We were very happy that the conductor treated her well; she was a nice mother traveling all the way from outside of Bregenz to visit her son in Vienna for five days; then she had to get back to work. A lady about 55. She didn't have any English, and her German was mostly oral and accented, but she was very nice. Later when the two Japanese men had entered the car we had become the in-between translators, because they had less German than English.
She was an infrequent traveler, we could tell; dressed in her best, which was still quite inexpensive. We had a terrible time settling her down because she thought she had to move from her platz. "Der Schaffner sagt," she kept saying. And of course the conductor had sagt. And we sagen too, dass ihr muss sitzen bleiben. When ever we had trouble, out came the dictionary. "Immer lehrnen," she said. And that you must always, always make reservations (she hadn't, and that was where the trouble began, because Bob had asked her to change seats.) When we looked at the cards outside the compartment, it showed that only four of the six seats were reserved, so she could stay where she was. But of course she was nervous; she wasn't going to believe us tourists. Finally the Schaffner came back and sagt and sagt and sagt to her.
We sagt to the conductor, too, and made sure she could stay in the compartment. "Of course." The conductor asked her if she wanted something to drink and brought her a bottle of mineral water. He wouldn't let her pay. She conceded the point readily, and we wondered if she could pay. She didn't eat lunch, and was happy to accept the piece of candy we had.
"Urlaub," she said, and we used the dictionary and agreed that we were on vacation. We told her in broken German about selling the house and hitting the road. She thought that was nice.
When the Japanese men came in we managed to squeeze all the suitcases onto the racks. They had been to the Arlberg where they had business and were going on to Vienna and Prague before returning to Japan. We talked about the Tyrol and one of the men brought out a large and lavishly illustrated Japanese tour book of the Tyrol. When the older Japanese man brought out the German paper, the lady was interested. How could these men read German but not speak it? They explained they were getting the results of the Olympics, but we're not sure she understood.
. . . . .
When we reached Vienna West Bahnhof we were a long way from the hotel, so we took a cab. Good idea. The driver, an Egyptian, spoke Arabic on the cel phone for a while, and then guided us right past the Hofburg and Stephansdom, in front of heroic bronze monuments, and through the narrow streets filled with magnificent horse-drawn carriages. Probably not the direct route to the hotel, but today we didn't mind. It was beautiful, and we were in Vienna for the erste mal, as the lady on the train had said. The carriages were all black and highly lacquered, and seemed to be brand new. Somewhere there is a shop that still knows how to make elegant nineteenth century landaus (if that's what they were), with s-shaped silver handles, and carriage lamps which shone brightly.