Zurich, Switzerland, and an afternoon free between flying in and taking the train to St Anton in Austria. I remember the email that I wrote in the coffee shop that I found. It was one of the more memorable of my coffee explorations, where I would pinpoint a new independent coffee shop on the map and wander into a new district to find it.
This was a trip to look at the Zillertal area above Mayrhofen, Austria, scouting for a new route for Alpine Exploratory. After St Anton I continued by train to Innsbruck and took buses for a day’s walk above town, then moved on to Mayrhofen. A part of my visit was to find a good hotel and in the course of four nights and four different hotels I found three that were excellent and one that was exceptional. At the end of my trip I stayed in Kufstein, a small Tyrolean town, before two nights in Vienna.. again each in a new hotel. I walked all across town, as I have done on my other three visits to Vienna.
Work through the medium of email was carrying on in the background and this particular week was one of highs and lows. Two situations in particular were ongoing and it happened that both resolved themselves, to my immense satisfaction, on my Viennese day. I remember that evening in particular and the feeling of being emboldened to go for the strudel and custard.
I knew the shape of my trip in advance, as in the list of towns, even hotels, that I would stay in. I did not know which images would pass through my mind during the trip, the shape and colour of the hills, the viability of the trail I was investigating, the weather, the look and feel of those trains that were new to me, the qualities of the hotels all of which were new to me too, and those new streets and restaurants that I would choose. More often than not, my work trips result in at least one moment of total surprise – running for a bus in a remote valley, for example – that give me a jolt and a feeling of exhilaration as I take it all in.
What is it about this trip that I am enjoying so much? It’s the same element that is essential to all trips, to all years, months and ideally weeks of my life as lived when free to travel: the element of not knowing what comes next. Humans live on earth and find a mixture of, on one hand, security and comfort at home, and on the other hand adventure and enterprise at large. Some of us lean towards home and some of us need more adventure than others.
“Stay outside. Travel as much as possible.” This edict would cause great distress, and hasn’t the opposite had the same effect?