24. Enter Austria

The train out of Bolzano was a local, terminating at the border, so we had to get out in Brennero and walk over to the Austrian side of the station. I didn’t see the modern ticket machine on the platform and instead found an old one in a waiting room. Had to break a bill at a fruit stand, so K and I had a big bunch of green grapes to munch on on the way down to the Inn valley. 

Austrian trains are new and fancy, from the locals to the expresses. I struck up a conversation with the woman across from me. Actually she spoke first.

“Hello, Excuse me, can I ask where you’re from?”

“I’m from the States.”

She thought it odd that an American wouldn’t be loaded down with tons of luggage and would be traveling for more than a week. She had just spent the day at her dentist’s, in Bolzano. The dentist used to have his office in Austria but had returned to his birthplace across the border and was in semi-retirement, limiting his services to family and VIPs. She was a woman with lots of travel experience-she worked for the UN and had been around the globe doing humanitarian and diplomatic work.

I told her we were headed to Alpbach and she said she was surprised we could get a place there, because of the Alpbach Forum.  

“It’s our version of the Davos Forum. It’s usually booked up this time of year.”

She said the Alpbach Forum was mostly attended by do-gooders, not the super-powerful who meet at Davos and scheme to consolidate the dominion of the aristocracy. 

I said, “speaking of the diabolic aristocracy, how about the Bilderberg meeting this year, just down the road from Innsbruck?”

I knew that the once mysterious Bilderbergers had met in a town just down the hill from Leutasch, where I had stayed with Una the year before.

“The what?”

-The Bilderberg group. The ones that meet every year in some secret location that’s not revealed until the last minute (or at least that’s how they used to do it about a decade ago. Before that they never told anyone and just denied that the meeting took place at all. If you mentioned Bilderberg pre- 2000s you were a kook.)

-No, I’ve not heard of them.

-Really? They were just here, in a town near Seefeld. There are big industrialists, bankers, politicians…Kissinger used to attend every year. I’m pretty sure the Clintons have attended. It used to be secret but now they are all over the Internet and can’t hide it. Apparently there was a huge police presence, and they weren’t very friendly to curious reporters.

-Oh! I believe you are referring to the G8 conference, which was actually across the border in Germany, but you are right about the police presence and the town they held it in isn’t actually far from Seefeld. 

I knew about the G8 already, and that it had been held near Garmisch, across the border. I was going to mention a prominent and infamous Austrian businessman/criminal that had attended the Bildberg, but I couldn’t remember his name. I let it slide. But here was an international diplomat, someone who we would expect to be fairly well-informed- she could tell me all about the Alpbach forum and who was present in such and such a conference in Nairobi discussing the situation in Darfur, but she had no idea that the Bilderberg conference had just been held right under her nose in Austria, let alone that such an organization even existed. You see reader, to be informed sometimes you have to ignore the scoffing and eye-rolling of your friends and just  bravely go ahead and read those “conspiracy” web sights. Heck, in this case you could have picked up the Guardian and followed Charly Skelton’s reporting in Austria and you would have been better informed than this worldly diplomat. 

This was our room at the Techniker Haus in Innsbruck- a former dorm room at a nearby Technical university. We got an extra large take-out pizza next door and wolfed. Keenan found a beer machine for me downstairs (I thought they only existed in Japan!) and I told him to bring me up a pint. 

-Which one?

-Whatever they got. If it looks like beer, choose it!

Keenan did as told, but what he brought up was a Radler, the beer/lemonade combo stuff, 2%. Not the greatest match for pizza but I was happy. (Note to Americans. I did not send my 13yr old boy out to buy beer for me. I made that all up.)

Next morning we walked through beautiful Innsbruck.  That’s the famous Golden Roof. Lots of tourists in this part, especially Chinese. 

 I love all the water spouts in Austria and Switzerland. Refreshing and cold on a hot day.


Next- to Alpbach

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