Train Travel – 2/22/14
I was awake at 6:30am on a Saturday morning knowing I had a train to catch. I took my bag on a 10 minute walk to the train station which was directly next to the infamous Dom. I paid 175 Euro for a train ticket to Innsbruck, Austria which was a 7 hour ride with 2 transfers. I got to the Koln train station and had to wait about 25 minutes for my delayed train.
When I boarded the train I sat in a seat that was a single by itself next to the window. I was comfortably reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula when a woman tapped me on my shoulder and started speaking German. I looked at her like she was from another planet, shook my head no which felt like a reasonable response, and then in English she told me she had reserved this seat. I was not one to argue so I stood up and looked for another seat. Everything was taken so I started standing in between the two cars. After a few minutes someone who worked for the train knew I was a foreigner and offered me a seat in first class which I spent the duration of the trip in.
I got to Munich and had missed my connecting train so I had to figure out what to do without having much guidance. I ended up getting on the right train and had the same situation at the next station with missing my connector because my first train ran late. I was able to successfully get on a train that made about 20 stops to Innsbruck. When I arrived I met with the person who invited me to Innsbruck and he showed me around the city and we drank a few beers. There was a huge glass tower with a bar at the top floor which was a sight to see.
The scenery is unbelievable and it was like nothing I’ve seen before. We then drove about 25 minutes away to a smaller town which was the home of the manufacturing facility that I was visiting. The hotel I checked into was incredibly Austrian. The shower was a bit unique as well (picture aside) but the room was very nice. I showered up and got ready to meet up again for some dinner. We went to a laid back bar that served burgers so that was convenient. We drank a few beers and called it a night at about 11.
Skiing On The Glacier- 2/23/14
This was the day that I was most fearful for, skiing on the Alps. I’m not much of a skier and my last trip resulted somewhat poorly so needless to say I was a bit worried going 10,000 feet up. Fortunately the person I was going with was a ski instructor so that helped. He took care of all the normal procedures like rentals and we were set to go. With his thoughtful tips on holding the poles, putting on the skis, and general movement tips, it was nice to finally have some guidance. By no means was I good, but I was able to get up and down the mountain successfully on runs.
The views were unreal and I was having a blast. There was a bar in the middle of the mountain that had an open roof and was blasting EDM. It was freaking awesome and we were having a great time. This scenery produced by far the best pictures I had from the trip. After skiing we had a drink of hot wine at a place that blasted German polka music which wasn’t the friendliest on the ears. I was back at the hotel at 7 or so and fell asleep for an hour before I got up and walked around the small Austrian village a bit to get a feel for the area. It gets quite cold at night. I went to sleep at around 10pm.
Touring the Town – 2/24/14
Today was the day where I went touring some of the manufacturing plants in this Austrian town. There was a slight language barrier but everyone treated me with the utmost respect. I learned a whole lot and will take this knowledge back to the States and hopefully do something with it.
I went for a run into the mountains after the day’s work and sensed that my trip was coming to an end. At a high point in the mountain there sat a bench and this bench overlooked the entire village. At that point I realized how different my States environment is compared to this one and just took it all in. I wish I had my camera because it was the best scenery I had witnessed. I went back to the hotel and ate an Austrian meal at the hotel and headed to sleep because I had a 6:30am flight from Innsbruck the next day.
Travel Torture – 2/25/14
This was a pure travel day. I was up at 4:45am and showered up and had all my items prepared. I had a cab picking me up at 5:20 and when I went to get him, the front door to the hotel was locked and there was no one around. This wasn’t good. I ended up going out an emergency exit and traveled to the airport.
Security was simple in Innsbruck and an hour long flight arrived me in Frankfurt. I spent a few hours in the Frankfurt airport before getting on a plane to Newark. I watched Captain Phillips, We’re the Millers, and Bad Grandpa on the plane to pass the time.
Once in Newark, I ate some food and felt relieved to be back in the States where I could communicate once again. My plane arrived on time and I was off to Vegas. This 5 hour flight was tough because I wasn’t tired and I did my best reading Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper to pass the time. I touched down and was completely exhausted. I got to the Luxor, checked in and fell asleep at 8pm.
Viva Las Vegas – 2/26/14
I woke at 4am feeling energized and decided to go for a run. I ran about 3 miles down the Las Vegas strip and then 3 miles back feeling great. I was a little bit early for sunrise but there weren’t many people on the street which was nice. I showered up and had a nice meal at the hotel before walking around a bit to the other hotels. I finally got a chance to see the Aria which was a first. I also visited a couple Vegas stores in the Mandalay Bay shops and was feeling like an American tourist once again.
The roofing show in Vegas went as expected as I’ve done it for about 5 years now. After the show I ate a burger and had a few beers and a shot which hit me harder than I thought. I got back to my room at 5pm and fell asleep until about 9. I woke up and decided to play some poker at the Bellagio until 3am. I also managed to drop 250 bucks playing blackjack in a session that had me crying mercy after about 20 hands. I ate late night McDonald’s nuggets and went to bed.
Pooped – 2/27/14
I woke up feeling fine but not my finest. I couldn’t tell if I was hungry or not so I walked out to the strip and ate an overpriced slice of pizza and chugged 2 bottles of water. My flight was at 3pm and I was ready to go. I went to the show for a few hours and headed to the airport.
I was supposed to get a flight from McCarran to Denver and then to Philly but an hour delay of the Denver flight caused me to miss my Philly connector. This made me change my plans and my only option was to get a midnight flight to Philadelphia. It was 3pm. I spent 9 hours in the airport which was highlighted by a slot spin that netted me 329 bucks. I forgot to tip the cashier but felt pretty happy because it made up all my losses from the previous night.
Philly Finally – 2/28/14
I was getting stir crazy in the airport but eventually got on the plane to take me home. I arrived at 8am in Philly and kissed the ground. I was pretty excited to be back because I had just had so much travel time that I was looking forward to some relaxation. I slept for a few hours and am making some attempts to get back to a proper schedule. I suppose it will take a few days.
After leaving the country for the first time I think it will make it much easier to do it again. You realize that it’s not that difficult and it’s an invaluable experience. I’d like to spend more time seeing more places. I received many invitations to visit other businesses around Europe and I hope to travel again in a few months. I would make a greater effort to learn the language because you feel like an outsider without it. 3 months of off and on learning was not enough. Either way, I had a great time and thank all the people who made it possible.