Introduction and flight

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I had originally planned a June bike tour from the Swiss border at Bregenz on the Bodensee - Lake Constance - in the far west of Austria to Salzburg (with a short train bridge over the Vorarlberg mountains). The plan was to fly into Zurich and then take a short train ride to Bregenz.

But Jeanine's broken leg caused by a "distracted" motorist forced us to postpone the trip to August and to revise the strategy. We would stay in one place for several days, taking excursions by bicycle from each place. I settled on flying into Salzburg, then staying 6, 4, and 2 nights, respectively, in the Jenbach, Zell am See, and Flachau areas. We would also take an overnight train for a 5 night stay Berlin and then the ICE back to Salzburg for the return flight.

The attraction for each place was The flight itinerary required two change of planes each way; but was the best I could do since I had to stick with Air Canada or loose what had been paid for the original tickets to Zurich. As on recent European trips, we had decided to spend the night near Chicago Ohare airport before and after, rather than taking the early train and flying out the same day and taking the late train back the same day the return flight arrives.

For the first time since 2000, we rented bicycles rather than carrying them along: Topbike located in the out of doors along the bike path on the Salzach River in the center of Salzburg, and then Stadt un Rad, a more established shop next door to Zoo Station in Berlin.

We were joined by Stafford and Monica from Bakersfield, CA, whom I had met the year before at a 50th high school reunion, and our old "mitradlers", Jeanine's sister Janelle and her friend Marcia.

July 31 Sunday - We took the early morning Amtrak #380 to Chicago and then the Metra to Franklin Park. The skimpier Sunday Metra schedule caused an approximately 3 hour wait at Union Station. The Metro Deli in Union Station provided a cool, quiet place to wait and store our luggage, all for the price of a cup of coffee.

When we arrived at Franklin Park, we called the Ohare Inn and Suites in Schiller Park as directed by an email. We were told they picked up only at the Airport and the Rosemont CTA Blue Line subway station. When contradicted, the desk clerk said to call back in 15 minutes when driver got back from the airport. As we were calling, the shuttle showed up. The Ohare Inn and Suites was reasonable and very nice.

Aug 1 Monday: Shuttled to airport with plenty of time to spare. We had planned to eat lunch after going through security when I saw a dump your liquids sign. Not about to dump my supply of wine, we decided to eat lunch before going through security. The wine helped make it through the long, Disney-like security line. Jeanine had to have her bike lock cable belt x-rayed before continuing.

The Chicago-Montreal flight circled about an hour approaching Montreal because of a thunderstorm, and spend another hour waiting to dock because of lightening. The Montreal-Frankfort flight was also delayed and we made it 15 minutes before its new departure time with the help of a motorized handicap cart. But it didn't take off for another 2 hours. By some stroke of fortune, the agent in Chicago changed us to bulkhead seats with plenty of leg room for the transatlantic leg.

Aug 2 Tuesday - sunny and warm: the trans-Atlantic flight delay merely reduced the 6:15 layover in Frankfurt by 3 hours before the final leg to Salzburg. It took about 10 minutes to get out of Salzburg airport, including a trip to the banc-o-mat, another 5 waiting for the bus just outside the door. A 10 minute bus ride took us to Privatzimmer Hämmerle, a classic Austrian pension and at 20E per person, including breakfast, was a steal. It is half way between the airport and main train station via bus #2 and halfway between the airport and the old town via bus #8.

A 1 1/2 hour sleep did away with jet lag; and I took the bus to Topbike and picked up my rental bike. I then arrived at the train station 5 minutes before Janelle and Marcia were to due in on the Railjet from Stuttgart. But I needn't have hurried because it suffered a 20 minute verspaetung. When one of the bus ticket machines wouldn't take my money, and the other was out of operation, they opted to walk to the Pension while I biked back. We enjoyed our first Austrian meal at the classic Gasthof in front of the pension operated by the same family.
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