Exercising our Eurail passes again, we took an excursion to the mountain resort town of Mayrhofen, through a storybook land of hillside homes decked in paintings and flowers, green fields with cows and crops, and past a river filled with rapids. Regional roof ornament
Before leaving Innsbruck, however, we stopped at the Internet Corner to check our e-mail. Our replies were constrained by the German keyboard, in which z and y are reversed, and other, less-often used keys are also moved about. It was a humbling experience for a couple of touch-typists!
The first part of our trip was on a Eurail-recognized train. We rode for about twenty minutes through the Inn valley, past several smaller towns. We rode past several complex lumber yards with men transferring logs from trucks to train cars. There were stacks of logs, neatly trimmed to uniform length and stripped of their bark. Pallets of wood of various lengths and thicknesses indicate that wood is still in high demand, probably both for home building and furniture. One shop advertised itself as a builder of Tyrolean wooden furniture.
Soon it was time to change to a narrower-gauge train, the Zillerbahn (the Zillerbahn railroad route up to the Zillertal valley). The little train climbed gradually up the valley of the Inn River, with grade crossings of the country road, and lots of stops at small towns along the way. Even so, we went through several stations, because noone had wanted to get off or get on.
The Zillertal valley grew narrower as we ascended, with steep rocky cliffs on both sides. Soon there were rocky alps above tree line. At Mayrhofen the valley splits into four, with a river going up each one. The train goes no further, although there are roads up three of these valleys. At the southern end of the four valleys stand the Zillertal Alps, rising to over 11,000 feet. There are mountain climbing schools here, and about a dozen ski lifts. The Zillertal Alps feature 25 miles of glaciers, and climbs to the top merit three stars in the Michelin green guide.
We all piled out in Mayrhofen, and it was then that we noticed most of our fellow passengers were older than we were. Mayrhofen has 8000 hotel rooms, and presumably they want to keep them filled. September is too early for Tyrolean couple skiing, so the hotels offer bargain rate packages for tourists. Seniors who don't have to work can take advantage of these travel packages. There were dozens of tour buses and hundreds of tourists. We took a seat at a cafe and enjoyed lentil soup with wursts (hot dogs) and turkey schnitzel, which was excellent, while watching the passing parade, consisting of 90% tourists and 10% locals dressed in Tyrolean outfits to look picturesque. We liked the St. Bernard that strolled by with its owners but did not react quickly enough to get a picture.
What you do in Mayrhofen is shop. The road from the train station takes you into one end of the major shopping street, with its beautiful large hotels and guesthouses, its souvenir and clothing shops, and cafes and restaurants. At the other end of the road you find yourself back at the railroad station (or the bus park). Since we have plenty of stuff to carry, and have been forbidden to buy gifts for family members, we made short work of the walking tour and returned to Innsbruck, reversing our paths on these two nice trains. Even though we didn't buy anything, we recommend Mayrhofen as a lovely excursion from Innsbruck.