13 September 2012

From Vaduz to Salzburg via Buchs

After a brief lay-over in Vaduz it was on to Salzburg. This is a direct journey of about four hours from the nearest station, Buchs.

Before I left Vaduz I took a picture of a typical view of the village to compare with all the nicer ones that I selected for my previous posts.

Far from looking Alpine, the centre is full of nondescript rectangular blocks with scant decoration and the hills behind (in Switzerland) are obscured by low cloud.

It had stopped raining my then though.

I took the No. 12 bus back to Buchs, also in Switzerland. I dared not risk the 11:38 which promised to get me to the station one minute before the train was due to leave so I took the 11:30 instead which left me with half an hour to fill at the station.

Taking a close look at an old locomotive just outside the station was the obvious thing to do first. I love machinery and the old locomotives were proud to show theirs, much as the Lloyds of London building is today. Modern trains are sleek and seem to move by magic so determined are they to hide the mechanics that make them work.

There was not much else to see in Buchs and my train, due in half an hour, was the next one in, so I headed for the waitign room.

This was a nice surprise as it used to be the border control point with booths for checking documents and tables for examining the contents of suspicious cases.

Things have changed a lot since then. My passport has been looked at just once on this journey and that was back when it started in London. I have been in five countries since then. These are not all EU countries either.

It is for waits at places like Buchs that the iPod within the iPhone becomes especially useful and I was able to spend the time catching up on the Radio 4 podcasts that had been piling up while I had better things to do, like sightseeing.

Around a dozen of us were waiting when the train arrived on schedule.

The long platforms suggest that Buchs is well used to these cross-continent trains, mine was travelling from Zurich to Vienna.

The four-hour journey time to Salzburg was enough to persuade me to go for first class though on Rail Jet (Austrian) that meant little more than a very comfortable seat. The only service that I was offered all journey was one opportunity to get a beer which I had to pay for.

Still, the train was comfortable and the journey was smooth and the view was pretty. Unlike Vaduz, this was proper Alpine stuff with sweet cottages set among rich agriculture. The mountains defiantly kept their snow, safe in the knowledge that fresh falls were not far away.

The purpose of the day was to have a break between some intensive days of sightseeing so I had not planned to do very much in Salzburg, other than find somewhere to eat. That meant taking bit of a walk from the hotel and that meant going through Mirabell Gardens (Mirabellgarten).

The sun was sliding away quickly at the time which while not ideal for photography also meant that there were many fewer tourists there than at other times, as the next three days proved.

The gardens were an exhilarating end to the day and an early confirmation that I was right to include Salzburg on my list of holiday destination.

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