Monday 30th October
I must have slept well in my reclining seat as I completely slept through Munich and Saltzburg, although I had been aware of many different people having sat beside me during the night. When I awoke the train – still the Orient Express – was pulling out of Linz. When I had gone to sleep I had been surrounded by people with coats pulled up over their heads to help them sleep but by the time we left Linz these had all been replaced by smart Austrian commuters tapping away at their laptops. It was all rather disconcerting. Between Munich and Vienna the train snakes along the foothills of the Alps, a beautiful site to wake up to. Leafy suburbs appeared and then Vienna rolled into view, looking pristine in the morning sunshine. With an hour and a half to kill I stretched my legs in the vicinity of the station. The first thing that stuck me was how cold the air was and I was cold wearing both of the coats that I was travelling with. Only they day before I had been in Paris wearing a t-shirt!
Wien Westbahnhoff is a bright and airy mordernist station with large windows that bathe the quitely ciruclating masses in morning sunlight. All around me seem very relaxed, almost noislessly moving from platform to platform. Time for a coffee and to stock up on provisions and then it was straight onto my next train, the 10am “Avala” to Belgrade.
In contrast to the western side of Vienna the landscape to the Danube Valley to the east is wide and flat. Between the capital and the border I saw hundreds of windturbines slowly turning over in the breeze. At the border with Hungary I caught sight of the river and on the opposite bank, Slovakia. On the Hungarian side of the border, the river continues eastward for about an hour afterwhich, then it makes a sharp right and heads south to the capital. By 1 o’clock we’ve arrived at Budapest Keleti station.