Yeah, puerile I know, but I couldn’t quite resist it.
InterRail is all about spontaneity, or so goes the rubrick anyway. But some InterRailers just prefer to have a plan. We generally fall into that category, but made a small concession to spontaneity with a day trip from Vienna to Linz.
After checking out of our hotel we had until 10pm until our Night Train was due to whisk us away to Zurich en route to Lausanne. So with time to kill we simply rocked up at Westbahnhof and scanned the departure boards.
We ruled out Bratislava, since that meant schelpping over to Sudbahnhof station. In retrospect this was possibly a mistake…
Salzburg was too far so we plumped instead for Linz, partly I think because I laboured under the misapprehension that this is where Lindt chocolates are made. (I know). Linz of course is the home of Linzer Torte. I don’t think we tried it.
Arriving on a Sunday most things were shut, unsurprisingly. The park area near the station is currently being re-developed to accommodate a new concert hall. I’m sure it will look utterly fantastic once it’s ready, but it’s little more than a building site just now and so didn’t give us the best first impression.
An unkempt middle aged man playing cheesy 70s covers on a casio keyboard draws a small crowd in one of the main shopping streets – apparently Austria’s second most important one! We could well have been in Staines, Milton Keynes, Paisley or any other anonymous small town really.
Toy trains are one of our guilty travel pleasures and frankly there seemed to be little else to detain us in the town centre, so we hopped aboard. The train takes you on a 20 minute loop around the pretty Baroque old town and across the Danube, which has some interesting warehouse conversion buildings along the bank, including the uber-swanky Lentos Art Museum.
On this we learned several priceless nuggets, one being that Holy Roman EmperorFrederick III died after having his leg amputated for gout, caused by excessive watermelon consumption! The town also has the dubious honour of being the place in which Hitler spent his formative years and considered home.
The local crusties gave us sarcastic slow waves from the pavement as we crawled past them and dozens of identical confectioners and bakeries.
Linz is also home to the world’s steepest narrowmountain railway, the Postlingbergbahn. Sadly we discovered this fact too late in the day to take a ride…
Our abiding memory of Linz though will always be the comical conversation we had with our waiter in this restaurant. One of those times when the langauge barrier is all too painfully apparent, as this menu translation ably demostrates…
Seeking clarification on the English menu of a certain sausage item I asked ‘Do you have Bratwurst please?’
Mr Waiter: ‘Breakfast?’ Cos, you know, obviously the only thing any Brit will eat abroad is a Full English…
I then asked for some mustard – ‘when in Rome/German-speaking lands..’ etc – but somehow he assumed I meant ketchup…
‘So you’re from the UK, yes?’, says Mr Waiter, as he gives us the bill. To this Mrs Jools pipes up, smiling sardonically ‘Yes. How can you tell?!’
Mr Waiter, looking a little bemused, says – ‘Umm, because of your accent. It is a very fine one. I like it.’
And for that reason alone, Linz was worth the detour!
Have you taken an unfortunate day trip or ‘gone on holiday by mistake’ lately? Share your story with a comment below!