After drinking numerous pots of mispelchen the previous night we expected to wake bleary, thankfully the apple brandy from Frankfurt must be of fine quality as our heads were surprisingly clear. Today’s trains would take us south along the Rhine for a short time then south east to Stuttgart and Ulm. We would then travel through Upper Swabia to Lake Constance before entering Vorarlberg, the western most part of Austria.
Our first train was a quick S-Bahn hop back into Frankfurt then we were on the ICE to Ulm. Soon we were travelling through wine country with some classic terraced vineyards close to the tracks, particularly along the banks of the Neckar. We arrived in Ulm in time for lunch but the area around the station was rather soulless so we jumped on the next train south and travelled a couple of stops to Biberach an der Riß. This is one of the great advantages of travelling with an Interrail pass, it may not always be the cheapest option but the flexibility offered can be well worth the money. We knew nothing of Biberach but it looked much smaller on the map so hopefully a better option for lunch. By good fortune it turned out to be a lovely old town and coincidentaly it was market day. We wandered around the market a little then found ourselves in a traditional WeinStube called Weinstube Goldener Rebstock where we had an excellent lunch of local Swabian dishes, including the wonderfully named leberkäse, which, although translates as liver cheese, contains neither liver nor cheese but is a type of very finely ground meatloaf. The staff and the locals in the restaurant were delightful and very interested in our kilts and our travels.
From Biberach we joined the IC 119 which travels all the way from Dortmund to Innsbruck. The train was fairly busy but we found a six seat compartment with only one other person in it. We got chatting, he had been working away and was returning home to Aulendorf, the next stop on the line. As is sometimes the case when wearing a kilt, the conversation turned to whisky and he promptly whipped a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey out of his bag. We shared a few drams from our hipflasks before he left us and we had the compartment to ourselves for the remaining couple of hours. This route took us through progressively more Alpine scenery and along the shores of Lake Constance until we arrived in Bludenz, a town with a wonderful setting being surrounded by the Bregenzerwald, Rätikon and Silvretta mountains.
Travelling for travel’s sake is wonderful but it is always worth taking the opportunity to catch up with old friends when it arises. We were in Bludenz to visit a dear friend Doris from Slovenia who had lived in Western Austria for many years. I hadn’t told Rob why we were in Bludenz and I wasn’t sure if he knew she lived there so it was a surprise for him ( or at least he acted like it was ) when Doris met us at the station. We were staying in Doris’s flat with stunning views from the balcony and had a lovely time that evening, sharing a few drinks and old memories with Doris and her friend Walter.