Monday, January 22, 2007

St Anton Adventure Part 1

It all started on Saturday. The 9.20 train from Lausanne. 4 train changes and 5 hours later and we arrive at our destination; St Anton am Arlberg, Austria.

The train journey was pretty good, made easier by A's DIY job on our wooden sledge. He'd taken 4 wheels from his roller blades and attached them using long screws and bolts to the runners. This meant that we had our own trolley to carry our luggage. Of course we couldn't steer it, and the sheer volume of luggage he'd insisted on bringing (we're staying in a luxury hotel, so our stay should be luxurious, apparently) meant that even on the way to the bus stop to get to the train station the bags fell off several times and we made the bus with only a minute to spare (the sight of him running up the road because he thought the no 4 that had just passed him was the no 1 was a sight to behold).

What was also good was the fact that the first train, 2 ½ hours to Zurich had a family carriage, so M could play on the slide and climbing frame to his hearts content. I find it so amusing listening to him rabbiting on at all the other kids in English, not really realising that most of the time they don't understand a word he's saying. Between A and I we understand both German and French so we can normally get the gist of what the other kids were saying. One particular exchange was particularly amusing. M was telling some small child that it was fun to hide under the slide, and why doesn't he come with M? He then proceeded to tell him that we live in Lausanne (a favourite topic of conversation with M at the moment). The poor child turned to his mother and in Swiss German said, “Mummy, why can't I understand what he's saying?”. “Because he's speaking in English, darling”. Bless her, she then asked M what his name was in English, to which he duly replied, adding to the end “and I live in Lausanne”!

The train from Zurich to Sargans, was initially not so pleasant. We only had 9 minutes to cross platforms (not a small feat with all our luggage) and I got on first with M in the buggy to find it packed out.
The entrance to the carriage was very small and there were lots of people behind me, so with M asleep I tried to go down the aisle of the carriage. However, at the entrance to the carriage proper, there was a suitcase blocking the buggy's path. There was a woman sitting looking at me, so in my halting German said, “K├Ânnen Sie...” and then indicated that maybe she could move the suitcase out of my way as I could not get past the buggy to move it, and there was a big guy directly behind me. She just looked at me and shrugged. I began to feel my blood beginning to boil. I did not need someone pretending that they had no idea what I wanted help with, someone who seemed content to let me struggle, when I knew that A was trying to get all the bags onboard, and the train was about to leave at any moment. Luckily, an English guy realised what the problem was, and cleared a path for me.
Then I had to find a seat. By this time, M was awake, albeit rather groggy. I went down the carriage and then a woman spoke to me in Swiss German and stood up. From what I could gather, she was getting off at the next stop so we could have her seats. Of course, trying to persuade M to get out of the buggy into a seat so I could fold up the buggy and get it out of the way was not an easy thing, and the young woman behind me was giving me dirty looks. By this point I almost told her that if she was so keen to get past, why didn't she just climb onto my back and leapfrog over M.
Eventually we sat down, and then I realised that the train was moving and there was no sign of A. Panicking slightly, I left a still groggy M sitting in his seat, and went back down the carriage. I found most of our bags at the entrance, but no sign of the sledge or our large case. Panicking slightly more now, particularly as A had the tickets, I went back to our seats, only to see him coming towards me. He had run out of space where we got on, and so went one carriage further up to put the rest of the stuff on!
He'd also found a spare 6 seater carriage further down the train (think the individual carriages on the Hogwarts Express!) so after all that faff of getting a seat, we moved everything, including a now sleeping M, to our 'own' carriage.

The next train to Buchs was packed, and people weren't particularly bothered that their skis, and bags were just at the right level to hit the buggy as they turned round. Luckily, M managed to sleep through it all, including the next train from Buchs to Feldkirchen.

We were expecting at some point to have to get our passports out, but it seems that no undesirables would ever imagine of doing this journey, so our passports stayed firmly in our pockets. One other advantage of going on the train was that our travel passes (giving us free travel in the whole of Switzerland on buses, trains, trams and boats) also gave us 25% discount (or was that 75% discount) on travel in Austria too, so the entire journey cost us 85CHF (about £37)!

We got off the last train in St Anton, and found our minibus to our hotel, realising with horror that we hadn't brought the carseat and once we set off, the driver seemed to tear round the corners like a maniac. We'd used the normal seatbelt to strap M in, but it was far from ideal, and something we would never normally do (I refused a lift from a neighbour from the swimming pool recently because we didn't have the car seat with us). I was concerned that the journey was a long one, and listening in on A's conversation with the driver, I was sure that he said it was going to take 10 minutes to get there, so when the car pulled up at the hotel after about 90 seconds, I was mightily relieved (turns out it takes 10 minutes to travel the length of the village).

End of part 1......(just because this is going to be long and I thought I'd tempt you with bits and pieces)

1 comment:

Barbara said...

all I can say is that St Anton is gorgeous as we went there for a holiday in Aug 95 and lvoed it even tho it did snow

We stayed in Hotel kurtis which was great.

Looking forward to the 2nd part