Today was a new train adventure. We packed up our suitcases; each of us has one wheeled Tumi suitcase and one hook-on bag, and we also have a small shopping bag for day excursions. With a little experimentation we adjusted the lengths of the straps so all the weight was on the wheels.
It was an easy ten-minute walk to the train station. We got there early, made some inquiries, changed Swiss francs into Austrian schillings, bought a magazine with most of our Swiss coins, and got into a conversation with two young Canadians who have been on the road for nine months. It's their first vacation in ten years. They'll probably get back to Toronto about November, depending on how their money holds out. They've been staying in youth hostels, been through lots of the U.S. and many Asian countries, now doing Europe. They thought Switzerland was the nicest place they'd visited so far, but they were getting tired of one-, two-, and three-night stands.
We boarded our EC (EuroCity) Transalpine express which originates in Basel and goes on to Vienna; an all-day trip. We were very happy to have reservations, because all the non-smoking seats were reserved. It looked like several groups had been on a package deal Swiss Rail vacation and were returning to Austria. Our car had separate compartments, each with three seats facing forward and three backward, with a sliding glass door separating us from the corridor. We were relieved to find we could get all the bags safely in the overhead racks, and there was still some room for other folks' luggage.
The train went up the Zurich See following the same line we had taken to Luzern, but then continued south to the mountains. We had our passports stamped at Buchs, as we left Switzerland. The train stopped at the station as customs agents, some armed, entered and checked everybody's documents, and then the train proceeded through Liechtenstein into Austria. In Buchs the Swiss engine left us and an Austrian engine hooked on to what had been the back of the train, so that people who had been facing forward were now facing backward, and vice versa.
Gradually the scenery grew more and more impressive as we climbed into the Alps. The Alps are very beautiful, with steep rock faces above green wooded slopes, and many glaciers and ice patches near the mountaintops. The train went past quaint Alpine farms and meadows and villages, and through the six-mile-long Arlberg tunnel. We looked at our reading when we were in tunnels, but immediately started oohing and ahhing as soon as we returned to sunlight.
The four hours passed quickly and we were in Innsbruck. Our hotel is another ten-minute walk from the station, and our room was ready at 2:00 p.m. It's a lovely and large corner room, with ten-foot ceilings, very well-made furniture and plenty of places to store things. There's a grocery store a block away, a famous eighteenth-century arch erected by the Habsburgs two blocks away, and the historic city of Innsbruck all around.