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Austria 2012

I spent the last week or so in Klagenfurt in Austria. Both ways I flew between London and Munich, spent a night in Munich, and got the train between Munich and Klagenfurt. It was almost five hours each way by train, but a very scenic route through Salzburg and what's called the Hohe Tauern. Unfortunately I had some rain throughout, but it didn't spoil the holiday. Klagenfurt's a smallish place, despite being the capital of Carinthia, but there are some attractive seventeenth-eighteenth century buildings and a nice lakeside on the Werthersee a few miles out of the centre. A lot of them are original noble town houses now split up, and the courtyards are sometimes open at both sides. Sometimes there's been further building inside the courtyards, so you get an effect similar to the traboules in Lyon. It also has what's claimed to be the world's largest collection of electric keyboard instruments at what's called the "eboardmuseum", run by an engaging guy who does demonstrations of the assorted instruments. I now know that traditional electric pianos are really electric glockenspiels, and why you can tell a fake early Hammond organ by the fact that the Leslie speaker controls are nicely integrated. (Hammond disapproved of the invention, and owners had to buy the speaker separately and bodge them together.)

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My main reason for going to that area was to see the second biggest transport museum in Austria, which is in a small town outside Klagenfurt called Ferlach. They've got a static museum, steam trains running on a preserved section of railway, and vintage bus and electric train rides, which was all a lot of fun. I stayed at a hotel called the Atrigon, which was next to the railway station but well enough insulated that there was no train noise problem. It wasn't that filled with "local character", but was a comfortable place to stay. On the way back I spent the afternoon with a friend in Munich, which was great. We had lunch and then sat around in the Englischer Garten. Thanks to people here who recommended the Uhland. I ended up eating breakfast one morning with a French man who was puzzled that the hotel was full of Americans, so I explained about Rick Steves :-) Another nice surprise: both the restaurant I liked in Klagenfurt, a place called "zum Heiligen Joseph", and the biergarten within the Englischer Garten, had local cider. So both Bavarian and Carinthian ciders are pretty good.