houses out in the pastures, with animals grazing, and sheds up on the hills, which reminded me of the cheese-carrying obstacle on the most recent season of "the amazing race."
over vidaucts and through tunnels we went, and i saw numerous waterfalls cascading down from the mountain heights, which were obscured by clouds since, as usual, it was either raining or on the verge of raining all day.
the first train switch came in feldkirk (sp.), a town that bordered liechtenstein, one of the world`s smallest nations. i hauled my stuff from train platform to train platform, down a flight of stairs, up the stairs for the other platform, and made it just as the train was leaving.
liechtenstein has not been in a war since 1860, when 80 soldiers went off and 81 came back, because they made friends with an italian guy who defected. liechtenstein produces a good share of the world`s denture supplies. liechtenstein is ten miles tall by three miles wide. this pretty much concludes the knowledge about liechtenstein that i was able to glean from the lonely planet central european guide. i opted against getting out to eat lunch in the capital, vaduz, as it didn`t seem that exciting, and i did not know how long it would take me to get to davos.
after exiting liechtenstein, we entered switzerland, where i switched trains again in a town called buchs. made a perfect connect this time - only had to run across the platform to the waiting other train. thirty minutes later, in sarlans, i had to change trains again, and this time i had to wait like an hour and a half. i was able to exchange euros for swiss franks in the station and had a quick bite to eat in the hauptbohofbuffet, or restaurant attached to the station.
there was one other stop in some other little swiss town, and then finally, at 6 p.m., i was in davos. i got off the train at davos platz, the city`s main train station. unfortunately, the hotel i had arranged was back by davos dorf, the station before, on the outskirts of the town, so i had to take a long taxi ride. the taxi meters seem to start off at 8 chf (about 8 bucks) in switzerland, and it cost me 20 chf to get out to the hotel, where they had no record of my reservation. i, stupidly, did not have a printout. i booked a room online (for 84 chf) on the computer in the lobby, which saved me a bit compared to the 99 chf they wanted to charge me.
let me tell you about the solaria frederichsnaussem davos (sp.). do not ever go there. it was a resort, but really it was like a bunch of apartment buildings. mine was on the fourth floor, no elevator, which really pissed me off, but not as much as having to walk about 15 minutes, dragging all my crap with me, to get to the building i would be staying in. it was misting the whole time, too, and my legs were killing me.
i had asked the girl at the front of there was any food available anywhere, but she said the restaurants nearby were closed. she handed me a pizza coupon (this is before i had trudged out to where i was staying, obviously) and told me i could order a pizza for delivery. the thought of that pizza was what was keeping me going while i walked to my building, so you can imagine my despair when i realized i would not be able to get a pizza as i had no phone, and neither did the room (i had asked earlier for an 8 a.m. wake up call and she had told me there were no phones). so i was pissed.
stomach grumbling, i lugged my stuff up to my room, where at least there was a bag of gummy bears on the pillow. that was my dinner last night. maybe it was the hunger that kept me from sleeping well, or maybe it was the crappy ass beds...i had a double in the room, but it was really just two singles pushed together, and they were on rollers, so every time i moved or tried to turn over during the night, i almost fell off the gaping hole that had sprung up between the two beds.
i used my inner alarm clock to wake up at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 645 a.m., and finally up for good at 7. i could not afford to be late as my train, the glacier express, the only one of the day, would be leaving at 930, and if i missed it i would be screwed.
i was out of the room at straight up 8 a.m., and to my surprise there was a bag of breakfast goodies in front of my door: bread, jellies, juice, milk, coffee...all in a nice paper bag that got all mushy as i dragged all my stuff back down to the front office to check out. oh well, at least it was slightly downhill headed back to the office...i called a cab, paid another 20 bucks to get back to the station, and devoured my little breakfast goodies as i waited for the train to arrive.
across the street from me, i could see all sorts of hotels that i had seen online, advertising rooms for around 120 to 140 bucks. i wished i had taken one of those rooms off the bat. i would have saved on taxi fare, inconveniences, and i could have been enjoying the included-in-the-price buffet breakfast, like all the people i could see inside the hotel`s big front windows. when you add in the taxi fares, it would have been cheaper for me to take one of those more expensive hotels across the street from the station. but que sera sera. i survived.
and what i saw today on the glacier express train, 190 kilometers from davos to zermatt, across 200 bridges and through 91 tunnels, was worth all the trouble. but i am running out of time on the ol internet here, so i will have to write about that part of the trip probably tomorrow. but rest assured - the glacier express was spectacular like nothing i have ever seen before...