A snapshot of Austria (and a travel tip).

After spending two nights in Bormio I’m on the road again. I ride once more the eighty six bends of the Stelvio pass and, then, a few more kilometres along Italian lands take me to Austria, a country which soon captivates me: it’s advanced and civilized, yet with a undeniable rural charm. The roads are good, the urban developement is cared for, people are kind and polite, and it’s well ahead of Central Europe when it comes to percentage of citizens who can keep an English conversation; which shouldn’t be a surprise when taking into account that Austria’s economy (one of the ten richest in the world as to income per capita), before industry and agriculture, is based on international tourism; which, in turn, doesn’t necessarily mean they have to give up their countryside lifestyle (something we still need to learn in Spain, where we only understand “modern” as opposing to “countryside”).
And of course Austria is scenery-wise irreproachable, 70% of its territory being the Alps. I’m now in the Tyrol, a bilingual zone spreading throughout a region of Italy and another of Austria; which is the reason why, being a traditional unit, when crossing the border around here, there are no abrupt contrasts in landscape or habits; actually they’re barely noticeable.
It’s a sunny day of nice temperatures, perfect for biking: you can ride on your three-quarter without the lining, which is -to my taste- the ideal combo: protected in case of fall, yet exempt of feeling heat.
I take a lunch in one of the abounding road gasthofen, so typical in German speaking countries. The right places for a meal break: almost always furnished in wood, they’re usually quite cozy; their menus are simple and easy to understand for a foreigner; dishes are tasty and plentiful, locally brewed beer (kellerbier) is great… These businesses understand tourism very well, have moderate prices and the know-how of travelers.
I sit at a table outdoors, under the sun, and Jesus! once you get off the motorcycle it’s warm here, even on a T-shirt. A belle and shy waitress on a Tyrolean dress tends to me. At a nearby table a carousal of Bavarian bikers joke with her and make her blush, but she doesn’t lose her smile nor her composure. I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I can’t make out spite in their remarks; perhaps just mischief. There’s a good atmosphere and the customers, though strangers, talk to each other over the talbes. There’s still who insists that this extroversion is exclusive of the Spanish character…
I do with just a kartoffelsalat (potato salad, one of my favourite German dishes), a kellerbier and an icecream; then carry on, greeting and greeted by everyone.
For finding accomodation I pull off the highway a few kilometres, up to an idyllic village called Ehrwald, where there are a number of hotels and B&B’s. I pick one randomly, and there I’m welcomed by a couple more or less my age, both very polite. He’s eager of some conversation and we engage on a long talk. As, on the other hand, I’m the only customer today, he can afford inviting me to a walk to the mountain, and showes me the nicest path around. After a fair way up the hill there’s a great view, like a canvas’ scenery, all different hues of greenery: radiant green down in the valley, spotted by the houses’ red roofs and the grazing sorrel cows; ochre green on the hillsides, covered by pine woods and lit by the setting sun; dark, metallic green on the shadowy sides; only the snowed rocky peaks, bare and inmersed in haze, are a blueish grey.
This time I’m only staying one night in Austria, as I’m crossing the country northwards by its narrowest part and has no more to give, but this first experience is so positive that I promise myself to come back later. So, next morning, after finishing off the assorted breakfast I’m offered and saying farewell to my hosts, I get on Rosaura and carry on my trip to the north.

* * *

And, there not being any photograph this day (because Italy outshines all other sensations), I’m going to share a little travel tip with whomever comes across this webpage, in the hope that it be useful for someone.
Quite likely, when staying overnight at some hotel, some time in your life you’ve had to handwash a garment in your hotel room’s sink, only to realize then that there’s no time for it to get dry before departure. In such cases, here’s an easy trick for fast-drying a piece of clothing, using the same towel you’ve used after your shower.
First you lay out your garment onto the towel, thus:
Then you fold the remaining of the towel over the clothing, this way:
Now you roll it up like this:
And finally you squeeze the roll as a tourniquet as mighty as you can for ten or fifteen seconds (careful: if you’re very strong and the towel is worn out you may break it; but most likely you’ll need the help of someone else or, if you’re alone, you can hold an end of the roll between your knees while twisting the other end with both your hands):
Now, when you unroll the bundle, most of your garment’s humidity will be in the towel.
I do this daily with excellent results. Depending on the fabric, sometimes I come up with my garment almost totally dry. If you’re in a hurry and there’s a hair drier in the room, you can use it for a finishing it off; but I don’t like this because it’s a waste of energy, not environmentally friendly. Also that’s why I’d rather use the towel I’ve been using for myself, and not any other spare towel in the room, because the used ones will be washed all the same by the hotel staff, while the unused won’t. But this is just my ecological side.

Oh! Of course, this system is only good if you’re not bothered by wrinkles in your clothing…

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