I decided to take the train. Perhaps not as efficient as flying, I nevertheless thought it would be a nice diversion to make the final leg of my journey by rail. As it turns out, the three and a half hour excursion from Zurich to Innsbruck was lovely.
For miles, the track runs alongside the Bodensee, a huge Swiss lake. (I know the name because I asked a rail employee in my rudimentary German. This pleased me immensely!) The weather is warm and there are plenty of sunbathers, swimmers, paddle boarders and boaters enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. The landscape surrounding the lake is vibrantly green, the hills dotted with tidy-looking homes and farms.
Further along, the train rushes by a more beautiful lake (or is it the same one-there is no one to ask) with tall mountains jutting straight up from the aquamarine water, the serrated summits getting lost in the clouds. This is definitely picture postcard country but the train is going too fast to take pictures. I had planned to continue reading my book but I couldn’t take my eyes off the scenes outside the window.
The train makes a number of stops. They are carefully documented on screens hung from the ceiling of the rail car at regular intervals. The times of arrival and departure at each station are noted and when the train is early or late to a stop, the expected time has a line drawn through it with the actual time listed underneath. I find this incredibly compulsive yet endearing.
I haven’t spent much time in Western Europe in recent years, preferring to visit more remote locales. Looking at these sublime vistas from the train, I am reminded how much I enjoyed long-ago trips to Switzerland and Austria and how little has changed here in the countryside in the intervening years.
The mountains become taller, craggier, more massive, seeming to confine the train. Villages, some large, others tiny, are tucked into crevices high up on the slopes. As the light fades, shafts of sun light up a single dwelling or a grove of trees on the steep hillsides.
The clouds thicken, darken, and it begins to rain. And all too soon this sweet sojourn ends in Innsbruck.