I recently spent a weekend in Kufstein, Austria. Which is a pretty small town. According to recently garnered information, it is located between South Tyrol in Italy and Bavaria in Germany, and is right around the corner from SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, which is Austria’s largest interconnected ski area. I don’t ski. And I didn’t study geography in school (unfortunately). So when I went, I really had little to no idea where I was actually going. My goal was simple: I was going to meet some old friends. The actual location of my friends was just a minor detail. I had a feeling we would have fun wherever we were. And thankfully, I really turned out to be right.
My great friend Timo, a fellow arts management nerd and a friend I made while studying at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, has a teaching gig at a university in Kufstein and invited me out for the weekend. I am always looking for an excuse to travel, and I had never been to Austria, so why not? And to make matters better, a wonderful mutual friend of ours was working in Munich, only an hour train ride away. Two countries and two friends in one weekend? I think yes! 🙂
Now, an important side note. I had no idea how to track down the train to get to Austria from where I live in Bologna, so I asked my friend Timo to do the research. By going directly to the Austrian ÖBB train website he was able to find me a round trip fare (not listed on the Italian train site) for a mere 60 euro. The train ride was not only totally economical, but it ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. Riding through the Italian Alps defines the term “eye candy.” Views rivaling Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park are just whizzing by like, no biggie.
But as wonderful as the train ride was, the real highlight was the hospitality of my friends. As the true gentlemen that they are, they had every moment planned for me, and still managed to let me pick my favorite parts of the trip. Timo met me at the train station, gave me a whirlwind tour of Kufstein, and brought me home to drop off my bags and to have a relaxed at-home happy hour.
Then on to an amazing Austrian meal complete with a character of a waitress and a huge fireplace in the middle of the restaurant, and not a tourist in sight. Nothing better than an Austrian salad and some potatoes and cheese. Yes, I’m easy to please.
The next day involved a superb Austrian brunch with endless scrumptious bread and cheese, a tour of his university, and a hike that straddled the border of Austria and Germany (he was looking forward to making free calls to Germany when we got to that part of the hike).
And a giant lake. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. In my life, not a typical day. But the Austrians seemed pretty nonchalant about all the grandeur and such.
We topped off the awesome day with a sushi dinner of all things at a boisterous local hangout. I was thrilled.
Last but not least. Our day in Germany. After a train we nearly missed (running after trains is not sexy, I really need to start planning more appropriately), we met our friend Thomas for lunch in Munich at Prinz Myshkin, a restaurant they let me choose in the historic Altstadt neighborhood. And the restaurant was vegetarian, no less. What more could I ask for? Then, as the arts management nerds we all are, our next stop was the modern art museum, Pinakothek der Moderne. We sauntered our way to the museum after lunch with a brief delay by the Carnival parade that intercepted our walk.
Adults dressed as jungle animals? I was interested.
Once in the museum, I managed to set off several alarms in my picture-taking gusto as we casually took in the spectacular architecture of the museum, and the awesome Jeff Wall exhibit.
Followed by a great coffee break at the bar and a late Indian dinner when we got back to Austria. It was a successful day, I would say.
I left the next morning, and my disappointment about my short stay in beautiful Kufstein was short-lived, as once again the spectacular scenery of the ride through the Alps captured my devotion for a few short hours.
Back at home in Bologna, I was newly enlivened with the spirit of my awesome weekend, thanks to the amazing gentlemen hosts. The first of a series of smashing successes with friend related traveling. I highly recommend it. 🙂