Moving again, albeit regretfully.

I quite liked Innsbruck and so I thought I would day another night and so I went to the reception to be told the price had gone up from €65 to €70 without any reason given. Sorry, I was not going to pay that kind of money for that kind of room. I can do better in London. Frankly, I can do better by getting myself slung in jail!  Thankfully, I had arisen pretty early and so didn’t have to dash immediately so I took to the internet in search of options.

IMG_5315
Goodbye and good riddance.

There were several less expensive places which looked a lot better appointed but they were all miles away on the outskirts of town. I suspect they were off-season winter sports places trying to fill beds. There was just nothing to suit me so I packed up and prepared to make a move but where to? Well, the vague idea was still generally South so Italy was looking likely. On the back of one of the Virtual Tourist Euromeets many members whose opinion I trust had raved about Bergamo as a destination so that sounded as good a plan as any.  I had not managed to make that one.

A bit of trek but not too bad brought me to the station where I went to the very helpful lady on the information desk who told me it was indeed possible but I would have to change at Verona. OK, that is no problem and so I left with a full printed itinerary and rather a large hole in my budget. Like everything else there, they know how to charge for it. I know walk up fares are always obscenely expensive in Europe but this really had been a spur of moment decision.

The first part of the journey was a comfortable OBB (Austrian) train and all went smoothly although one thing of interest did occur. At the crossing point in Brenner / Brennero (it is right on the border), there were certainly a few police and border officials knocking about but nothing too heavy.  Before I was to leave Italy, the Austrians had blocked the road crossing here with the Army and armoured cars to stop the huge influx of economic migrants and refugees into their country as they seek to move further North in Europe (my country and Germany in particular). I found it slightly odd that things had moved so quickly to the point that the two neighbours were involved in a full-scale diplomatic rumpus.

I have to say that the journey from Austria was through some absolutely stunning scenery, it was a complete delight.  Sadly and stupidly I didn’t manage any images of it!

The second train was on rolling stock from Italian Railways and obviously slower than the OBB (Austrian) train but it was perfectly acceptable and I was delivered to Bergamo with no problems. Well, perhaps just one problem in that I had no clue where I was staying that night, it was gone 1900 hours and I was in a city I had never been in with no map and not the faintest idea how to access one on my mobile ‘phone. OK, resort to SOP’s (Standard Operational Procedures) and find a bar. That way you can get a much-needed beer, possibly score some wi-fi that you can use your laptop on to check for hostels or ask the bar staff on the principle that there is no substitute for local knowledge.

I had a choice of maybe three of four major roads to walk so I picked one literally at random. I passed a couple of bars as they looked terribly posh with the beautiful people being terribly stylish as the Italians seem to do so effortlessly. Your humble narrator was in serious scruff attire which was getting scruffier by the day due to his total lack of laundry facilities and was looking for an establishment that looked like it might perhaps not throw him out on his ear and it seemed that that would be easier said than done.

I have mentioned the “travel Gods” many times on this blog before and people do tend to scoff a bit when I write or speak about it but I have no other way of explaining the really lucky things that happen to me so often. Here they were walking, riding, flying or whatever it is they do right beside me as the next thing I saw was a billboard advertising the Central Hostel BG not two hundred yards distant. What are the chances? All I had to do now was hope they had a bed.

Straight round without even stopping for a beer which is unimaginable I know and up to the desk where the charming young lady told me I was in luck, there was one bed left. Job done. She then ran me through a list of the facilities. There was wi-fi in the public areas, a cafe / bar which immediately called for a beer before I had even stowed my kit. Very best of all they had a laundry room which transpired to be a beauty.

After a long day’s travel and the laundry a pressing need (again, no pun intended) I decided there would be no harm in doing a little internet, a few more ressonably priced beers in what was to turn out to be an expensive city and a bit of personal admin before retiring for a relatively early bed.

More of Bergamo tomorrow so stay tuned and spread the word.

Who knows where the time goes?

7th June.

There is now a gap of about a week in this blog series as there really is nothing of interest to report.  I went for daily rambles round Kempten, spent much more time in the hotel bar that I probably should have, made friends with the staff at the excellent Peterhof Hotel, relaxed, caught up on this blog a bit in it’s previous incarnation and generally got my travel head back on.  I could have stayed there for a long time as it was still early June and Canada would not be “in season” for a while so all was good.

IMG_5293.JPG

By the time it came around (a pretty decent day after the dismal start as depicted above) I had determined myself that I really was going to have to shift or I’d be there forever and I had consulted Blablacar to see what lifts might be available on that day. Blablacar is the carpooling service I had been using quite successfully in various countries and I do rather like it as a means of transport. I had looked at the options and decided that Innsbruck looked like a plan and there was a young lady called Mona going that way with a decent pick up time, about 1300 if memory serves. The only couple of slight disadvantages are that drivers often like to pick you up on the edge of town so they can get back on the autobahn or whatever and also, so many of them want to leave at crazy hours of the day when I am not even awake usually.

The pickup was at a MacDonald’s out by the ring road which was a bit of a trek but I was travelling light and so it was not too much of a hardship. I even managed a couple of pictures which was a bonus. I also got probably the best view I had had of the town from an area of it that I had not explored despite my long time there.  Time for a quick coffee and Mona turned up with her friend, whose name I didn’t catch, and off we headed and it was a great trip. The ladies spent most of the time chatting away in German but I was just enjoying the outstanding scenery and revelling in the concept of hurtling down German and then Austrian autobahn in a comfy motor with two very attractive young frauleins. How bad can that be and proper Fergy travelling indeed.

Another bonus of the carpool that day was in that the friend Mona was going to see lived very close by my “hotel” and so she very kindly dropped me off at the door of where I was staying. Strange sort of a place, very institutionalised. I still cannot work out if it was a converted student dorm block or a facility for visiting workmen as I saw quite a few people that would have fitted into either or both categories. I suppose the name should have given me a clue.  I speak minimal German but I reckon it is something like “Technician’s House” or something similar.

What a difference a day makes as they say. The room was pretty spartan although clean and comfortable and the toilet / shower facilities were communal.  When I consider what I had left that morning for marginally less money, it made me think that Innsbruck, even off-season for the winter sports for which it is famous, might turn out to be an expensive decision and so it proved.

A quick wash and brush up and I was ready to go. There is a restaurant / bar attached here but I never once saw it open and so it was time for a wander. One thing in the Garni Garni-Technikerhaus‘ favour is that it does enjoy a central location. However and in the way of these things I got no further than about 100 yards or so when I spied a pub with some people sitting outside enjoying the evening and so I was in like a shot. Again, the planxty “nose” did not fail What a friendly bunch in what was sort of a cross between a takeaway pizza place and a bar. The entire staff and clientele appeared to be Albanian and we had a great old time chatting as a couple of them had decent English.  A quick internet check whilst writing this piece indicates it is called the Bistro HTL and has a Turkish website which would figure.  Whatever it is, it is a beauty, certainly not on the main drag but well worth looking out purely for a

I eventually decided I had better go and have a look round although I did not explore too far but I did run into the ladies from that afternoon in the car along with a large group of their friends and so we sat outside a bar having a chat for a while. All very sociable.

IMG_5312
Oh, the shame!

Wending my way back to “my” side of the river, the pizza place was long shut and there did not appear to be many options nor did I fancy trekking all the way back over the bridge to the centre and so there was nothing else for it. To my eternal shame, I had a Macdonalds! Ah well, apparently it didn’t kill me and so Iwas off to bed which, barrack like as it was, was at least long enough for me and fairly comfortable.

So why Innsbruck and why Austria? The way this trip was progressing the obvious answer would be, “Why not” but that was not the only reason. For all my wanderings in Europe and beyond I had never been there although I shall qualify that. I think we passed briefly through it on the bus in the middle of the night and en route to Memmingen and I vaguely remember changing trains about 30 years ago in Wien but I don’t really count either event. I had gone out of the station, had a quick couple of beers in the nearest bar and then caught the next train.  People had told me Innsbruck was lovely and so it proved and so it just seemed like a plan.

In truth, there was rather more sightseeing done of the interiors of the many decent bars on offer than of the undoubted attractions of the city. This is demonstrated by the complete paucity of images which again is unlike me and amounted to the underwhelming total of two for the next day, the 8th, both of which are reproduced here. The first is a rather odd piece of public art which I must admit did nothing for me and the second is the view along the river Inn, for which the city takes it’s name. This most certainly did plenty for me with that stunning mountain backdrop. I would love to visit when the snow has fallen. As an aside I should mention that the river is extremely fast flowing, I dread to think how much water flows under that bridge daily.

OK, little else to report so I shall carry on to the 9th in the next instalment.  Stay tuned and spread the word.