Almost immediately after we left Munich for Austria via train we began an upward ascent. It took some doing, however. Germany closed its border both from and to Austria due to the crisis of refugee/immigrants, which the European media is now reporting is less than 20% from Syria’s war-torn provinces and mostly people (young men) seeking better opportunity in the west, meaning northern Europe and mainly Germany. Our train was cancelled, and after standing in an information line in the Hauptbahnhof (main or central train station) for awhile, we were reassigned a new route which could get us into Austria. The rub was that now we had to make four transfers and add another five hours to our travel. At least we were able to use our original tickets “no questions asked” even if we were now on different trains and times than the original tickets stated. So off to the new train we went, and soon found that all the first class seats were pre-reserved (we had reserved seats on our original schedule which did not work on the new train) and the tourist class was standing room only. Kathy noticed that the train had a dining car and immediately went for a table. We stuffed our luggage behind our seats and sat down to a linen covered table with comfortable chairs and ordered breakfast as the train began an ascent into the German highlands. No room in first class soon meant nothing.
Upward and upward we went as our trains eventually took us into the Austrian Tyrol. Amazing sights unfolded before our eyes: mountains of raw timber covering acre upon acre ready for some application to industry or home use; tidy farms with cattle grazing on the hillside–how do those cattle seem to stand so effortlessly on such steep hills; corn fields almost ready for harvest; bright yellow fields with some crop of which I have yet to discover the name; neatly stacked cords of wood by barns and homes ready for winter fires; dark thick forests extending into the horizon; mountain lakes with cozy villages with tall-steepled or onion-domed churches, usually white or yellow, nudging against the waters. Gradually, as we ascended higher and higher, the steep green hills and farms disappeared and the forests receded, roof pitches on buildings became steeper and jagged mountain peaks appeared. We had moved into the high mountain Tyrol, and it was awesome!
Both sides of the train held extraordinary views. I was almost dizzy from going back and forth. Then, amidst all that beauty, came something even more beautiful. On our car was a pretty Austrian mother, cradling her infant daughter in her lap, with a three-year-old son as blond as blond can be and big blue eyes looking on as she read a children’s story book in German and softly sang while caressing her daughter’s cheek. Time both stood still and warped–what my mother did for me and Kathy did for our children and they for theirs, as I am sure is also true for you, and as it was being done before me then and there as the train moved past one mountain peak to another and across rivers and by lakes until we arrived at our destination high in the Tyrol. WEG – Sunday, September 20, 2015
A postscript – As we post this blog, our travel companions, Rhonda & Allen Krahn, have returned safely home to Texas, and Dan & Charlotte Berg are flying over the East Coast of the continental United States on their way back to Houston.