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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 2: 26 September

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThere's never a dull moment on the Orient Express and flakes of brioche are still fresh on my fingers when the first call comes for brunch. Before I embarked on this journey I sought advice from many experienced travellers, and it was John Hemming, the Director of the Royal Geographical Society, who advised me that a true explorer never turns down a meal. It might be the last he'll be offered for days. I decide to approach brunch in this spirit, tucking into Eggs Benedict but avoiding a 'light breakfast wine' at 24 a bottle.

We cross Liechtenstein between the second and third course, and are entering our fifth country in less than twenty-four hours, when things begin to go wrong. We are diverted through the town of Buchs because of a derailment (which I just can't imagine happening on such an immaculately run system) and worse than this, we are to terminate at Innsbruck as there is a rail strike in Italy. So the Venice-Simplon Orient Express will not, today, visit either Venice or Simplon.

A bus is to be provided at Innsbruck but they are unable to guarantee the arrival time. Nervous now because of our tight ship connection onward from Venice, there's nothing I can do but sit back and enjoy the view. We're winding up to the Ahlberg Pass, through sweeping panoramas of lush green slopes and mountainsides of acid-rain-crippled trees. The villages with their onion-dome steeples lie calm and drowsy in the valleys. From each one there fans out a network of grey pylons carrying the cars, cables and chair-lifts on which their livelihood depends, and in the winter here you'll hardly be able to move.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 2
  • Date: 26 September
  • Country/sea: Austria
  • Place: Innsbruck
  • Book page no: 19

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