October 30 – November 6
Friday – Innsbruck
Venice was amazing, but it was time to leave. It had been a most excellent holiday and I was really happy with the number of days that we had spent in Italy. Venice deserved the time we had set aside, and while more time could always be use: there is always something new to see! But now that it was time to go, I was looking forward to the journey home. I was pleased with our travel times today: our train would depart late enough in the morning that we could sleep in, but early enough that we’d get to our next destination in the middle of the afternoon.
We packed up our backpacks (slightly fuller now that we had “boosted the local economy” when we visited some clothing shops) and left behind our cozy hotel room. The five minute walk to the station was quiet since it was before the city really started to wake up.
At 9:10 we were seated and the train rolled out of the station, doubling back on the same lines that we had arrived on four days ago.
Checking out trains on other tracks
Our car was mostly empty as we departed and the train ride was uneventful. At least today we could see the sights as they flew by the window, as the weather was much clearer.
Dan reads the paper – not that he can read Italian
Oh hey! I’m famous!
The many tracks that span the lagoon
What we didn’t see on the way in
Our train went as far as Verona and then we had to change. It was a simple change and the wait for the connection not too bad. I had toyed with the idea of delaying our connection in order to see the historic city center of Verona, but it was a 30 minute walk and I wasn’t sure if we could stash our bags somewhere. No worries: I’ll save Verona for another trip.
Crossing into Verona
We had our seats reserved for the crossing into Austria and much to my surprise we had our own private cabin! It turned out that the train wasn’t very full so we had all six seats to ourselves. We stretched out, hung up our little bluetooth speaker and kicked back for a ride into the mountains.
The aisle outside of our cabin
The cabin was quiet and the tracks smooth. The scenery that slipped by our window was nice: a mix of towns, forests, mountains and fields.
Apples near Trento
We left Verona and made two more stops: Trento and Brenner. Leaving Trento behind, we quickly gained elevation and the scenery started to shift to “Alpine in Winter”.
Brenner was our final stop in Italy. For the last few minutes I had been chatting with an American couple outside of the cabin next to ours. They were retired and visiting family in Europe. It was a nice distraction from my book and they had some interesting stories to tell. As the train pulled into Brenner I returned to my own cabin: Officials had come on board and were checking tickets and – surprise! – face masks. Our simple “medical masks” were not sufficient for the Austrian authorities. The inspector told us we could buy regulation FFP2 masks in the dining car, which Dan did.
In addition to our new masks, we also got some company: an older couple joined us in our little cabin, sitting quietly across from us and keeping to themselves. From here on out, we’d be traveling through Austria.
The ride to Innsbruck was fast and uneventful. We arrived at the station and only then did the couple in our cabin start to talk to us. They seemed surprised that we were getting off here and started to ask us questions. It was a short stop in Innsbruck and we had to leave quickly before the train started to move again.
Dan and I had spent some time in Innsbruck back in 2019 and I was excited to be back. Why? Burritos! But first we dropped our stuff off at Pension Stoi. I chose this place because it was a budget hotel incredibly close to the train station and had good reviews. All we needed was a clean place to rest our heads for the night and this fit the bill.
After dropping off our bags we bundled up and went out to see the streets of Innsbruck. Not much had changed and we didn’t plan to do any sightseeing. But we DID plan on some shopping and a really good dinner.
We meandered through the streets in the direction of Machete “Burrito Kartell”. When we were here before we stumbled upon this tiny restaurant, packed the gills with students, and I was impressed with the burrito that they made. So impressed, in fact, that as soon as I started to lay out the route for this holiday, I became irrationally excited for the planned return.
As I sat there, savoring my meal, I had a brilliant thought: I’d get one to go! I could keep it cold on our room’s window ledge and then enjoy it when I got back to Basel. Yes!
After dinner we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some things that can’t be found in Switzerland then went back to our room for the evening. It was early but it was also cold out (2° C) so we just chilled (pun not intended) in the room. Tomorrow we’d be home.