How disappointed we were when we discovered that the market in Klagenfurt was even tackier than the one in Ljubljana – it was full of cheap trash and repetitive rubbish that none of us had a mind to purchase. And there wasn’t a great deal of seasonal good cheer on offer either.
I am sure that the market would be more lively and vibrant at night but in the middle of a cold and overcast day it was just dull and lifeless and minding every stall was someone who looked as though they wished that they were somewhere else.
We hurried through the market towards the city centre but this was in turmoil of improvement works that closed off the main square and the Lindwurm fountain, which is about the only one thing worth seeing in Klagenfurt. I am sure that it is a fine city because it is the sixth largest in Austria and the state capital of Carthinia but the grey clouds made it seem uninteresting and without charm.
The brightly pastel coloured buildings looked cold and cheerless robbed of their vibrant colours by the bleaching effect of the overcast sky and sadly the place was not especially memorable. For one fleeting second there was some excitement when a snowflake or two fell from the sky except that this turned out to be a meteorological tease but at least Micky was able to say that his forecast of snow finally proved to be accurate.
We had a light lunch of soup and bread in a restaurant underneath the Palace of the Regional Parliament and then not having much of an appetite for the disappointing market we slowly retraced our steps to the train station stopping on route for a final drink and a slice of cake in a small café before returning first to Villach and then to Ljubljana.
If Klagenfurt had been a bit of a let-down the day out was rescued by a memorable journey back on the train. We were delighted to find that the carriage was one of those old-fashioned compartment types the like of which we haven’t seen in the UK for many, many years. The sort that you might have hopes of finding yourself sharing with a raving nymphomaniac on a long overnight journey.
We found an empty one and spread out to make sure no one else would be tempted to join us in our private carriage. This was very sociable and much better than sitting in seats in rows as we have become accustomed to and we enjoyed the short journey back to Villach where we only had a six minute window to make our connection so this involved a quick dash to change platforms and to find our connecting train which we achieved with only a few seconds to spare because the train left promptly bang on schedule.
And we found another compartment carriage and another one to ourselves so we were able to spread out and chat and behave like teenagers at a summer camp unrestricted by the etiquette that is imposed when travelling in an open carriage. This was really good fun and the journey got sillier and sillier as the journey progressed, Kim fell half asleep but I could see her smirking anyway at our childish conversation and the silliness culminated in drawing the curtains and hiding from Christine when she left the compartment for a moment or two, made even funnier for us all because she didn’t fall for it at all, even for a second.
There was the engine change routine again at Jesenice but no border guards this time, which was the same as the Vienna to Bratislava journey, which leads me to conclude that if you are an illegal immigrant then the best time to travel is later in the day. It was dark all the way back but it didn’t matter because we were enjoying the journey in our private compartment and it was almost disappointing to arrive back in Ljubljana and make our way back to the City Hotel.
Later we dined again at the Julija because once we have found a place we like we just have to make absolutely sure by going back over and over again. There is nothing wrong with that, once in Barcelona not only did we eat at the same restaurant three nights on the trot but we had paella every evening as well. Not very adventurous I agree, but safe. Tonight we had the same table and the same waiters, but there were no quips about poison mushrooms and the service and the food were exceptional. There are certain advantages to dining out with a food inspector especially when the staff are fully aware of it.